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Get More Done with a Plan #WW

Get More Done With A Plan #ww Jill Kemerer Blog

When you wake up on Monday, do you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish?

This is typically how my thoughts run…

Keep writing the new book. Put together the guest blog. Create graphics for the new release. Oh, and write my blog post. And what about social media?

Instead of anticipating the week, I start to feel crushed because of the sheer amount of things to do. I tend to focus so intensely on the writing that I end up cramming promotion or not doing it on a regular basis. And forget all the other writer duties. They get shoved aside to that fruitless land called “when I have more time.”

I know, you’re laughing right now. We never have a day with more time!

This summer, I stopped the gerbil-on-a-wheel approach to my writing life. I was nervous about it, but it ended up working out better than I could have imagined.

There IS a better way, and I’m living it as we speak.

I realized I have all the time I need right now. I just have to be very, very deliberate. No more hoping I’ll get everything done. Now I plan to get everything done.

Think about your writing life. What MUST get done each week?

For me, it’s the actual writing (or plotting, revising, editing). Then it’s ongoing promotion like posting to social media and my blog, and admin duties (emails, income/expense report, updating website, etc…).

Additionally, what do you want to get done each week?

For me it’s freelance writing, continuous education, long-term marketing, and brainstorming ideas.

How can you fit ALL of these categories in on a regular basis?

Every Monday, I assign duties to each day. If I have appointments, I assign less to those days. I’m very clear about what I’ll be doing, too. For example, Friday I will be doing admin work from 9-9:30am, revising a novella from 9:30-noon, taking thirty minutes to an hour for lunch, going back to the novella from 1-4:00pm, and drafting a freelance story from 4-6:00pm. Not having to think about it frees my brain to just do it!

In the past, I would have worked on the novella all day, gotten exhausted by 4:30 or 5:00pm and quit. I’m still tired in the late afternoon, but I can always push myself to switch gears and either work on a shorter piece or study a writing craft book.

The result? I’m writing/revising as much as I used to, AND I’m fitting in the other things on my list. I can’t believe it, but I’m actually getting more done.

**I do take five-minute breaks twice a day to check Facebook, Twitter and my emails. I do NOT linger. It kills my productivity and eats into my time.**

What do you want to get done but never have time for? Do you think planning it into your week would help?

Have a terrific day!

 

 

Using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to Meet Writing Goals

Meet Your Writing Goals Using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

Last weekend I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Writers, Inc. Every January we have our annual goals discussion. The first half of my talk was about basic goal-setting: taking time to think about professional, health, emotional and personal goals for the year and deciding how and when to achieve them.

During the second half I shared how we can use Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to meet our writing goals.

We had a frank discussion, and I was thrilled to learn we had writers ranging in all four tendencies. I was surprised to learn some of the solutions I thought would work for one type clearly wouldn’t. And I loved hearing these writers share what would work for them.

 

Meet Your Writing Goals using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

 

If you’re not familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Four Tendencies, you can read about it HERE. Basically, Ms. Rubin studies human nature (she’s the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Happiness Project), and she divides people into four groups according to how they respond to expectations.

  • Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
  • Questioners meet inner expectations easier than they do outer ones.
  • Obligers meet outer expectations more readily than inner ones.
  • Rebels struggle against both inner and outer expectations.

In other words, Upholders tend to get things done that are important to them personally as well as what others expect them to do.

Questioners tend to get things done that make sense to them. If someone expects them to do something they don’t agree with or see the value in, it won’t get done.

Obligers tend to get things done when someone is depending on them. They find it difficult to meet personal goals.

Rebels want to do things in their way and in their time. Standard advice for meeting goals does not work for this tendency!

 

*If you’re not sure what tendency you fit in, take the QUIZ (linked). It’s short and sweet.*

 

Here’s what I loved about having this discussion with fellow writers.

Upholders are planner geeks, and we (yes, I’m an Upholder!) love time management tools. We can be rigid and too-rule-follow-y, but we get things done and that’s good. Setting daily/weekly/monthly writing goals works for Upholders.

Questioners who struggle to meet their writing goals need to keep asking questions about the goal until an answer clicks in that makes sense to them. For example: I’m going to write for one hour every weekday morning before work. You might then ask, why the morning? and you’d remember your nighttime routine is exhausting. But what if I wrote right after dinner? But you already decided to walk on the treadmill at that time. Face it, my creative energy is gone by 8pm.

