Welcome to my first blog in the series #Passion2Profession. If you want a little description of the series and who it’s designed for, click here.
#Passion2Profession posts won’t be in a particular order. Posts will occur once a week or so, and if there is a topic you’re particularly interested in reading about feel free to contact me and put in a request! You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m going to start today at the macro level with something that sets the foundation for making the jump from Indie publishing as a passion vs. a profession: PRODUCTION. There are all sorts of views about this: write every day, write 10k a day, don’t write too fast, don’t write too slow, write when the spirit moves you. So here’s what I know: if you want a career in commercial genre fiction, you need to be able to write consistently and quickly (that can vary quite a bit depending on you and your circumstances). But, the more you do that the easier it gets. If you look at successful Indie authors, not a one of them writes only one book a year. Conversely, not all of them write ten books a year. There is a lot of leeway there. A lot of room for you to produce at a speed that works for you. So here’s how:
PRODUCTION SCHEDULES: Having a production schedule seems like basic know-how, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen authors stumble because they didn’t set up a schedule at all, or set up one doomed to failure. Indie publishing is a blessing and a curse because you are your own boss. You can design a schedule that fits with your life, your family, and your goals. But it’s also far too easy to miss deadlines, cancel releases, and underproduce. If you look around at the writers who’ve been succeeding in Indie publishing over the long haul, you’ll see they never treat production lightly.
The first thing to do when thinking about a production schedule is take a long, hard, brutally honest look at your life. BE REAL. Do you have a full time day job? Three kids under the age of five? A disabled parent you’re caring for? Are you moving to another state in three months? Traveling to South America this year? If you don’t take these things into account you’re setting yourself up for failure, and failing isn’t professional.
Indie publishing, particularly in the romance genre, is a field where production, consistency, and quantity matter. But that doesn’t have to mean you write ten books a year, and it absolutely shouldn’t mean you risk your sanity and health to get the job done. Start designing your production schedule by looking at the year ahead—your other commitments, your lifestyle, habits, and plans. Then get real: How many books can you reasonably write? Three? Four? Eight? Once you feel you have a good idea of how many you can produce, move on to the production timeline for each one. Here is a partial list of some things that can go into that production timeline:
Preorder set up
Paperback set up through Createspace or Ingram
Audio book production
[ProTip: If you’re using Amazon for preorders, do NOT set them up until you have a final file. Amazon has become notorious for sending out the draft files on release day instead of the updated final files. It’s not worth the risk of having your release ruined. Just say NO to preorders at Amazon unless you’re using a final file from the time of setup.]
Once you have determined how many books, and the various deadlines you’ll need to meet for each book, look at your year.Your production schedule needs to be rigidly flexible. Does that sound contradictory? It’s actually not. You’re going to work hard on this schedule, you’re going to do everything in your power to stick to it. You’re going to be rigid about meeting those deadlines, and when something happens that prevents you from doing so (because sooner or later something will), you’re going to use the flex time you built in to make it up so you keep producing. One trick I use is having two to three months each year where I don’t have major deadlines planned. For me, those months are May, August and December because they coincide with the busiest times for my kids. By having months free, I’m able to push projects into portions of those months and still meet my quotas for the year.
[Protip: Don’t announce the exact release date for a book until you have the first draft completed and off to edits. You can announce a season “Addicted to Rhapsody coming this summer!” or a month “Addicted to Rhapsody releases in July!” but don’t give a date until you’re absolutely certain you can make it]
Important things to remember:
Make sure to build in time for breaks between books if you need them, time for vacations, time for an editor who takes a few days longer with a book than you planned, time for a cover that ends up being difficult to get “just right.” And set wordcount goals you can meet. THEN MEET THEM.
Here’s the weekly asskicking, darlings: we’re writers, and we procrastinate. Every single one of us. Writing is hard, it makes our brains tired, and the Internet is a lot more fun than cranking out three thousand words a day. BUT if you want to be a professional writer, YOU HAVE TO WRITE. And that means even if you don’t feel like it, even if it’s really hard, even if it’s not fun (oh the horror!). Yes, it’s art, and you can’t always force art. There will be days when you simply aren’t able to get words down. It happens to all of us. But those are occasional days, not weeks on end, not three days out of every five. When you’re a professional writer, you suck it up and write, you meet your deadlines, and you produce multiple books a year consistently.
So, let’s recap:
- To be a professional Indie writer in commercial fiction you need to produce multiple books a year consistently.
- To achieve #1, an annual production schedule is essential
- Whether you can write two books a year or ten, make sure to be consistent, have a plan, and meet your commitments.
- Your production schedule should take into account your life, family obligations, outside job obligations, etc. Be real about what’s possible, and make sure you’re taking care of business and yourself.
- Remember that if you want to be a professional writer, you have to treat writing like a profession. It’s work, y’all. Just like any job.
Here are some tools to help with production:
Word sprints (if you don’t belong to a group, form one!)
If you know of other great tools, drop them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!
In future posts I’ll drill down into production at a more micro level, so keep watch for that.
Next time I’m going to answer my first request for a topic and talk about outsourcing. I’ve been doing it a lot this year, but it’s a very hard decision to make when you’re not earning much. I’ll talk about where that breaking point is to make outsourcing worth the hit to your earnings.
#Passion2Profession #Production #Workload #Schedules #Publishing #Indie