Thursday, February 19, 2009

Resources Can Change Over Time, Especially TIME

When I was young (meaning under 40) I could manage four creative tasks at once, spending my energy freely on writing a novel, revising another novel, editing a friend's novel, and sketching out a new novel. I could flit from one plot to another like a hummingbird enjoying fresh nectar, feeling renewed after every task, ready for another page of words, another character to develop, and another ending to write.

Those days are definitely over.

While I've been finishing up What You Need to Know to Be a Pro, I was also supposed to be editing the submissions for the Punk Rock anthology and getting notes to the contributors. I set up the Medusa's Muse production schedule so that while one book is in the design, pre-press phase, the next book is in the editing and revision phase, thereby giving 6-8 months between book launches. I figured I could afford two books a year, as long as the print runs are small and my viral marketing efforts strong. I mean, how hard can it be to edit one book while marketing another?

Very, very hard.

I suppose it would be easier if I wasn't also raising my daughter and going to graduate school while still managing my press. I obviously think I'm some kind of Wonder Woman and should be able to do everything all at once while remaining sane.

In my book, I write about identifying your business's resources, namely Time, Money, Knowledge and Help. I also show you how to identify the limitations, or challenges to your business, all those things that can get in your way while you build your publishing company. After writing that chapter, I felt pretty good about my own limitations and believed I had a viable plan for producing books. What I have learned since I wrote that chapter is that challenges and resources can change quickly; it's important to update your list often.

Lack of time is now a huge obstacle to managing Medusa's Muse. I have the money to produce books (although there never seems to be enough to market them!), the knowledge to do so, and the help I need. What I lack is TIME. Unless I want to give up sleep, which I don't recommend to anyone, I need to give up the idea that I can focus on two books at once.

Which means I need to readjust my production plan and only do one book at a time: from editing to design to printing. Just one. The author can write and revise her book while I'm finishing up the current book, but I can't give the author much of my attention until I'm done. Marketing is an ongoing process, so I need to give energy and time to ALL my books, not just the current one, which is another reason why trying to produce two books at once is unrealistic. Traveling Blind was released over a year ago but I'm still marketing it, and will continue to do so as long as it's in print. Every new book requires marketing time, which takes away from editing time. I will soon be juggling marketing plans for three books while editing one.

As you can see, managing a small press, just as managing any business, takes constant planning and re-planning. You can't just make a plan and say "all done." You have to keep fine tuning the plan as things in the industry and in your life change. Maybe when I'm done with school I'll be able to manage two books in production at a time, although I doubt it. Not only am I not as good at multi-tasking as I once was (which I think may not be such a bad thing), I'll have a full time job when I graduate. And really, what's my hurry? Books are a collaborative work of art that should be relished.

Although I would like to publicly apologize to all my Punk Rock Anthology contributors and thank each of them for their patience. You're all excellent to work with. Thank you.

4 comments:

Jane Mackay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Désirée said...

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Except that I wouldn't mind a few more readers, that is :-)

CC said...

Wait a minute. I'm still under 40 and can barely handle one thing at a time! You mean it will get worse????

terena said...

Yep. It gets worse. Sorry. LOL!