At that point, you see the value in dedicating an hour in the morning. But you might have to keep questioning why writing every weekday is important until you get to your gold.

Obligers don’t want to let people down. If you fall into this category, you might put off writing until a hard deadline looms. Sure, you know you need to write or you’ll struggle to finish the book, but you struggle to feel the urgency. In this case, an accountability partner or group can make a difference. If you decide to physically meet someone at the library or a coffee shop to write for two hours, you’re much more likely to actually write at that time then if you marked those hours on your calendar to write at home.

As far as the Rebels out there, I urge you to throw out all the “expert” advice about planning and goal setting and do your own thing. Experiment. Get creative. And keep trying new methods of getting and keeping your butt in the chair until you find what works!

I’d love to hear how you find success in meeting your writing goals! Please leave a comment!

Have a terrific day!

Scheduling Creative Sessions {Writer Wednesday}

Scheduling Creative Sessions

Creative Sessions = Dedicated time to problem solve, plot, explore ideas.

In the past two weeks I’ve read two nonfiction books that made a big impact on me. The first was The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and the second was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Although very different books, they shared a common theme–focus. The Wright brothers devoted much of their free time to solving the dilemma of human flight. Their passion helped them focus, and they spent hours, weeks, months and years experimenting and problem solving. In Deep Work, Cal Newport puts forth a compelling argument why anyone who wants to excel in their field needs to be deliberate about what they’re spending their time on. In other words, excellence requires focus.

 

Scheduling Creative Sessions

 

Writing, like inventing, involves a LOT of creativity. And creativity is a form of problem-solving. Fictional characters don’t always behave, and plots get off track. And then there’s the issue of what to write next.

I have many ideas I’d love to explore, so many books I want to write. Time always feels like the deciding factor. But over the past couple of years, I’ve broken free from my belief that producing a higher volume of quality books requires putting in massive overtime hours.

Last year I was tired of constantly setting aside a pet project to work on my contracted books. It hit me that if I didn’t schedule time for it, I would never finish the project, let alone publish it. I had to figure out how to work on it while fulfilling my contracts. I sensed that I could accomplish far more than I thought possible, but I didn’t know how. So, I read several time management books, prayed, talked to trusted writer friends, and finally decided to go for it.

Through trial and error, my beliefs shifted. I reworked my daily schedule, limited the frequency of social media breaks, silenced my phone and pushed myself to meet daily and weekly goals. I also added more time to studying the Bible and praying each morning which had a direct impact on my day by giving me the boost necessary to believe I could meet my goals.

In 2016, I plotted several books, wrote two category length books, a novella and a nonfiction book, promoted two novels, and organized my writing business. This was far more than I’d produced the previous year, and yes, sometimes this meant working overtime, but overall, I fit these projects into normal working hours. How? By deciding in advance what I would work on each day, devoting 30-60 minutes to my nonfiction book (the one that kept getting neglected), and limiting distractions.

The great thing about revising my schedule? My writing continues to grow. I’m confident about the books I’m writing because I’m making the time to thoroughly plot, write, revise and polish them. If my only goal was to publish more books, I’d be tempted to use shortcuts and skimp on the quality. My goal has always been to write the best book I’m capable of and that means no skimping.

One thing I’m adding this year: scheduling regular creative sessions just to think and jot notes. These time blocks will be used to plot, work through a current book problem, explore ideas for new books, and creatively solve any business issues. Setting aside 2-3 hours a week, or even 30 minutes a day, to just “sit and think” seemed absurd until I realized my brain does so much heavy-hitting for me beneath the surface of my consciousness. Scheduling regular creative sessions is another tool to get more work done in a limited time frame. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you ever sense you could accomplish more in the limited time you have? What strategies do you currently use to make the most of your hours?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Creating a Production Plan: Writer Wednesday

On Saturday I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Authors, Inc. My presentation was on how to create a production plan. I came up with these steps through trial and error last year. Since implementing my plan, I’ve blown away my personal deadlines, and for the first time I’m successfully working on multiple projects at once. Why? Having a production plan cleared the mental clutter. Every day I wake up excited because I believe I can achieve my goals for this year, and I know exactly what those goals are.

 

Creating a Production Plan

 

What is a production plan?

A production plan is a twelve-month schedule a writer creates for upcoming writing projects. It lists the steps for each project and when the writer anticipates completing them.

