Knowing where your strengths lie is a good thing
Isn’t this pretty? Look at all those pretty book covers standing side by side looking proud.
I’ve been meaning to get a banner like this I can use for promo and Facebook advertising for ages. when I say ages I mean maybe six months. Six months is a long time on the internet and in the land of publishing.
Why didn’t I do it earlier I hear you ask? There are lots of reasons (laziness, organisation, money) but the simplest one is I don’t like to admit defeat.
If there is a skill you should learn out here in cyberspace or a way to DIY something I believe I should learn it and then do it. That’s very noble I’m sure but also wildly impractical. No one is good at everything. No one.
The problem is there’s this funky graphic design site called Canva.com. that lots of authors I know use to do their promo materials. You’ve probably heard of it and you may have even used it. (It’s incredible, it was invented by a young Australian woman and you should check it out).
Well, I have tried to use it and everything I make is ugly. Not just a little bit ugly but unprofessional, sloppy and embarrassing. But I’m no quitter so I’d wait a few weeks and have another try…for six months. And what did I create? More ugly. And then it occurred to me I’d probably wasted 10 hours and I had no results.
Lots of people I know have mothers, sisters and husbands with a knack for these roles but that’s not my story so what could I do to change things?
I outsourced it. And the results are really pretty. (I’m happy anyway.)
The same week I outsourced a Mailchimp template done for my newsletter. I can do it but it takes me time I don’t have and now I have a template I can work with. I haven’t sent a newsletter in months because I was having issues…again wasted time and energy that led to stagnation.
Authors don’t make that much money, well most of them don’t. We already have to pay editors, cover designers, proofreaders. (Some people (I usually do) outsource formatting as well). So we’re reluctant to pay people to do jobs for us.
Sometimes though I think you need to look at where your time is best spent. Are you wasting valuable writing time messing around on a job that takes you away from that core business? Everyone is different. (For example I am going to format my books from now on because I’ve done it in the past and I know I can do it again and save myself some money. There are also some other practical benefits as well so I think it’s worth my time).
Does that mean I’ll never conquer Canva? Probably not, but for now I’m unstuck and that’s important. Being an indie author is hard enough without getting in your own way.
So do you outsource things or do you hold on tight and do everything yourself?
3/30/2016 03:30:51 am
“Being an indie author is hard enough without getting in your own way.” Absolutely! I’m so grateful for how easy technology has made outsourcing the things I can’t–or don’t want to–do. Cover art is one thing I don’t plan to ever attempt on my own. It’s too important for me to make a hash of it, all in an attempt to save a few bucks. I do make my own promo graphics, because I enjoy that. Canva rocks!
3/30/2016 03:38:30 am
Oh I agree book covers are super important. I know what I want but I don’t have the skills to create that vision. I’m sure I’ll get my head around Canva eventually but meantime it’s nice not to be stalled.
3/30/2016 07:17:45 am
Hi Monique! I admit I chose to go with a traditional publisher because I didn’t want to have to either figure out ebook formatting/cover design or find people who would do it for me. The results were mixed: I could sleep well at night knowing I had an amazing team of copywriters working on my MS, but the covers left a lot to be desired. Ironically, I’ve become pretty adept with PicMonkey, which makes me want to slap the designers’ hands away and do it my damn self! 🙂 Anyway, it’s thrilling that there are now thriving cottage industries of editors, formatters, and designers making a living serving authors in need!
3/30/2016 02:14:10 pm
I am not bad with PicMonkey these days….but again I definitely could get better.
Absolutely, there have always been lots of people working behind the scenes on books that most people never think about, the e-book industry has just changed how those people work.
3/30/2016 07:54:25 am
I really enjoy messing around in PicMonkey and Canva (the latter has a pretty good series of tutorials, I think) but totally see that’s not everyone’s thing. And I admit I waste hours and hours hunting for images for covers, including for my current WIP which doesn’t even have a title yet 😉
Formatting, I do myself, but each time I’m horrified how long it seems to take and how the tiniest thing can be such a pain. That would be the next thing I might outsource.
But in general, I definitely lean more towards doing things myself. I’m not sure that’s efficient, appropriate or healthy, but there you have it…
3/30/2016 02:15:20 pm
I love looking at cover images as well…I can spend a lot of time on that. That and Pinterest…so many pretty pictures to inspire ideas.
Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
3/30/2016 01:10:26 pm
This is such great advice, Monique. Outsource! Like any smart business owner, the wise author knows her strengths (writing books) and knows her lesser strengths, too. Like putting a newsletter sign-up box on her website (my problem). I keep telling myself I’m going to do that . . . tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow. It’s so important! Ugh. Why haven’t I done it!?!? Why? Because I believe I’m the only person on the PLANET that can’t figure out MailChimp. I guess . . . I’m the chimp. Who probably needs to hire a non-chimp to do it for me. 🙂
3/30/2016 02:17:31 pm
I don’t find MailChimp super easy either Julie. And I definitely don’t send my newsletter out regularly enough. By the way there are loads of people on fiverr.com who can help you do the newsletter pop up for your website at reasonable prices. You could have one by the weekend if you outsource it.
3/30/2016 03:47:10 pm
Love this! Plus also I think that as authors, if we expect people to buy our books we also need to return to the favor (good karma and all, you know) and be willing to pay others to help us be better business people. Kind of like: Put your money where your pen is, no? P.S. The banner looks great.
3/30/2016 07:59:51 pm
I agree Cinthia. I’m sure a professional graphic designer knows more about design than I do, and I hope I know more about writing than they do. (I’ve worked in PR for years and you’d be amazed how many people want to pay you to write their copy and then won’t listen to advice…I know designers have the same issues).
3/30/2016 07:09:51 pm
So true – don’t get in your own way. In any area of life. Know your strengths and play to them. Know your weaknesses and get help.
Your banner is GORGEOUS
3/30/2016 08:00:31 pm
I must learn to apply it to all areas of my life Sandie 🙂
Thanks I love the banner too.
Lee Ann Howlett
3/30/2016 08:15:11 pm
Outsourcing is something I’ve had to learn to do as a narrator, too. I’m a bit of a control freak so it’s difficult to do but I agree that it’s smart to rely on your strengths and let others who can do a better job take care of the rest.
3/30/2016 10:50:44 pm
Book narrating fascinates me Lee Ann…off to stalk your website.
3/31/2016 01:08:21 pm
There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, whether you are a writer or a DIYer. Sometimes, you actually save money by outsourcing, which is why so many businesses are doing it these days. My husband is a DIYer. One year on the day before Thanksgiving at our house with guests coming (and I had just gotten home from a 2 week hospital stay), my husband decided to install a new sink in the first floor bathroom. My husband can do wiring, carpentry, but when it comes to plumbing he is a disaster. Needless to say, he made a big mess. The pipe broke off in the wall (big oops) and with water everywhere, he finally had to give in and call someone in. The problem was finding someone willing to come the night before a holiday. In the end he paid about 3 times what it would have cost if he had outsourced the plumbing to begin with. So, my advice is do what you do best by yourself, and outsource the stuff you are not cut out to do.
4/1/2016 06:30:14 am
I am slowly being able to outsource things. Definitely – outsource what you can and keep your sanity!