DIY for freelancers

I recently had a conversation with a self-publisher author about the publishing process -- I've probably mentioned before that I'm fairly certain that's the route I'm going to go with the novels I am currently working on, and I wanted to chat with someone who has been fairly successful at it themselves.  I got a lot of valuable information -- everything from tips on hiring editors and cover designers, to information on marketing tactics and what times of year you tend to get more sales.

A recurring theme in all of this, though, is what -- if anything -- I can do myself. 
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By Katharine Swan On Thursday, January 31, 2013 At 2:46 PM 0 comments

Goals check for the week of January 21

Last week flew by almost too fast to keep tabs on it.  Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I didn't get anything done then -- I had lunch with a friend who is coming out of a long recovery from surgery, and then I took the girl I nanny for to the Grand Prix jumping show at the National Western Stock Show.  Otherwise, I am still trying to figure out where my week went.  I didn't ride that much, didn't work on my novel, didn't do much with anything to show for it, other than reconnecting with a client and lining up some new work, and doing some mid-week work for a disabled single dad I run errands for (usually on the weekends).

Even though it will be pretty dismal, here is the lineup anyway:

1. Novels: No progress on the writing itself, although I did start reading one of the books on my list for general research and mood-setting.  Putting an ending on my novel apparently went to my head, and I haven't gotten back to writing ever since.  I do have a write-in with friends scheduled for tomorrow, though, so that should force me to get some work done.  In the meantime, I have needed to work out some kinks in my series timeline -- today's task, most likely.

2. Websites and blogs: Still no progress here, although I need to get cracking on this!

3. Other writing projects: Same as above!

4. Books: As mentioned above, after reading The Hobbit I started reading a book that was on my to-read list as general research for my novel -- a book about Al Capone.  Still need to get to Les Miz and the others on my list.

5. Horses: Again, I didn't ride as much as I should have, partly because of the mid-week work for my weekend job.  I remember there was something I was working on the other days that kept me from going to the barn the other mornings, but now I can't remember what that was or why it was so important.  How terrible is that?  I did have great rides on both horses on Thursday, though (the day my trainer comes), and I rode Panama again on Sunday.

It wasn't a great week for meeting goals, but it was a shortened week because of the holiday, so I suppose it's not as bad when you think of it that way.  Better luck this week!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 At 12:17 PM 0 comments

Goals check for the week of January 14

With the holiday yesterday and the Grand Prix horse show I went to, I wasn't able to blog about last week's progress on my goals for 2013.  I hadn't forgotten, though, so here it is!  The week was overall a good one, with a milestone reached on my novel and some more progress with my allocation of horse time.
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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, January 22, 2013 At 2:27 PM 2 comments

Goals check for the week of January 7

Last week was a fairly productive week for my novel, with declining productivity everywhere else.  Much of this stuff isn't in my goals, but I started out very productive on Tuesday (my first "normal" day, since the kids I took care of were still out of school on Monday), but I started accomplishing fewer of the administrative tasks and other things on my to-do list throughout the week.  This week, therefore, I'll need to play some catch-up.

As for the goals, though, here we go:

1. Novels:  I continued making fantastic progress on the current novel I'm working on all throughout the week, until I got to Friday.  This is ironic, since it happens to be Friday evenings that I meet with my friends from NaNoWriMo -- we were members of a write-in from NaNo 2011, and we've just kept meeting ever since -- but we often have so much fun chatting that we don't actually do any writing except during NaNo or Camp NaNo (the summer session).  But the reason why is that I do most of my writing in the evenings, and that was when I was with my friends, so no writing got done that way.  Then I was preoccupied on Saturday and sick on Sunday, so I have yet to start back up again.  Fingers crossed that it will come today... though you might have to wait until next week's goal check to find out.

All in all, though, I'm not too bothered by the fact that I took a few days off.  I'd written for six days straight, adding more than 13k to my novel and averaging a little over 2k each day.  As long as I can get back to work today without a hitch, I think that's pretty good progress.

Also, I made a very good contact, a successful self-published author whom I talked to for about an hour and a half Friday morning.  He had lots of good advice for me, and seeing as how I'm planning on going the self-publishing/e-publishing route with my books, I suppose this counts somewhat toward my goal of making progress on my novels.

2. Website and blogs:  No progress yet, I'm afraid.

3. Other writing progress:  No progress yet.

4. Books:  I've been plowing through my reading list so that I can get to a point where I can read one of the books on my 2013 reading list.  I want to reread The Hobbit first (I like having books fresh in my mind when I go to see the movie), and then I'm going to tackle Les Miz.

5. Horses:  Not so good in this department last week, either.  I did manage to ride Panama Wednesday evening, but only him, despite the fact that I'd been planning to ride Rondo on my own for the first time before my next lesson.  I woke up feeling a little ill Thursday morning, too (a precursor to whatever took me out of commission yesterday, I'm guessing), so I didn't even make it out to the barn for my lesson -- my trainer rode Rondo without me.  I was feeling better by evening, and rode Panama again, so he got two rides last week -- but then our temperatures went down into the single digits and teens for the weekend, and I got sick, so I haven't seen the horses since I blanketed them Friday evening.  I am hoping I will feel up to riding both of them tomorrow, when it finally pops up above freezing for a little while.

So the week itself was a mixed bag -- for the most part, there was lots of success with my fiction goals, but not much anywhere else.  Hopefully this week will be better!