 

Do you need a production plan?

  • Do you look back at the end of the year and wonder what you accomplished?
  • Do you have a list of things you’d like to write but have no idea when you’ll get them done?
  • Are you struggling to work on multiple projects at various stages of completion?
  • Do you have a nagging sense there is no way you can fit everything into your schedule?
  • Do you want to increase your productivity? Write more books in a year? Publish more books?

 

Where to start:

  1. List all of the books, novellas, short stories or other projects you’re interested in pursuing.
  1. Analyze the list according to brand/time/market.

– Does this project complement my brand?

– How much time will it take for me to complete this project?

– What is the market outlook for this project?

  1. What projects make the most sense to pursue in the upcoming year based on the above analysis?

 

Ordering Your Steps:

  1. Do you have any contracted writing projects? These are your #1 priority and everything else must be scheduled around them.
  1. Are you self-publishing any projects?

– How many books, novellas, or short stories are you releasing this year?

– Are any of these completed?
– How long does it take you to plot, write, revise, polish, have a book edited, and prepare each project for publication?

– What are the timeframes for your cover designer, editor or any other publishing contractor?

– How much time do you need to market your projects?

  1. Are you querying agents or editors with any of the books? If yes, do you have a deadline (Ex: you’re pitching at a conference in July)?

 

Estimating Time Frames:

  1. Based on the above information, list the projects you will tackle this year.

 

  1. Under the project name, jot what needs to be done (write, revise, have critiqued/edited, etc…) and how long you think each step will take.

 

  1. Go over the list with a critical eye. Based on your time estimates, can you realistically pursue each project? Or, on the flip side, can you add a project?

 

  1. Decide the order of importance for each book. Which will you work on first? When do you want to have it completed? Is this a reasonable timeframe? Will you work on other projects simultaneously (drafting one, preparing another for publication)?

 

The Production Plan Rough Draft:

  1. Take twelve blank pieces of paper or sticky notes. Label them January, February, March and so on.
  1. Review your Time Frame list from above.

Let’s say Project A is your most important project at this moment. You’ve written a rough draft, but it needs to be revised, critiqued, and edited. You will be pitching this book in July at the RWA conference. Project B is a novella you’ve decided to self-publish. It is just an idea in your mind at this point. Since it’s a Halloween theme, you want to release it by September 31. Project C is the second book in Project A’s series. You want to write the first three chapters by the end of the year just in case an agent or editor requests Project A and wants more.

  1. Starting with Project A (use your title), list what needs to be done on the pieces of paper in the months you anticipate working on them. Keep your calendar in front of you with any important dates (vacation, out of town wedding) to avoid overcommitting.

 

Ex:      January:        Project A: Revise and send to critique partner

            February:

            March:            Project A: Edit based on critique

            April:               Project A: Polish

            May:                Project A: Write synopsis, revise and polish

  1. Repeat step 3 with your remaining projects.

 

 

  1. Some months will have multiple projects on them. Review these and be honest with yourself. Are your expectations too high? It’s okay to drop one of your projects off the list or to plan on completing only part of it. That’s what this exercise is for.

 

  1. Combine the papers and type up a 12-month plan.

January:        Project A: Revise and send to critique partner

Project B: Brainstorm story direction

Project B: Plot, write blurb/synopsis, etc…

February:       Project B: Begin drafting the story

March:            Project A: Edit based on critique

Project B: Finish drafting story

Project B: Hire editor (who you know has two month lead time)

And so forth…

 

  1. Print this form out and keep it near your workspace so you can refer to it every workday. It will keep you focused on what’s most important to you for that month.

 

Step-by-step guide to creating a production plan – Click to Tweet

Do you create a twelve-month plan for your writing? If twelve months seems overwhelming, try a six-month plan. And feel free to play around with the concept. What worked for me might not work for you, but it might trigger another idea that will work for you!

Have a terrific day!

The Mental Relief of Getting Organized

As many of you know, I’m a pretty organized person. I’m not obsessive, and I often let things slide, but overall I feel good about how I run my business and household. That being said, it’s often difficult for me to schedule the icky tasks when I have a deadline or have a million other little things to attend to. Who wants to deal with outgrown clothes, expense reports and making appointments when they could be watching a Hallmark Christmas movie? Not me!

