Category Archives for Author Life

The first year as a full time author.

If you write, chances are you have the dream to be a full time author. It’s not for everyone. It is a demanding, turbulent occupation that wears many out. And yet, we want it.

In 2016 I had a plan. I needed four more years to restart my career now that I knew what I wanted to focus on, build a brand, a back list that could support me and get debt free. Then, and only then, could I do it. Be a full time author.

Plans are made to be burned and their ashes danced on. February 1st of 2016 I was laid off. It was from out of the blue. I was not prepared. And I had a choice ahead of me:

  1. Did I stick to my four year plan and get a new job that might not afford me the same downtime to write and maintain that plan?
  2. Or did I take the chance and write?

A year later, it’s no surprise which option I picked. I hope sharing how I made the decision to take the chance helps others evaluate their plans.

I’m going to look at a few key things:

  1. My position in the market when I entered full time authorhood
  2. What I did well
  3. What could be improved on
  4. How others have helped me

plan photoThe starting line.

There are a few key pieces of data I had at my disposal February 1st when I was laid off that helped me make my decision based on facts, not feelings.

  1. Accounting. The first thing was a detailed record of all of my sales up until December 2015. You bet your bippy I spent the afternoon of February 1st getting my data in order to reflect through January. Looking back over the years since January of 2011 I realized that my income, while small still, could easily be built on. I stood to bring in my biggest payday yet due to reclaiming several titles from Ellora’s Cave. Those books alone were bringing in a pretty penny.
  2. Productivity & Project Management. I have spreadsheets going back almost ten years which help me evaluate and track my productivity. It was how I made deadlines and kept to them while juggling my personal and professional lives outside of writing. If I was writing 50,000 words a month with a job, what could I do without one?
  3. The enthusiastic support of my family, my significant other and fans.

Looking at the cold hard numbers of output vs input told me a couple things.

First, if I produced steadily, if I released regularly, I could bring that income up. Second, the pace at which I write comfortably would allow for frequent releases.

Not in this data is The Plan. Remember, I had a four year plan. Just because I was let go from my job didn’t change that plan. It merely accelerated it. Previously, in my earlier years writing I wrote, sold or published whatever I felt like writing. From contemporary to space opera, from BDSM to suspense. That works for some authors, but not for most.

Why?

Because an author is a brand. Like Coka-Cola or Dr Pepper, you know when you pop that top what you’re getting. Now, some authors can write all over the board and do amazing. I’m not that person. I know I need to pick a thing and go for it. I needed to recreate the Sidney Bristol brand with a flavor people would come to recognize and reach for when they get that hankering. I was a bit ahead of the schedule because I’d spent much of 2015 priming myself to go all-in with this new direction.

February of 2016 would see my first mass market release in romantic suspense with a traditional publisher. Over the previous five years I’d determined that suspense, action and adventure suit me best, and it was my intention to buckle down and build my house on that brand. I was rebuilding myself, so to speak. Which left me in a very interesting place to begin my full time author life.

I felt like I could do it. I set a goal of six months and told myself that if I hadn’t achieved a steady income level of around $1,500 I would need to seriously reconsider what I was doing.

What I did well.

There’s a number of things I brought with me to writing full time. First, I can produce and I produce fairly reliably without much waffling on my output. So long as I like the story, have an outline and a feel for the characters, I can write the book.

I produced five books in a series. I positioned the series so it was at a cross-section of three subgenres. And then I did a spin-off.

I focused on hero-centric, book boyfriends rather than heroine rooted stories.

plan photoAbove all, I wrote every, freaking day and said yes to just about every promotion that came my way.

This resulted in a grand total of fourteen releases in 2016 between four series. I saw my income go from an average of around $940 per month at the beginning of the year to $2,300 per month. I did this releasing wide versus going into Kindle Unlimited. And I did it with much help from other people. No, that isn’t ground breaking, amazing results. It could have been better, but more than anything I proved to myself that it was entirely possible to recreate myself and establish a sustaining career at the same time.

This full time author gig was possible.

Side note: It should also be acknowledged that I had other things going on to bring in money on the side to supplement the lean months.

What I could have done better.