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, January 14, 2013 At 11:29 AM 0 comments

Goals check for the week of January 1

I'm actually a day late posting this -- perhaps predictably, I forgot all about my idea to post my progress and keep myself accountable to what I said I was going to do during 2013.  Also, I know last week didn't start on January 1st, but since the year did, that's also when my goals went into effect.

Without further ado, here is the lineup:

1. Novels: Since the family I work for came back from vacation on New Year's Day, I went back to work on the 2nd, and I was working longer days than usual that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I realized I wasn't going to get anything done, and reset my to-do list app with a deadline of Monday for working on my novel.  However, I had some time on Saturday and decided to work on it then, and ended up writing nearly 6,000 words over the course of the weekend.

2. Website and blogs: I haven't started on this yet, but I have set up tasks in my to do list to remind me to work on one every month until they are done.  My DollStringing.com site is the first on my list -- an intimidating task, since I have the most to do on it, but also one of the most important ones, since I failed to migrate the blog a few years ago when Blogger stopped offering FTP publishing, and I haven't been able to update the blog since.

3. Other writing projects: Again, I haven't started on any of this yet -- my first priority is finishing the novel I'm currently working on, and getting the necessary revisions done on the first novel.  I'm planning on starting on one of these projects in the spring, once most of the blogs have been overhauled.

4. Books: This is about my reading list for 2013, the classics I want to (finally) read throughout the year.  I haven't started on any yet, but I am planning to read Les Miserables first, before I see the movie (we'll probably wait until it's available to rent).  Again, I have set tasks and reminders in my to-do list app, spaced throughout the year.

5. Horses: This wasn't on my original list on this blog, but it was one of my goals for the year nonetheless: to ride both my horses three times a week.  I'll still post my progress here, even though it's not writing-related, because I think it has some bearing.  It's a goal for 2013, after all, and it reflects on a larger goal of mine: to balance my writing life with my hobbies, and still get stuff done in both arenas, without neglecting either one in order to succeed at the other (something I tend to do).  I failed miserably at that last week, riding Panama twice and Rondo once.  In fact, as a perfect example of why I'm blogging here about my progress on this goal, I gave up the opportunity to ride in order to work on my novel both days over the weekend.

So it's not a perfect start, but it's not bad, either.  I'm making solid progress on my novel -- so much so that I think I'll have finished it by the end of the week (I was close to the end when NaNoWriMo ended).  I think there is a lesson here, though -- I am not good at focusing on more than one goal at a time.  I think it's reasonable to focus on one writing goal at a time, but I need to get better about balancing my writing/work goals with my personal goals, such as riding!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, January 08, 2013 At 12:15 PM 4 comments

Practicing accountability

My last post was on my goals for the year -- things I plan on doing in 2013 anyway, though of course some of these (such as overhauling my website) have been on my to-do list for a long time, so just being on my to-do list already doesn't mean that it's any more likely to get done than any other New Year's resolution.

I'm going to implement a two-pronged strategy to keep myself accountable this year.  The first thing I'm going to do is to try out an app that seems like it might actually help with those daily tasks -- the kinds of comprehensive resolutions that they say tend not to be successful, like "eat better" (or "work on my novel," as the case may be).  The app lets you set reminders, plus you can check off every day that you meet your goal.  You can also go into each goal and look at the calendar to see what your track record is like for that particular task.  The app is called Achieve It or just Achieve, and is available on the iPhone (I don't know about any other devices, such as the iPad or Android).

The other thing I'm planning on doing is posting weekly about my progress on my different goals.  I'm not sure yet whether I'll post on Fridays about that week, or post on Mondays about the previous week.  Part of me thinks that posting on Mondays will help me refocus for the coming week.  If this app works out, I can use its tracking capabilities to help me review my progress for the previous week; I'm also starting an Excel spreadsheet to track my daily word count on my novels and similar projects.

I've felt very out of control of my own life in 2012 -- although I love my part-time nanny job and I love my pets and horses, I have also felt very overwhelmed by all the demands these things place on my time.  I think the best way to take back control of my life is to get a little better organized, and be more accountable for what I say I'm going to do.  When I have a limited amount of time in which to get things done, I can't afford to waste any of it!

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By Katharine Swan On Thursday, January 03, 2013 At 8:04 PM 0 comments

New Year's resolutions for 2013

Last year I came up with a list of books I wanted to read in 2012, and I am sorry to say that I did not read a single book on the list (and there were only five!).  In light of that failure, my "New Year's resolutions" this year consist of a few things that I'm planning on doing anyway.

1. Finish and revise the first two novels I've been working on.  I've been working on a series of novels that I started in 2011.  I've done some revisions on the first book, and I started the second during the August session of Camp NaNoWriMo this past year (2012).  I don't have much left on it, so I need to finish it, and then get back to finishing the revisions on the first book.  After that, I'll have to do revisions on the second book, of course.  I'm sure it seems very jumbled how I'm working on them all together like this, instead of finishing the revisions on one before moving on to the next, but I've found that since they are a series, some decisions I've made about later books have required changes to the first book.

2. Overhaul my website and blogs.  I'm also planning on reworking several of my blogs, including this one and the corresponding website.  I want to simplify this site a little and take some of the focus off of client work, since that's only a portion of what I'm doing now.  I also need to overhaul several of my other blogs, which haven't been updated in years.

3. Work on a couple writing projects of my own.  Besides my fiction, I have a couple other ideas for writing projects I've wanted to pursue for some time.

I also still plan on reading those books from last year's list, and who knows -- I might even add a few more for this year!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, January 01, 2013 At 2:07 PM 0 comments

Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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