 

 

The problem with letting the organization slide? It clogs my brain. My income-expense system consists of a manila folder to shove all my receipts and check stubs into–and the thick file stresses me out. Overgrown clothes spill out of our hall closet until I make time to drop them at Goodwill. And don’t get me started on my digital photos! Out of control! Besides that, birthdays loom with no gifts purchased, a dying remote needs to be replaced, eye and hair appointments need to be made, and I have a stack of unread magazines that would make a grown woman cry.

How do modern women do it? I mean, we aren’t even talking about the general stuff–the parent/teacher conferences, sports, keeping the family clothed, paying bills, random (and constant) meetings, meals, homework, and such. I just got a shiver.

Anyway…this week has been lovely because I spent the weekend organizing my business life. I created a business plan to keep me on track next year. I’ve also taken care of the outgrown clothes and the digital photos. The dying remote? Finally ordered a replacement. The income-expense issue? Pulled up my big girl pants, grabbed some chocolate, and created an actual *gasp* report. I tossed a few unread magazines in the recycling bin and plan on enjoying the rest this weekend. I also did some online shopping for the gifts still needed (and no, we aren’t talking Christmas yet).

You know what? My brain feels clear. I still have cluttered areas of life, but I’m making progress, and I feel so much relief getting these tasks off my mind.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

I realize not everyone gets mentally cluttered with shoddy organization, but clutter–mental or physical–really stresses me out.

Do you get stressed when everything piles up? What brings you mental relief?

Have a fantastic weekend!!

It’s That Time Again: Streamlining Family Life

We recently took a lovely vacation full of sunshine and relaxation. I came home with a pocket of anxiety about the upcoming school year, though. August is notorious for being full of things I generally don’t enjoy such as school registration, back-to-school shopping, daily sports’ practices, dentist appointments, parent meetings and what-not. Plus, our kids start school on August 20. Yeah, that’s next week. Not cool.

 

Beach

 

Last fall I was diligent about taking an hour or two on Sunday to plan the week. I left a hard copy of the schedule in the kitchen for all members of the fam to peruse. It worked great. By January, I’d gotten lazy. No more hard copies in the kitchen. One reason? I have to walk 15 to 16 steps up the staircase with my laptop and connect the printer via USB. I know! It takes all of 5 minutes and even that was too hard! Boy, that’s pretty ridiculous and lazy.

To circumvent the whole printer issue, I decided to try a different method this fall. I bought a super cheap planner from Dollar General (two bucks) with a weekly spread for me to write in the dates myself. Since I loathe disorder and piles on my counter, I also bought a super cheap letter holder (three bucks) to pop the planner into. Boom! Feeling better already…

Once a week (Sunday works well for me), I jot down all the practices, appointments, etc… for the week, and at the bottom of each day, I add the dinner menu. Once I have a meal plan, I create a grocery list. Easy!

Here’s another little nugget I tried. I decided to get the Evernote App for my phone since it syncs to my computer and is really easy to use. Well, I created a Note for meal ideas. It took a few hours, but I brainstormed all the meals my family enjoys then listed them by Italian, Mexican, Sandwiches, Grilled, Seafood, Everyday, Chicken, Soups, Sides, Salads. I have almost 90 main dishes list and 35 sides. I *hope* this will make meal planning easier and more varied for us.

I also purchased a wireless printer out of necessity. When I upgraded to Windows 10, my perfectly good old printer ceased to be compatible. That’s life. The new printer will be arriving soon, and I’m sure it will make life easier.

What is your secret to organizing your life? I’d love to hear it!

Have a terrific weekend!

 

Writer’s Brain and Multiple Projects

Writer's Brain And Multiple Projects

Symptoms of writer’s brain:

1. Overwhelming desire to drop everything and explore a new idea.

2. Inability to focus because five things are clamoring for attention.

3. Disconnect with the world around us due to immersion in whatever we’re working on.

 

I didn’t always have writer’s brain. In fact years went by with me functioning quite well. Before I got serious about getting published, I worked on one idea or project at a time. By the time I signed  with my agent, I’d gotten into the habit of plotting one book while writing and revising another, as well as keeping up with daily social media tasks.

Now that my career has been moving forward, I constantly deal with multiple projects. This causes writer’s brain on a regular basis. For example, this week I’m working on:

1. Initial promotion plan for Unexpected Family.

  • Organizing a group Facebook party for launch date.
  • Emailing bloggers to set dates, guest posts and interviews for blog tour.
  • Setting up a private Facebook group for readers who want to help spread the word about my books (if you would like to be a member, please email me jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com).

