ASP 18: Project Management for Authors

Quote of the day:

“Nothing is less productive than doing what should not be done at all.”

– Peter Drucker

Before we dive into today’s topic, here’s a bit of housekeeping. We want to keep you updated on the future of our podcast. The first 15 to 20 episodes have been on self-pub topics with Barrie, Ron, and Steve. Once those are complete, we will begin to invite experts to share their thoughts and cool things that they have been doing!

Now, today we are talking about priorities. Too often, we spend so much time on the wrong things. Learning to manage projects and focus on the right things is the key to success. Here are a few questions we have received about focusing on the right projects, and our ideas to help you be more successful in maintaining good priorities.

What are the different areas self-published authors have to manage?

  1. Doing research.
  2. Actually writing the book.
  3. Email list management.
  4. Marketing and promotion.
  5. Working on your content platform.

What you focus on will depend on your specific goals. And your high-priority tasks will change depending on where you are in the process.

How do you manage the writing process?

  • Have a checklist. This is so helpful in keeping you on task. Check out, our free checklist that breaks down the process into specific steps.
  • Have a collaboration tool such as Slack (if you’re working with others).
  • Do time blocking. You’d be surprised how much time gets wasted if you aren’t careful. Use an Excel spreadsheet to track your writing time. Steve also takes note of the number of words he writes, and the location.
  • Print out a weekly to-do list with two columns: (1) individual small tasks (e.g., “Call Bob”) (2) individual daily actions (e.g., “Check email”).

Self-awareness is important. If you easily get distracted, set systems in place to prevent that.

How do you manage the other tasks aside from writing the book?

Remember to use your high-energy periods for writing. This is typically your priority task, as your business doesn’t exist without written content.

When it comes to other tasks, a virtual assistant can be helpful. Steve has a VA track a lot of areas of his business.

If you’re just starting out, make a practice of tracking your daily sales, Kindle Unlimited pages read and free books downloaded.

At what point in your business should you hire a virtual assistant?

When stuff starts to break! If you are stretching yourself thin and your business is suffering, it’s worth looking into getting a VA. As a general rule, when you start earning at least $2000 per month, you are probably at a point where a VA is financially viable.

How do you manage other important activities (staying on top of industry news, networking, administrative stuff, etc.) that are not directly related to self-publishing?

As always, it’s important to keep your priorities in order. If you feel that low-priority activities are worth your time, consider joining one or two high-quality Facebook groups that will keep you in the loop. You might also check out Authority Self-Publishing Facebook group.

Another good strategy is to hack your learning. There are ways to make things easier, and the more you use them, the more time you will save. Sometimes, you may even want to buy a product to help you speed up your learning to save time.

Another way to stay on top of things is to listen to podcasts on a daily basis. There is so much quality information out there, and it’s worth keeping tabs on it.

Finally, join one or two conference every year. These are a great opportunity to network and gain new knowledge.

How do you handle overwhelm and stress?

Remember that you are human, and forgive yourself when you stress out or make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world when you drop some plates. Pick one or two lofty goals and work on them in increments. And remember that the more time you give a project, the more likely you’ll be to put it off until later. Don’t be afraid to give yourself deadlines.

You might also check out The 12-Week Year by Brian P. Moran.

What are 80/20 activities for new self-publishers?

Writing, researching, and post-production time are probably your biggest priorities. If you have some extra time, build an email list. This will be the basis of your marketing efforts down the line. Also join a Facebook group to make connections. Your network will be a major tool in the future. They can help you start marketing your books.

What are 80/20 activities for more experienced self-publishers?

Writing is still the top priority. Remember, it doesn’t matter how well you market yourself—if you don’t have books to sell, then you aren’t going to make any money! New content keeps you relevant and increases your potential for earning.

That being said, once you are established it is worthwhile looking into new alternative revenue streams, and maximizing your marketing efforts. Start working on other aspects of your business such as foreign translations, audiobooks, etc. And if you get overwhelmed, just take a step back, pick one goal, and focus on it. And as always, beware of “shiny object syndrome.”

It also helps when you have guidance from a self-publishing expert. Speaking of which, head on over to to check out the Authority Pub Academy. Registration will close on January 25th. Don’t miss out!

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