Decluttering…Publishing!

This week we’re going to discover the ways in which we can declutter our publishing lives. This begins by putting our wallets to good and simple use. What does this mean? It means paying only for what you need, not what you want, unless of course what you want comes affordably with what you need.

First you’ll have to sit down and decide what it is you need. Is it a children’s book? Do you need full-color illustrations? Do you need help with distribution? If so, there are packages offered by self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press (my employer) that can get you full color cover, interior, unlimited wholesale printed and distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others. A package like this could cover your needs while also providing a few things you want like an author representative and publishing consultant.

Those of us not writing children’s books don’t need to front the expense of full-color publishing. Basic publishing packages are a great way to provide authors who just want black and white interiors everything they need to make their publishing dreams come true, without stretching their wallets too thin while still providing a full-color cover, distribution, author representative, etc.

What if you’re just a hobby writer and don’t necessarily feel the need to have hard copies of your book? An ebook is a great way to fulfill your dreams of becoming published at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, a lot of readers are more apt to try a book from an author they’ve never read if it’s in the more affordable, ebook version.

Sure, some of us would love to have a literary agent, a world-class editor, the most prestigious illustrator, etc. However, if you’re on a budget and really just want to pursue your passion for writing/publishing, you should always consider what the bottom line is. You want to turn your manuscript into a book. There are relatively inexpensive ways to achieve that dream and still have a product you can be proud of. Companies like Outskirts Press are full of professionals who can help you create a beautiful book–or ebook!–that you can be proud of and that won’t leave you bankrupt.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have the time or the know-how to market your book once it’s completed and published, and you find yourself wanting help with that side of the publishing process, there are packages offered by Outskirts to help you with that. But if this is more of a want than a need that you can’t necessarily afford, consider networking with other self-publishing authors for advice. If time if your main concern, simply allot a few minutes a day to making a simple social media post. If you have slightly more time, write a short blog and try to keep it up to date. An online presence is a great way to keep yourself in the marketing loop, and it’s free.

No matter what budget you’re working with, you can afford to publish your book. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge what it is we need to accomplish that goal, and maybe even push aside some of our bigger wants.

paper airplane decluttering


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering…Ambitiously!

This week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can “declutter ambitiously,” or find ways to set realistic and simple goals for ourselves–including for decluttering! If you had a New Year’s resolution list that was far too grand for your lifestyle, now may be a time to take a look at your goals for the day, week, month or year and refine them to something more accomplishable.

calendar planning

 

  • Draw up some numbers

 

How many social media posts do you want to make per week?

How many blogs?

How many pages or chapters do you want to finish per month?

Do you want to have a completed book by the end of the year? Or multiple books?

These goals are very simple and easy to measure. Once you have these numbers down on paper, you can begin to create a schedule that will promote progress towards these now clearly defined goals.

If you want to get three blogs done per week, pick three days that best work with your schedule to do them and treat it like a homework assignment due on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. If you want a book done by the end of the year and you envision it having around twenty chapters, make sure you’re getting a chapter done every two weeks at least–you’ll need to give yourself extra time for editing of course!

  • Use a calendar!

This can be the calendar on your phone or computer or a good ole fashioned paper one. Use the data from step one to make yourself a schedule. Actively engage with this schedule rather than just look at it. When you complete tasks, use a symbol that shows you did so and reward yourself based on your consistency and progress.

This is also useful for noting when you may be realistically too busy to write some weeks, allowing you to stack your writing on other weeks when holidays, busy days at work, family vacations, etc., come up.

If you do use a calendar that is synced with your phone and computer, use the alerts that are available to prompt you and remind you of the commitments you made to your writing. Do not expect to be able to do all of your writing, blogging and marketing in one day, and do not clutter your schedule by even kidding yourself that that is a reasonable workload…which leads to my next point.

