Indie Author Tools – Productivity!
In Part 1 we talked about writing. Part 2 is going to be a bit of an extension of that, but not so much about writing as how to make the time to write. That’s “write”, we’re talking about productivity.
Like I mentioned previously, to earn a living as an indie author you have to be productive. But it’s important to note that productivity for the sole purpose of putting more books out into the world isn’t a good idea. Be as productive as you can be, while maintaining quality. Releasing 10 books a year that are trash would be a career killer. It would be better to release three fantastic books that readers love.
That said, I’m going into 2021 with a desire to be more productive. 2020 was a year of re-branding, which meant I spent most of the year re-releasing books I’d already written. That’s countless hours of reading, revising, and editing books so they’d fit my new brand. In the end, it took a full year to do this. Heading into the new year brings an opportunity to work on new stories. New stories means I need to refocus and refine the way I write first drafts. I’m still in the process of fine-tuning exactly how that looks, but my increased productivity method is to first answer these questions:
- Decide what is important to me. What does success look like for me. Once I know that…
- What do I need to do to get there
Make a Decision – To get to where you want to be, the first step is to decide what is important to you. Being an author is a broad career path. There are so many different ways to be an author.
- Do I want to be a full-time author?
- Do I have an income goal?
- Do I want to sell a certain number of books a day?
- Do I want to finish a book?
- Do I want to write something I can enjoy with my friends and family?
- Do I want to to win book awards?
- Do I want to be well reviewed?
- Do I want to hit the bestsellers lists?
All of those are legitimate author goals. There are some I haven’t even listed.
What is important to me? Yes, I want to be widely read, but I also have an income goal. Not only do I want to earn enough money to support myself as an author, even though I have a day job as a technical writer, but I want to earn enough money to live comfortably, travel, and enjoy my life.
How do you get there?
Increased Productivity is a major ingredient to me reaching my goal. I’ll focus on that because that’s a goal for many authors. If you can increase the number of QUALITY books you release in a year, you’ll be increasing your potential income. My first step is to make the decision that I am going to increase the speed at which I write my first drafts.
Create daily and weekly goals for yourself. Back in 2018 I learned that I can write 2,000 words a day. That’s 10,000 words a week. So that’s my first goal. No matter how I feel, I’ll do 2,000 words a day. And if something comes up during the week and I can’t write one day, I’ll make up the word count on another day during that same week. At the end of every week I need to have written 10,000 words.
This may sound like I’m sucking the fun out of writing, but I’m not. I love writing stories, but this is also a business for me. This is why I start out by determining what’s important to me. What’s important to you? What is the goal you’re working toward? I have an income goal and increased productivity is critical to me being able to reach that goal. If my goal were to finish a book, I’d give myself a year to write a book. If my goal were to be well reviewed, I wouldn’t have a weekly word count goal. But I know that for my goal, I need to be putting out as many awesome books in a year that I can.
Time Management – I’m one of those people who are completely incapable of accomplishing anything unless I have a plan. Part of my productivity plan includes ways to manage my time better. Since I work full time, I need to schedule a time, every day, to write.
I should mention here that the way people manage their time is going to be individual to them. Don’t try to do what someone else does. Like I said in my previous post, Chris Fox writes 5K an hour. I look at him as a writing mentor, but I didn’t try to emulate that. I write 1K an hour.
To manage my time I’ve started using planners and a Kanban board. Last year I began using a business planner to organize the business tasks I have to do every day, and Kanban board. This was after discovering Sarra Cannon’s YouTube channel, Heart Breathings. This was a gamechanger for me. Before I began using a planner and Kanban board, I’d have a lot of things to accomplish, but:
- When it was time to work I could never remember what I had to do
- Everything I had to do seemed overwhelming
What I do now is simple. (I did a video about this on my YouTube channel. You can find it by clicking: Get Organized!) This is the process I follow. It seems like a lot on first sight, but the goal is to have a plan ahead of time, so every day I’m not struggling to remember what I have to do because I’ve already done all of the hard work.
