Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Multitasking as a Series Author
By Beth Groundwater
I'm sure many of my fellow Midnight Ink authors are going to relate to this post, because most of us are writing a series and many of us are writing more than one series. What that means is that at any given moment in time, like the juggler above, we have multiple balls (book projects) in the air, that all demand a piece of our attention.
Right now, I am frantically editing the third manuscript for my RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, that I am calling Cataract Canyon. It is due in April, and I have multiple critiques to respond to. My critique group has been giving me feedback a couple of chapters at a time, and has four chapters to go. Also, my agent and a trusted fellow mystery author are reading the full manuscript. My agent has already sent me some suggestions, and I'm expecting more from her and those from my author friend soon. Then, I'll somehow have to merge all of the fixes from all of those critiques into one coherent manuscript in less than a month. Eek!
At the same time, I have another ball in the air, the release in May of the second book in the RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, Wicked Eddies. For that, I need to design and print bookmarks, prepare blog posts for blogs that I'll visit to promote that release, schedule booksignings at bookstores and whitewater festivals and get those appearances listed on my website, plan travel to mystery conferences and writing workshops and prepare panel presentations and speeches, and much more.
How do I manage? Every morning, I look at my long, long to-do list, find the long-pole items that need to be completed first for other things to happen, or tasks that take a long time and should be chipped away at, or tasks that are due very soon, and put those on my daily to-do list. For instance, here's what I did yesterday and the day before.
I need to get an email newsletter out soon to my subscribers. But for that to happen, I need to list my appearances on my website because I'll be referring to those in the newsletter, which means I need to finalize them. So, phone calls to bookstore owners went on the list, as did finalizing travel plans to the Malice Domestic conference and the Festival of Mystery. And, I emailed the latest winner of my email newsletter subscriber contest, because the announcement of her win will go in the newsletter. Also, I edited the first two chapters of Cataract Canyon (again) based on my agent's feedback, and I will edit the next two today. Lastly, I had to write this post, because it was due today. Then there's the daily email and social networking to get through. And there's the rest of my life--laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and a couple of hours of skiing for exercise.
Every day I have decisions to make, too, about promotion opportunities, requests from fellow writers for advice, blurbs, blog visits, etc., and other demands for my time. I've learned to never say yes right away. Instead, I let the request lie in my inbox or in my voice mail for awhile. Then, when I get a breather between my scheduled tasks, I go back to my to-do list and calendar and make a realistic assessment about how important the request is and whether I can cram the new task into my schedule.
You may think that after May, I get a breather. But no. Hovering in the air are two more book project balls. I need to do a final edit of the third book in my Claire Hanover Gift Basket Designer mystery series, that I'm calling Basketful of Troubles, by its due date in August. Then, there's promotion to be planned for the re-release of the second book in that series, To Hell in a Handbasket, in November. Then the cycle begins again for the RM Outdoor Adventures series!
Many of my non-author friends think that because I can schedule my own time, I have a lot of free time. That's not the case by a long-shot. My writing career is a full-time job, and I work at least forty hours a week at it. That means that if I go skiing in the morning, I'm writing a blog post at 9 PM, like I'm doing now.
So, what about you? How do you keep those balls in the air in your life?