As a fellow member of the thriller group The Twelve, I have had the privilege of getting to know New York Times bestselling author Joshua Graham over the past year. His body of work is impressive, as is his talent for writing. His novels have received numerous accolades, including DARKROOM, which CBS News described as having "action, political intrigue, and well-rounded characters ...a novel that thriller fans will devour."
Right now, all readers who sign up for Joshua's newsletter will receive a FREE book, THE FÜHRER’S DAUGHTER about Grace Drexler, who, after uncovering a shocking discovery, must flee her home in order to stay alive, and ultimately fulfill her destiny.
When asked about his advice for aspiring authors, Joshua had this to say:
Tools of the Trade
The one thing no one ever told me before my first book got published was how much time I’d have to spend on non-writing related work, if I wanted to have a long term career as a writer. Even if you’re a traditionally published author, you have to engage your audience through social media.
You might be thinking, “I bet those big-name, #1 New York Times bestselling authors don’t have to worry about that.”
Don’t believe me? Let’s take Sandra Brown (since we’re talking about New York Times #1 bestselling authors) for example. In an interview I did with her on Thriller Radio, she spoke about how much social media work she had to do, and how it challenged her schedule. That’s right. Even someone whose publisher doesn’t exactly skimp on her publicity and marketing budget, has to work on this.
To that end, I’m relieved to find that I’m not the only author who has to perform this balancing act of writing, marketing, publishing, and managing the business end of it.
But what’s the secret to that balance? When you find out, please let me know.
Seriously though, we all have to prioritize our days and time to get both the creative and administrative tasks done. As for social media, one of the simplest way to reach an audience these days is facebook. Some writers use a fan page to post book information and other such things, and some also maintain a personal page for engaging their friends with cute cat pictures, what they had for dinner, and other things that bring a sense of connection to their readers. But one must take care not to allow it to become a fun excuse to avoid writing and other tasks. Sandra Brown quoted Amy Tan who called social media (probably facebook) is “The Devil’s Candy.”
Twitter is a great tool to share links to your blog or articles in which your followers might be interested.
If you want to automate the syndication of your blog posts through your social media outlets (facebook, twitter, etc.), there are tools such Networked Blogs. You can actually set it to automatically push them out to those other outlets. You can also use a tool called Buffer to schedule social media posts in advance.
As a blogger, you might actually have some content ready to go for a future date. You can use the scheduling feature to post it at a date/time in the future, and Networked Blogs will automatically push it out after it runs live.
The more you do as a writer—especially an independent or hybrid author—the more tasks you’ll find on your plate. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. I took a cue from my wife, who is a very successful businesswoman and my top advisor. In a word: LISTS! Make to-do lists every day and put them in priority order. If you are congenitally attached to your computer or smartphone, use a task app that you can organize according to importance level and due dates. Personally, I use Microsoft Outlook and a tool to sync it with my google calendar, tasks, and contacts called gSyncit. On my Android phone I sync my tasks with an app called Google Task Organizer (GTO).
Without such tools, I would be challenged in meeting all my deadlines.
The challenge still exists, and for me that involves taking care of things in priority order. A typical day for me might look like this:
- Wake up
- Breakfast, Coffee
- Workout at the gym or run three miles
- Take kids to school
- Personal time (reading, prayer.)
- Check email for any emergencies
- Quick check of email, social media
- Quick look (to arrange or rearrange) tasks
- Implement tasks – writing, marketing, publishing, blogging, radio show, answering emails
- Back to work
- Pick kids up from school
- Dinner with family
Have I mastered the art of balance yet? To quote someone much wiser than I: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
How to you organize and balance your creative and business life?