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To be a successful indie author means wearing many different hats.
I have been feeling this way lately (again!) and two things have helped me to refocus.
a) The brilliant interview on strategy with Charlie Gilkey, when I asked about outsourcing and Charlie suggested elimination first, as well as focusing more on the primary goal
b) My game changing experiences at London Book Fair, where I recommitted to my growth as a fiction writer
I have also spent a lot of time writing in my journals with a strategic focus, trying to decide what I want to achieve over the next 5 years, both as a creative and a business-woman. I can't keep doing what I doing and expecting a different result. I have to change what I'm doing in order to reach my goals.
In this article, I explain what I am doing to refocus my workload. This list is not meant to be a recommendation for you, it's merely my own response to overwhelm, and it's based on where I am in the author journey. But I am keen to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
(1) Focus on writing more books and creating more products
I've talked about the magic of rights before, how one manuscript can be turned into multiple products and multiple streams of income. But at LBF 2014, I saw my potential future in the Indie Bestseller group. I've known how this process should work intellectually for a long time, but I don't think I have had the confidence in my own writing to think I could get to that point until now.
I've just written ‘Day of the Vikings,' (currently with my editor) and I loved writing it and surprisingly, it was much easier than previous books. The first draft was also a lot cleaner than usual, because I think the fundamentals of story may have become more embedded in my brain. I still do all my research, which is super fun, but the actual first draft writing is a quicker process. So I will be writing more books, and also focusing on turning those into multiple products – publishing direct on the main platforms in ebook and print, as well as focusing on audiobooks, foreign translations and other country markets.
To make time for this, I do have to eliminate certain things.
(2) No more guest posts on the blog
Guest posts take up a lot of my time in terms of coordination and scheduling, often rewriting articles as well as sharing. I have always done it in order to help out other authors with traffic to their projects, but the time it takes is too much these days. I also need to slow down my content production and the site is established enough to get away with that now.
When I started this blog, there were very few people talking about self-publishing and so this site was original. Nowadays, self-publishing is mainstream and there are so many blogs about it, that last year, I said I would be changing the focus to more graduate level posts on marketing and the author-entrepreneur side of things.
Now I need to go further, because the only thing that makes any of us original is our voice. We are all unique. I hope you come to this site primarily because you want to join me on my journey. So it's going to be MY voice you hear from now on, and maybe the occasional amazing guest article, but very rarely. Of course, I will be continuing to bring other people to you via the podcast and also my YouTube channel, as well as sharing people's work on Twitter and Google Plus, so it won't be all ‘me-me-me'! But it will be more me than it has been 🙂
(3) Reading more books and fewer RSS feeds
I took email off my phone months ago now and don't miss it at all. But I had replaced the email checking with RSS feed checking, which is just as disruptive!
I've been subscribed to ~400 blogs for the last 5 years, which have fuelled my twitterholism and my sharing, but the other day I went through and culled ~370 of them. It was interesting to visit the list as so many had just stopped months or years ago. Most blogs don't last long, because people lose interest or focus, or wonder why they are doing it. I've had 3 other blogs that didn't last, so I understand that impetus. I got rid of any without a strong voice and kept the best ones, with the focus on what I want to continue sharing online.
I want to write about books more on the blog. I read a lot and have notes I want to share with you, but because guest posts have been scheduled 3/4 months in advance, I just haven't been able to share what I want even on my own blog! That's crazy! I also want to read more books and fewer RSS feeds, so culling the masses was a good idea in general.
(4) Outsourcing specific jobs
Indie authors are control freaks!
That's partly why we love doing everything associated with our books, but I am getting to a point where I need help with things that aren't my core focus.
I have just started using a fantastic Virtual Assistant (who I will introduce at some point!) and she is doing author-related things e.g. researching for book reviews. I am also using PeoplePerHour.com for specific jobs, and using specialists per job, rather than trying to find one person to do everything.
I've had a new HTML newsletter designed, my ePub files for Nook fixed and a visual presentation for ‘How to Market a Book' which will go up on Slideshare soon. Because the tasks have to be clearly specified on PeoplePerHour, it helps me to write down exactly what I need, and several times I have read my own task and then deleted it. Elimination, rather than outsourcing, is sometimes the better option, as Charlie says in the strategy interview!
I'm also using a transcriber for my podcasts and thriller author interviews, which saves me the need to write show notes and watch the video all over again, halving my time on a significant task. Thanks Liz at Libroediting!
(5) Saying ‘no' more
I get hundreds of emails a week asking for help with things, as well as people pitching me with publishing startups which seem to have proliferated recently. I used to reply to everything, but it is getting to the point of overwhelm, and some emails are clearly lazy in their approach. For example, I still get emails that ask “How do I self-publish?” or “How do I sell more books?” Clearly, I have answered that a gazillion times on this site, and also have links to the key resources here.
I love to hear from people who have spent the time searching the site for answers (see the Search bar on the right!) and who have a genuine question. I also love to hear success stories, so please do continue to contact me if you have sincere questions or queries about interviews and speaking opportunities:)
(6) Giving up Facebook (almost) and doubling down on Twitter and G+
Social media can be one of those time sucks if you don't utilize your time well, so I am a massive fan of incorporating marketing into real life. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it! Twitter is my real social network, as well as my ‘marketing,' and I am increasingly enjoying Google Plus.
BUT/ I haven't been enjoying Facebook for a long time, and the tipping point has really been their algorithm change so the reach of any post is so much smaller. Paying to Boost is the only way for people who have already opted in to see your updates, and I've spent ~$100 doing that since Nov with some good results – BUT I resent it, as do many disgruntled Page owners. I put a comment on Twitter about potentially leaving Facebook – here are a few of the results, and there were many more.
I love Twitter and G+, particularly the serendipity of connecting with people who are not already in your circle. Facebook increasingly feels like pain to me, and I don't like pain! I also hung out with my 17 year old god-daughter this week, and she said that her age group have left Facebook and use Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. She didn't even remember mySpace 🙂 Times change, social networks rise and fall, and we have to be nimble and adapt accordingly.
I still haven't made the big jump to leave Facebook entirely, but I am certainly pulling back, and focusing more on Twitter as well as G+, and my core ‘social' uses of blogging, podcasting and video through YouTube.
How do you manage your time? What steps are you taking to manage your overwhelm? Are there things you're considering eliminating? Any thoughts on leaving Facebook as a business tool? I'd love to know what you think about all this in the comments below.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons hats by arbyreed