The Organised Writer: How To Stay on Top of All Your Projects and Never Miss a Deadline by Antony Johnston
I recently had a chance to review this new book published by the Bloomsbury team that publish the Writers' and Artists' Yearbooks. Here in Australia we have a wonderful writing community - they are supportive of fellow writers, share experiences and helpful tips, and band together particularly on social media. To be honest, I loathe Twitter (I find it poisonous) but when it comes down to writers, illustrators, publishers, libraries, and others in the book trade, there's a lot of love and support out on that platform and other social media sites. We really do have a special industry here and we should celebrate and use that to learn and communicate with each other.
With that said, if you are interested in writing as a profession and don't have time or money to do any of the courses frequently offered via Writer's Centres, Author associations, community colleges, or even the publishers who offer training, this book is a really good place to start.
"Ask ten writers to describe their ideal writing environment and you’ll get eleven different answers."
Antony gives the reader some helpful tips and tricks on time management and writing in general. First of all it's important to create a system to increase and maintain efficiency - you need to be able to meet deadlines and not forget anything. In fact he references "clean mind theory" and "memory distraction" and how to stop sabotaging from within! You need to be focussed and organised! So to start, figure out your daily writing quota, work out the number of days you have to submit, add 25% for unforeseen issues, block out days in calendar, and stick to it. Of course that sounds perfectly do-able, right?
Well not if you aren't good with email so Antony writes about getting smart with email. Throw away traditional productivity systems. Flag emails, label emails - your job is to write and not be distracted.
So what do you need? You need a task manager. A task manager is a permanent fixture in your workflow as it contains projects which in turn contains tasks. We use one here at RM Marketing Services - ASANA - however for our marketing pipelines we use Less Annoying CRM which also provides tasks and notes specific to the channels in which we work.
Antony also talks about the power of saying No - which is also important and many writers have a hard time saying it. "Saying no gives you power both over your destiny and value". The book also talks about productive procrastination and organising your personal life.
Writers must be able to take notes quickly and easily record any thought, idea or task that comes to mind so naturally how to use your phone and computer is covered in the book. Many writers we have worked with have basic tech skills but it's time to brush up folks. Do your research and use the best devices and apps that work for you.
One of the helpful tools he provides in the book is Job Sheets and Templates - so look out for them. There's also a download link. The Organised Writer also covers basic advice re money, invoicing, pricing, set-up, and one that I think a lot of authors (and indeed marketers!) don't pay enough attention to - taxonomy. There are summary checklists and a decent reading list.
The book is A$26.99 and is published by Bloomsbury. You can order it on their website here or ask for it at your local bookshop or library. It's also available in ebook format via ProQuest's Ebook Central so if you are affiliated with a university or organisation that has access to the platform, do look for it there.
At the end of the day The Organised Writer is an uncomplicated read with some good basic advice to get you set up to write, keep organised, and deadline driven. We hope you find it useful.
A number of months ago a good publishing friend - a director of an Australian press - told me I should have kept freelancing as more and more publishers need to call on experience and expertise, particularly in sales | marketing | distribution | operations - which is what I've essentially done for 27 years! With budgets getting tighter and tighter, and headcount always a bone of contention, having someone to provide the suite of services I do "on demand" was attractive because 1) financially the model makes sense (an hourly rate, 14 day account) 2) publishers, vendors and distributors know they can outsource tasks and projects to someone who knows what they are doing and 3) I had a great reputation in the marketplace for listening to what clients - and customers - wanted and delivering a professional service.
I thought about this for a while. The business had been very successful when I originally set it up and I had been regretting letting it dwindle, particularly in the past 12 months, while I worked full-time for a previous client. Once I went full-time, it was exhausting trying to do both for the first year or so but there was something attractive about freelance | contract | consulting work that appealed to me and I was beginning to miss the variety, the clients and the work. And then when not one, but two restructures (!) hit me, I knew it was time to go back.
Many publishers, booksellers, libraries, specialist resellers, authors, academics and professional associations know me and have worked with me in a variety of roles over the years I've been in the book trade. I'm probably most known for my work as publisher relations & marketing communications manager at James Bennett (a Baker & Taylor company), where I worked for 11 years. I had an amazing time there working not only on the library supply chain (primarily with academic publishers and digital vendors) but also on the wholesale/distribution side of Inbooks, which reported to me and was in many ways my "baby". I covered everything "e" and "p" and worked on some wonderful strategic projects with publishers. From distribution to marketing, ops and sales, I had a blast - getting to know publishers locally and internationally, from the small to the large, and distributors and vendors as far as the eye could see. It was a heck of a lot of work, particularly when I took on marketing on top of everything else, but I thrived in that environment -- and learnt a lot in the process.
So what can I do for you? What can't I do would be an easier question! (The answer is mass market publicity --- there are publicity experts out there with well established media contacts for your high profile authors. Oh, and I'm not experienced in video editing but am currently working on it using the apps I have through my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription). We can start at the very beginning - Writing, Proofreading, Editing - the basics are ingrained! Design. Flyers, brochures, POS materials. I like being creative. Digital Marketing - social media, email campaigns - I output campaigns with ease. Campaign Management. I love it. And let's talk Sales. Whether it's sales management or key accounts or even targeted business development, I know a lot of people and have a good network to call on. I've sold - and marketed - digital products for years and in my most recent role called on accounts directly for print as well. Double whammy! Library supply. In my blood. Special accounts. I love servicing the specialist resellers. Websites. How can you not love them? Planning and preparation, content management, design, analytics. Fun stuff! Operations. I'm not too shabby at the serious, back-end stuff and know my way around Bookmaster after more than 20 years of using it (oh remember those green screens!). Distribution. It's a tricky one (see my old blog post). I'm not doing it myself but I have worked with publishers on researching the market, getting feedback from customers, and making the right call on who they should use. These days it's a hard reality but the UK and US wholesalers do a pretty good job at reaching the ANZ market and if you can't get a local distributor to take on your list, let's talk about how to best use who does sell books successfully to this market. Once you've got the supply chain set-up, let's talk about sales and marketing. And re-read this paragraph to see how I can help you.
And lastly, don't take it from me. Go to LinkedIn to see what others say about me including all my years as a publisher relations manager. There's some wonderful recommendations and endorsements there. Then when you are ready, contact me.
Rachael McDiarmid has been in the Australasian book trade since 1990. Working in trade, academic and professional publishing as well as library supply and book distribution, she's worked with thousands of publishers, distributors, library vendors, and authors around the globe. She loves a belly laugh, strong coffee, wine, and good food. Venice is her favourite place in the world to visit but Sydney will always be home. She loves her office assistant Dash (also known as Dashie, Dashie Dog and the Little Shit). If you haven't already worked it out, she is known for her no bullshit approach.