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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Guest Blog: E. Ayers: Inventory? What Inventory?

This time of year, we all start thinking about our New Year resolutions. What we should do is take a few minutes and look back. Every businessperson knows the importance of a balance sheet and inventory. So why do we forget that we are more than just authors? We have a business. Our business is writing. Our inventory is intellectual property (our writings).

Granted, most of us will never make the money that Danielle Steel or Stephen King makes, but can you imagine the value of Shakespeare's blog posts today? Anything we write has a monetary value and potential value. This post and two dollars will buy you a cup of coffee. Done laughing? It's all relative. But our writings are considered to be intellectual property and have value. And maybe, if you become very famous, that note you wrote to the teacher as to why Billy missed school…

Time to make some lists!

(If you are a spreadsheet junkie, put this info into a spreadsheet, if it's not already there.)

What have you accomplished?

Make a list of every book you've ever written and every book that you've ever published. Don't forget to include works-in-progress aka WIPs. It's often helpful to put a date next to each one. For instance if the book was written in 2010 and published in 2014, you could write 2010/2014. Or maybe you'd prefer to add when it was sold/contracted to a publisher, because we all know that selling and publishing can be totally separate dates. Use whatever makes sense to you, but list them.

Make a list of every book that you've written this year, and every book that has been sold and/or published this year.

Now you have something to actually look at! Look hard.

Did you accomplish your goals from last year?

How does 2014 compare to 2013?

If you wanted to write, sell, or publish three books this year but you only managed to do two, take a moment and evaluate why. We all can set lofty goals and the best-laid plans go haywire! What happened? Did your son or daughter make that special traveling ice hockey team and that sliced into your writing time? Were you responsible for an elderly parent, or your daughter expected you to be the babysitter for her newborn son? Family often takes precedence over our plans. Did the day job change and suddenly you were on the road twice as much or you had some huge project dumped in your lap?

List the things that prevented you from accomplishing your goals.

Maybe this year was stellar! Why? Did you commit to so many words a day and set aside a time to do that? Did you work harder to release those books? Harder how? Sometimes we all feel as though it was just the way the cookie crumbled, and this time, it crumbled in your favor. Even if you aren't certain why this year went better, list what may have been a factor. Did your blog receive more traffic this year? Did you spend more time tweeting, or did you utilize certain ads? Did your publisher help promote and how? Around here, I refer to it as the SWAG method or the Scientific Wild Donkey* Guess method. (*I promised to be polite.) We often have to make assumptions based on little evidence. So go with your gut feelings and what you think might have been a factor.

List what went right for a change. Don't forget to include those SWAGs.

And as soon as you know what you made in 2014, include that information in this list.

If you guest blogged 23 times, list those posts. If you've posted on your blog 130 times, list it. Again it's intellectual property, and you need to keep track of it.

One last thing: make backups of everything! Send it to the cloud, a flash drive, to your mom's hard drive, or to a CD for the safe deposit box. You really need a secure backup of what you own. Computers fail and they can take your property with them! Or worse yet, you could have a fire and lose everything in your home. We need to make backups regularly, but at the end of each year you should have one big backup for everything you've written that year. Don't forget to add your inventory list you just made! Simply label it 2014 End of Year.

You've laid your business out in front of you. You know what you have or don't have, and you know why you did or did not succeed in reaching your goals in 2014. Now you are ready to make New Year resolutions, except this time you aren't making pie-in-the-sky, off-the-cuff, or whatever you want to call it, resolutions. You are setting legitimate business goals.

Make a list of those goals no matter how minor they seem.

List each goal and what it will take to achieve them. You are creating a business plan! The plan becomes your driving force behind your dreams and aspirations. Stick to your plan unless there's a major alteration to that plan. If you commit to 300 words a day, do it! If something goes wrong and you miss a day or five, jump back in and try to catch up even if it's only 25 extra words per day. Keep your goals reasonable. We'd all like to make two million sales this year.

Break the goals down into chewable pieces. If you are selling fifteen books a day, it's reasonable to set a goal for 25 or 30. Releasing that next book might mean you'll start selling 50 a day. If that happens, adjust your goals accordingly! This business works exponentially and it changes in a split second. Never be afraid to adjust your goals or your plans to reach those goals.

Keep your goals in sight. Print them out and stick them on the bathroom mirror or wherever suits you. You want to see them at least twice a day. It will help you to stay focused.

Remember your public image! It's much too easy to scoot out of the house wearing sweats and old tennis shoes, but is that the way you want to run into a fan? That doesn't mean you have to look as though you just stepped off the runway. Think clean, neat, and presentable at all times! You are the CEO of your business and you have a public image.

Take your right hand and place it on your upper left arm. Put your left hand on your upper right arm. Now give yourself a hug! You've just graduated from carefree hobbyist to a professional businessperson.