We all can do better. I learned a few of my mistakes early on and tried to power through them.

plan photoFirst, I dove into writing on a series I began on a whim. SEALs have continued to be popular. Bodyguards were popular. Suspense was supposed to be popular. So I put them all together into a mishmash series. The first book was a fluke. Something I wrote for a boxed set and didn’t really know what to do with. It did well, people liked it, and I wrote characters in with the idea that I could do more down the line. When I was laid off, that book and concept were the best ones I had for creating a viable product line. In hindsight, I might have been better served sitting back and brainstorming a better concept with a more marketable brand. That said, that series has supported me pretty much on it’s own for the last half of 2016, so I won’t complain too much.

Covers. I made an artistic decision in 2015 when I wrote the first book because I wanted to be different. The problem with different is that it does not always mean better. It was just different. And the concept I requested, wanted, and loved so very much…didn’t properly convey my product line. I recovered the series in the latter part of 2016 for a pretty penny and have seen better marketing, sales and opportunities. My advice? Get a really good cover artist, and then an even better friend who isn’t afraid to tell you the cover model looks like Ken’s creepy brother with a thing for Skipper. Yes, I’ve heard that one.

I got distracted by writing what I wanted, not what people wanted. While my first series wasn’t a well thought out brand, it sold well enough. My plan was to create something similar, but different. Good in theory, if I’d stuck with the same part of the statement. Instead of doing something similar, I went off the reservation and did a heroine-centric, series of my heart project. This resulted in months focused on books that did not firmly fit the brand I wanted to push. Do I regret them? Nope. I wanted to write them and there is a readership for them, but they are not the majority. I learned the hard way that sometimes I’m going to have to stuff what I want to write deep down and focus on what I enjoy that will also sell.

The helping hands.

By and far the biggest thing that’s assisted me along the way?

Avid readers and wonderful friends.

I wouldn’t be where I am without people who wanted to read my books and thereby shared my books with their friends. I wouldn’t have reached those readers without other authors reaching back to pull me up with them.

A lot of people treat this publishing game as a me versus them sort of thing that it does not have to be. Readers don’t buy just one author’s books, and accepting that, embracing that, is huge.

I try to always, always, always say thank you where it’s deserved. Or if I’m just grateful. Because a thank you doesn’t cost anything, and it can mean the world all at the same time.

Looking forward.

The lessons learned in 2016 are already getting a workout. This year I’m releasing a better planned and more marketable series hung on several hooks for readers to glom onto. I’ve paid attention to brand, tone, things that do and do not work when it comes to heroes and covers. I’m doing my best to learn so that 2017 is the year that we not only make it, but break it in terms of goals and success.

My advice.

If you’re someone wanting to write full time, my biggest advice would be to consider everything you want to do. If writing is it, the top of the list, your everything, then sit down and start making your plan for how to get there. It’s possible. It’s doable. Yes, we live in crazy, turbulent publishing times, but this is a viable career in need of more, amazing voices telling their stories.

Writer Friends with Jaycee Clark

April 25, 2016

I signed up for the blog months ago and worried and wondered about what to write on specifically. I could talk about the importance of advertising in the current market, blogging, knowing your market and what you’re writing, or how to better manage writing time because that’s a weak point for me.  Staying healthy as a writer.  Recipes for writers, though not really healthy ones because I’d rather have cupcakes—with sprinkles. Always sprinkles.

Instead I decided on something else.

This group is Romance Authors Marketing Network.  Networking is important. It is.  I will not dispute that. However, I think, sometimes, we often forget or overlook the importance of writer friends.

Oh sure, we all have them. If we’re lucky.  Networking is one thing. Someone you can contact to help promote your book, talk into doing a joint writing project, or a joint ad.  Those are and should always be appreciated; they’re valuable and helpful for the furthering of both careers. Networking, writers, industry peeps. Friendly acquaintances should always be respected.  I’m not talking about them in this post.

No, I’m talking about writing buddies/friends/bffs.

Writer friends are their own special gems hands down.

Writer friends get you. How are they different from your normal friends? Well, sometimes they just are. Maybe you’re blessed with those in your life seriously understanding all the ins and outs of a writer’s life. If so, kudos to you. You’re lucky. My family sort of gets me, but sometimes (often?) I leave them baffled. Your life-long friends, your spouse, your best friend, they get you too. They do.  They understand insomnia or kids, or health issues with parents. Yes. They get why you do the crazy and stupid shit that you do—most of the time.  We all have a buddy we can call at two in the morning to bail us out of jail, or cry on their shoulder because life has gone to hell.

