Being an author is hard work. There is always something for us to work on like writing a new book, writing blog posts, running ads and marketing. We also have to work on our book covers, interior formatting, and book launches. As an author/entrepreneur, it seems like the work never ends, and it can be easy to succumb to overwhelm. This can especially happen when you’re new. There is a floodgate of information on the internet, and you feel like you have to do everything all at once. It’s almost like you want to jump overboard before you even start. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Today I’m going to break down the most important things you need to focus on first as a new author.
Author Overboard: How to Fight Overwhelm
- Your website-If you don’t have a web site yet, this is one of the first things you need to do. Every author needs to have a web site, or you are invisible. No one can find you or learn about you. It is critical for your career. Your website is the one place that you can send your readers to learn everything about you. Setting up your site is not hard, but there is a little bit of a learning curve. Here are some steps to get you started and quiet the feelings overwhelming you.
- Buy your domain name.
- Purchase your hosting (use a different company)
- Buy a paid theme
- Use the tutorials and start building your site. Make sure you get a paid theme; this way you will have support when you need it.
2. Social media-You do not have to be on every social media platform on the planet. Pick two that you want to focus on and master them. Learn everything about each one and become an expert at it. However, as I covered in last week’s post, you will need social media handles on all platforms. Managing two or three social media accounts will be much easier than trying to juggle a bunch. I did this early on, and it was a nightmare.
When it comes to posting, I have been trying to mix things up. I follow several of my favorite authors and share their posts in addition to my own. This way, it keeps my page fresh for my readers. If you haven’t been doing this, don’t worry. We all inadvertently can fall into a “me” trap without even noticing. I’m just excited to share my writing with the world most of the time.
3. Writing your book-This is probably the most daunting task of all for new authors. Getting the ideas from in your head onto the screen. However, it doesn’t have to be. Research your genre to see how many words the average book is. Take that word count and break it down over months, weeks, and days. Then, cut your goal for each day in half. Why? One of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff, addresses this in his new book Finish. People are more productive and achieve their goals when they cut their goals in half.
For example Genre word count: 70,000
70,000 words/6 months=11,667 words a month.
11,666/7 days=1,666 words a week
1,666/5 days=334 words a day.
Now, cut that in half, and you only need to write 167 words a day. Not only is this very feasible, but you will also probably get into the creative “zone” and wind up writing more than you plan on for the day. However, having such a small goal each day is useful if you’re having one of those days when the words don’t come.
More Ways to Combat Overwhelm
4. Blog Posts-When you have a blog, posting regular content is a must. This can be the Achilles heel and very overwhelming for new bloggers. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of discussions on how often to post, how long your posts should be, and how optimized they should be. I post once a week but can have between 2-3 posts. Here are the rules of thumb that I like to keep in mind.
- Make a list of topics. As soon as you think of one, add a title in the “New Posts” section in the back of your site and a few notes about what you want to write about.
- A standard blog post should be 1,000 words.
- Add the Yoast SEO plugin to your site. I’ll be honest; SEO is a mystery to me and drives me nuts. However, this plugin is a lifesaver. When both buttons to the top right turn green, I know my post is optimized and ready to go.
- Add at least 2-3 photos per post.
- Remember to break up your paragraphs and add numbers and bullet points. Make your post as scannable as possible.
- If you’re just starting blogging, post only once a week. As you grow, you can post more if you want.
- Have fun writing your posts.
5. Book Covers-Finding the perfect book cover can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. The most important thing to remember is, make sure your cover matches your genre. Take some time to look at the bestsellers in your category and choose 2-3 that you like. When you hire a cover designer, send the covers over and tell them that you want them to “model” your book after the ones that you sent. This way, you will get 2-3 options to work with. You don’t have to search through tons of covers on web sites to find the right one.
NOTE: I highly recommend hiring a cover designer; this is NOT something that you want to do yourself.
6. Book formatting-This is another area that is very important and can be overwhelming trying to find the right person. When I first started, I chose a name off a list of resources from Smashwords and hired the lady. Her name is Maureen Cutajar, and she did an excellent job. I have used her for four out of the five books I have published. Her web site is www.gopublished.com. I also have author friends who have used people on Fiverr and were pleased. Although I can’t recommend them personally, my friends have used them and were happy. Their names are Psalmyy and Pinkszzz. I just remembered that I used two sellers on Fiverr when I published Shadow of Soul. I used tlmason (ebook) and businessmagic (print), and they both did an excellent job.
Starting as a new author can be exciting and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can always learn a new skill or outsource what you are not good at or don’t understand. Don’t let yourself get so overwhelmed in the beginning that you want to quit. You have a great journey ahead of you, and the world needs your words. Are there any other aspects of this author journey that overwhelm you? Do you have any tips on how you combat overwhelm? I would love to know. Leave a comment and let’s start a conversation.