Edit 12/5/2018: This blog post has gotten a lot of attention and, in turn, I’ve received tons of questions! I’ve put together a short, to-the-point guide that elaborates my process and how I write a book a month while keeping the day job, so I hope you find it helpful!
November is wrapping up and neighbors are slapping up their Christmas decorations before the turkey is even pardoned! But that’s okay, I’m a Christmas gal so I thoroughly enjoy the festive cheer.
2018 has been a crazy year for me. Writing has become a career complete with editors, assistants, budget meetings, marketing and launch plans, and of course lots of dedicated writing time. I’m sure you’ve seen my “office” (much more appropriately and fondly termed the writing “cave” by us authors). If you haven’t here it is:
My books can be seen on the left and right. It’s exciting to see the collection grow! In the background is a hanging tapestry of the map included in Soul Bound and one of my “heart” series. Of course I’m sure you noticed the keyboard, which is my latest addition. It’s Rymek and I love it!
I’d never have imagined that I’d manage to work two jobs, because writing is a second job for me now and I’m finally ready to call it what it is. It has a separate bank account and thousands of dollars go in and out and make me dizzy when I wonder how it’s all holding together. I know what this is… I’m not just a writer. I’m a CEO of my personal company and A.J. Flowers is my brand. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started a career in authorship and publishing, but that’s how most great things in my life have happened. Namely, marrying a Dutch guy who supports me all the way and taught me the vital importance of tiny cups of coffee with slices of Dutch cheese on toast; two needy cats who make sure I don’t sit in the cave too long and become a statue; and of course my discovery of how to manage being a full-time automotive engineer and full-time writer: raw stubborn determination that runs in the long line of women of my family (and also drives anyone around me nuts)! Yes, I work 50+ hours a week at my awesome day job, which I love. The other 40+ hours of my week are writing and writing-related tasks.
I won’t go through the break-down because it varies, but I’ve mapped out my schedule for the past few months and this is what I discovered are my actual hours:
Writing = 40 hours a week
Day job = 50 hours a week (it was 60, but now that we’ve passed a critical stage of development, the hours are a bit better)
How do I pull this off? I get up at 5 and write for a few hours. When I write, I don’t stare at the screen. I utilize high-intensity bursts to get the work done. I dictate my novels or listen to marketing podcasts on my commute. I don’t watch TV anymore except for special occasions. Three days a week I accept I’m only getting 6 hours of sleep, but I don’t push it past 3 days a week. The rest I sleep 8-9 hours. I take shorter showers. I have a supporting husband who does the grocery shopping and cooking. We share cleaning tasks, but even then I fit in laundry while the computer is loading photoshop or a heavy publishing preview that needs to sit and wait anyway. Holidays mean more writing. I keep focused and even through the craziness, I make sure to spend time with my husband and play with the cats. This means I have no time for myself, but that is part of the sacrifice.
My requirement is that my writing never affects my day job which often requires a lot of energy and attention. Careful time-management made that possible, and sometimes I accept I can’t meet 40 hours a week writing when things are too crazy. Luckily, the day job has been ramping down, so I’ve been able to spend more time writing and with my husband. While this schedule may vary, this is often what my week looks like. I can’t say I don’t work two full-time jobs. Clearly I do.
What have I accomplished by working full-time on writing for 2018? I’ve been maintaining this schedule since May, and because of that I’ve been able to publish a book a month. If you’ve been following my blog posts, you saw last month I hit my 6-month streak. I published two books in October and the finale to a trilogy comes out next week. I was worried that with how fast I had to write these books my quality would take a hit. Readers LOVE the ending and I’m happily surprised to find that writing books fast means that my story is tighter, makes more sense, and has the freedom to flow because I didn’t take a long break from it. I maintain quality by having multiple editors and that does the trick. I don’t have to do all of it alone. It’s a fascinating lesson that I will continue to implement in my future works.
While I plan on taking December off, 2019 has a new set of goals for me to look forward to. Here they are:
- Relaunch Celestial Downfall and publish two new books in the series. The relaunch will change the order of the series to be chronological, with the two new books being the first in the series starring Nethara (I love her tragic story) and one of the male angels (haven’t decided which one yet). As you can see above, Nethara is gorgeous!
Celestial Downfall and Azrael’s story was my first venture into novel writing two years ago. I had a lot to learn and made a lot of mistakes, but the beauty of publishing is that a relaunch is both a lucrative and fun exercise. By writing two new books, I’ll make sure old fans and new can enjoy the experience. I also have slated a designer which I booked out a year in advance for the new covers and oooh man is she talented, as you can clearly see. I can’t wait to share these!
- Rapid Release a multi-book series in the world of “Daughter of Dragons“
In 2018, I published Daughter of Dragons, the first in a series, to see how the response would be. It has done very well on its own with no marketing and a low budget cover. I will be republishing book 1 with a new cover and rapid releasing the sequels. Very excited for this venture and it’s going to be a challenge to get all those books out, but with my time management and editorial and assistant team, I know I can do it.
- Continue the Dweller Saga (publish at least two more books)
Soul Bound and Soul Child are the first two books in a high fantasy series that takes a lot out of me to write. Above is a teaser of Book 3. It’s a huge world and many intertwining plotlines and character arcs. It’s so complicated that each new book I need a map commissioned to make sure I have my geography correct. Because of the expense and challenge of these books, they will not be rapid release style. These don’t make me money, but I love them, so I will continue to publish them. I have many books planned in this series and I view this project as a long-term goal. Even if they aren’t making me money now, they will when the series is finally complete.
Did you keep count? This means I will be publishing 16 books in 2019. The only reason I can do that is because 5 of them are relaunches, leaving me to write 11 books, or a book a month and I get to take next December off (basically I’m just continuing my schedule I’ve been doing already for half a year). We’ll see if I can keep it up!
Oh wait, I have one more goal…
- Become a USA Today Bestselling Author
This one is huge. I have teamed up with 21 other authors in this venture. It is not easy to hit the USA Today Bestseller list, as you can imagine! We all have written novels for this set and our books will be exclusively available in this set which is priced at an incredible 99 cents. My novel included in this set is an exclusive story in the world of Daughter of Dragons that won’t be available anywhere else and is a NEW novel never before published. The pre-order links just went live for the difficult stores, Nook and iBooks, so if you wish to help, please purchase on BOTH retailers! You have no idea how hard it is to get sales on these stores, but it’s required for hitting the list.
Thank you for reading this far. My writing wouldn’t mean anything without the support of fans and friends. Here’s to a great holiday season and Christmas cheer, as well as a fresh start for 2019!