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

 

Planning for 2017: Where do plans come from? And where do they go?

Here we are: the last Wednesday before the New Year. As the New Year is often associated with planning out resolutions, we figure the best way to ring in 2017 would be a discussion about what happens when our plans go either right and wrong.

plans calendar

First of all, how many of you actually planned to be writers? When you were five years old and an adult asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, I doubt writer was the first thing out of many author’s mouths. Author Ian Rankin told the Guardian that when he was growing up, he was inspired by his aunt’s husband who drove a fancy car and was an accountant. To Rankin, that high standard of living that included owning a home and flashy possessions seemed appealing, so he thought, ‘I should become an accountant as well!” However, when we travel down a path with only the end in sight (in this case, material possessions), the journey tends to feel hollow and meaningless and becomes easy to abandon. Rankin found this to be exactly the case, which is why he decided to follow his actual desire for reading and writing and change courses from his plan to become an accountant to his plan to become an author.

With this scenario–or the particular scenario that drove you yourself to become a writer–in mind, why should we think that our plans with regards to our work as writers would be any less subject to change?

First of all, there is no cookie cutter plan that will work for every writer. Some people who are less spontaneously creative need excessive planning that includes timelines, outlines, character sketches and diagrams for success; while others will tell you they never plan, they just let the story unwind as they write it. The most important place to begin then, is to decide what kind of planner you are, and that will allow you to have a measure for your success or failure relative to those plans (or lack thereof).

Whether or not you’re a deadline-driver planner or a “pantser,” the most important thing to ensure is that you are writing–no matter what. If you call yourself a writer, then you should be spending time (even if it’s only a half hour) every single day honing your craft, because writing is a lot of work. Gratifying work, but work nonetheless. Sandra Felton told Writer’s Digest that “prioritization and dedication” are essential tools for writers to have. For Felton, focus is essential, and if writing is your focus then there may be times when you have to choose it over other extracurricular activities in your life.

Much like exercise, the more you write, the better you’ll feel, and the stronger writer you’ll become. So when you make plans to work on that chapter today, don’t let it fall to the wayside because you had a long day. Everyone has the same amount of hours to spend every day, it is up to us how we plan to use them. Sure, you might be tired when you sit down to write, but much like the runner who doesn’t feel inspired to run, but goes anyway, you’ll find yourself feeling rejuvenated and happier for having done it afterward.

Sticking to your plan won’t just make you a better writer, it will make you feel more fulfilled as a person. We only have ourselves to let down and we all know how we hang our heads in shame when we fall short of expectations we have for ourselves. Remember that your plans are worthwhile, that writing is a therapeutic release that will only aid in winding down from a long day, and that working hard on something you love can be its own reward. And if you do have one of those days where you just can’t get it in, don’t beat yourself up or tell yourself you’ve failed. Get back on the horse as soon as you can, because you’re a writer…so get writing!


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

Planning for 2017: A Call to Arms

Christmas is over. You made it. Time to briefly pat yourself on the back, fawn over all of your presents, and then get back to work.

Sure, you could sit around until New Year’s Day to kick back into gear, but that carries the risk of you being too tired after a night of celebrating, or the risk that you’ll just want to soak in some last minute relaxation before returning to your day job. These crucial days don’t have to be unproductive, and your resolutions don’t need to be arbitrary goals that last (or don’t last) just one measly year.

Let’s start by reflecting on last year. What were some bad habits that need work? What were some positive habits that need to be reinforced? Look back and try and identify which writing practices, marketing strategies, and other routines in your life contributed to your success over the last year.

Once you’ve drawn from the past, it’s time to look toward the future! You don’t need a laundry list of resolutions that will only make you feel guilty for not living up to. Instead, pick a few essential ones and concentrate all of your effort on actually fulfilling those.

If increased productivity–be it on the marketing or writing front–is on your resolution radar for the year, it’s best to begin by honing in on your organizational skills first and foremost. Forming good habits will lead to good practices and routines, and this will lead to good work.

calendar planning

Buy a calendar or planner. If you’re looking for one that you will guide your marketing for the year, Outskirts has a specific marketing calendar that will draw your attention to some of the most important deadlines and most helpful marketing options & services in the industry.

Once you have your calendar or planner, start writing your goals down in it. Planning out your weeks and months in advance is great for two reasons. One being that it keeps you accountable, and two being that it helps prevent you from overbooking yourself and creating writing goals that may interfere with other things you may have going on in your work or personal life.

Always overestimate the time you’ll need to achieve the tasks you have laid out for yourself–this way, if/when you finish early, you have time for relaxing and extracurricular activities. (Having life experience helps with the writing process too you know!)

