Posted by: getolife | March 25, 2012

One Week Self-Employed

I have survived one week of self-employment and am learning just how hard it can be to just say “NO” to everyone who is trying to steal the time I have set aside for work. I know that I can’t jump for every little thing, but I’m going to have to really believe that this is my full-time job and that I have the right to stay at work when someone needs a ride or a loan or whatever crazy thing people need.

I did get my website deleted and the new one started with WORDPRESS on my own domain. I got several pages posted and a couple blog posts. I finished the workbook to go with my book and posted links to a WORD and a PDF downloadable file.

I also wrote a couple posts on support groups related to the bipolar spouse topic to build my reputation as a helpful resource and an expert of sorts. I took Tuesday off because it was my birthday. 

I discovered an interview I had done earlier that was posted about a month ago and posted the link to that to my facebook page–it was an interview about my marriage (the same angle as the topic of my book) and included links to the page that sells my book. http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/marriage-true-story 

I designed some bookmarks to use as give-aways. I had to wait to print them out because the black ink cartridge is almost empty and so was my bank account. I am looking for a paper cutter so I can get them cut properly, but that’s not a serious problem.

All-in-all, I did get a lot done on my first week, just not nearly as much as I’d hoped.  Meet me back here next week-end and see if I can up my productivity.

Posted by: getolife | October 4, 2011

Can I Quit My Day Job?

Almost every fledgling author prays for the day when the writing gig becomes the day job. That’s the time when it’s put up or shut up, when it’s sink or swim, when all the eggs are in that one “author” basket. That’s scary. Exciting, but scary. I haven’t arrived there yet, but I’m making plans and getting things set up and even if I don’t make a living at it, I’ll be ready for anything. If you’re thinking about quitting your day job, here are a few of the things I have worked out that you might want to also take into consideration:

  1. Have a plan and a schedule so you don’t start thinking that you have all the time in the world because you really don’t. One of my books in rough draft at this point is about organization, so I have sample dayplanner pages all filled out.  I start my day with TAW pages because I really do find that doing three pages of whatever is on my mind can free me from the details and get me inspired to be creative. I believe in The Artist’s Way. I have time scheduled for working on writing new chapters as well as time for editing and plan to keep that flexible enough to stay interesting. I have short bursts of time scheduled for promotional stuff, for support groups and blogs and fanpages and twitter. I also have facebook breaks and personal email time scheduled–sometimes as a reward for finishing sections of a project, sometimes just as a break. Instead of working 9 to 5, my plan goes from 8am to  8pm with plenty of breaks to keep me refreshed.
  2. Limit distractions. I won’t have a lot of distractions. My husband will be working as an over-the-road truck driver, so he’ll only be home every other week-end (of course I will be OFF when he’s home. ) The others living in the house all work full-time and stay pretty much in their own rooms. They are all adults and do their own cleaning and cooking–in fact, I rarely cook. I do run the dishwasher, but that isn’t much trouble. I only pick up after myself. If you have young children, you may need to figure out ways to keep them occupied while you write. It’s easier now than ever because you can take a laptop or an ipad to the park or library and write while the kids play or listen to stories. Schedule all of your work–including housework–or it will tend to infringe upon your writing time and final edits hanging over my head can provide me with a very clean house and a long wait for publication. I’d rather do anything than final edits.
  3. Set goals and deadlines. The fact that I don’t have a publisher assigning deadlines does not mean that I can procrastinate. I can take as long as it takes to get everything up to my own standards, but pushing back publishing dates makes it harder to get the publicity and promotion lined up and it is important to have everything running smoothly around the time a book actually comes out for the first time. If I work out a plan and divide the task into smaller chunks so that I can see my progress day by day, I can have a good estimate of when a new book will be ready and what I need to do to make it happen.  It might pay to pad the timing a bit so I don’t feel rushed, but giving myself too much time makes it hard to get motivated and makes the task seem larger than it is.
  4. Figure out exactly how you will pay the bills. I have been sole support for my family for the past 12 years and my husband has been on disability for the past 5. He has returned to the work force as a truck driver and when I quit my job, he will be earning about the amount we were making between my job and his disability check. Once he is earning at that level, I will start putting my whole check into savings to cover any unplanned expenses or emergencies. I fully expect to work my butt off and to increase my book sales substantially once I have the two general audience books on the market (my current book is intended for a very limited audience) and make the time to promote all of the books properly. I intend to work up a class or two that I can teach based on the books–first at the local community college and later as a public speaker at women’s events. I can fall back on substitute teaching or daycare which I am qualified to be licensed for locally, if I need money and things aren’t working out. I will have to roll my 401k from my job into another retirement account that I might also be able to access in a dire emergency. These are things that need to be thought through before making the break because emergencies DO happen. If you are single and get your insurance coverage through your employer, you will want to know how you will pay for medical expenses while self-employed.
  5. Have a life. While some people might tend to treat self-employment like a permanent vacation, others will tend to skip vacations, breaks, sleep and even meals when they are working at something they enjoy. Even writers need some down time to have something to write about. You can’t research life in the real world from your internet connection, you have to go out and experience it. Take a class, go to church, visit the library, go shopping, watch a movie, keep in touch with friends and family. While I don’t have much of a social life, one thing that I look forward to that I haven’t been able to do because of my job is attending church every week and being involved in the activities there. It’s hard to teach Sunday School when you work every other week-end. As a self-employed author, I may continue to write over the week-ends, but I will definitely keep Sunday morning free for church and even set aside time during the week for Bible study classes. I also hope to attend some live, in-person support group meetings. Not only can I learn a great deal from actually meeting with people with similar issues, but I can also share my books and the things I’ve learned through writing them and work out what to share in a short class through attending these meetings. I might even make a few in-person friends. Do you have a plan to have a life between chapters? If your day job is your life, don’t leave it until you can replace that part of it.