2.  Write the first fifty pages of new book to submit on proposal. I’m 5,ooo words in and plan on finishing the draft this week.

3. Continue working on nonfiction book.

  • Ordered a book on copyrights and permissions.
  • Drafting another chapter.

4. Reading one book I agreed to influence.

5. Write a short piece for my church’s outreach committee.

6. Update the home page of my website (I do this the first of each month).

 

With all these projects, it gets difficult to prioritize.

Should I write another scene of the fiction proposal first? Or type another chapter of the nonfiction? How do I fit in the promotion tasks? How long will it take me to read the book I’m influencing, and when should I start it (I already know I won’t want to put it down!)?

All those thoughts swirl, throwing me into writer’s brain. It’s not pretty. It’s easy to get stuck really quick! Instead of wallowing in a bag of M&Ms, I looked at my week and decided what to work on and when.

  • Mondays are always full of chores and errands, so I fit my promotion tasks in between them. I drafted the short piece for church Monday night.
  • Tuesday brought more time-consuming morning chores/errands, but after lunch, I worked on my fiction proposal until we had to leave for my son’s baseball game. I sketched out the next scene while the boys warmed up before the game.
  • This morning I’ll be updating my home page and writing more of the fiction proposal. Tonight I’ll take notes on the copyrights and permissions book.
  • Tomorrow I’ll continue the fiction proposal and revise the church piece before sending it. We have another baseball game, which means I can read a few chapters of the book I’m influencing before the game.
  • Friday I should be finished with the proposal draft, so I’ll write another chapter of my nonfiction then.
  • And this weekend I’ll read the rest of the book I’m influencing.

Even if the week doesn’t go according to plan, I know I’ll meet the majority of my goals. Best of all, none of my current projects will fall through the cracks. Phew!

It’s not easy to prioritize. It’s certainly not easy to make progress on multiple projects! But this is part of my job, and I love my job. I get excited every day (and a little panicky at how to fit it all in) to develop ideas into books and to promote them. It just takes a little planning and a lot of focus. 🙂

How do you deal with multiple projects?

Share your tips! And have a wonderful day!

 

How I’m Making Writing Work This Summer

I have always struggled with disruptions to my routine. My dedicated writing hours during the school year dwindle to snatched minutes with the kids home for summer. My kids aren’t even young! It’s just different having them home. They have places to be, stomachs to feed and various activities during the day and at night.

Taking the summer off from writing is not an option. In fact, scaling back in the summer horrifies me. I have goals, and by golly, I will meet them!

 

 

Here’s how I’m making writing work this summer.

1. Set the alarm.

I refuse to get up at 6:15am the way I do all school year, but 7:30 works just fine. This gives me quiet time to sip my coffee, read the Bible and pray before hitting the office.

2. Accept that the days will be chopped up.

This week my son had baseball activities two mornings and two nights. Both kids had running club. My daughter is in charge of getting to her own activities, but I still plan my writing around their schedules.

3. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals.

I set the monthly goal first, then break it into weekly goals. I look ahead at my calendar to figure out how to meet the weekly goals before setting daily goals.

4. I track my progress.

Last week I plotted a romance novel and wrote the synopsis for it. I also fleshed out two chapters of a nonfiction book in progress. This week I plotted another romance novel. I’m writing the synopsis this afternoon. I also spent hours researching and wrote two chapters. All the little tasks you do add up, but if you don’t track them, you might miss the feeling of accomplishment you deserve.

5. Switch tools.

My romance novels are strictly laptop only. I do everything there–plotting, research, drafts, revising. However, I work on short stories and nonfiction using Google Docs. Believe it or not, I do a lot of writing on my iPhone at odd places. Waiting in the car for baseball practice? Write a few paragraphs. Sitting on the couch at night with nothing on TV? Draft another chapter. Switching tools has made a HUGE impact on my productivity. It’s given me the freedom to make progress on pieces I’d been putting off.

6. Let go of guilt.

My family understands that writing is my job. We don’t have special activities every day. My daughter drives and makes her own plans. My son’s friends live nearby, and he can walk or ride his bike to see them. We take advantage of the fun things our area offers, but not constantly. If my kids are bored, oh well. Life is what you make it. What better time to learn this than as a teenager?

