Doing things differently…

 

Daily Quotes-3

I was complaining to a friend the other day about how I’m having problems at present moving my brain around. Yes, those were the words I used.

‘I don’t see what’s going on,’ I whined. ‘Normally by the time I get home I can get into the space I need to be in for astro writing. And by the time I’ve had dinner and watched some of last nights MKR, I can be in my characters’ head.’

It’s true. I can. That’s the way my brain works. It zig zags. It’s why I rarely get writers’ block- because I simply move onto something else. Lately, though, it’s taking more than the hour (on a good day) commute and (at least one) glass of wine to move my head away from the day. Some days it’s more.

‘Maybe you’re trying to do too much,’ he suggested.

I smiled and shrugged- as you do.

The thing is, I’m doing a lot- but none of it properly:

  • I’m writing novels, but not marketing my product
  • I’m exercising, but not changing my diet
  • I’m strengthening my body, but my back is still weak
  • I’m writing astro content and have a loyal following but it costs me money to do it
  • I’m tired…all the time.

It’s a case of the almost there’s.

I figured I should put some of my project management skills to the problem.

The Goal Statement

To make a six figure income solely generated from the business of writing- both fiction and astro.

My schedule includes around 2 ½ hours commuting a day (to drive 25km each way) and looks something like this:

5am Alarm

5.30-6.30am Exercise

7.15am Leave for work

5.45- 6pm Home

6pm- 7pm Astro diary work or blogging

7pm- 8.30pm prepare and eat dinner

8.30-10pm Fiction writing

Repeat

On weekends I try and get blog posts scheduled, catch up with friends, and make progress on my manuscript. Sometimes I even clean the house or weed the garden. Sometimes. Mostly, though, I don’t.

Daily Quotes-2

The catch 22 is I’m not earning enough from my books to pay for them, or my websites- let alone give up the day job. Yet this: the business of writing, is what I intend to do full-time.

I need to do more marketing and promotion for my novels, and I need to start producing ebooks for the astro content to generate some passive income, yet I don’t physically have time for that while I’m working full-time and writing part-time…but if I don’t make the time or find the time or do some outsourcing, I’ll still be in this situation in five years- working ridiculous hours without a proper weekend. If this is to be a real business, it needs to be treated as such- within the constraints of my day job.

Splitting into two: Fiction and Astrology…

Fiction…

Big Girls Don’t Cry has sold ok- more than Baby It’s You, but not as well as I would have liked.

Write- Publish- Repeat

The strategy was to let Baby It’s You it find its’ own space in the Amazon world until it had more friends, ie while I built a backlist. I’d make a little more effort with Big Girls Don’t Cry, and a little more again with Finding John Smith (or whatever it is that I decide the title needs to be).

The goal was to earn enough from Finding John Smith to finance I Want You Back and enough from that to finance the next and begin to make enough profit to build on.

Author Platform

The traffic to this site is relatively low, but because it’s on wordpress and I use a lot of my own images, costs me just my own time and annual subscription fees ($70) to run.

It is, however, limited, subject to pesky ads and I can’t sell from it.

The Opportunities

  • A real marketing and author platform strategy
  • A new cover for Baby, It’s You
  • Release of Baby It’s You to ibooks
  • Release of both titles to print on demand
  • Moving of this website to a self-hosted environment with the capacity to sell direct. My costs will go up, but so will my flexibility.

Astro Writing…

The Problem?

Excluding my time, but including stock photo purchases, Jo Tracey Astrology costs me around $1300 a year to run.

The only income from this is:

  • The annual astro diary project
  • A very small amount of affiliate income

When I’m actively posting, I’d invest about 6-8 hours of my time per week in writing and scheduling posts. At present there is no return on this investment.

Author Platform

I have good traffic to Jo Tracey Astrology– around 1000 views on an average day, and up to 5000 views on days when something random (usually involving Scorpio) goes viral. I’d hoped that some of these readers would follow my fiction, but the crossover is limited. Extremely limited. I’ve tested and proven the theory with a few crossover posts. These have generated just a handful of clicks.

There are over 4000 followers on the Facebook page, but reach is variable. My Tuesday Toolbox, for instance, has an average reach of around 500 people, whereas a post I wrote on Pisces the other week has found its’ way to over 22,000 people.

According to the click rate across to astro diary sales and various other affiliate sites, my astro readers are quite responsive- but only when it comes to astro product. This makes sense.

Opportunities

  • Recycle existing content on the astro site to free up time to transform it into a saleable product. Blog to book.
  • Add capacity to Jo Tracey Astrology to enable direct sales
  • Reach out to existing contacts for affiliate assistance in sales

Putting it all together…

The most obvious solution is to try and find a traditional publisher and have them do it all for me- yet I’d still need to do my own marketing, so the problem wouldn’t be completely solved.

It also ignores the reason I decided to self publish in the first place: I enjoy the entire business of this writing thing- from creation to polishing, to publishing. I love that I’ve built, and continue to build, a fabulous team to help me- and I wouldn’t like to lose that control over the end product.

The way I see it, there are 2 potential solutions:

  • Find an agent who is willing to work with and promote an indie author. I suspect this will be a tall ask as most prefer to work with traditional publishers.
  • Outsource the production of a marketing and social media strategy to an expert until I’m able to do it myself. I’m looking for someone who can provide a bespoke solution, not one of these companies I get spam mails from every 2nd day.

Next steps…

Pop the tasks into a project plan. Although I write like a pantser, I need to manage the business in the way I’ve been taught- as a planner.

Anyone know any good marketing strategists who need an indie writer as a client?

Comments

4 comments on “Doing things differently…”
  1. Deborah says:

    Hmmm…. so much here Jo. I think you know the direction you want to head – monetise both sites and be able to direct sell etc.. I love that you’ve worked through this – what’s working and what you want to build on etc… Sadly no suggestions re marketing peeps. I know Mel Kettle does that sort of thing but not sure on the book front.

    I just discovered some Readers and Writers Down Under thing which has been on at the Gold Coast this weekend and there seems to have been lots of independent authors there – with their banners and signing etc… Perhaps a strategy in the lead up to… some similar event?

    Are there any indie authors who’ve done a good job of marketing their books? (And you could emulate their strategies.)

    1. Jo says:

      Thanks Deb…romance is a popular indie genre, I should put more feelers out into the community. Thanks as always for your words…

  2. Dare I say it Jo, but have you considered you’re just trying to do too much? I found myself in exactly the same boat a few years ago when I was giving a little bit to everything but not enough to one thing, consequently nothing was getting done successfully. You have a full time job, a family, your astro work, your blog and everything involved with being an author (which is not limited to the writing). Question: when do you get time for you? When do you get time to relax and just be without any thought to characters or star signs or marketing or what’s for dinner?

    I had to make a decision and put a couple of things on hold for a while – they didn’t go away, I managed to achieve everything I was after in the end it just took a little longer.
    Maybe you just need to slow down for a while, take time to think it through and decide where the priorities lay.
    Aaaagh this sounds so preachy, it’s really not intended that way, hope it helps a little :-)x

    1. Jo says:

      I adore your last sentence- you’re absolutely not sounding too preachy…& you’re right, I am doing way too much. Once the deadlines are done at the end of March, I reckon I might sit back & assess…

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