I’m sure there are other parts of this that I will stumble upon as I start my actual journey into self-employment as a full-time writer, author, publisher, and whatever else an indie author does.  Do you know anything I’m glossing over? Leave a comment.

Posted by: getolife | August 24, 2011

What Does it Mean to be “Indie”

I’m an independent author and publisher. The buck stops here. There are some who still say that writers should write and turn over the other tasks to the experts. That sounds like a wonderful idea, but even if I hire dozens of contractors, I’m still responsible for the final product–me, the independent author and publisher.

So whether I design my own cover art or have a friend design it or hire someone who does cover art for a living, I need to know everything possible about cover art in order to know whether I’m getting a good design and in order to communicate to a graphic artist exactly what I want my cover to say about my book and how I want to say it. I can’t just pick someone out of the Yellowpages and leave my name and the title of the book and expect artwork that really represents my book. I can’t do that with a friend who offers to design something. I need everything but the talent to put it all together into something that looks professional before I even consider who to ask or how much to spend because if I get a great cover that doesn’t work or doesn’t really fit what’s in the book, that’s on me because I’m the publisher. If I get lousy artwork that makes the book look like something put together in an afternoon, that’s on me, too.  Either way it will hurt sales and my reputation as a writer and publisher.

The same goes for editing and proof-reading. I could do it myself: ok, so it would be worse than doing my own cover art and I can’t even draw stick people. I could find people to read it who can find the worst spelling and grammar errors and maybe put it past several people to get as many problems as possible pinpointed, then decide whether I want to pay a professional editor. This gets tricky because, although I might have trouble coming up with the money up front, a good editor can really make a difference and increase sales in the future.  Exchanging editing chores with other writers may be a reasonable option. I just need to rememeber that no matter how well I edit someone else’s books, I will never have the objectivity to edit my own. No matter who does the editing and proof-reading, if I have spelling or grammar issues or formatting problems or graphic boxes that end up on top of text–that’s my responsibility. Major publishers can hire someone and blame them if things don’t turn out right, but it’s up to me to double check the people who double-check and make absolutely sure that everything is right. If it isn’t that’s on me.