  • Set reasonable goals

For some people, writing 500 words a day is a walk in the park. For others, perfectionists and otherwise that might take a couple of days. If you’re honest with yourself you can avoid a cluttered schedule that just gets more and more backed up each day you fail to reach your goals each day. We all know what happens when we get overwhelmed by the idea of falling short of our overambitious goals–we grow anxious and are almost unable to work at all. This horrible paralysis can be avoided by just understanding yourself and being honest with yourself as a writer.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

 

Decluttering…Your Schedule

Making time to write is something we all struggle with. In our day to day lives, when we’re choosing between finishing laundry, making dinner, staying late at work, helping out a friend, etc., we’re probably going to put our hobby on the back burner. Sometimes, this is a necessary evil to remain a functioning human being who still gets eight hours of sleep at night. However, there are a few things that you can cut out of your schedule that are actually just time wasters and there are ways in which you can clear your schedule so that there’s always time for writing.

 

  • Stop using social media as a way to unwind after a long day.

 

In college, I often used StayFocusd, a Google Chrome app that helps you block certain websites for certain blocks of time when you want/need to be productive. Seriously, these things are great. You find yourself drifting off, go to open Facebook, and are immediately reminded that you are procrastinating. Scrolling through a newsfeed does not help you become a more well-rounded human being and does not teach you anything you don’t already know about the world–namely that people are self-absorbed and that politics are frustrating. Writing is time to focus on what matters–you and the things you care about. Clear out time wasters from your schedule and you’ll realize that those 20-40 minutes you spend per day on social media could be spent far more productively.

  • It’s okay to say “No!”

Nobody wants to be the naysayer. Someone needs you to cover a shift at work and they’ve asked you to do it, putting you in the awkward situation of not wanting to be a bad friend, but not wanting to add another shift to your already busy week. Guess what? When you’re overworked, you assuredly will be undermotivated to write. Sometimes you have to just say no. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you a bad person; if you think about it the person asking you for a favor is simply also putting themselves first, so you should follow suit and keep your spare time for partaking in the things you care most about.

  • Use a timer.

If you have two hours that you can allot to writing today, don’t force yourself to sit down and just hammer out two hours straight without blinking or using the bathroom. Set an alarm for every half hour and to give yourself five minutes to stand up from your desk, breathe some fresh air, grab a fresh coffee, etc. If you’re really on a roll and don’t need a break, so be it! But it’s always nice to be reminded that a break is an option, and it’ll keep you fresh!

  • Dial your meals

If you cook for yourself (which, hopefully…you do at least once in awhile), you know how time consuming it can be. Plan your meals out a week in advance and make them ahead of time. Throw together your breakfast and lunch while you make dinner and make lots of extras! This way, tomorrow you won’t be stuck with cooking, dishes, etc. all over again. This will free up hours between mornings, afternoons and evenings!

schedule scheduling agenda


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering … Digitally!

In the age of computers, our desks are not the only things that can get cluttered, but also our desktops, websites, social media platforms and web browsers. If you’re as OCD as I am, this type of clutter will be as, if not moreso, bothersome as the more tangible clutter we find lying around our homes.

So this week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can declutter digitally, something that is especially relevant for 21st century authors who utilize the ever pervasive technology of computers.

decluttering digitally

 

  • Streamline your author website

 

First off, if your domain name is anything beyond a combination of your first and last name, or some super vague play off of your favorite sports team, consider changing it, and if [yourauthorname].com isn’t available, try .org, .net or some other version of that.

If you use some free website hosting platform such as WordPress, make sure you choose a theme that is aesthetically appealing, and if you’ve had the same one for a while, consider changing it up.

Make sure that you have clearly branded yourself on your homepage with the type of writing you do and be sure to use relevant tags on all of your posts. If you have an outdated bio and/or photo, consider cleaning those up and making them fresh.

Don’t just have a cluttered list of all of your  books for readers to try and sift through. Create a page for each that they can easily purchase from. Be careful to not have too many pages though, as more isn’t always merrier. Also be sure that they’re labeled clearly–don’t try to get too creative and distract your readers from the content of your page.

