Today’s post is brought to you by soon-to-be-published author and RU co-founder KELSEY BROWNING, who shares her tips for the debut author.
Among my friends, I have the reputation as a list-maker. They like to poke fun, but let’s face it, they’re jealous :-). But even with lists and an organized plan, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re a debut author.
Where should you spend your time? Your money? Your quickly unraveling sanity?
Believe me, I’m still learning. But since my debut contemporary romance, Personal Assets, will be released by Carina Press on August 26, I’m trying to make the most of the five months I have between now and my release date. As you might imagine, my debut isn’t the only project on my plate, so I’ve implemented strategies to keep my projects on time and my sanity (somewhat) intact. Today, I’d like to share those 10 strategies with you.
1. Buy or make a planning calendar and make it visible. I use Microsoft Outlook as my calendar software and I printed each month on a separate sheet of letter-size paper. Then I bribed my son into taping them together. The result is a 2013 and 2014 calendar hanging on the wall behind my desk. I write (in pencil) all my due dates, vacations, release dates, conferences, etc. on it. This way, I have a visual reminder of anything impacting my production schedule.
2. Prioritize on paper. This isn’t a new concept, but for a debut author setting goals is critical. You need to know what you must deliver and when. In addition to the book, you should also make business goals and personal and professional development goals. I recommend creating yearly goals and then breaking those into quarterly goals. If something unexpected happens mid-year, it’s easy to adjust those quarterly goals. Post your goals somewhere visible and refer to them once every couple of weeks to determine if you’re still on track.
3. Know how long it takes you to write a book. Yes, I mean get down and dirty with how many words you write in a day, how many interruptions you tend to have during the time you’re writing a book (school holidays, family vacations, etc.) and how long it takes you to get it ready to send to your editor.
4. Set realistic production goals. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Your publisher wants you to deliver a new manuscript every three months, but you’ve never produced one in less than six months? Don’t say yes. If you know what you’re capable of, you’ll know what you can commit to without killing yourself or making yourself sick.
5. Schedule maintenance tasks rather than relying on your memory. I place reminders in my calendar to check my online real estate for accuracy (once a quarter), add to my Twitter follows (twice a month) and update my website (twice a month). If you don’t schedule these admin tasks, it’s easy to forget them.
6. Get control of your Twitter account. If you don’t already use a service like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, I encourage you to. They make it easier to schedule your tweets. And by allowing you to separate the people you follow into manageable groups, these services help you keep up with the deluge of incoming tweets. Once a quarter, I schedule tweets that will direct followers to my blog and promote other writers. Then, of course, I fill in with normal tweets on a daily basis.
7. Create your book’s marketing plan. Yep, this is a big ole elephant and just thinking about it has most of us shaking in our PJs. I encourage you to put a plan on paper. It won’t be perfect, but done is better than perfect in this case. You’ll continue to refine this plan with every book you release. You might find Jenny Blake’s downloadable marketing plan helpful. It’s for a nonfiction release, but fiction writers can pick up some good tips and have a template to work from.
8. Accept that your first book launch won’t be perfect. We all learn through experience. As much info as you get from your friends, classes and blog posts, the promo for your first (and every!) book will be imperfect. Make time to do the promo tasks most important to you and best fit your personality.
9. Say no. You’re at a critical time in your career and it’s okay to concentrate on yourself and your work. You may not have time to judge a dozen contest entries or be your chapter’s secretary. It’s perfectly fine to say “No, thank you.” Once you get over that tiny bite of guilt, you’ll be glad you did.
10. Recharge often. When you’re caught up in the whirlwind of releasing your debut book, there’s always more you can do. But be careful of burnout. Is one more blog post really going to make you or break you? Probably not. Know your tolerance for work. Listen to your body. It often begins to show signs of exhaustion before your brain does. Find ways to refill the energy well you’re pulling from on a daily basis.
Even if you take these 10 tips for debut authors to heart, I can’t promise you complete sanity. However, when I feel like my work world is spinning out of control, they help me remain calm and focused. I go back to one of my calendars or lists, choose the most critical task and soothe myself with the knowledge that I’m on the right track even if I don’t accomplish everything.
Personal Assets – excerpt.
Coming from Carina Press August, 2013!
Recovering good-girl Allie Shelby needs a man to help her find her inner bad girl, which is easier said than done in a small Texas town. She decides former football hero Cameron Wright is the cure for her critical sexual condition and proposes a no-strings affair. Cameron has nothing in common with Shelbyville’s self-appointed Dr. Ruth. Still, he’s tempted to check out her wicked side and discovers Allie’s bad girl is wickedly addictive.
If you’re a debut author, what strategies are you using to maintain your sanity? If you’re an established author, what advice do you have for the debut author? And for those who are pre-published, what have you done to make your debut smoother when it happens?
Oliver Rhodes, founder of Bookouture – a digital publisher of romance and women’s fiction – returns on Wednesday. Recently picked by The Bookseller as one of their ‘Rising Stars’ of 2012, he’s passionate about building global author brands.
Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy. She’s currently at work on the third book in her Shelbyville, Texas, series. Give her a shout at Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com or drop by www.KelseyBrowning.com.
You can also receive Kelsey’s Sass Kickin’ Updates. She promises never to do anything underhanded, annoying or totally immoral.
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- Laurie London, Debut Author of Bonded by Blood