The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: 2013

2013: Blessing In Disguise

I’m not going to beat around the bush: 2013 was not a good year. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it had very little to offer in the way of high points and was filled with a lot of very low lows. Low-lights include losing one of my uncles and one of our cats, substantial freelance income loss and a whole lot of stress and frustration.

There was also a lot of blaming myself and beating myself up, feeling completely helpless and useless, and wondering why God was punishing us. What can I say? It’s hard to think healthy and helpful thoughts when you’re standing knee-deep in the doo. 

Arranging My Plate

Note: If you’ve somehow landed here from the IWU New Year’s Blog Hop, please note that you’re here by mistake and I’m not participating in the current hop. But you are nonetheless welcome to hang out here and peruse my blog.

That’s right, dear readers, there is another Blog Hop going on this week, so if you didn’t win that Kindle Fire during the Holiday Hop, here’s your second chance.

I was originally planning to participate, but then the new year threw a whole bunch of work at me all at once and something had to give. So, no giveaways here on my blog this week, although I am planning something for after things settle down a bit, so don’t wander too far away for too long.

Speaking of being overwhelmed, this time management tip from the International Freelancers Academy arrived in my inbox the other day just when I needed it the most. I was feeling sick and overwhelmed and had actually just drafted a resignation letter for one of my contract jobs because I was so overextended. I haven’t sent that letter yet, but let me tell ya, this particular job not only pays the least of all of my current gigs, it’s also the most demanding and stressful. The only reason I’m hesitant to resign is fear that if I do, all of the other jobs will dry up all at once and then I’ll have nothing, a fear that is neither unfounded in the freelancing world, nor unprecedented in my freelancing career. So I’m going to give this piece of advice a whirl and see if I can continue fitting them in without losing my sanity or letting them push all of the higher-paying work, not to mention my writing priorities, off of my plate.

Basically, this tip suggests diagramming all of your projects as a jigsaw puzzle to help you visualize how to fit all of the pieces together in your work day. I tailored it a bit and diagrammed it as a plate instead of a jigsaw puzzle, because that just makes more sense to my brain, and because since I’m always talking about my plate being too full, I thought it might be useful to see just what that looks like.

Also, instead of listing every single project and trying to fit them into this chart (because that would just make me want to shoot myself), I divided them up into broad categories, and then charted each category on the plate, like so:

The plate itself represents an eight-hour work day (my days usually go longer, but that’s mainly because of interruptions and distractions; so I’m charting the actual time that should be spent working). I have five categories of stuff that I need to get done each day: Writing & Publishing, Marketing, Freelance Writing, Web Dev & Graphic Design, and e-mail and miscellaneous little stuff that always has to get done.

Writing & Publishing is pretty self-explanatory — this is my noveling time, and I try to make it the first hour of my day (because otherwise it won’t get done). This covers all of the various tasks from drafting a story to revisions to formatting and book design, depending on which stage I’m at with a particular story. If all my dreams come true, this category will someday take up about two-thirds of my plate, and Marketing will take up the remaining third. But for now all I get is one measly hour a day to just be a writer.

Marketing covers all of my various book marketing tasks, as well as blogging. It also covers marketing my freelance business and looking for new clients. It’s actually quite a lot of work to cram into one hour a day, but right now I’m just counting my blessings that I actually have other work and don’t need to spend all day hunting for work and trying to hawk my wares.

The biggest chunk of time is for Demand Studios and other freelance writing jobs. DS is actually paying pretty decent money right now and they would actually take up the rest of my day if I didn’t have other client obligations.

But I do, and so I’ve carved out two hours for client projects — mainly web development and graphic design stuff. This is where the object of that letter is going to have to fit in, and only after my other (better-paying) clients are taken care of. And when they learn that they’re relegated to two hours a day on days when I don’t have more important things to work on, that letter might just become moot; but that’s what they get for being both the lowest and most difficult rung on my income ladder.

Before I did this little exercise, I asked myself how useful it would really be, but now that I’ve done it, I think it has helped me feel less frazzled and more like my work is actually manageable. I know I have readers who are juggling multiple projects and feel like they’re spinning a lot of plates — hopefully, this exercise will help you guys figure out how everything fits on just one plate. And hopefully it will help ME attain my 2013 goal of budgeting my time better and finding more balance in my life.

Writing & Publishing Plans for 2013 And Beyond

2013 looks like it’s going to be an interesting year for my writing and publishing agenda. I fear that it’s not going to be a very productive or eventful year; not because I don’t have any projects in the works, but because work is threatening to keep me too busy to market my books or write and publish new ones. Needless to say, this is frustrating, and also somewhat ironic. Out of all of the things I know how to do, writing fiction is the only one that I actually want to have as a lifelong career, and yet it’s the one I’m able to devote the least time to, because as of yet it brings in the least amount of income. It’s hard to justify setting aside something that does pay the bills to make time for something that doesn’t, you know?

Heavy sigh.

I do, however, have writing and publishing goals. I don’t know if I can call them 2013 goals, because it’s doubtful that I’ll be able to get to all, if any, of them this year. I have no fewer than four fully-formed novels in my head currently, all of them vying to be my next project. These include the aforementioned Radium Town, my Weird West Steampunk horror adventure; a romantic paranormal thriller that’s sort of a follow-up, but not really a sequel, to Restless Spirits, although it might have some cross-over; and the next two sequels to Dominion of the Damned, which, surprise, is actually a trilogy.

I keep going back and forth on which one to focus on next. Both common and business sense seem to dictate that I should stick with the Damned series until it’s done, while that world is still fresh in my mind, and also to appeal to all of the genre series fans, of whom there are many. And part of me wants to keep going, but part of me also really wants to take a break from that world. There are legitimate reasons for focusing on each of the others, too. I’m considering just powering through the rough drafts for each of them and then going back and editing them in turn, but that will pretty much guarantee that I spend all of 2014 editing and revising, and probably won’t have a new book come out until late next year at the earliest. Although I suppose I could always work on short stories if I need to write something fresh and new.

At any rate, I am hoping to pull my Faeries in Hollywood novel, The Hero Factor, out of the trunk and dust it off and polish it up for release later this year. And I’ll also be finishing and polishing Eucha Falls for e-book release in the next month or so. So it’s not like 2013 will be entirely void of new releases.

And in light of the fact that self-publishing is a lot of work (really, if you’re still on the fence about self-publishing, I’m tempted to advise you not to do it if you don’t have a budget for hiring people to edit, design your cover and layout, help out with marketing, etc. because it cannot be overstated how much work goes into this stuff if you DIY it), I’m also considering alternative routes to getting my books out there. I’m not ready to jump back on the traditional-publishing wagon yet, but I am thinking of maybe submitting to some small press indie publishers, just so someone else can do all of that other work and I can focus mainly on the writing.

I’m also thinking about entering Dominion into a couple of contests. There’s the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which seems basically to be American Idol for indie writers; and the IndieReader Discovery Awards, which doesn’t guarantee a publishing contract for the winner, but looks like great exposure regardless of whether I won. The latter contest has an entry fee large enough to be potentially prohibitive, though, and the former looks like a lot of time and work just to prepare my entry, and as things currently stand I don’t know if I’ll be able to make the time to prepare an effective pitch. So we’ll have to see.

At any rate, that’s more or less what I’ll be working on for probably at least the next two years. Do you have an opinion on which book I should write next? Feel free to share it in the comments.

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