Routine is a great way to ease the burden of a giant workload. If you have only have 30 minutes on Fridays for marketing or writing, that’s still 30 minutes that you’ve cut out from your planned effort on Monday! Chipping away at your to-do list will make your work feel less overwhelming than trying to sit down and just get everything done at once.

When initiating these new routines and plans, remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. Making serious life changes is not always an easy thing, and sometimes life will get in the way. Make sure the expectations you’ve set for yourself are realistic and reward yourself when you reach milestones in your goals! Most importantly, enjoy your work and embrace the New Year.


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

In Your Corner : The Side Benefits to Starting Early

I woke this morning to grey skies and a half-mowed yard.  As I write this, the rain keeps coming down in a steady drizzle, leaving the roads slick with oily puddles and my lawn thick and green and completely wild-looking, with weeds poking up through the grass in some kind of chlorophyll-rich reminder something along the lines of you really should have thought this one through before we got to this point.  It’s not that I haven’t put thought and a little muscle into mowing my yard–I picked up one of those engine-less little reel mowers that require a lot more pushing because I thought it would be a good and simple way to incorporate a little more exercise and a little less carbon exhaust into my routine … but the end result has been I mow a lot less, it takes a lot longer to finish the yard, and the lawn looks like an overgrown mess.  Sometimes a retired neighbor of mine will even take pity on me and use his ride-on lawnmower to take care of my jungle while everyone else is away at work.

mower

You might be thinking, what’s the big deal?  Why the long monologue about your yard, Elizabeth?  How could this possibly relate to self-publishing?  The answer lies in the planning:

Making publishing decisions early will help your end result.

I’m talking about editing and putting together a strong, custom cover design.  These things will make a book far more successful than a book without–and putting them together at the last minute or even in the frenetic rush of the middle of your publication process can hamstring your ability to create a truly high-quality, attractive final product.  But your book’s appearance isn’t the only beneficiary of planning ahead: as others have said before–and no doubt with more panache–you simply can’t wait to start marketing until after you’ve published your book.  I mean, you can wait, but your plan is likely to fall apart under the pressures of the day-to-day realities of working, writing your next book, promoting your current book, and managing all of the other intricacies associated with sales … if you don’t have a sound plan and well-established marketing strategies.

Your marketing plan will help you to determine if your targeted audience is going to want a paperback or a hardcover, for example–and this knowledge creates a feedback loop to how you approach the publishing process which is far easier to exploit if you’ve started your marketing and planning process in advance.  What kind of cover design would appeal to your targeted audience?  You’ll know a lot more about them if you’re already in contact, before your book rolls off of the (digital, sometimes) printing press!

Perhaps this subject is only on my mind because I’m staring out my window at my soggy excuse for a yard, and wishing I’d had the foresight to have a plan for days like today–days where I don’t have the energy to mow a large lot with a little reel push mower, and when the weather exacerbates all of my finest procrastinatory tendencies.  Or perhaps it’s part of a larger whole–a larger set of decisions that I, and every other person working in the self-publishing world, face every day.  We can either let life get ahead of us, or we can feed those parts of ourselves that give us the foresight and energy to get ahead of it!  Some days its harder than others, but I hope you always feel convinced that …

 

You are not alone. ♣︎

 

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Defining The Hybrid Publishing Experience

If you’ve spent much time on this blog or researching your publishing options, you probably have a fairly substantial definition in mind for the terms “self-publishing” and “traditional publishing,” but can you say the same for “hybrid publishing“?  We use the term rather often here on Self Publishing Advisor as a catch-all for every company and business model that doesn’t fit neatly into the aforementioned binary––but what does it mean, really?  It’s not enough to define a thing by what it is not … we need some basis for a positive, holistic understanding of what hybrid publishing has to offer the indie author.

What qualifies as “hybrid”?

Biologically speaking, a hybrid is “the offspring of two plants or animals of different species or varieties, such as a mule (a hybrid of a donkey and a horse).” Most of us are familiar with a different kind of hybrid, which is to say the mythological kind, where different species find themselves mashed up into one single creature on a physical but not cellular level.  A centaur is a mythological hybrid between man and horse, the Sphinx between a woman, lion, and raptor.  Is a hybrid publishing company, then, the offspring of two warring traditions (self- and traditional publishing)––or is it some oddball thing that adopts the best or most distinctive features of other publishing traditions to serve an entirely different narrative?

Says Jane Friedman of Publisher’s Weekly, it has become “nearly impossible to categorize certain publishers and services; some wish to avoid being labeled altogether. They consider themselves innovators, providing an important alternative for authors.”  These companies self-advertise as providing a third way altogether, not just cutting the difference between the two established publishing modes.  This reality would seem to indicate that hybrid publishing shares more with a centaur than it does with a mule, but perhaps we’re splitting hairs.

