My husband often calls me the 90% girl. I work fast, I’m efficient, but when I get things to the 90% mark, I call it good. It’s not that I don’t finish things–I do–it’s just that if it’s 90% of the way to perfect, I stop. “Close enough” I say, nothing’s ever perfect, right?
Being 90% girl means I often don’t take things as far as I should. Most writers have no problems being perfectionists about their words, but how many of us are 90%-ing the other things? I absolutely do. I have a newsletter, I put links to subscribe to it in my backmatter and on my social media and my website. I send out newsletters when I have a new release or a sale. I have a drip campaign going with free books for new subscribers. It’s a lot. It’s 90% and that’s good.
But that last ten percent—in ads, in newsletters, in so many things in this business—is the ten percent that distinguishes a really successful author from a kind of successful one. Those details we don’t want to worry about are the final push that help us rise above, and they’re often the hardest part of the job.
If you want to do more than just get by in Indie publishing, you cannot stop at 90%. We all have to prioritize in this business, but once you’ve selected those two or five or ten things you’re going to focus on, you have to do them to 100% or you’re not doing everything you can to succeed. This business is hard, and while you may find temporary things—a BookBub, a particular ad, KU—that seem to be the key to success, if you stick around long enough you’ll discover those things won’t pull you through the long haul.
The only thing that will sustain you over the long term in Indie writing is to work your ass off, constantly looking to hit the 100% mark in everything you decide to take on.
Newsletters? I learned this weekend how important it is not only to have a subscriber list and publicize it, but to segment your list by readers’ interests and needs; to optimize and test your newsletters to maximize your open rates; to automate your system so readers are hearing from you in a timely and interactive fashion; and to compose your news so readers know you’re interested and care about giving them something of value.
Ads? I learned It’s not enough to simply run them, you need to tailor them depending on your market. Are you using KU? Successful strategies are different than for wide distribution. FB, AMS, and BB are useful for different circumstances and purposes. And for every ad your graphics need to be 100%, your hooks need to be 100%, your audiences need to be precise. You can’t 90% this shit or you’re throwing away your money and your opportunities.
So where does that leave us? We can’t do it all, because this job is actually the job of five people, and even if we could be perfect, we’re just too damn tired to be.
The answer is: you have to prioritize. You have to determine those essential items for your business, and then you have to do them to 100%. Writing isn’t for the faint of heart, and most writers I know are damn hard workers, but especially when you’re Indie you have to work even harder. You have to go beyond the 90% point, not only with your words, but with the other essentials in your business as well. You have to be willing to try things out, do things you don’t enjoy, spend money on items that aren’t a “sure thing.” And only once you’ve gone all the way to 100% will you find your best, most successful self.