But how many of us have a writing buddy we can call, or tag on messenger, or text at two in the morning with the same? Or with things like: What’s the most elegant way to kill a person?  And have them pick up seamlessly into the brainstorming and not think you’re weird at all?  How many of your closest friends or family can you call at whatever time of day or night and debate whether overdosing victims on some rare drug or putting them on ice is a more villainous act? Writer friends don’t see you as weird or quirky, or even psychopathic (thank goodness), but more as normal. It’s all perspective anyway, but it’s nice to not get baffled looks (or sighs since writer buddies tend to not share residences and are on phones more often than not).  Finding your own crazy tribesmen—women is wonderful.

Plotting and brainstorming are integral parts of the writing process, as we all know.  And as is the case, this is a very introverted profession (thankfully!).  Trust me, you don’t want to ask the cashier at the grocery store the best way to kill a person with spices or cooking implements.  Though wouldn’t that be an awesome way to spread a bit of surrealism? Anyway, we know our stories; our editors and agents get the polished versions.  Which, I’m certain they appreciate.  But how often do we get stuck?  Me? All too damned often. Sometimes going for a walk helps.  Showers often do the trick as well. And so does brushing my teeth, though what minty-fresh does to help unlock the creative gates, I’ve yet to figure out.  We’ve all got our little tricks to help get past a stuck point, the wall, or dreaded writer’s block. Often stepping away helps, others just plow on through or write the next scene and figure they’ll go back and fix things during edits. These all work. However, sometimes, some points, some plots get so tangled and convoluted you need to talk to someone. It’s like therapy for your characters, but without the Lexapro.

I’ve got a few writer buddies that I consider wonderful friends. Two I would trust with my children.  This is huge. I might trust you with me, and with my books, characters and ideas, but my children are another matter all together.  I’ve known these friends for years and greatly respect all they’ve done with all aspects of their lives and careers.  They are amazing women and kick ass writers.

Writing buddies, not only get you at writing and all the crazy this career entails, but get you in life, some of the times, and knock some sense in you the other part of the time.  These jewels in our lives, help us out and keep us on track with characters, with plot, with twists and schemes, business and sometimes life.

We are the creators of our stories, yes, but if we’re lucky, we’ve had help. Help which figured out that perhaps killing off characters with poison was slightly more elegant than some weird pseudo stabbing with a melting icepick.  Or that hiding a body in the woods was so over done.  Writer besties tell you when your idea is seriously craptastically stupid and do not apologize for it, nor do you expect or want them to.  Instead you can ask why and they’ll honestly tell you. Or just be brutal and tell you stay away from any ideas involving were elephants eating vampiric llamas.

These people become intricate not just in writing, business life, but life in general. You know each other’s children. You know things the other likes and battles they’ve fought.  You’re there for each other no matter the time of day or night.  It doesn’t matter.  Because somewhere along the way you became more than co-workers, more than someone you met in a chat room or forum or author group. By some fate or luck,  you became friends.  Friends who get each other and who get the weirdness, the ‘don’t call me unless someone’s dying because I’m in deadline-hellness’, or are there just for life.  These wonderful people in our lives help and are there for the journey we’re all on. And if you’re really, really lucky, these are friends you’ll have for years to come.

Never ever take them for granted.  Because tomorrow isn’t promised and that next book idea might be truly horrible and you need a friend who will say, “WTF are you thinking? Your readers will kill you! Oh! And how’s your mom/spouse/child?”  Yeah, those are great friends.  If you don’t have at least one of these wonderful people in your life, I’d suggest you try and find one. Join a writer’s group or forum, go to a conference, take a deep breath and a chance. Pretend you’re an extrovert! You never know whom you will meet or how important they can become in your life.

These gems in a writer’s life are priceless.

Lessons Learned

Today I want to share some of my experiences in switching from Traditionally published to Indie once I started getting the rights back on my work.

