by Jon Biddle
Being self-published is something just more than writing. I have said this so many times, the writing side of things is the easy bit and the business side of things can become very consuming. How long you take to understand Amazon ads and the Facebook ads platform is really down to you. Mark Dawson, a multimillion copy selling author, said he only takes ten minutes to check his ads each day. I am not sure what time clock Mark is working to, because the time clock I work to seems to be related to Star Trek, and ten minutes in his world is around ten hours in mine.
So if you’re struggling with the writing, then maybe you should realign your goals because if you haven’t started the other stuff, you’re in for a bumpy ride.
An indie author has to wear more than just one hat. While the big publishing houses handle the day-to-day running of your books shelf life and the author can allow their publicist to book on writing engagements, allowing more scope to just sit and write is an aspiration a bit too far out of my reach right now, and I am not the only one.
Listening to aspiring indie authors, I hear the same things and this is centred around finding the time to not only write, but dealing with the marketing, the book promos, the blogging, the website, the book promo sites and of course, how the hell are you going to pay for this?
According to studies, an indie author will get frustrated and throw in the towel after only two weeks in trying to figure out the marketing side of things, although this statistic seems astonishing and maybe an extreme, but with my journey, I feel I am sat there always holding the towel, waiting to throw it into the ring and walk away. Trust me, trying to figure these things out requires a certain amount of cerebral capacity, of which I seem to lack most days.
But, with the horizon of optimism and all of this is achievable.
So here are my top tips for handling the precious minutes in your day to make sure the gears of Jon Biddle Ink keep turning.
1. Plan — seems stupid to some. But planning is key. Annually, monthly, weekly, daily and down to the hours. I work as a medical professional, ratcheting up to fifty hours of work per week working in the OR. My free time is very limited. I have monitored the hours and still find the time to write and do the business stuff for four hours a day. More on the weekend. Somewhere in there, I have to be a husband and a father. Get a dairy, whichever works for you (digital/paper) and plan your year, month, week and day. Down to the hours and minutes to maximise your time in front of your computer. Benjamin Franklin said if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In the army, who just love the acronym’s; the 7P’s. Proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance. And don’t be alarmed at how full your diary looks. Change the paradigm of your thought process. Change from busy diary to optimised.
2. Consistent — Do something every day and be consistent. Look at it this way, if you did just one thing relating to your writing outside of the writing bit every day of the year, you would have done 365 things which could have earned you a best seller, allowed you to give up that day job, or buy that home you have been thirsting over. I have to say this too, the harder it might seem, means you’re on the right track. If this was easy, everyone would it, right?
3. Control — sometimes you have little control over the business side of things. Your Facebook ad account might be suspended, you might have simply run out of money, one of the children is sick, you might be sick. It’s the one side of the business I know I have little control over. I am such a small fish in a very large ocean and all I can do is what I can do, which leads me on to…
4. Content — is king. All hail to the content. This is something you have absolute control over. Get your content out there, and what I mean by content, not just your book. I mean blogs, articles, podcasts interviews. If you can’t bag an interview by a publishing podcast, make your own. The one thing you have on your side is readily available technology right at your fingertips. Get your content out there. You can use Patreon, Substack to name but a few. You’re an indie author who has written a book. There’s few of us in the world, which means to some, you have an opinion. Spread the author’s love and the author’s ink will find a way of rewarding you.
5. VA Baby — what does a VA mean? Well, all that technology at your fingertips allows you to find VA’s or virtual assistants. Most people reading this blog will live in the Western Hemisphere of the world where a Starbucks coffee cost more than it would to feed a family in most parts of the world for a day. There is a vast movement of highly skilled professionals who live in less developed countries and are more than eager and capable of handling the myriad of business things through websites such as UpWork or Freestyler. These sites will introduce you to bloggers, writers, editors, graphic designers, web builders, proof readers, advertisers, marketers… the list is endless. And instead of paying a New York ad agency $10,000 per month (I called one up), you can have someone in Mumbai do the same work for a couple of hundred dollars. If you can’t fathom some aspects of the business side of things, then farm it out and don’t sweat it. This also applies if you just don’t like doing something. Remember, content is king. If you are suffering from paralysis of the analysis and not producing content, ship it off and get someone else to do it; push your content, it always transposes to sales.
6. Be kind to yourself — Why are you here? Not reading this blog kinda question, but why are you a writer? This is your prime directive, right? If something isn’t working, figure it out. If you can’t figure it out and it’s crucial to ultimately selling more books, farm the work out to a VA and move forward. There is no past, no future, only present. Don’t allow small things like ads and marketing to clutter your mind.
Johnny B. Truant is one of my self-published hero’s, he said it’s not rocket science, and it isn’t. It will take time and creating a new understanding and habits. What I would say is embrace it. I, like you, want my book to be number one in the New York Times, up there with the likes of King, Child and Slaughter, but hating the process will make you bitter at the end. Allow the process to take you and the more knocks you get will make you the stronger person.
Now picture this: you have made the New York Times bestseller list, your book is everywhere, Spielberg has bought the rights. You have had to choose from the hundred of publicists who rejected you back in the day to handle all of your affairs and you’re stood on the stage as the keynote speaker at the annual ThrillerFest in New York. The fundamental question you’ll be asked “how did you get here,” — what a story you’ll have?