Perhaps, when it all shakes out, we can safely define hybrid publishing on its own terms.  Brook Warner of Huff Post Books suggests  four categories that fit the catchall term:

Traditional publishers who’ve been brokering hybrid deals for years. […]

Partnership publishing models. […]

Agent-assisted publishing models. [… and]

Other assisted publishing models.

All four of these categories acknowledge “assistance” as a defining feature, but here’s the problem: assuming that self-publishing and traditional publishing don’t  offer assistance as a part of their mechanism creates a false dichotomy that does nobody justice, and many companies that Warner might call “hybrid” do in fact distance themselves intentionally from the term because it implies too heavy a reliance on paid assistance––or authors “taking the easy way out,” so to speak.  This just in: elitism may be the bread and butter of gatekeeping traditional publishing, but it doesn’t have to be the same for self-publishing!

This still leaves us with a problem, however: How to define hybrid publishing?  Let me suggest a new definition:

Hybrid publishing is any publishing model that allows authors to enter into direct, flexible, contractual collaborations with industry professionals that in traditional publishing would be indirect (they would be paid by the publishing house, not the author) and are not traditionally available to self-publishing authors.  This includes companies like Outskirts Press, which offers a range of collaborative services, and excludes the so-called “hybrid author,” or someone who has moved from traditional publishing into self-publishing or vice versa.

Playing the field:

As Friedman goes on to point out, each of the companies that might fit into the hybrid category operates on a different business model, making it difficult to compare them against each other.  She advocates asking a series of questions, such as “How will your books be distributed?” and “What marketing and promotion support do their titles receive?” before committing to a certain choice.  But this doesn’t exactly help new authors decide whether hybrid publishing and a “third way” is for them––and with so many options now available, narrowing the field is an important part of the decision-making process. Ultimately, the choice of whom to choose may rest on individual features such as those Friedman suggests evaluating … or it may rest instead on the complicated matrix of human need.  Hybrid publishing companies, despite their extreme differences, do seem to collectively meet authors’ desires for a human-driven, relational publishing experience.

In conclusion … for now:

The world of hybrid publishing is perhaps a bit too complicated to break down in its entirety within the constraints of an initial foray such as this one, but it is a world we will be returning to again and again here on Self-Publishing Advisor.  As the world of publishing evolves and diversifies, so too must the companies who serve to send our stories out into that world.


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. ♠

KellyABOUT 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.

Summer Writing Goals Check-In

Earlier in the summer, I encouraged you to take advantage of the summer to achieve your writing goals. I recommended you set goals related to starting and finishing your manuscript, publishing your book, and marketing your book. Well, there are only a few weeks of summer left. (Sad, I know.) Now is the time to check-in and hold yourself accountable.

1. What were your goals?

Take a look back and see what your goals were. Did you want to start a new project? Begin the self-publishing process? Focus on promoting your book?

2. Where are you now?

Have you accomplished your goals? How much work do you still have to do? Do you want to add new goals to your list? Also, consider why you are where you are. Were your goals realistic? Motivating? Clear? Measurable? Take these things into consideration when re-evaluating your goals.

3. What are you going to do with the rest of your summer?

Whether you’ve exceeded your goals or lost sight of your vision, August still offers plenty of time to accomplish your summer writing goals. Update your goals based on your progress, and start working on achieving them before summer ends. You can do it!

I’d love to know, how much progress have you made towards your summer writing goals?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Summer Writing Goals

Summer is the perfect time to set and accomplish writing goals. Many people have time off work. The extra daylight makes you feel like you have more time in the day. The season is filled with inspiration. Whether you haven’t started your book or your book is already published, here are three ways you can make your writing dreams come true this summer.

1. The new project.

You’ve been dreaming of publishing a book, but you haven’t found the time or motivation. Well, now is the perfect time to start. Commit to the goal of finishing your manuscript by the end of August. Use small daily goals, such as writing for a certain amount of time, to help you achieve your dream.

2. The published book.

Perhaps you have a manuscript that is ready to be published. Now is the perfect time to start the publishing process. Your goals should include:

  • Research and choose a publisher.
  • Edit your manuscript.
  • Start thinking about cover design.

3. The successful book.

If you’ve already published your book, now is the time to focus on marketing. A great marketing plan is the key to a successful book. No one can buy your book if they don’t know it exists. Set marketing goals such as:

  • Research summer events where you can display (and sell) your book.
  • Set up and maintain social media pages.
  • Contact local news sources.

I’d love to know, what are your summer writing goals?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.