SSA #005: Transform Your Author Career in 6-12 MonthsFeb 04, 2023
Read Time: 6 minutes
I love working. I really do. I feel "in control" when I'm working and because of that, I find it very difficult to step away from my desk.
I've come to realize over the past few years, however, especially since my wife and I now have 3 children (all under 3 years old), that there is so much more to life than work, no matter how much I enjoy it.
Perhaps you can relate.
You may love writing, marketing, running your author business, being in complete control of your destiny, your time, your schedule, etc.
The dark side of running your own author business, however, is that it can consume you, and without realizing it, you've left your 9-5 and created a new 6-10 job for yourself. A prison you can't escape from.
You feel like a hamster on a treadmill that you can't get off.
If you do get off, there's that thought in the back of your mind that everything in your business and your life, will fall apart. At least, this was the case for me.
This leads to burnout, which has its own implications not only on your business but in other areas of your life too.
Unfortunately, many authors fall into this trap and realize years later, when it's undoubtedly too late, that they have missed out on moments that can't be brought back.
They have worked too much.
Fortunately, my wife has helped me come to this realization much sooner than I would have done without her; before I miss out on precious moments with our children, being present with our children and as a family.
The purpose of today's newsletter is not to degrade the importance of work, but more, how to:
- Work without burning out
- Make the most of the time you do spend working
- Identify the lever-moving tasks in your author business
- Create your ideal lifestyle through practice, experimentation and iteration
- Earn a living from your books
- Take care of yourself physically and mentally for the sake of longevity
Creating a business and a lifestyle that works for you, fits around your schedule, your commitments and builds towards actualizing your future-self, whatever that may look like.
And you don't have to wait until everything is "perfect" before you embark on this journey.
You can start right now.
Of course, it's a process. This doesn't happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll see progress.
As the old saying goes, you should "work to live, not live to work".
And with that, let's begin the process of transforming your author career in the next 6-12 months.
You need to become brutally aware of two incredibly important things, that many people don't consciously think about.
- What you don't want in your life
- Where your life will end up if you continue on the same path, taking the same actions
Don't live your life on autopilot, living the same week over and over for years on end.
That's when the so-called 'mid-life-crisis' happens; when you wake up and realize what you've done (or not done) with your life.
It's much easier to know what you don't want when you've experienced it, than what you do want, which will be from imagination because you've never experienced it.
So, sit down with a pen and paper (yes, we're going old-school here) and write down every single thing you don't want in your life.
This exercise should feel uncomfortable.
With that discomfort, write down one big meaningful goal. This goal should feel like a stretch; it should also feel a little uncomfortable.
We don't grow into our future self in our comfort zone. It's outside of our comfort zone that the magic happens.
Strategy and Tactics
Now you know where you're heading, it's time to plan out how you're going to get there.
For me, there are 4 pillars when it comes to marketing books:
- Book Product Page
- Audience Building
I cover all of these in much more depth and clarity inside The 60 Minute Author; more so than I can in a single email.
These 4 pillars are where your focus should be (outside of writing your book of course) and are what will allow you to build a thriving career as an author.
Each pillar works in harmony with each other. And it's about forming a strategy (a plan of action) to achieving your one true goal, your North Star, your Core Objective.
Your tactics are the specific tasks that you need to undertake to execute your strategy.
Strategy and tactics, however, are not single entities; they are one and the same.
As the ancient Chinese Emperor, Sun Tzu, is renowned for saying:
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
Define your strategy, decide on your tactics and implement.
Focus (On the Lever-Moving Marketing Activities)
Not all marketing activities are created equal.
There are some tasks you carry out that have 100x more impact than others. These I call the lever-moving marketing activities.
Clearly, writing your next book is critically important and some of the best marketing you can do.
Outside of that though, positioning your books in front of your ideal readers every day is how you sell books every day.
There are 1001 ways you could be marketing your books but only a handful of ways you should be marketing your books.
It’s these tasks where your focus should be. Yes, it's going to take time to identify what these are for YOU.
But your goal shouldn't be everywhere and do all the things.
That’s how you burn out and give up.
Block out 1 hour per day for marketing; this is exactly what I do for my wife's books.
I know precisely what needs to be done before I even sit down at my desk because I've planned it out in advance.
If you have the intention to work on your marketing for 60 minutes per day, that's great. BUT, you need an action-plan for what it is you're going to be doing in those 60 minutes.
Without a plan you risk:
- Refreshing your KDP Dashboard every 10 minutes
- Checking emails
- Scrolling on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Looking at your Amazon Bestseller Rank every 23 minutes
All whilst thinking you're working, when in fact, you're kicking the tyres; you're procrastinating, you don't know what to do, so you try to "look Busy" more to yourself than anyone else.
And you're doing nothing that will actually move the needle and help you sell more books.
If you take even just 5 minutes the day before to plan out what you're going to do in tomorrow's 60 minute marketing session, you may be surprised at what you can achieve in as little as 60 minutes.
This is assuming that you're focusing on the 80/20; the 20% of marketing activities that are driving 80% of your results.
This will look different for every author, but once you've identified them, that's when the magic happens, because you know where your time should be spent.
I touched on this in the previous section, but it's worth repeating here:
Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to plan out what you want to achieve tomorrow.
Or, for even more clarity, take 20 minutes on a Friday or Sunday evening, plan out your goals for the following week, and from there, organize your week into daily goals.
Not only will this save you hours of wasted time, it also sets the tone for the week and allows you to hit the ground running, as soon as you sit down at your desk.
Another important point to make here whilst we're on the topic of productivity, is your environment.
Why, you ask?
By changing your environment to one of calm, inspiration and motivation, you can drastically change your mood, productivity, and life direction. It's that powerful.
We live in a world of go, go, go. A world that is always on and never sleeps.
But we are still human beings and our bodies need rest and recovery.
Rest is often frowned upon in our society and many people wear long hours, little sleep, and workaholism as a badge of honor.
The truth is, if you incorporate rest into your life, you will be more creative, less stressed, and achieve more.
Some of the greatest authors, scientists, business leaders, and politicians who have ever lived, understood the importance of rest and made it an integral part of their daily lives.
Personally, I work in 30-60 minute blocks, then take a 5-10 minute break, before working for another 30-60 minute block.
This allows me to really focus on a specific task, and give it my full attention, without distraction.
Speaking of distraction:
- My phone is in a drawer in another room
- My computer notifications are turned off
- I have noise-canceling headphones on, playing a thunderstorm/rain soundtrack
Productivity is less about being disciplined, and more about removing the distractions that make discipline difficult in the first place.
And if I'm struggling over a challenge, I'll go for a walk.
If you get stuck on:
- A word or a line in your book
- A headline for your Facebook Ads
- Image ideas for your BookBub Ads
- Targeting ideas for your Amazon Ads...
Walk. Don’t stare at the screen until your eyeballs hurt.
Walk, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the solution to your problem comes to you – when you’re not even thinking about it.
And that is how you transform your author career in 6-12 months.
It doesn't have to be complicated. It's just about understanding what really moves the needle for YOU and blocking out the time to do it.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
1. Define Your Anti-Vision
2. Create Your Strategy and Determine Your Tactics
3. Focus on The 80/20
4. Create A Productive Work Environment
That's it for this week; thanks for reading. See you next Saturday!
To Your Success