7. Take breaks and get enough rest.

If I’m exhausted in the afternoon, I enjoy a cup of tea and rest on the couch, or I might take a brief nap. Exercise has become vital for me. All the sitting takes such a toll on our bodies. Even a 10 minute walk makes a big difference to my body. Rather than cramming writing in all at once, I set mini-goals throughout the day.

8. Enjoy life.

Summer is the best! I love having my kids home, a less-stressful schedule, hot days, yummy summer food and outside time. I dream more in the summer. I read more, too. I don’t want to remember these precious weeks as being perpetually stressed out, so I try to approach each day with a good attitude. Whatever I get done is enough.

We’re all at different stages of life, with different responsibilities. You may have a full-time job, a part-time job, toddlers at home, no kids, a sick loved one–I don’t know! What works for me might not work for you, but that’s the point. You have to find how to make summer writing work for you. I’d love to hear how you do it!

How do you make summer writing work for you?

**There’s still time to enter the giveaway of Keli Gwyn’s historical Christian romance, Family of Her Dreams. Click on her post HERE and leave a comment before midnight Saturday, June 13 to be entered! US residents 18 and older only.

Have a terrific weekend!!

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

To successfully plan a book release, you need an expert level of organization. As I wrap up the plans to promote my debut novel, I realize I had no idea it would be this time consuming. And there are so many details poised to slip through the cracks! That’s why I’m sharing what I’ve learned. This is a lengthy post, but I didn’t want to leave anything out.

Promoting Your Book: Getting Organized

1. Digital Files

Hopefully when you wrote your book, you created a digital folder for it. I highly recommend keeping all of your promotion materials here under a subfolder named Promo. Copy/paste a copy of your book cover and an author photo in this folder. Trust me, you will use them!

If you’re putting a blog tour together, create another subfolder in Promo and name it Blog Tour. Save any guest posts and interviews you write in this folder. I’ll share my tips on organizing guest posts and interviews later.

If you’re sending out a press release, save the file in your Promo folder.

If newspapers contact you with written interview questions or guidelines, save these in a new subfolder of Promo, named Newspapers.

Chances are, you’ll be sending out copies of your book for one reason or another. You might want to create an additional subfolder in Promo and title it Mailing. You can create mailing labels and save them here. Type a list of everyone you’re sending a copy of the book.

If you’re having any author events (book launch, book signing, speaking engagement, etc…) keep all written materials in a subfolder, Author Events.

Here’s what my file hierarchy looks like:

->Small-Town Bachelor

->>Promo

->>>Blog Tour

->>>Newspapers

->>>Mailing

->>>Author Events

 2. OneNote, Evernote or Word Documents

One of the most important keys to a book release is having information at your fingertips. I’ve been using OneNote for years. Many people love Evernote, or you could keep everything in Word documents. It’s really up to you. I have a folder in OneNote for Promotion. One of the tabs is titled the same. In that tab, I have a page called, “Promoting Small-Town Bachelor.” The following are sub-pages.

  • Back cover copy. Copy your book information here so you can easily find it at any time.
  • Purchase links. Copy/paste every link where your book is being sold. Typical retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, etc… You’ll be adding these links to your website/blog for people to purchase your book.
  • Blog tour (if applicable). A table/spreadsheet is your best option here. Make columns with the name of the blog, the title of the guest post/interview, the date you’re being hosted and the date you emailed the information back to the host.
  • Media contacts. List the publications/stations, the editors/producers and the email addresses or physical addresses if you’re mailing information.
  • Author copies. List of how you’re using author copies (giveaways, friends, etc…)
  • Author events. Keep track of any speaking engagements, book launch info, book signings and such here.
  • Giveaways. If you’re using an online tool such as Rafflecopter or Giveaway Tools to run your giveaways, copy/paste the code along with the basic giveaway information. It only takes a few seconds to copy the code, and it’s much less time consuming to resend the info to a blogger on your tour if you know exactly where to find it.
  • Review/Endorser/Influencer list (if applicable). Some publishers send books to review sites; others don’t. If you plan on sending your book out to reviewers, list them and their addresses here. If you need to get endorsements, list authors to contact and their reply. Many CBA publishers ask their authors to submit a list of people willing to “influence” the book. List names and addresses here.