If the book doesn’t look good, if the fonts change on different pages, if the chapter titles are hard to read, if there are blank pages without a good reason, if the paragraphs run together, if the book is formatted for an ereader, but the pictures are too big for the screen, if the pages are numbered with page one on the back of a page, if there are bold print or italics where they don’t make sense, if there is any problem at all with the way the book is formatted, that’s my responsibility. I can either learn the formatting software and keep going over the files and proof-reading for problems until I’ve fixed everything or I  can pay someone to do the formatting and keep going over the files for problems and make sure everything has been fixed before the files are printed or go live at any of the bookstores.

If the book is perfect but doesn’t sell because nobody knows it’s available–whose fault is that? Yep, the indie publisher is also a marketer and distributor.  It is my responsibility to make sure that the book is delivered in appropriate formats to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and as many other bookstores as possible. I need to find the people who might be interested in my book and direct them to those bookstores or to my own website where they can buy the book. I need to get the book into the hands of reviewers who will like it and write good things about it. I need to get the readers who like it to leave ratings and reviews at the store where they bought it. It’s not the job of some marketing guru–unless I hire one. Even if I do hire out marketing, I need to make sure that the marketing plan is appropriate to the book I wrote, that we agree on the target audience I had in mind when I wrote the book, and maybe others, that I hadn’t  considered.  I need to make sure that the marketing message is consistent with the message in the book. I need to make sure that everything is true and correct. If nobody buys it, that’s my problem. If people buy it and complain that it’s not what they expected, that’s my problem. If nobody comments and no reviews are written, that’s my problem , too because I’m an independent publisher and the whole business is my business.

I am also responsible for creating and maintaining all of the public relations materials, for a blog that covers the topic of the book, for a website with information about the book and why people should buy it, for discussion groups that talk about the material in the book,  for interviews and speeches and seminars and newsletters and tweets and anything else that might help to introduce me as an expert on my subject, someone to be trusted to write an accurate and honest book. It’s all part of my job and there will always be one more thing I could be doing, and one more after that. But it’s my book, my responsibility. The independent author and publisher does it all.

The only job I’ve ever had that’s been like this was the job of wife and mother–all the responsibility and scarcely any recognition. Sound familiar?  They’re still the best jobs I’ve ever had. While there’s not much fame and fortune for the average independent author and publisher, there is a lot of power in being able to write a good book, put together a package to present that book to the public in the way that YOU decide, making direct contact with potential readers to tell them about it, and living with the consequences of your actions whether that means being laughed at by the critics or seeing your book on a best-seller list.

That’s what it means to be “Indie”.

Posted by: getolife | July 24, 2011

Welcome to Getolife Publishing!

Getolife publishing specializes in self-help books for situations that seem to defy all the logical answers. If life were easy, we wouldn’t be here.

Our first book, currently being updated and formatted for ereading was written for those who have tried all of the other books, consultants and detailed plans for getting their life and home organized yet continue to struggle.

The new version of WHATEVER WORKS will be available as an eBook in October 2011. It will include all of the information from the original book, the email classes, and articles all revised and worked together to be a more cohesive manual for the hopelessly disorganized. Grab your favorite organizing tools and Let’s Get Organized!

LOVE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS: with a bipolar spouse is the manual for living with a bipolar wife or husband. There are many books that tell you how to support a person with a mental illness, but this one tells it from the perspective of someone who has been living in that situation for many years, someone who knows that supporting a partner is important, but that keeping your identity and sanity intact is equally important.

With plenty of general information, my own story, and tips on how to make it work for you, LOVE HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS is currently available as an eBook and will be available in print in October 2011.

BURNT OFFERINGS is a short holiday cookbook with all of the recipes you need to cook simple traditional holiday meals and treats. Nothing in the book that can’t be done on a budget. All of the instructions you need to guarantee success. If you’ve never cooked a holiday meal or if you’ve struggled to do it, BURNT OFFERINGS will get you through it this year with more fun and less stress. Burnt Offerings will be available in eBook format in September 2011 so you can read through it in plenty of time for Thanksgiving.

Links to sites where you can preview and purchase all of the books will be available here. I will also be posting more information about each of the books and offering free gift copies of the eBooks as they are released.

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