  • Streamline your social media presence

Speaking of less sometimes being more, let’s talk social media. Now we all know we hate those folks that clog our newsfeed with 1,000 posts a day–from pictures of babies to overly political rants/links to news articles to inspirational quotes plastered over scenic backdrops of places you’ve never been. Those people tend to get “unfollowed” by me, meaning I could miss a lot of things they are posting that actually interest me.

First off, I highly recommend having a separate author page, so if you do post things like I mentioned above, they are not getting sent to your audience who probably does not care to see them. With your separate author page, be sure to only put out content that helps to promote your brand and the image you want your readers to have of you. If your post doesn’t meet that criteria, scrap it or delete it from the Timeline. You want readers to go to your page and scroll down and get a feel for you as an author right away.

  • Organize your documents!

This one may seem straightforward, but I know how easy it is to just save things with random titles in that all-embracing folder of “Documents.” However, when you go to look for that chapter outline you made four months ago before you even started your book and you named it something obscure that you can no longer remember…you’re going to waste precious time trying to hunt it down.

Folders are your friend. Create a folder for your manuscript and subfolders for planning, characters, chapters, etc. Each time you save something, plop it in the according folder and back it all up on Google Drive, or some other free online storage host, lest you fall prey to the almighty computer crash.

***

Hopefully these few tips will help you declutter your digitized reality, which has become almost more real than reality itself.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering … Clearing the Mental Clutter

Continuing the series Inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, let’s spend some time this week talking about the ways in which we can declutter our minds as writers.

mindful mindfulness

You know how it goes; you sit down to write and you start thinking about that item you need to add to the grocery list, you recall that really annoying thing a coworker said to you and you start analyzing why he or she said it in the first place, you remember that your child has a soccer practice tomorrow and you start mentally trying to figure out if you have time to pick her up afterward or if you should arrange a ride for her with another player’s parents…the list goes on. Now if you’re capable of simply “emptying your mind” of all of this useless information by a simple exercise of willpower…kudos. If you’re like me, and need some reminders for how to declutter your headspace, here are some things to consider:

  • Write down all of these bizarre and/or unproductive thoughts you’re having. Putting these things down on paper empties your mind of them, allows you to look at them, analyze them and then put them aside for a time when they become more relevant. Also, any writing gets the writing juices flowing. Who knows, maybe stream of conscious ranting about an interaction at work could create a meaningful dialogue in an upcoming chapter of yours!
  • Focus or meditate on nothing. ‘Now empty your mind of all of your worries and attachments,’ she says, calm as a cow in the downward dog position, her yoga pants screaming enlightenment as she hums a long ‘Ommmmmmmmmm,’ followed by Namaste–or something ridiculously cliché to that same effect. As silly as it sounds, trying to think of ‘nothing,’ or meditating is serious business, and something I would never call myself talented at. Trying to actually let go of the idea that you and all of your little problems and anxieties are at the center of the universe is like trying not to blink. Practicing this focus on nothing will help temporarily remove our focus on that giant ego we all have (and would never, if only begrudgingly admit to having), and help you become present in the task at hand: namely, writing.
  • Put on some music, and go out for a walk or run or a spin on the bike. Exercise (with or without music) is a fantastic way to help you process all of those nagging thoughts cluttering up your mind space. Exercising with music supposedly activates your frontal lobe (the area in your brain associating with higher mental function), and not only that, it gives you something else to meditate on–lyrics perhaps. Focus on the words in the song, seek inspiration in the creativity of music. Meditate on putting one foot in front of the other if the whole Namaste thing is too much for you. Moving meditation is my favorite form, and it always helps boost my creativity.
  • Take a nap. If you have way too much going on in your head to write, take a snooze. Let those things drift away into Never Never Land and wake up feeling refreshed. A nap is like a reset button later in the day. We only get more and more stressed out starting the minute we shut off the alarms anyway, so go back into that bliss-like state of nothingness that is slumber. Maybe you’ll even dream up an interesting scenario for your main character to overcome in the midst.
  • Listen to a podcast or call a friend. A one-sided conversation with a podcast is my favorite means for readjusting my focus. If I want to write about anxiety or loneliness and I’m unable to focus, I’ll search YouTube to see what some of my literary or philosophical love interests have said on the matter. Listening to someone I truly respect and whose opinion I long to have on any matter in my life always get my brain gears turning. Especially since I can’t talk back to them, but can only entertain the conversation in my mind. This makes me want to write to no avail; it makes me want to express my thoughts triggered by someone else’s ideas. This same effect can be achieved by calling a friend who you love discoursing with as well–just make sure to not get too carried away and forget to get back to work at all. 

