Some days it seems like you need the powers of Wonder Woman just to get through emails. Finding the time and energy to write AND tackle social media can be overwhelming. Today Oliver Rhodes  explains why it isn’t necessary to do everything. In fact, you may become more successful by doing less. Without further ado, heeeere’s Oliver!
I wonder how many of us made a stack of New Year’s resolutions that we’re now struggling to keep as we find that there just aren’t enough hours in the day?
Make that first submission? Find an agent? Self-publish your first book? Increase your twitter followers? Set up your own website?
One of my favourite quotes is from time management guru David Allen:
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
So maybe rather than ‘what are you going to do this year?’ the question should be ‘what are you not going to do this year?’ or even better ‘what is someone else going to do for you this year?’
What can you stop doing?
I truly believe that there has never been a better time to be an author than today. The barriers to both publishing and marketing your work have been broken down and there are so many more opportunities than ever before.
Of course, with great opportunity comes a challenge to stand out from the crowd – and a whole lot of work.
Not only do you need to be a skilled writer, but also a marketer, publicist, blogger and webmaster. And just as you’ve mastered one social network, along come another two…
Even for authors who are lucky enough to write full-time, this is a handful. If you add in a job and family commitments, it can be nigh on impossible.
Good strategy is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Spreading yourself too thinly can just mean that none of your time is spent effectively.
1. Be clear about what your aims are;
2. Decide what the key actions are to achieve your aims;
3. Prioritize – devote time to your key actions, and scale back or stop whatever is secondary.
If your aim is to get an agent, then focus your time on polishing your manuscript and sending targeted submissions. Perhaps developing your friend network on Goodreads and Pinterest can take a back seat for now.
Whichever route you chose remember that, at the heart of it, an author’s time is best spent writing and revising – creating the best books that you possibly can. That’s what will get you an agent, a publisher and win you an army of loyal readers.
Writing is also the one thing that you can’t outsource. Pretty much everything else, you can.
What can someone else do for you?
If you can’t do everything yourself, but aren’t ready to scale back on your ambitions, getting professional help could be then answer.
It’s incredibly easy today to outsource anything from copywriting to web-design. Yes, it does require some investment but, if it allows you to spend your time more effectively, it could just be worth it.
Websites like elance.com and guru.com are fantastic for putting you in touch with freelance professionals. They allow you to source quotes for your job and to select your preferred supplier based on their price and previous ratings. And as suppliers are competing for your business, the price is kept low.
Getting professional feedback on your manuscript is invaluable in getting it ready for publication, but if you don’t already have a publisher, waiting for scraps of feedback from agents and publishers can be a long and frustrating process.
Why not take charge of this yourself and hire an editor? Both elance.com and guru.com offer plenty of freelance Editing professionals or, you could go with an established company like Kirkusreviews.com.
Book cover design
Unless you’re a trained designer, I’d never suggest designing your own book cover – especially as there are plenty of great designers out there at a reasonable price. Here are just a few…
Yes, it is easier and cheaper than ever before to create your own website. In fact I’d whole-heartedly recommend it. But if the thought of having to learn about everything from web hosting to search engine optimization fills you with dread, then there are other options.
Elance and Guru.com are full of web designers or you could work with established companies like MoxieDesignStudios.com, DiscoverWriters.com or AuthorMedia.com.
They’ll help guide you through the maze of web-design, saving you the research time and frustrations of learning as you go.
Especially if you’ve self-published your book, hiring a publicist can be a good way of saving your time as well as dramatically increasing your chances of coverage.
Look for someone with experience in your genre – they’re more likely to have contacts that can help get you that review or interview.
Of course, it’s not always thought of as outsourcing, but effectively Publishers handle the editing, design, distribution, marketing and publicity of your work – for a share of the revenue.
If you’re looking at publishing, either traditional or digital, be clear about what the deal buys you. Yes, sometimes you give a lot away compared to self-publishing but, if a publisher adds value to your work and frees up more of your time to write, it could be well worth it.
Perhaps an easier way is to outsource something else from your routine? Would having a cleaner free up the time you need to devote to agent submissions?
Achieving more by doing less
Whatever your aims are for this year, like New Year’s resolutions, it’s easy to see them fall by the wayside.
Having clear aims is a great first step. Being ruthless about using your time effectively and outsourcing where you can are two key tactics of improving your chances of achieving those aims.
Remember: You can do anything, but not everything.
Have you ever outsourced anything related to your writing? Do you have any recommendations? Let us know via the comments section.
Friday’s originally scheduled post by Adam Firestone has been rescheduled to next Thursday, February 28.
Oliver Rhodes is the Founder of Bookouture  – a digital publisher of romance and women’s fiction. Recently picked by The Bookseller as one of their ‘Rising Stars’ of 2012, he’s passionate about building global author brands.
Formerly Marketing Controller at Harlequin UK, Oliver has worked in publishing for over 12 years. Some of his highlights from his time at Harlequin include launching Mills & Boon’s New Voices online writing competition and rapidly growing it’s MIRA imprint – establishing authors such Debbie Macomber, Diane Chamberlain, Susan Wiggs and Alex Kava in the UK market.
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