A Day in the Life of An Indie Author
by Julia Park Tracey
4:30 a.m. Let cats out.
5:00 a.m. Let cats in.
5:30 a.m. Cats have a brawl on top of my legs in bed. Kick both cats off. Husband awakens and gets ready for work. Try to sleep a little longer.
6:00 a.m. Give up on sleep and take meds, feed cats, start coffee.
6:30 a.m. Caffeine intake on target. Ready for blast off. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Read online newspaper. Reply to overnight tweets and posts with snappy comebacks. Consider the merits of own wit. Praise self.
8 a.m. Look for email from Big Name Publisher, then laugh because there isn’t one. It is I. I do it all. I remind myself of this when there is no big fat contract to sign or big fat check in the mail. I also remember it when I reap what I sow, that is, work hard and see results.
By 9 a.m. I am setting up my Twitter, Facebook and Google+ feeds for the day via HootSuite. With the Doris Diaries (my women’s history project), I post excerpts from my great-aunts diary from the 1920s on one set of social media. On my author pages, I post relevant links to articles, personal appearances or funny things I saw while reading the newspaper earlier in the day. As an aside, I have a degree in journalism and our professors used to grill us on what was in the paper every morning. I have never lost the habit of reading through the local, national and world news, plus sports, biz and weather – and I find surprisingly relevant-to-my-book articles all the time. For Tongues of Angels, my current novel, I am posting all kinds of links and articles about the new pope, equal rights for gays and women, and other social justice stories.
Somewhere in here I eat a bowl of cereal or yogurt. I also look at the dishes from last night and think about washing them. I don’t. But I do consider it.
By 10 a.m. I am working on marketing and answering email. I might have a blog post to write but I’ll put that off til later. Why? Because every writer procrastinates. I am one of them My addiction to the deadline keeps me working on a story in my head until the last possible minute, and then I sit and dump, that is, I write a powerful first draft, do a quick clean up, and skid into the finish line with a minute to spare, if not a few minutes late. (My journalism background is a blessing and a curse. I write clean copy. I wait til the last minute.)
One of the most important tasks I do is a daily marketing to-do, something that my publishing consortium asks of us. The women at Indie-Visible have set up a plan called “One-A-Days,” that is, a simple marketing task to keep us in the groove. It might be as simple as checking my blog statistics or adding a new hashtag to my Twitter profile. It might mean looking for search terms to add to my web site. It might mean I review another author’s book or vote on a GoodReads Listopia list. One simple task that pushes the book even an inch further on its jurney out into the world is all we ask. (This One-A-Day is now available free to subscribers at this link.
11 a.m. is a good time for another cup of coffee (two a day is my usual dosage) and a quick peek at Facebook and Twitter via HootSuite or the actual sites. It’s good to check in and see how people are responding to your posts, and to comment and RT other things you see online. It’s the back-and-forth that builds followers, and the Lord knows, I need followers. Popping in *briefly* is also a way to curate your social media. Stop any bickering, delete any stalkers, answer any questions, update a question or event you left hanging there. But I don’t let it become a time suck.
As an indie author, I also have a lot of other work to do. Pay the rent and the bills, for one thing. Housework and cooking, for another. About midmorning, I throw in a load of laundry, decide what’s for dinner and look at my bills. If I have some of those things to do, I either do morning or afternoon, but try to compress it to one day a week, morning or afternoon. I don’t like to lose too much time dithering away at the grocery store.
I’m also a freelancer, which pays the bills between royalty checks. I might have an article to write, an interview to set up, or a meeting over coffee with a potential client. I might write a company history, edit someone’s manuscript, or prepare an outline for a class I will teach in the fall. Note: Your local adult school, par and rec department or senior center is always looking for someone to teach a one-night or several-weeks-long course. Creative writing? Poetry boot camp? Children’s journaling and storytelling? If it’s something you can teach, write up a proposal and send it in. The worst that can happen is they say no. And if they say yes, another income stream. This fall I will be teaching a children’s journalism program at various elementary schools, and I have an outline in hand for that. I have met with the director of the program three times so far this spring, and those are meetings I set up for late morning (in time for that tasty second cup of coffee) or late afternoon (time for tea!).
In the meantime, aside from domestic duties and outside appointments, I have editing or writing to do. And by midmorning, I need to be head-down and humming.
I usually don’t eat lunch at noon. I usually look at my clock and realize it’s about 1:30 and time to eat.
1:30 p.m. Break for lunch. A good time for reading.
2 p.m. If I have anything to mail, and missed the post, this is a good time to take a break and walk to the PO. It’s important to get away from the desk, stretch out the legs and arms and stop being the Hunchback of Julia’s Apartment. I have a tendency toward repetitive stress injuries (shoulder, tendons, wrists) so I force myself to get away from the desk every day. Vitamin D is also important (sunshine).
3 p.m. When I get back from my walk and errands, I often settle down with a book or manuscript to read. I might make comments on a work in progress (either a paid gig or for a writer friend), or I might be reviewing a book for a blog, web site or newspaper. Afternoon reading time is important for me. Of course, sometimes I get sleepy, but giving myself down time in the midafternoon is crucial. Because I work at home, I often work until late at night. Down time to read for pleasure also takes place here. And if I didn’t go to the post office or run errands, I might read all afternoon and walk at sunset instead.
Somewhere between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. I make myself a cup of tea. Add a few cookies or a piece of toast to that, to keep my going until dinner time. I head back to the laptop and check in on email, social media and news of the world while enjoying my tea.
6 p.m. is a tough time to get any work done. The Boy (he’s 15) is usually home and getting ready for kick boxing class or other evening activity. Mr. Husband gets home. I need to get dinner going. So I stop working for a while and take care of folding laundry or other chores while dinner cooks. This is usually when last night’s dishes get done.
7:30 p.m. is time for dinner. It’s the only time we are in the same place at the same time, and one of our four daughters might swing by. Dishes get stacked after dinner and await my tender ministrations in the morning. Or whenever.
About 8 p.m. I go back to my computer. I usually have a last burst of energy here and get in another one to three hours, depending on how annoying the cats were the previous night. If I have a deadline, I am definitely going to be working til 10 p.m. That’s about as late as I push it, generally, but there are days when I’m still working at midnight. Deadlines – ha ha! I laugh at them! They don’t laugh back.
But on a good day, I am in bed somewhere between 9:30 and 10 p.m., reading some more. Good readers make good writers, and I read voraciously. I get in half an hour at least at night, but if it’s riveting, I might be up til 11 p.m. or later.
That snoring sound is my husband, in bed and sawing logs since about 8:30 p.m. I also can hear my downstairs neighbor snoring. Earplugs in, lights out. No worries – the cats will wake me when it’s time to go out.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist and blogger. Her novel, Tongues of Angels, is live at Amazon and your local bookstore now. Like her at Facebook/JuliaParkTracey or on Twitter@JuliaParkTracey.
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Genre - Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG13