3 Month Tune Up

I am one of those people who takes their car in to be tuned up and checked every year at about the same time, regardless of mileage or other issues. I used to balance my chequebook too, but hardly anyone uses cheques anymore (and yes, I continue to spell it ‘cheque’ and not ‘check’, so back off spellcheck!) so there’s not much need to balance it. Ditto, the garden at the end of summer– the watering system, outdoor furniture, tools, pots – they all get a once-over before being put away for the winter. Some things just become habits.

It’s been 3 months since my book launched. It seems like it’s been longer than that, ages, with so many things having happened between then and now. But then, the 3 months has flown by too, for the same, busy reasons. Time to take stock and reflect on things. Perhaps it’s because it is late September, the autumn rains have come (early), and it just feels like the right time to check in and contemplate progress. Another old habit – September always feels to me the beginning of the year more than January does, due to all those school years starting in September.

Actually it has really been more like 10 months of book-related activities, all rolling and tumbling into each other. Editing was a Herculean task, combined with graphics, design, photos, liaising with everyone involved in the process. A full-time project. In between all that I learned more about social media platforms and set up those I thought might be relevant to my book project. Then there was preparing a promotional plan that led to launch day in Vancouver, launch day in Victoria, and keeping the momentum going through the summer tourist season.

My biggest challenge was feeling scattered, and trying to determine where I needed to put my energies each day, and then finding out what I needed to find out to make whatever needed to get done get done, while remaining as nimble as possible in case something unexpected came up. Which it invariably did. Of course I also had a day job of sorts, the entrepreneurial work and technical writing I do in partnership with my husband and business partner. I also have a family, friends, activities, and a house and garden to maintain. In other words, life.

Wrestling with unfamiliar technology was perhaps my most uphill of uphill climbs. It wasn’t so much not understanding the various media platforms that might be useful to integrate; it was feeling the need to be constantly on them that I found sometimes overwhelming. Over years of personal use, facebook has become familiar, so I was surprised at how much energy I was now spending wrestling with other platforms, not just setting them up and becoming familiar with their individual characteristics, or posting (and figuring out what to post – what to say???) but time spent browsing and reading and connecting and liking and retweeting and commenting and finding other accounts to follow.

I originally decided that I would only follow those sites and people that connect somehow to the themes of my book, such as history, women, books, and so on. But of course I also had to follow my friends! I try to keep my interactions with friends to viewing and occasionally liking, as anyone following me would be less likely to be interested in those personal links, and more in what was related to my book. For a similar reason I prepared a separate facebook page for my book-related news, so that my regular facebook friends didn’t get turned off with book this and book that, everywhere a book, book.

So far so good. The book is doing well – it’s been on the BC Bestsellers list 9 consecutive weeks and was #1 in Canadian nonfiction. The number of followers I have on each platform is slowly growing, and I am starting to understand platforms’ differences more and more with time and use. I have been on CBC’s North by Northwest program, CBC’s On the Island program (both radio), and Breakfast Television in Vancouver. The Victoria Times Colonist newspaper did a full page spread on the book, as did the North Island Gazette. The Eagle newspaper (also north Island) did a 4-part series, complete with photos. The book was favourably reviewed by the Ormsby Review and profiled by the online Orca News. I have made presentations at a few locations on Vancouver island (Sointula, Telegraph Cove, Campbell River – photos posted on this website), and have been invited to speak at a few more this fall. The charities receiving my royalties are happy, my publisher is happy, all the women in the book are happy. I am over the moon happy.

I dedicated this year to getting the book out and helping my publisher (TouchWood Editions) promote it so, looking ahead, I need to hone my focus on the rest of the year, on Christmas and holiday gift-giving. I know that the book is an excellent gift idea for many a person on many a list. And the fact that all the money I earn from the book run is going to charities is more impactful during the season of giving.

So, the best thing is to make a plan. That’s my default mode, my factory reset – make a plan. My writer’s life for the next 3 months is:

  1. Schedule one key book-related task to do each weekday. Monday – conduct research, write articles, prepare posts or blog ideas. Tuesday – put up a blog post every second week, and sort/add photos in my system (for archives, for posting, etc.) the alternate week. Wednesday – prepare social media posts for the next week, scheduling 2 or 3 for each platform, so there is room to insert more ad hoc posts if needed or desired. Thursday – admin work, updating my email list, liaising with people, clearing up bits that seem to accumulate like dust under the bed, making notes, adding and clarifying new information and ideas, etc. etc. etc.  Working on presentations if needed. Friday – outreach to organizations, people, media and events. Event/presentation planning.
  2. Spend time each day (if possible) on social media platforms, one hour max.
  3. Breathe. No need to go crazy or get stressed. And enjoy every blessed minute of this amazing ride!