6 Signs that you’re OUT OF CONTROL

I’m OUT OF CONTROL – there, I’ve admitted it. Feels better although I know that will be fleeting. What brought on this particular episode? I can’t find an email from an author who asked for an endorsement – and if you are that author, please email me ASAP. I’ve looked through every email received in the last six weeks – nada. I looked through my sent emails – zilch. I looked through deleted emails – same result. WTF, I muttered.

Many of you are aware that being a writer these days is a challenging mission. In fact, there are so many barriers to getting an agent and then to getting published, it’s a wonder any of us remain sane. Most of us blog, we’re on various social media, we collaborate with other authors, we build and execute marketing plans – oh, and did I mention, we write novels?

Here are 6 signs that you’re out of control.

  • Your desk is a horror show – piles of papers, a slew of stickies on topics from ‘sign up for Instagram’ to ‘call Mom’ to ‘make sure X character has a hobby’, coffee cups where the residue on the bottom has started to go moldy, empty bags of your favourite snack, an article you clipped out months ago because it was crucial (can’t remember why), a card you intended to send for a friend’s birthday that happened over a week ago, and so on.
  • There’s nothing checked off on the To Do list you wrote a month ago. That is if you even find time for such lists. In my former career, such lists used to be part of my daily routine, as did the notebooks I used to capture ideas, document meetings, record commitments and so on. I was a very organized person – emphasis on the past tense.
  • You have so many emails in your inbox (or inboxes), you’re thinking of declaring email bankruptcy – yes, there is such a term. My husband did that at least once. But, of course, you’re frantic that there’s at least one life-altering email in the pile.
  • You’ve neglected to pay one of the freelancers you rely on and not surprisingly, she’s reluctant to take on any more work for you.
  • You’re so pale from being huddled at your desk that your husband, child, best friend, mother (whoever cares about you) thinks you’re seriously ill. Other symptoms of desk huddling are rounded shoulders, a bad back, weight gain and the jittery feeling that comes from too much caffeine.
  • You spend waste time on your favourite social media venue instead of tackling critical tasks. This is one of my bugaboos … when I can’t face the challenges, I hop on Facebook. Shaking my head as I admit this.

I’m sure there are more signs, but I haven’t got time to think of them 🙂 Feel free to add your experiences or thoughts in the comments.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Thoughts from business guru Peter Drucker

marketing-image“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two-and only two-basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was a well-known, some might even say revered, consultant, teacher, writer and business guru. I remember reading his books and articles during different stages in my career – my pre-writing career, that is. His ideas were always thoughtful and insightful and he was sought out by many huge corporations for advice.

So, what does this quote have to do with me? Or with other authors in today’s world of writing and publishing?

As authors we innovate through our books, bringing new stories to readers or new spins on old stories and themes to help readers think about issues, experience circumstances vicariously, and build new understanding of relationships and the human condition.

As business people – yes, we are business people – we should also concern ourselves with marketing. According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Another take on marketing suggests that this function is the process by which goods and services move from concept to the customer. A process that considers the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.

Dr. Philip Kotler, Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago, suggests that marketing is “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.  Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.”

(For more definitions of marketing, have a look at 72 Definitions of Marketing by consultant, Heidi Cohen.)

Many authors consider promotion as the essence of marketing; some say they hate this aspect of their work and aren’t good at it.

Which of us considers the notion of target markets? Unfulfilled needs of readers? Profit potential? The places where readers in target markets can find our books? Have you morphed from self-published to having a publisher and sighed with relief at not having to do any more marketing?

If, as Drucker says, marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business, I believe we need to address this task more seriously.

End of lecture for the day 🙂

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

9 Questions to Test your Author Entrepreneurship

9 QuestionsFollowing the interest sparked by Lifetime Value of an Author and Authors Need to Plan, I thought I would add to the business discussion of what it takes to be an author with the premise that writers must act like entrepreneurs who are business, market and technology savvy.

Typically entrepreneurs are willing to take risks, seek independence and are both decisive and adaptable. They are driven by an idea – a service or product that will capture the market – and are disciplined self-starters who juggle multiple tasks. A daunting list of attributes.

To provoke your Monday thinking, I offer nine questions an author-entrepreneur should consider.

1. Do you think of yourself as an owner-operator? An owner-operator is a small business owned by the same person who is running day-to-day operations. In addition to the day-to-day business of writing, as an entrepreneur-writer you should be planning the business, managing its financial aspects, and determining your marketing strategy.

2. Do you think of your work as a collection of products and services? Entrepreneurs may begin with one product but most evolve to sell a complementary set of products and services in order to more fully satisfy their customers. The cost of acquiring customers is high; it is much easier to sell additional products (books are a product as are freelance writing, short stories, speaking engagements and blog posts) to existing customers than acquire another set of customers. Have you thought of your writing this way?

3. Do you understand your product development cycle? Every entrepreneur seeks to offer excellent products and services in a cost-effective manner. As market conditions change they adapt with new products, improved services and innovative marketing and promotion. How long do you take to write a new book? New freelance article or blog post? What is your process and why? Do you know your product development costs in terms of time and money? How can you do things differently?

4. Do you know your readers (customers) and the value you offer them? Before launching a business or a new product, entrepreneurs determine the size of the market, test market their products, and find creative ways to interact with customers. Entrepreneurs remain alert to changing market conditions and adapt by creating new products and services. Who are your readers? Why do they purchase your works? How will you reach them?

5. Do you know your competitors? Entrepreneurs know their competitors and how they operate. They know when changes have occurred in their slice of the industry. Both fiction and non-fiction writers should be equally savvy.

6. Do you understand your selling role? Entrepreneurs are passionate about selling their products and if they aren’t born salesmen/women they hire that skill. Publishers have limited advertising and promotion budgets. As the owner-operator of your writing business, building an audience and selling to them is one of your critical responsibilities. Are you comfortable selling?

7. Do you know how your business will make money? At a very simplistic level, revenue minus cost equals profit. Successful entrepreneurs develop good financial controls, know the cost of doing business, seek ways to be more efficient. They also look for ways to enhance revenue generation; for example, some authors enhance revenue through novellas, freelance articles, workshops and speaking engagements.

8. Do you have the traits that foster success? In addition to the traits listed in the first paragraph, I would add the ability to anticipate and handle change, the willingness to hustle for clients (see point 6), and good organization and planning skills.

9. Do you have the financial resources to start your business? Entrepreneurs put personal funds into their business and also seek investment dollars. They must satisfy themselves, their families and their investors that the risk-reward equation is worthwhile. Writers put personal time into their business, time that often reduces their income from other sources. Writers too have to ensure that the rewards outweigh the risks.

The premise is authors should think like small business owners in the context of a changing industry. The questions posed above may sound intimidating, but I believe they are vital to understanding the environment facing today’s writers and helping you plan your way forward.

Questions and comments are welcome, as always.

FOR MORE ON READING AND WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.