I’ve officially been a full time writer for three months, and holy cow it’s been an amazing adventure so far. In that time, I’ve started, finished, and published six titles, set two more for pre-order, and finished two additional books. The material varies between short stories, nonfiction, novels, and series, but the end result is that I get another checkmark in my goal for 20 self-published books.
In that time, I’ve built my writing community, reading community, and even extended my reach beyond to old friends and connections. I’ve had more people reach out to me in the last three months to check in than before. It’s been a great ride.
I think the fun part is getting all the questions from people who have no clue what the writing or publishing process is like. Their genuine interest in it reminded me that these are some of the questions I had about the process when I was just starting out as a writer and learning the ropes. So, I gathered some of the best questions and answers to help not only those who are new to the process but encourage anyone who might be starting their publishing journey.
What’s your book about?
I could go on for hours and hours if there wasn’t a time limit to our conversation. Talking about writing is potentially my number two favorite thing about writing, after, of course, writing. With a series under my belt already, I can usually give a quick synopsis of that before diving into my new series.
The great part about this question is that it forced me to actually create an elevator pitch for my book. I never queried to publishers or tried to get someone to buy my idea so I didn’t exactly have this sorted out. But this is potentially the most common question an author gets so it’s important to work on it. I cover genre, a rundown of theme, and then get super giddy if they ask more pointed questions about the idea.
Why didn’t you want to get a publisher?
Honestly, at one point I thought about it. My standalone book hits hard enough topics and sends a tough message to where I thought I should consider querying. But after careful consideration, I decided that I loved the freedom and ability to run my writing like a business. It fits my personality, authorpreneurship spirit, and, quite frankly, I love just writing and sending my work into the world on my own time.
But you’re not a “real” writer…
WTF? I write, and that makes me a writer. I publish, which makes me a published writer. I write books, which makes me a novel writer. Just because I don’t go the “traditional” route doesn’t mean I’m no less of a writer. I’m also not better, but I love that I can be in control of my work. I’m stubborn so I prefer being in control of every portion of the writing and publishing process. I rely on myself alone for success, which is just how I like it.
So, you just write?
I mean, I write, yes. But I also run my publishing like a business. I market, I advertise, I write, I read, I write again, I design covers, and I do a million other things. I run every part of the business, and I do it constantly. I’m always looking for the resources to grow my business, get traction and eyes on my books, and make money.
How do you do all of that during the day?
An insane amount of planning, focus, and caffeine. I’ve transitioned to a Passion Planner (affl) to keep my schedule in order. I can track my word count, time block and make sure I’m staying focused but also giving myself breaks, and monitor my publication dates. I can run my social media schedule, know when a book needs to be written to hit a deadline, and celebrate wins with treats and look back on my productivity.
I’m able to keep track of all my projects using this system. I know when I’m publishing nonfiction too, so I make sure I have three or more articles prepared on Sunday for the week ahead. I know when I work best on each of my tasks so I can stay on task. Nonfiction can be written when there are more potential distractions so I keep those ideas for my weekend writing when my husband is busy around the house. Fiction is best written in the morning when the dog has settled down and my husband has left for work. Every weekday, I know I’m working on fiction at 9AM sharp.
But in reality, you just sleep most of the day, scroll social media, and watch TV, right?
No. Some days I take a break. Some days when I can’t seem to produce words, I focus on administrative tasks. Other days I’m writing well into my lunch break and even after my husband gets home from work. Some days require more work on marketing and design while others can be spent writing. There’s variation, but I’m stubborn, hard working, and run my writing like a business that I refuse to see fail. Because I refuse to fail. I will keep at it until my fingers bleed because this is my passion and I’m in love with it.
Don’t you get burned out?
There’s always a danger of burning out, especially because I am treating it like a business and I’m the only employee. I make sure to take healthy breaks, get exercise, drink tons of water, and focus on other things when I just can’t get the words to work. There’s a balance and it varies between every writer. I’m lucky enough to get work done during the week and take the weekends “off”. I minimize the amount of absolute requirements that must be done on the weekends, instead delegating lesser tasks like cover design, scheduling social media, and reading to my weekend hours.
How can you keep producing work? How do you have so many ideas?
Creativity and ideas favor the consistent. Every day, I do something related to my writing business (on vacations, I suffer and only think about writing). The more you stick with a habit, build a routine, and work on it every day, the easier it is to find ideas in everything. I have two more series ideas working in the back of my mind, growing and developing as I consider how things could play out. When I finish this current series, I’ll know which one is developed enough to pick up and make my next project. For nonfiction, I keep a growing list of headline ideas I can pull from when it’s time to write an article. I’m always prepared for what’s next, even when I’m in the middle of a big project.
How many words do you write each day?
Depends. Sometimes I get 2K really awesome words. Some days I can get over 10K (more rare now that we have a puppy). Other days I’m scraping for 300. Some days I need to focus more on administrative things and can only get a few hundred. Other days I need to focus on editing and can even negate my word counts. I understand that a 150 word day doesn’t necessarily mean failure (unless I totally wasted my time doing something else, which is rare).
I wish I could write a book…
Great! How can I help you? What questions do you have? Do you have an idea? Do you currently write daily? What about write, period? Where are you willing to sacrifice some time to get 100 words in during the day? What are you willing to cut from your schedule so you can sit in front of the keyboard? Are you willing to work for a long time on it to get that first draft done? What about the extra few months after the book is finished to edit and polish and prepare?
This is usually when people stammer, and not just because I’m intense. Everyone loves the idea of “having written a book” but realize that there’s actually a lot of hard work to “write the book”. There are people who want to have a book but don’t want to actually do the work and there are people who are willing to power through the hard parts to get to the finish line.
And that’s okay. Not everyone is going to write a book. The idea is nice, but those writers who are actually invested in the process are the ones who will actually put in the work. It’s like wanting to get a marathon medal without actually running the race — the people who train and actually run are the ones who will cross the finish line.
Laura Winter is a self-published author dedicated to helping your authorpreneur journey. She has launched her books on little to no budget to prove you don’t have to invest an exorbitant amount of money to be successful. Find her work on Amazon, Patreon, and join her tribe to get more articles like this.
This post was originally published on Medium.