In late 2013 I got the rights back to Watch Me, a 40 K short novel that had been in a Berkley Duet, it was the perfect time to try this new Indie thing. Understanding how important good cover art is I hired somebody to do an amazing cover for me and I priced it at $2.99 – which I think is a very fair price for a story that was half of a novel Berkley charged more than $15 for. I slapped the cover on it, had it professionally formatted, and put it up for sale. Needless to say the release didn’t make a splash.

Early in 2014 I received the rights back to several of my Kensington stories. This time I did think more about marketing and branding so I changed the title of The Crib to Wicked Game and Sex As A Weapon to Too Close and had them both recovered in a similar way because they both had a slight mystery/suspense edge to them. I was super thrilled with the covers and thought that they would do awesome because they stood out. I put the new covers on and put them up for sale.

At the same time I got those two back I also got the rights back to a single author anthology that has entitled Lush. So while I was promoting the two others I went to work on prepping Lush. By this time I’d started talking to other, more successful, Indie authors, and I knew that a series and quick releases were a good way to make a splash. So I decided to release the novellas individually, and then as a collection both digitally and in print. Once again I got great covers, formatted them and released them six weeks after the other two. I priced the first one $.99 and then the others at $2.99 each. I didn’t rerelease the collection or bundle until a month or so later. And once again despite doing some promotions, including Facebook ads, and blog tours, sales were disappointing.

At this point I was getting very discouraged. In my mind, I was doing everything I could and I was making less than $100 a month in sales from 6 novellas combined. After talking to some of the more successful Indie authors out there, I realized that the promoting I was doing wasn’t doing much because my mailing list included people who followed me, as did my social media pages. They likely followed me because they’ve already read my books when they were in their first incarnation, so why would they buy them again? I needed to write something new, to gain new readers.

When I did release my first new Indie work the sales, while better than the less than $100 a month for 6 stories, were still fairly low I went from baffled to depressed to determined. I started to really pay attention to what the successful Indie authors were doing, and you know what I noticed? They were tracking everything they did.

Seriously. Everything.

Coming from a traditional background where the only control I had was what words I put on the page, and a time when authors were encouraged to put their marketing dollars behind ads in magazines like Romantic Times and RWA’s Romance Writers Report, it never occurred to me to track what was working and what wasn’t, because there had never been ways to do that before. But more than just the way we published had changed. The way to reach readers changed, the way readers interacted with authors changed, the information available to us changed….so much had changed that it became clear that if I wanted to be successful at this, I had to accept that despite my experience, I really knew nothing.

It was time to educate myself.

When I looked at what I was doing, how I was doing it, and the sales numbers, and the number of people on my mailing list, I realized that MY readers were buying the new releases- which was awesome – but that was it. I still was not finding new readers.

When I took a deeper look at the promotions I was putting my money into, I saw that they weren’t getting me anywhere. Blog tours where my post was one of three in a day, on a blog with no followers didn’t do anything. So I crossed blog tours off my list, and started building my own list of bloggers who truly care about books, and showcasing authors.

Another thing I crossed off my list was paying for promotional packages that included Facebook parties, take-overs, thunderclap campaigns, and ‘social media blasts’ because I got better results (Proof was in the sales dashboard tracking) when I worked with other authors instead of promoters. Not only were the results better, but the cost of working with other authors was way less than paying someone to do things that I could do myself if I stuck to a well written To-Do list.

Elevator2015 was a bad year for me due to health issues.I only had two releases. However, just because I was unable to write much last year does not mean I wasn’t determined. I spent the year watching, learning, and experimenting with promoting backlist titles (Those re-releases I talked about above).

Things I studied were the Pro’s and Con’s of selling direct to vendor versus an aggregate like Smashwords or D2D. The importance of back matter. The importance of series branding, and branding to the right genre/audience. The importance of a marketing plan. I experimented with pro’s and con’s of Pre-orders with the new release, and Facebook Ads, and learned that they’re not right for everyone.

I’m still not where I want to be, but looking back at what I’ve done, it’s important to remember that even if they didn’t work for me, I was moving forward. Not everything will work for everyone, and we each need to find our way. Looking at what didn’t work, has helped me build a plan for my next releases, and having a plan makes me feel like my goals are within reach.

So, to recap.