 

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Decluttering … The Desk & Workspace

In the coming weeks, we’re going to be drawing some lessons from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Kondo’s approach is based on a “secret” she claims starts with discarding things you don’t actually use or need and proceed by organizing your space “thoroughly [and] completely, in one go.” Kondo goes so far as to assert that, “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.”

So as a writer, I wanted to see what lesson Kondo’s “magic of tidying up” had to offer. First off, I’d like to discuss how writers can declutter their workspaces, be that a desk or an entire room they write in.

cluttered desk tidying up

1) A cluttered desk means a cluttered mind.

 

This is simple. If there are things on your desk that you are not actively working on, or that are not helping you in some way with the task at hand, remove them! Having to shuffle through piles of bills or checks or having to worry about spilling a bottle of nail polish or a half full cup of coffee that’s now ten days old and definitely has mold growing on it, is absolutely going to affect your productively. For me, a messy workspace equals a great amount of stress. I spend half of the time that I should be working thinking about how I really need to clean. When you’re writing and have useless thoughts like that weighing you down, your writing will come across as inhibited and will probably lack the focus and precision that can actually captivate your readers.

2) A cluttered room will also mean a cluttered mind.

If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room devoted to your writing space, make sure you organize it in such a way that it promotes creativity, provides a sense of comfort and that drive productivity.

  • With regards to creativity: Keep books of authors who really inspire you on a shelf in this room. If you have another artistic hobby that can help you get the creative juices flowing when you’re feeling writer’s block such as music or painting, keep room for those activities in there as well. Then when you’re feeling stumped, you can walk over to a blank canvas and let a paintbrush speak where words have failed you, or let your guitar sing out a calming melody. This way you have access to other things that keep your creative juices flowing–rather than resorting to Facebook or Twitter when you’re at a loss.
  • With regards to comfort: You ultimately want to feel comfortable in your work space. If your chair is ratty and uncomfortable, you’ll subconsciously be focused on how numb your rear end is going while you’re writing, which who knows, could make for some interesting writing, but I doubt it. Have a chair, or a giant bouncy ball, or a bean bag–or whatever sitting apparatus you find most appealing–that you like sitting in. Use lighting that is not too invasive or flourescent that will just remind you of how life in a cubical might be. If you like playing music while you write, have a stereo playing in the background.
  • With regards to productivity: Keeping only the essentials on your desk will be the first step (scroll up to number 1 on this list if you’ve already let what I said escape you). Some things that promote productivity are the tools of the trade: if you write on a notepad, have one of those and a pen. If you’re a laptop kind of gal or girl, have that out and make sure that desktop isn’t cluttered with 1,000 windows of recipes for dinner, iMessenger conversations and eBay bidding wars. If you’re a list maker: utilize a bulletin board (or the more crude, tack it right to the wall approach) with a list of what you want to accomplish for each coming work session. Remove items you’ve completed, pat yourself on the back, tidy your desk after you’ve had a mad writing session, and get ready to do it all again next time!

Remember that there are very few spaces in life that get to be “just ours.” We often share space with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Make your little writing corner a haven, a place you love being in and get excited about entering. Clutter will make this space feel like a burden that needs to be dealt with, rather than a place you go to do what you love. So this week: DECLUTTER!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com