- What is it that you want to achieve with your writing career this year? Where do you see yourself in a year?
- How do you get there? Once you’ve determined where you want to be in a year, you need to figure out what you need to do to get there. Brainstorm. Make a list of things you think will lead you to your one-year goal. Once you have your list, break it up by:
- High Priority
- Moderate Priority
- Low Priority
- Determine your three major goals for the quarter from the above list. For instance: I want to sell 100 more books every month. I want to increase my Instagram followers by 25%. I want to increase my newsletter joins by 15%. It’s important that your major goals are measurable. “I want to sell more books.” Isn’t a measurable goal, but you’ll know when you hit your goal of 50 more book sales every month. I want more newsletter signups isn’t measurable, but a 15% increase in signups is.
- Break down your three major goals into small, bite-sized tasks. This is the important part. This is where my major goals turn into (reality). For example, with the goal to sell 50 more books a month, what do I need to do to achieve that?
- Start a new book in my urban fantasy series
- Edit newly completed book
- Start planning promo for completed book
- Contact review sites to review my upcoming release
- Contact book bloggers to review my upcoming release
- Send newly finished book to ARC readers
- Send newly finished book to editor
- Send newly finished book to beta readers
- Format newly finished book
- Get cover art for newly finished book
- Upload ebook on retail sites
- Upload print book on retail sites
- Finish first drat of new book in my urban fantasy series
- Start second draft of new book in my urban fantasy series
- Get Facebook ad for new release
- Pay for space in Bargain Booksy for new release
- Mind Map for new story in urban fantasy series
- Outline new book in urban fantasy series
- Break your tasks into buckets.
- 30 days
- 60 days
- 90 days
- Planner – Weekly/Daily – I use a weekly and daily planner to plan because I need to plan in the detail to get things done. If I don’t get it down in my planner, there’s a good chance it won’t get done.
- I refer to my task list. Depending on where I am (30, 60, or 90 days) I look at the tasks I need to accomplish and select 3 tasks from the list. These will be my focus for the week.
- I write my plan for the week (which isn’t etched in stone), incorporating the three tasks I need to complete.
- Every morning I make a plan for my day. I refer to my weekly plan.
- Writing/editing are daily tasks so they’re always on my daily schedule
- Some tasks can’t be completed in one day
- What I do on my daily schedule may differ from what I have on my weekly schedule because sometimes life happens, and I have to maybe record my vlog on Saturday instead of Friday. That’s okay. The plan isn’t there to make you feel restricted or overwhelmed. It’s a method to help you be as efficient as possible.
- Every morning I make a plan for my day. I refer to my weekly plan.
Outlining – To get to my 2K a day goal, I need a pretty solid outline. I’ve always outlined my books. I tried once or twice to use the, fly by the seat of my pants, method, and hit a wall. I ended up having to delete a lot of content in order to move the story forward.
A lot of people “fly” and write amazing books (like Stephen King), but I am not one of them. I have to plot.
I have to have a solid outline written so I won’t have to stop writing so much to go back and figure out what should happen next in my story. I use two methods. First I mind map (I have a video on my YouTube channel where I walk you through the process. Click: Book Writing 101 – Generating Ideas)
After mind mapping, which is basically my method of brainstorming, I create my outline using the Three-Act Structure:
It’s important to remember when using methods of outlining that they’re just a useful tool, not a rule. I use these methods to make myself ask important questions about the story I’m writing, not as a cage to restrict my writing. The story is going to be told however it wants to be told, but these methods help me to plan that story and enable me to be able to reach my goal of 2,000 words a day.
Those are a few of my productivity tips. I’m excited to see how 2021 goes with my new productivity methods. I’ll keep you posted here and on my vlog.
What are ways you can become more productive?
There’s still a lot more…until next time,
Happy Reading & Writing!