3. Blog Tour

Not all authors schedule a blog tour, but if you do, you need a way to keep track of everything.

a. Scheduling.

Do you use a day planner? A calendar? Your smartphone? As soon as you have dates of your stops, write the dates down! I used my day planner to write the name of the blog on the monthly overview section. In OneNote, I also added the blog, the date and whatever type of post we agreed on to my spreadsheet (see above). If you use your smartphone, consider printing out the month(s) your blog tour is taking place and writing the dates down. It just helps to see the big picture.

b. Guest posts/interviews.

In addition to my OneNote spreadsheet, I kept track of my guest posts in a basic notebook. Yes, this is double the accounting, but, as I mentioned earlier, I worry about something slipping through the cracks.

I wrote the titles, the blog and the date of the stop on a sheet of paper. I numbered them. After I wrote each post, I highlighted it as a way to know the post had been drafted. Later, after I proofed each piece, I emailed the guest post/interview back to the host then jotted the date next to it. This let me know that I not only wrote the post, but sent it too.

As far as the actual documents, when I wrote them, I saved the file in a way to make them easy to find. In the title, I began with a number and included the name of the blog for easy reference. After I emailed the guest post or interview to the host, I renamed the file with an S after the number as a visual that I had sent the post.

Example of digital files for blog tour:

->Book Title

->>Promo

->>>Blog Tour

  1. Interview Jane Doe

2s. Writing Tips John Blank

At a glance, I could see that I’d written and sent the post to John Blank, but while the interview for Jane Doe was written, I hadn’t sent it.

4. Author Events

If you’re planning a launch party, speaking engagement, having a book signing or selling books at an event, you will have a number of nit-picky details to deal with. This is another area where OneNote, Evernote or Word files help a lot.

a. Basic information. List the date, address, time and if it’s an open or closed event. You’ll be accessing this information many times, and it’s helpful to have all the details right there.

b. Practical matters. 

  • Questions to address: Do you need to order books to sell? Or will the event purchase them for you? If you need to purchase them, how many will you need? How far in advance should you order them?
  • Invitations, Fliers, Notices: Who is advertising this event? Do you need to create and send invitations, a flier or other notice? If you’re holding a book launch, consider contacting the editor of the local newspaper about the event and attach a press release for your book.
  • Promotional items: Are your business cards current or should you order new? If the event provides a table, do you have a nice tablecloth? Will you need a professional sign? An easel to display it? Are you providing bookmarks, pens, magnets? Will your publisher help with any of these, or will you need to design and purchase them yourself? If you choose to give a raffle basket, what items will you include? Also, print tickets for the raffle.
  • Newsletter/Mailing List sign-up: Either purchase a guest book or create and print sign-up sheets to collect names and addresses.
  • Speaking:  Write an outline of the agreed topic and practice it.
  • Entertainment: If you plan on having entertainment, contact and book everyone involved.
  • Taxes: Keep ALL receipts for anything you purchase. Track your mileage to and from the event. Deductions, deductions!

c. Online Events

If you’re planning a digital launch party (Facebook, Google Hangout, etc…), you’ll have to plan the following.

  • Decide the date and time of party.
  • Create an infographic with your book cover, the party information, and any prizes you’re giving away.
  • Advertise the event on your social media sites.
  • Purchase items to giveaway.
  • Invite your contact list.
  • Moderate the event or have a friend help moderate it.

5. Website

If you’re a debut novelist, the one thing I recommend more than anything to promote your books is having a website (or free blog that functions as a website) in place well before your release date. Readers who enjoy your debut will want to learn more about you and find out when your next book comes out. Your website is your online home. Make it welcoming, fill it with information readers want (author bio, book info and purchase links, ways to contact you, and your social media links) and it will work for you for years to come.

You do NOT need to hire a designer, pay thousands of dollars, or become a design expert to have an online home. If you don’t currently have a website or blog, buy your domain name, create a free site using Blogger or WordPress and have it directed to your domain name. Make pages with your author bio, contact page and your book (with the cover, back copy and links to purchase it). You don’t have to blog! Just make sure you have a hub for readers to find you and buy your books.

6. Getting it all done.

In mid-February I was in the process of writing twenty-five guest posts and working out the details of three author events when I sold my third book, which needed immediate revisions. The next day, I received final edits for my second book. Yes, I was stressed out, but I was also thrilled. I’ve wanted to be published for years!

