4 Unique Time Management Challenges for the Indie – and how to beat them. - Indie Pub It
Last month I touched on time management being a genuine issue for more established Indies, but it can be just as much, if not more, of a challenge for writers new to the industry, who are just learning to juggle work and personal life, and learn their profession at the same time.
For all indie writers, the challenges are a little different from a legacy author’s time management headaches.
1. When are you going to write all those books?
Readers expect Indies to produce and publish books at a much faster rate than legacy authors are permitted to by their publishers.
There are two classic solutions: Set a minimum word-count per day, or set a minimum time-period per day, dedicated to producing new, fresh manuscript. Don’t use the time for editing, formatting or any of the myriad tasks involved with publishing the book. Just write…and stick to the schedule.
The problem with the classic approach is it pre-supposes that you have nothing else drawing on your spare time, which is a laughable idea for an Indie. Instead, try this:
a. Open a blank weekly calendar, and block out all the times of your day & week that are spoken for – day job, sleeping, and a minimum amount of time for preparing for work. Minimize (better still, eliminate) time wasters like TV watching and goofing off. Do leave time for working out. Get very creative about what really is “spare” time – there are places and times in your life when writing can be done in conjunction – transit time is the perfect example. The time you have left is the golden time you can dedicate to your writing career.
b. Of that spare time, mark up about 60-80% of it for writing fresh manuscript. If you have an office day-job, then you should find you can write at the same time each weekday and on weekends. Schedule this time first.
c. Squeeze into the time that is left all your other duties and tasks as an Indie. Depending on how much you do yourself, or farm out, will affect how you slice and dice this time.
2. Indies have to spend time finding and hiring!
(Editors, Out-source Experts, Monitoring Contractors’ Performance, Delivery Schedules)
As with (1) above, you could schedule time dedicated to dealing with your contractors, especially if you have several of them.
An alternative is to use a really good “bring forward” system [link: http://secretaryhelpline.blogspot.ca/2007/10/using-bring-forward-system.html] – a reminder program, app, filing system or notebook that prompts you to deal as necessary with your suppliers and contractors at the right time. When the reminders occur, slot the task into your general business time.
3. Indies have much more complex accounting expectations
(If you’re living anywhere but the United States, that complexity doubles as you juggle foreign income)
There’s really only one appropriate solution for Indies: Hire a very good accountant and pay them to prepare your tax returns. You might also want to hire a good bookkeeper who will maintain your accounting records throughout the year, in a format that the accountants can use at tax time.
While you can do your taxes yourself, I don’t recommend it. There are too many loopholes and responsibilities the solo business person must meet to risk doing it yourself. A good accountant will usually cost less than your tax return each year, and will find ways to minimize your tax burden and provide good advice. They will also act as an intermediary with your country’s tax department, if the tax department has any queries.
4. Waiting times and publishing schedules.
All the experts you hire have lead times. You have to incorporate how long it takes for your most favourite editor ever to get through your book and report back…and what if you need a second round of editing? Good cover designers are in demand and it might take weeks to get your cover done. These lead times impact when you get to publish the book. How recently you published the previous title also impacts your decision.
Strive to be writing three to six months ahead of your publishing schedule.
This takes time to put into place (by slowly and consistently increasing your manuscript-to-release lead time with each book you release), but will give you enormous flexibility in hiring exactly the experts you want, when you want them (as you can book them six months ahead).
It also has the advantage of giving you all the same promotion and PR perks that legacy authors enjoy: Booking advertisements and tours months ahead of date become painless and very effective. Plus you get the pick of the good advertising and promotion venues.
Promotion possibilities expand when you’re working well ahead of your release date. You give your readers plenty of lead time to anticipate the release, you can gather early reviews (and include them in the release, if they’re that good), pull quotes and more.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published 26 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book Of The Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com