So, I might have a small book cover buying problem. I see one I like, and I buy it without contemplating my purchase. There are three main problems here. One is my pocketbook. Book covers cost money, and I don’t have a lot of that. I’m not destitute or anything. If I’m looking at them, then that means something, right? Still, I don’t have a lot to spare. Also, it means my impulse control is wanky. The third problem and the one I’m exploring here is that buying covers I don't need is bad for business, in more than one way.
The monetary issue goes with out saying. Still, it's worth mentioning because I’ve had financial problems in the past and couldn’t always afford to spend what I should on projects. This is a whole other set of mistakes that I can get into in another article. I’ve since rectified them and won’t repeat them.
Mainly what I have done is to fix this problem is plan ahead enough to give each project the budget it needs. If I don’t have the budget for all the projects I’d like to complete, then I don’t release them right away. Sometimes I have to wait. Simple math really. But I still feel as though, by buying stuff I don't need, I'm not honoring what I've learned from the struggles of the past.
This leads me to the next issue. It wreaks havoc on my marketing and production budget and makes reconciling my accounts difficult. I have to justify every expense. But If I’m spending money on projects I don’t have time to write than it's money I’m basically throwing away. Not to mention, I have to pull that money from somewhere. I bet you guess where it comes from. My marketing and production budget. If I don't have that money, then it delays when I can release it and throws off my whole schedule.
This brings me to the next, and probably the biggest, problem. Here's the scenario: there is a cover that sparks an idea. I buy the cover and because my creativity always goes in the direction of creating a series. I add more story and thus, more covers. All the ideas I have in my head are just sitting up there screaming at me to write them. But there's only so much time in the day.
It’s a rookie mistake in a lot of ways because I’m seven years deep into the authoring thing. I know how long a project is going to take me. I know what I’m capable of. Yet I add more onto the list which is unnecessary stress. It makes it difficult to focus and accomplish my yearly goals, largely because I keep changing them.
In the past, I’ve started one project after another, getting partly through and then not finishing because I get overwhelmed. I’ve made great strides in trying to rectify this, but buying covers makes me feel as though I haven’t gone far enough.
Again, there is an opportunity to improve and I’m treating it as such. Here’s what I’m doing differently:
1. I set goals and I follow through in accomplishing them.
This is the third year that I’ve actually set goals. I know what projects I’m working on for the year and I've accomplish every goal I've set. Why does this help? It helps me keep my focus on what's important to me.
I write the goals down on note cards and pin them to my wall so I can see them every day. The first year I started this I kept it to two goals. This year I have ten and I've already accomplished one of them.
2. I leave space open in my schedule for my muse to do its thing. I leave three months where I have nothing planned. Why three months? Well, I usually work in three month blocks of time. I'm not sure why. It's just what works for me. I know what I can accomplish for the year and have the projects pretty well set by the beginning of the year. I pick the project that feels right at the time. If that's a book in a series I haven't released yet and hadn't planned on then I can work on because I have room. I might sit on the book for a while without releasing it right away if it makes sense for me to do so.
3. I have a mission and vision statement. These usually change from year to year. They are invaluable because they give me a direction to follow while writing my goals and scheduling my time.
4. I’m prioritizing and finishing what I started.
Doing this makes marketing easier but more importantly, I'm getting the books to my readers in a timely manner. I'll have Pickleville finished and re-released by the end of this year. And I will finish writing Saint Lakes and Wingspan by the end of 2023.
It's not all bad:
The one good thing about shiny object syndrome is I have the book covers ready to go. They inspire new ideas and keep things fresh creatively speaking.
I’ve learned some things in the last few years and I’ve applied the knowledge each time. I still have a lot of growing to do, as a person and an author. It's good news because learning is a lifelong process. If I still have room for improvement, it means I’m still kicking.
April Kelley is an author of LGBT Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, which was a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more.