We are in the business of creating intellectual property. There's plenty more that we all should be considering even if we aren't ready to make certain moves quite yet, such as creating an LLC, Limited Liability Corporation, or its equivalent if you live in another country. Unsure if this is something you need to be doing? Talk to a professional. Often banks have financial councilors available for free to their patrons, or check with your attorney. If you are making more than a few dollars, add consult with financial planner/attorney to your goals.

Even if you've not finished your first manuscript, walk through these steps anyway. Do it now and next year it will be easier. There's plenty to think about that goes beyond writing. Who inherits your intellectual property? You may not be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company but you are the CEO of your business no matter how big or small it is. Act successful, keep your chin up, and maintain a positive attitude. Success will come.

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.

A. A. Milne

BLURB:
This holiday season, you'll find the spirit of Main Street alive and well in this collection of twelve heartwarming stories. The Authors of Main Street have priced the Christmas on Main Street boxed set inexpensively as their holiday gift to you.

Nobody's Cinderella by Joan Reeves, A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming by E. Ayers, What if...this Christmas by Kelly Rae, The Christmas Wish by Tori Scott, Her Christmas Cruise by Mona Risk, The Christmas Con by Jill James, A Light in the Christmas Cafe by Kristy Tate, A Potters Wood Christmas by Leigh Morgan, A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol DeVaney, The Christmas Gift by Pepper Phillips, Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas by Stephanie Queen, A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes.

Buy Link: Amazon

BIO:
E. Ayers is a multi-published and Amazon best-selling author of western and contemporary romances. Her books are never too sweet or too hot. She writes down the middle. She is proud to be part of the Authors of Main Street, an elite group of award-winning and best-selling contemporary authors.

Twitter http://twitter.com/ayersbooks
Shared Blog http://authorsofmainstreet.wordpress.com/
Blog http://ayersbooks.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.com/e/B005AYJ0XE
Authors of Main Street Newsletter http://ow.ly/xel3e

10 comments:

Rose Anderson said...

Great advice, E. Thanks for joining us today. Best luck in the new year. :)

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

An excellent run down of how to look at all you may have accomplished in the past year. I keep monthly calendars running down the left side of a sheet of paper and circle the dates I work on a manuscript so I can keep track of how many days it takes to write something. I also circle submitting dates and publishing dates so that puts a period on that particular WIP. I like to see how long it takes me to write a story of a certain number of words.

Thanks for mentioning all the ways we can encourage ourselves by thinking about all we've done in the year.

Good luck with all your own goals for 2015.

Melissa Keir said...

Great post! I am not great about putting it down on paper but I keep all my emails and ideas on the computer. It's my way to keep track.

After all, the accountant is going to want to know what I spent and how much, to who...And honestly, I want to know what worked and what didn't!

Now let's have some more success for all of us in the coming year! 2015 is going to be great for RB4U and all of us!

E. Ayers said...

Thank you, Rose. I love this blog and always enjoy visiting. It's an honor to be asked to be a guest blogger.

Thanks, Jane. We're often so busy writing that we forget to take time to look at the whole picture. And unfortunately we fail to see that we have an inventory of words. We need to protect our words - all of them.

E. Ayers said...

Melissa, every time you write a blog keep a copy of it on your disk and file under blogs. Then it's just a matter of backing that folder up.

Your accountant will only be looking at the dollar signs, but you are the one person who knows your own work. What was your most successful book this year? Now ponder why. Your accountant isn't going to know that this particular hero is... Or that this book had the best blurb, or that the cover was spectacular! Only you can make those assessments.

Once we have some inkling, we can begin to think of the future and how to increase sales and productivity. Books are a commodity and we must market them effectively.

I raise my cup of coffee to all of the novelists and writers who are working to provide a high quality reader experience. To success in 2015!

Cara Marsi said...

Thank you for these great ideas, E. I'm going to keep a copy of your blog and start getting better organized. I do back up everything on hard drive and on a flash drive. And I rely on Carbonite if I should, God forbid, lose every thing.

Your boxed set sounds great! Happy New Year!

E. Ayers said...

Hi Cara, thanks for stopping. Remember to get backups out of your house! Make more than one year end back up!

As you make your resolutions, look at what you have accomplished.

Wishing you the very best in 2015!

Polly McCrillis said...

From one list maker to another, great post! And a Joyful and Productive New Year to us all!

Sandy said...

Love the advice, E. I wish I were more organized like you. I can't stand to sit at a computer long enough to do spread sheets. The pain would be devastating.

E. Ayers said...

Thanks for stopping, Polly. We really do need to keep track.

Sandy, you don't have to be super organized. I envy those who fill databases and make spreadsheets. Go ahead and add another 10 mins of something I should do each day and pretty soon I won't have but ten minutes to spend writing.

When I write a post, I put it in a folder marked blogs. When I write a book it's under books and then in a folder in that folder. Then I only have to collect folders and make copies.

But no matter what we do or how we track it, it's important to take some time to think about what went right or wrong. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same experiment over and over and expecting a different result. If it works - repeat. If it doesn't, don't keep doing it!
:-)

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