I don’t love the word ‘hack’—it sounds like you’re cheating. And none of the things I’m going to list below are illegal or below the belt (I know, what a shame—even though we’re writing romance).
But when I write shortcuts it doesn’t really resonate. Because these aren’t ways you can cut corners or skip out on work—they’re simply methods to make your author business smarter.
So please find following three author career hacks you can try today.
1. Check your sales.
For some of us, this happens regularly. If you’re one of those amazingly organised people, feel free to skip this step and jump straight to hack #2. But, for many of us, this doesn’t occur often enough. And I don’t mean simply checking the numbers—I want you to chart them and analyse them. What is working? What is up and what is down? Is there anything that surprises you?
For independent authors, the process is relatively easy. Simply visit your KDP or Draft2Digital or Smashwords dashboard and download the figures. There are even a host of programs such as Book Report and ReaderLinks that can make this easier again.
If you’re traditionally published, the process can be a little more complex. Some publishers don’t give specific figures—but you can chart your income and how it fluctuates from month to month or quarter to quarter and compare it against other books and prior sales.
So, go and check your latest figures now and chart them against the month before (go on … I’ll wait …) and when you have finished—and this is the big one, the author hack part—put a reminder in your calendar to do it again next month. Make this a regular thing. Don’t leave it till EOFY. Keep on top of your sales so you know what you’re doing right and how you can do it again.
2. Say no to something.
Hands up who woke this morning thinking: I have so much time in my author business. God, if only I had less time, I would be able to stop being such a productivity machine?
As authors, we have a tendency to take on a lot. Maybe it’s because we’re so good at emotion. We say yes to avoid disappointing people, or because we think it’s the right thing to do, or because who wants to miss an opportunity? Yes is best!
But sometimes, we need to say no. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, this is your permission. I want you to go through all the activities you complete that are part of being an author. List them—actually write them down—and take a look. You’re wearing multiple hats. Chances are you’re Chief of Operations, Marketing Manager, Events Coordinator, Human Resources Director and PA all at the same time, and that’s just to name a few.
I want you to choose one thing you do in your author business and just say no. This doesn’t have to be forever—just for now.
This could be something that takes a lot of your time for little financial reward. Or it might be something you don’t enjoy doing, so the mental real estate it occupies is far greater than the benefit. It could be a Facebook party, a co-writing obligation you are just not that into, a group commitment, a social media platform, a book that is too hard right now … Whatever it is, I want you to let it go, let it go.
Choose one thing—and put it on hold for a few months. See if your load feels lighter. If your writing is easier. And remember, if you miss it? You can always bring it back. You are the boss of your writing career. Nothing and no one will change that.
3. Make what you have work harder.
Sometimes (and we are all a little guilty of this) we have assets that we don’t use enough.
If you have a spare 15 minutes today, I’d love for you to brainstorm ways you can make what you have work harder for you.
This will mean different things to different people. Perhaps it’s taking existing characters who you already know like the back of your hand and writing a bonus scene as an e-newsletter sign-up incentive so you can really track your readers. Maybe it’s pursuing audio or foreign translation rights to try and increase sales.
It could be approaching your local library about hosting an event, whether digital or in person, to try and generate buzz. For some, it might be taking a back list title and releasing it as a serial via an e-newsletter to gain interest. It could be printing your books in large print or in hardback, creating a supporting recipe book—or it could simply be an additional marketing push on a product you already have. Whatever it is, I’d love for you to spend a few minutes today and really brainstorm ideas for taking some of your assets to the next level.
Your beautiful words deserve it.
Lauren Clarke is an editor and author coach who specialises in the romance genre. Find out more at www.CREATINGink.com
Author Business Plan – Lauren Clarke
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About the presenter
Lauren Clarke is an editor, coach and teacher for traditional and independent authors. She works with a range of authors, some USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers amongst them. For more information on Lauren’s editing and author coaching services, visit www.CREATINGink.com