Working on three very different book tasks at once forced me to take my organizing efforts to the next level. For three weeks, I worked all day, nights and most of each weekend.

I made the decision to promote my debut as heavily as possible. Any blog tour I do in the future will most likely be pared down, and I’ll only have a launch party for my first book. However, promoting books is a part of the writer’s life. I expect I’ll be using this list for years to come even if I’m not doing everything on it.

7. Celebrate.

I take time often to celebrate where I’m at. When I wrote and sent my very first press release? Terrifying! I mentally high-fived myself all day. And author events? I’m blessed to have family and friends who are making it easy on me. Their support has been a big boost during a busy, emotional time.

I never want to get so caught up in promoting that I forget why I’m doing this. I’m not writing for good reviews (although I want them), family approval (although I want that too), or to be the most popular girl on the block (never have been, never will be).

I’m writing to enrich readers’ lives, the way my life has been enriched by the books I’ve read and continue to read. I consider my books a ministry, and if someone is touched by my writing, I’ve succeeded.

As Mark Batterson says in his wonderful book, The Circle Maker, “Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God.”

This post is full of information, some of it overwhelming. If you have specific questions on anything I listed, please don’t hesitate to ask!!

What would you add to this list?

Have a terrific day!!

The March Gift Basket Giveaway for Small-Town Bachelor is still going strong! Go to my HOME page and scroll down for the easy entry options!

Are You in a Time Management Rut?

Time Management Rut

Nothing throws me into a tizzy faster than a big project gone wrong. Who has time for that? No one!

Most of January was like that for me. A big project consumed all my time and frustrated me in the process. Then the project ended (it turned out terrific!), but the backlog of items on my to-do list overwhelmed me.

I was terribly embarrassed to realize I missed my scheduled day on the group blog I contribute to. And I’d dropped the ball on a few emails I’d promised. Enough was enough. I had to get my workday under control. I promptly ordered a time management book I’d seen reviewed in a magazine.

Work Simply by Carson Tate came into my life at just the right moment.

Every year brings different challenges. And, unfortunately, my old time management system wasn’t working for me.

I was in a time management rut.

I’ve only read half of Work Simply, but I’ve already incorporated several suggestions with good results.

1. Approach email in a new way.

I had a bad habit of reading an email and telling myself I’d take care of it later. This resulted in me not writing down important dates, forgetting to respond to two people, and leaving me in a constant state of feeling that I was missing something (which I was!).

New approach? Deal with email as I read it. Write down any important dates. If a response is necessary, respond promptly. Move important emails to a special folder for safe keeping. I also created folders for key emails to automatically be delivered to. This way I know if my editor, agent, or group blog administrator emailed me. No more wading through dozens of emails!

2. Identify themes in my daily tasks.

As soon as I read this concept, it grabbed me. The bulk of my day is always spent on a writing project, whether I’m plotting, writing, revising or whatever. But I also spend a lot of time on promotion via social media and administrative details like emails and planning. I also write short stories to submit to publications, but I struggle to find time to do this. I value keeping my creative-well filled, yet too many weeks go by without me taking much-needed restorative time.

So I brainstormed my typical week and saw that several themes stood out.

1. Books

2. Promo

3. Administrative

4. Other Writing

5. Family (chores, sports, errands, homework, etc…)

6. Creative Time

My schedule NEVER lacks 1, 2, 3, or 5! But 4 and 6 slip by all the time. I’m designating a few hours a week to them, and I’m writing them on my calendar!

3. Always make the commute to my office.

I’ve been doing this for months, but it’s worth repeating. If you work from home, find the place where you feel most professional and do your work there. My commute is up a flight of stairs. Not hard! But it makes all the difference in my attitude.

Now that I’ve made these adjustments, I’m back in control of my day. I’m still overwhelmed at times. I still have a to-do list way too long, but it no longer makes me nauseous. Important things aren’t slipping through the cracks anymore, and I’m spending my time where I should.

Have you ever been in a time management rut? Do you have any tips on how to make your work life smoother? I’d love to hear them!

I’ve switched blog homes and will no longer be posting on my Blogger site after March 1, 2015. Please take a moment to subscribe to this blog. You can either subscribe via email (form is near the top of the sidebar) or type my URL https://jillkemerer.com into your preferred reader such as Feedly. Thank you!!

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