What I did in the past:
-New covers I loved (that cost a lot)
-Spent money on ‘old’ promotional tactics
-Promoted to my own readers, but didn’t strive to find new ones.
-Low pricing on books.
-Thought putting money into marketing would pay off without really thinking about WHERE the best place to put those marketing dollars was. All promotion is not equal.
-Rushed out new stuff without a marketing plan. (Because I didn’t know how much had changed, or HOW to create a marketing plan)

What I learned:
-Don’t go into this without understanding just how much work it is. It’s more than writing. You can hear that, and think you know it, but you don’t get it until you’re in it.
-Just because you love the cover art, and it suits the story, does not mean it will help sell the story. Look at what is selling, and getting attention, not just what you like.
– Don’t rush. Just getting things out isn’t enough. You need a plan.
– Not everything works for everyone. Trial and error is your friend.
Don’t forget your backlist. Just because you don’t have somethign new t promote does not mean you do not promote anything.
-Don’t pay others to do what you can do WELL yourself. (why pay someone to run a FB party or Thunderclap campaign for you, when you can do those easily yourself, or with other authors who will also bring readers to the table?)
-Some authors have a team, so they can concentrate on the writing. If/when you do this, build a team you can trust, and who are good at what they do. Until then, suck it up, and bust your ass.

I can now say I make more than $100 a month, but only on new release months do I make more than $500. Which, considering I only had two releases last year, isn’t totally horrible, I think. I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, but when I look back at the things I’ve learned, and at my plans for the future, I feel confident I can get there if I just keep learning, growing, and working.

The most important lesson I learned; Other authors are my best resource. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in the difference between being trad published and Indie is the way authors interact with each other. Before, it was all about the writing. About plotting, critiquing, GMC, and so on. Now, it’s more about the business of being a writer. Authors are sharing what works, and what doesn’t with the knowledge that what works for one might not work for another. Everything is trial an error until we find our niche, and we all have a niche-a sweet spot.

Sharing our knowledge, and our readerships with each other helps us all. The great thing is with being Indie, especially with the digital phenomenon, is that there is an endless amount of space and readers for us all. We are all struggling with our own goals, whether it’s to reach a certain point, or maintain one, the struggle is always there, and likely always will be. It’s created a community of less backbiting and more backscratching because we all get how hard this is, and that if we’re sticking with something this hard it’s because we love what we do. That love binds us together so we are not alone in our trudge up the stairs, even if we sometimes feel that way.
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Managing giveaways and free stories for newsletter subscribers by Anna Lowe

January 25, 2016

My biggest challenge as an author is probably the same as any other person’s: balancing time. That’s true on several levels, because I have to balance my writing commitments with family time as well as meeting the demands of my day job. If I zoom the focus to writing specifically, the balance question becomes how much to time to put into writing new material which is critical to keep fans happy versus how much time to put into social media and promotion so that I can reach new fans? In this article, I’ll talk about why and how I give away free content and how I distribute it.

Every author knows (or should know) the importance of building a mailing list. I have tried gaining newsletter subscribers in various ways but the most effective, hands-down, if offering free content. To put it crudely, I dangle a baited hook in front of readers – and “free” makes great bait. Free and easy is even better – for authors and readers alike.

I currently offer two short stories free to subscribers (one for each of my series). I started out offering one free story that followed up on the couple featured in Book 1 of my Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch series. That attracts huge numbers of subscribers. Once I expanded into a second series (the Serendipity Adventure Romance series), I added a second free story, which is the prequel to Book 1 of that series.

These giveaways make effective bait because they are complete stories in and of themselves (not excerpts or deleted scenes). The stories also fit seamlessly into the line-up of my established series so readers can see that the product has value. This impression is reinforced by the fact that the covers are professional, attractive, and again, streamlined into the series. Finally, the giveaways are actually posted for sale on Amazon and have collected many reviews, so the reader can see that they’re the genuine deal. And snap – they grab the reward! As they should; it’s a great deal that allows new readers to try out my story worlds for free. A win-win for us both.

I started out by individually emailing fans epub/mobi/or pdf files of these free stories (and sending ARC copies of upcoming releases to my growing review team the same way). That was a huge time drain! Author friends pointed me to instaFreebie and I’ve never looked back. Newsletter subscribers can use Instafreebie to claim both books in any format they like, and ARC readers can download advance copies of a new release the same way. Interestingly, both of the stories I give away for free also sell reasonably well on Amazon for 99¢ each, so I’ve long since earned back the costs of covers and editing for both.

