Remember the senior executive from a while back? Her job was under threat because she hadn’t been spending enough time on certain functions which were part of her job description. What had she been doing? Like most people, she had been stuck on the ‘shop floor’, too busy to look up and see what was occurring in the medium to long term.
Writers suffer badly from this. Frustrated at not having enough time to write in the first place, they then dive in and spend all the available time pouring words onto paper or a screen, while failing to see that the career of a self-published author consists of seven key parts, not just one. Writing — the act of sitting down and churning out fiction — is only one of the seven ‘departments’ you need to build a business as an independent writer.
In small businesses, the first thing I observed in my time as a Management Consultant was that, bogged down as they were in the day-to-day production of their business, the owners had failed to plan ahead. Almost one for one, this meant that they felt deflated, aimless, disillusioned, sometimes desperate. In effect, what was happening was that they had unplugged themselves from their own futures. In not spending enough time planning, they had disconnected themselves from the Dream, the Vision which had made them open the business in the first place.
Same for writers: failing to look ahead, to lay down some long term plans, to take their eyes off the ground and look for the mountaintops, they had lost sight of where they wanted to go and were caught up in the workings of the operation. Daylight fades; one begins to feel pushed around by one’s own creation, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The second thing I observed was that, even when planning was attempted, the small business owner failed to make adequate practical allowances for getting things done. This means things like schedules, quotas, routines, targets, and so forth — an extension of planning into the practical world. Visions are all very well; in fact, they are vital — but you have to create the necessary machinery for bringing them into being.
The same applies to writers. Setting goals is one thing; establishing the routines necessary for achieving those goals, and then sticking with them, is often quite another.
The third thing was a huge downfall for most small enterprises. It was such an immense failing for almost all of them that, upon contemplating it, they immediately almost universally shrugged apathetically and dismissed it as mythical and impossible.
It was marketing.
Needless to say, this is the same for self-published authors. And that’s why there’s a whole separate series to do with marketing and why it needs its own article in this series.