Indie publishing is a multi-faceted process. And though indie authors come in all shapes and sizes, they share one thing in common – they seek balance between the business and creative sides of publishing, from conception to completion. It falls upon their shoulders to promote, market and disseminate their book. And any author who thinks they can focus solely on writing, forget about the business aspects and still succeed in the self-publishing arena is sadly misinformed.
Tips on How to Balance the Creative and Business Side of Indie Publishing
To succeed as an indie author, you must embrace both the business and writing aspects of publishing. However, that is easier said than done. Some writers can actually lose themselves in the business aspect and neglect their writing. On the contrary, other indies can focus solely on writing without so much as thinking about the business operations. Finding a balance between the writing and business aspects isn’t easy; however, it must and can be done. Here are some tips to consider:
Create a list of goals for every writing and business-oriented objective you wish to accomplish on the road to indie publishing. The best way to do this is by using two separate sheets of paper (or creating two columns if using one sheet) and placing a heading for each type of goal on top (writing and business). Your business list can include such goals as the targeted number of followers you want to have on Twitter in the next six months, while your writing objectives can target the number of pages you want to have written at the end of each week. Also make sure to specify the time period for completing every individual goal. Separately maintaining a list of writing and business objectives is a good method of keeping you on track while ensuring that you do not neglect either aspect.
Stick to a Schedule
The only way to manage time efficiently on your path to indie publishing is to set a strict schedule. Doing so can ensure that neither the writing nor business aspects of the process are compromised. The most productive hours of your day can be assigned to writing because you can make better use of your creativity during such periods. The business aspects are more mundane and mechanical and can therefore be allocated to the downtime portions of your day. The key is to find moments of your time to pursue one or two specific business or writing-oriented aspects. And you don’t necessarily have to tackle both in one given day. Some authors have been known to deal with the business side of things all week and restrict their writing to the weekends where they can work without interruptions. Just find a schedule that suits you and be consistent.
Authors struggle to manage both writing and business because they try to do too much in a limited period of time. The writing and business aspects of indie publishing are simply too wide to try and tackle simultaneously. The only way to manage both aspects is to prioritize.
Of course in the scheme of things writing should be your number one priority overall. After all, if there is no book to begin with, then there is no need for any of the business tasks associated with publishing one. Still, it’s a good idea to also prioritize the individual aspects of each (writing and business). So find one or two tasks from each list that are of great importance, and work towards accomplishing those tasks first.
Writing priorities: Prioritizing the tasks listed under your writing goals will depend on what phase of the writing cycle you’re in. For example if you’re in the very beginning stages then the top of your list of goals should contain tasks like: research, plot outline and character development. Tasks such as selecting a book cover and finding an editor should appear towards the bottom. Your writing priorities will change accordingly as you progress towards the finish line of your publishing goals.
Business priorities: Business tasks listed under your indie publishing goals might include financial management, tweeting, Facebook posting, or anything designed to create connections, build a following and boost your visibility in the self-publishing arena. Some social media posting activities can be set on autopilot, making prioritizing even easier. But for those tasks which cannot be automated, you can simply prioritize in order of the activities that provide the most visibility and engagement. Direct interaction (e.g. responding to emails and comments on your posts) are most essential for establishing the best connections.
Remain focused and do not let the business side of things affect your writing. When authors begin working on the business aspect of indie publishing, especially marketing, some of them tend to let the business compromise their writing. In other words, because they realize that certain genres are suddenly exploding in popularity, they will immediately initiate changes in their own writing to fit the new mold. Or maybe certain demographics are suddenly buying more books than ever before, in which case they will change their entire concept in order to appeal to this new target audience.
As an indie author, let your writing determine the business aspect of publishing. Remain consistent with the vision of your book and let your business methodologies work to market and promote that vision. Readers respond to passion; and once you let the business side of things sway the vision of your book, the quality of your book will suffer. Write as you always intended and work to find an audience that will appreciate your vision.
Managing both the writing and business aspects of indie publishing can be quite challenging. However, finding the right balance is doable so long as you learn to schedule, create clear boundaries between these two aspects and prioritize where necessary.