Self-Publishing Tips for Time-Strapped Writers: How to Find Time to Make Your Author Dreams Come True

If you’re a subscriber and/or regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been writing and self-publishing my own material (ebooks / e-classes) since 2002. In 2010, I looked up and realized that over half my annual income came from these materials.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

So, I spent 2011 being a writing and self-publishing fool. I got 50 products uploaded to Amazon. This added a lot of hours to my normal work day.

A Normal Workday for a Self-Published Freelance Writer

You see, I’m not only a self-publisher. I also own/operate an SEO writing company.

While I made the transition from being so intimately involved in doing the writing for clients in 2011/2012, I’m still the point person for billing, outsourcing, checking client projects, putting together RFPs, a lot of the marketing, etc.

Then, there’s this blog and its companion blog, SeoWritingJobs.com. Between these two blogs, there are 4-6 updates per week. I usually pen two to three of the posts, in addition to uploading, finding/creating graphics, monitoring comments, responding to email queries, etc.

Then, there’s the marketing of my ebooks/e-classes. My favorite method of marketing is writing articles (article marketing). So I write one to three new articles a week and upload them to YuwandaBlack.com, my personal article directory.

I also do social media marketing; interacting regularly on six sites as of this past summer (before it had only been two – Facebook and Twitter).

Now this is IN ADDITION TO writing new ebooks. So my days can be long – there just never seem to be enough hours.

Self-Publishers: 5 Tips on How to Find Time to Write If You Freelance and/or Work a 9-to-5

1. Something’s Gotta Give: As in, something has to fall by the wayside if you’re dedicated to becoming a successful self-publisher. That’s just the honest truth in my opinion (and experience). Accept it and figure out what it’s going to be.

Self-Published Authors: How to Find Time to WriteFor me, it’s been a couple of things, eg, pulling back on uploading my products to other sites (eg, Barnes & Noble); and social media (because I don’t see the DIRECT pay off like I do with article marketing).

This saves me approximately three hours per day.

2. Make Your Writing a Priority: I’m a Type-A personality, so once I make up my mind to do something, I usually get it done. For most, when you prioritize something, the sooner in the day you can get it out of the way, the better, as a freelancer discussed in this weekly Quick Tip for Freelance Writing Success.

I’m a huge fan of time blocking. So while I’d love to get my writing done first thing, sometimes it doesn’t happen because of my other responsibilities (eg, blogging, newsletter writing, client projects, etc.).

But, I don’t let the day go by without getting to it – even if I don’t get to other things on my list.

3. Set a Word/Page Count: Tim Ferris, author of The New York Times best-seller, The 4-Hour Work Week, is infamous for saying to write just two crappy pages per day, ie:

My [writing] quota is two crappy pages per day. I keep it really low so I’m not so intimidated that I never get started.

Prolific author Dean Wesley Smith goes by word count. He puts his method in the category of developing a work habit. In the post, The New World of Publishing: Making a Living with Your Short Fiction Updated 2013, he explains why, writing:

I type between 750 words to 1,000 words per hour and I have to take a break every hour to protect my hands and arms . . . If you can go faster, good for you. … Typing speed means nothing. And some of you watched me at my little speed do a 70,000 word novel in about ten days a few months back. What is important is work ethic. How many hour-long sessions can you do in a day? In a week?

So to make a living writing short fiction, you need a work ethic that will drag you to the computer at least one hour per day, five days per week

(Sorry, this work-ethic topic just makes me very snarky. … And please don’t talk to me about how your day job is 60 hours. I have heard all the excuses and am not interested in why you can’t dig out one hour a day average out of your life. If you can’t do that much, stop claiming you want to be a writer. …)

Currently, my word count per day is 2,500 words. I disagree with this author in that I think typing speed does matter, especially if you have a lot of other stuff going on. I type probably between 80 and 95 wpm (haven’t been tested in years), so banging out 2,500 words per day is relatively easy for me.

4. Find Your Inspiration for Writing: As in, what will being a successful self-published author mean for you? In my case, it’s a worry-free retirement.

While I’ll have social security (if it’s still around), it probably won’t be enough to keep me in the style to which I’ve become accustomed (wink, wink). I just don’t want to have to worry about money when I get older. I grew up poor and I have to say, this has always been a fear of mine.

This is why I’m transitioning away from non-fiction, how-to ebooks, to fiction also. Fiction books don’t have to be updated, which means when I release a title, it can earn me money forever without ever having to touch it again. And as JA Konrath is infamous for telling self-publishers:

You make money forever in digital, and forever is a long time. Especially if you make forever start today.

Nowadays, when I feel like I just don’t have time to write, I keep my inspiration for writing front and center. I ask myself, “Where will I be in a year, two years or three years if I keep putting this off?”

Then, I get back to writing.

5. Train Yourself to Write Faster: This is how I do it.

Share Your Thoughts

How do you find time to write? DO you find time to write? Do you find it hard? What changes are you willing to make to ensure that your self-publishing dreams come true? Please share in the comments section below.


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    1. I have taken a hard and honest look at all of my business endeavors, and figured out what gives to make sure I can meet my publishing goals. For me, I have to work digital as much as possible. As you may recall, I used to be an iPad fanatic. I actually am a Surface Pro fanatic. I made the switch from Mac to Windows, including this tablet, and I do everything with it. It absolutely makes a difference in my ebook publishing goals that I keep it digital, even if that means translating “written” text from my surface, although making the move to doing all drafting on a computer keyboard made a huge difference for me. I have more than 50 fiction projects in various stages of completion, often they are stalled (literally every time actually) because of something not being part of my all synced SkyDrive business world now. If I sound like an ad, I don’t mean to be, but committing to the Surface and a digital workflow has made a huge difference for me.

      Speaking of workflow, the way I schedule and complete projects has had to change as well. The details are a little embarrassing there, but let’s just say I work better with initial vigor, not sitting on projects.

      I have amassed a huge project list for 2014, and beyond. Ebook publishing (in addition to lots of ebook ghostwriting) are a major part of those plans. So everything has become very tactile: there can be no abstract business planning if you want concrete achievements, I’ve learned.

      • Jessie:

        I think everything you said here falls under logistics — and that’s definitely a big part of achieving your goals, especially when you have a lot going on.

        So do what works for you, but remember, NOTHING else matters if you don’t sit your butt down and write — not technology, not workflow, etc. You have to produce — and that means churning out words regularly. That’s what I constantly have to remind myself of.

        Thanks for sharing your technology expertise — and good luck with your projects (you ARE one busy bee!) 🙂

    2. Kel Mohror says:

      Especially motivating is honestly answering the question “Where will I be in a year, two years or three years if I keep putting this off?” “The changes, they are a’coming.”