This is an exciting month for me because my debut novel, The Difference, is releasing on 7-29 (view the cover and back cover blurb here)! I didn’t realize that publishing involves so much of a skill that I love, but that would present as a stressor, even for this structure-loving person. I’m talking about organization.
Do you like to organize? I mean, do you get a thrill out of walking down the aisle of an office supply store? You know, viewing all the choices for color coded file trays, feeling the textured cardstock choices, or making the choice of which decorative pen holder will look the best on your pretty little desk? Do you find joy in having email folders for every situation? If so, you are my people! But, friends, publishing a book means organization of epic proportions. A real organizer’s challenge.
See, what happens as you get close to publishing a book independently is that you are working with professionals such as editors, a cover artist, and a formatter. This means many emails back and forth because many decisions need to be made. Of course, if my path was more normal I would have already had my cover done, but that’s a whole other blog post!
Next, add the marketing and promotion emails. These include ordering bookmarks, bookplates, swag for giveaways (I have worked with some businesses for donations for my launch parties), setting up interviews (think times, formats, obtaining questions), and establishing accounts in about a million places to actually get that book to you as readers. I estimated that I received at least 40 emails one day and realized I needed to set aside time to organize. I need an assistant! Kidding, not kidding. Usually, I would love this task, but when finishing editing, working at my day job, and keeping up with home life, it was becoming an unexpected downer. Yeah, not everything is roses and rainbows in the publishing world…are you shocked? Eek, sorry to ruin an image for you. But, for you writers out there, it’s all worth it!
Well, I kept trying to organize the emails, but the info kept forming a metaphorical pile. This is a good problem because it means the plan is in motion, but still, ahhh! I ended up creating spreadsheets for marketing tasks (ok, my husband created them but I am using them!). I have never used a spreadsheet for my art, so this was another first for me and thank God for them. This tactic helped, as well as other strategies I’ll share below.
But, organizing has never made me want to cry until recently. How could that be? There were times I felt so overwhelmed by what I needed to keep track of that I didn’t know how to do it. And I like to think of myself as an expert organizer. How could that be as well? I love lists (much like my character Rachel in The Difference) and creating order, but this was a new level. I needed to take action and fast. Here is what I did. Maybe it will help you as well, which you know is always my hope.
- Star/flag emails that are essential. The emails of great importance would get lost if I didn’t do this.
- Create email folders for different topics. For example, I have a marketing folder, a paid services folder…
- Keep immediate (maybe for the next week) emails in your inbox. Sort the rest into the specific folders. I do keep some emails in the inbox longer if I know the task is coming up soon.
- Keep the latest email from someone if you have emailed multiple times and delete the rest in the chain (unless an attachment is an original). There is no need to have the in between emails. They just clutter the inbox.
- Create lists on paper or digitally. I had a list of what to do now and what to do when my book sale links are established, for example.
- Use your phone notes app. I sometimes am away from home where my beloved list resides, so I use the notes app then transfer the info to the paper once home. I even may send an email to my account to remind myself. Then, I immediately delete it when home!
- Set daily reminders in your phone. I have daily must-do tasks which are more urgent than the to-do list on my desk (I form levels of importance). The reminder pops up every day in the morning. Yes, there are that many things to keep in order for this publishing adventure. Sometimes I have to move a task to the next day so I’ll just change the date in my phone.
- Establish physical places for items on your work space. I have a section on my desk for the to-do list, the publishing notes for loading my book into different platforms, and I have a tray/box with other info for a little later down the road, like my book tour that starts on release day of 7-29.
- Walk away and know it will be ok! I had to put this one in here. Sometimes I need a break from keeping everything flowing. I’ll do some self-care like take a walk.
See, we can conquer organizing! Viewing my digital and real info cleaned up brings a sense of peace and I feel more grounded and in control. It’s important for my mental health, as well as to get the job done for my book journey. Tell me what you do to stay afloat with your million bits of info needed in your life. I would love ideas. It brings excitement to this organizing lover’s life.
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