Most importantly, instaFreebie makes it easy for me. By offering readers a variety of formats in which they can download their reward, instaFreebie saves me valuable writing time. Looking back, I was able to reward the first few dozen subscribers to my newsletter “by hand,” but now that I’ve broken into four digits with my subscriber list, that’s just inconceivable.

Similarly, I used to individually email every member of my review team a copy of the story in her preferred format. It took ages! With instaFreebie, I send one email to my entire review team with one instaFreebie link. The great thing is, if someone needs tech support, instaFreebie helps with that, too, so I’m not left scratching my head about why Jane Doe can’t load a book to her device. (You’d be amazed how many people don’t know how to load a story onto their reading device.) InstaFreebie also gives me some peace of mind in that it distributes watermarked copies of my book, making it slightly harder for a copy to end up on a pirate website.

Even I, a complete technophobe, could set up MailChimp to send all newsletter subscribers a welcome email that leads to the free stories on instaFreebie, so that is automated, as well. The one thing I don’t automate is responses to my ARC review team. Once they send me the link to their review (a requirement to stay on my ARC team), I reply to each and every one personally. They’ve given their time to read and review my books; the least I can do is send even a brief thank you in return.

Finally, the nuts and bolts: I set up my free stories as unlimited campaigns (no limit to number of downloads and no expiration date), because I don’t want readers to come to a dead end with an expired offer. On the other hand, I set up my ARC campaigns as batches of 50 downloads with no expiration date just in case someone were tempted to abuse the system and share the link with the world. It’s never happened and I hope it doesn’t, but just in case, I do ARC offers in limited batches.

I have a prominent tab on my author website (labeled “FREE BOOK” instead of “newsletter”) that leads to my newsletter sign-up. That page includes a color image of both covers to brighten that hook even more (see http://www.annalowebooks.com/newsletter-free-book). In addition, I include the same color invite to join my newsletter as a live link in the frontmatter of every book I publish, and I put the sign-up link in the backmatter, as well.

Good luck growing your newsletter list and managing your giveaways to make the most of your precious writing time!

Authors, now we can still work and get off our lazy…erm…Fitness Desks

Over the last year, I've noticed more and more people discussing the multi-tasking phenomenon of work and exercise. As authors under what now seems to be a constant deadlines in the fast paced, pump out a ton of books a year market, exercise seems to be one of the things we need the most...and one of the first things to get knocked off our list of things to do in a day.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here are several options for you to check out to stay healthy and on work track.​


The Treadmill Desk

This was the first version of work while working out that popped up on all the author groups I belong to. There are several versions on the market from models like (listed cheapest to most expensive as of the time of this post) TrekDesk Treadmill Desk (left), the Exerpeutic 2000 WorkFit High Capacity Desk Station Treadmill (right), or the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk.

Each of these options come with various features, from desk size and position to type of treadmill. I recommend using those links as a starting point and to shop around before purchasing to make sure you get the price and the features you personally need.


For those of you who are too clumsy for the walk and type, these following options offer a nice alternative:

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Lost Art of Knocking

October 5, 2015

Authors, most of us work from home. In many ways we’re living the dream. The good life. We’re our own bosses. We don’t have to commute. There are no overloaded elevators, no cubicles, no annoying coworkers. But then there is the reality of it all.

We are our own boss. That means, if we don’t stay in control of our work environment and our time, who will? In a normal office setting family members can’t just barge in whenever they want. You could end up fired if they did. I’m sure a few of us have mothers who have tried this at least once in our lifetimes. What? I’m alone in this?

(Hi, Mom!)

Back to the point. Working from home and the lost art of knocking. If you work from home do you find anyone and everyone walks right in to talk with you, sees your work time as not that important as you do it from home and can do it anytime?

I have three boys, two dogs and a husband. At times it feels like there are hundreds of people in my home when it is only my family. My office door is always opening and a Roth boy is there, asking me this or that. 9 times out of 10, the question is one that does not require an answer from a parental authority (also, keep in mind my kids are not small– 15, 16 and 21). My husband is guilty of barging into my office as well. He does so under the guise of being helpful. The classic, yet effective interruption tactic of “do you need anything”?

I’m hardly new to working from home. I’m entering my 12th year. I’ll have small bursts where they seem to understand this behavior is unacceptable, knock or wait until I’m done writing. But then we’re right back to where we started. Fixes? Cures? I’m all ears.

 

 

Let’s Talk Office Chairs…

September 28, 2015

Almost every author I know says they need a new office chair. It makes sense that after spending hours day-in and day-out in front of a screen it’s not just our hands and eyes that start to feel the pain, but also our derriere.

First, what do you want to look for in a chair? Let's refer over to Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for their workplace tips.​ To paraphrase, basically they advise:

  • ​Backrest - follows the curve of your spine
  • Seat - comfortable and at a height you can rest you feet flat on the floor or a footrest
  • Armrests - Soft, and allow for shoulder relaxation
  • Base - 5 legs with wheels for easy movement

​Source: "Computer Workstation ETools." US Department of Labor. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Web. 25 Sept. 2015 

I have the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair (pictured to the right). I like it and it's held up well when compared to other chairs I've had in the past. Plus, it has some decent online review ranks, but I’m not sure it’s the best option out there. To help me, I asked the RAMN group of authors what chairs they thought were the golden ticket of backside comfort.

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Hand and Wrist Health – Typing Gloves for Authors Under Deadlines

September 19, 2015

Since our hands are our livelihood and we need to take care of them, I thought this would be a great topic. It should be noted that this post is not a replacement for seeing a doctor if you are having serious problems. Tingling and numbness often associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome should be addressed by a medical professional, as both symptoms can actually be caused by other things--such as back pain or nerve issues. So, there's my disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. Just a working author on deadlines sharing what's worked for her.

I don't know if everyone else gets the sore hand problem (you will if you keep writing like mad for 10 years like I have, lol) Anyway, they're really strange to get used to, but I like these typing gloves when I notice sore wrists and fingers from being at the computer for long hours at a time. I have three basic levels of typing gloves I recommend for authors.


Starter Gloves aka "They're starting to get sore"

I've tried several brands of typing gloves. These IMAK Smart Glove for Carpal Tunnel are some of my favorite (pictured to the left). They are interchangeable, so you'll just turn them inside out to use them on the other hand. They can be a little hard to get used to at first because of the bean bag pouch on the palm, but stick with them. For me they really do help with everyday type soreness.

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How to Find an Accountant

Advice on How to Find an Accountant:

(Disclaimer: This author post is not a substitute for advice from an accountant or an attorney. Understand your needs and area tax laws and when in doubt, contact a local professional.)

Step 1:

Create an introduction to your business:

  • You are a professional, working author (provide an estimate of your annual income).
  • You are your own small business.
  • You use foreign contractors (for example: an editor or cover designer from abroad).

Step 2:

Create a list of your needs:

  • You must make foreign and out-of-state tax payments.
  • You use W9/W8BEN forms.
  • You contribute to a SEP IRA.
  • You need an accountant who will learn about the publishing business if she/he doesn’t already work with authors.

Step 3:

Ask about fees

  • Will you charge for our primary consultation?
  • Will you charge research fees to figure out whether or not you can take me as a client?
  • Once I am your client, will you charge a research fee if I ask questions?

 

 

Juggling Life

November 17, 2014

On a good day, life is chaos. Traffic, deadlines, emails from people that need something, dog poop on the floor, my daughter forgot to do her homework, the milk’s expired in the fridge, and the list goes on. My daily tasks involve a 9 hour day job (plus 1.5 – 2 hours of travel getting there and back), writing, spending time with my family (eating, chatting, helping with homework, etc.), and trying to stay in shape. And there are only so many hours in the day.

The key? Six hours. That’s what I typically live on, six hours of sleep a night. Sometimes less, rarely more. That leaves 18 hours in the day for everything else. Take work out and I’m down to 7 (weekends, somehow, are even busier than weekdays). For me the routine is get home around 6, fix and eat dinner with the family, then move on any homework or other things that need to be done. Then I try to get in some writing if there’s time until 8 or 8:30. The kids go to bed and it’s time to hit the gym. That typically takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on what I’m doing. Then it’s back to writing until heading to bed between 11 and 12. Wake up at 6 and repeat.Continue reading