Currently many people are having to work from home, their places of work doing the right thing (and where possible) ensuring that their team can still be productive, but from a distance. For many authors this may feel like an extension of how you would set your home up for writing, it’s just that now most of us are quarantined and making your home/work life work is vital (if you want to stay productive).
So, what should you consider when spending more time at home and either working or writing your book? Here is our list of what will help any author have a more productive time while working from home.
One – Find a space.
Trying to work in your living room from your sofa sounds great to many, but the reality is that it really doesn’t work, you have more distractions and the temptation to just relax is overwhelming (after all, a living room is normally set up for doing anything but work).
Now, not everyone will be lucky enough to have a home office in their house, so you may have to be creative in choosing a location to work in, if you have a spare bedroom (and a desk with chair) then this could become your work space, if not, then you could use your kitchen table (so many of today’s big business originally started from a kitchen table, so if this is your option, you’re in good company).
Basically you need an area which is as free from distractions as possible, a table to place your pens, paper, tablet or laptop on to and a decent chair which you can sit in for a longer period of time with out getting back ache.
Two – Mindset
If you’ve never worked from home before then you’ll have a clear boundary between your place of work and your house, this can be a good thing, as your home is a place to relax and take a break from the business world, however, now that you are working from home, you need to shift that mindset slightly.
Having a clearly defined area to work in really helps with this, as once you are in that area, technically you’re at ‘work’, but not only this, you should approach the whole situation as if you were in your normal work place, you may not be wearing your usual work clothes, but you should approach it with the same professional attitude.
Three – Scheduling
Working from home requires some structure, without your boss looming over your shoulder the temptation is to work when you feel like it, this may work for some, but it really isn’t the most productive way of planning your day. Having a schedule where you can plan how and when you will spend your working hours is really useful to ensure you get the most out of your day (and also means you’re not working until midnight either).
You can download apps and software which will easily allow you to plan out your day, week and month, but if you don’t want to buy/use new software, you can always set up a planner in either Microsoft Excel or Apple’s Numbers.
When you plan your day you should list the tasks that have to be completed that day and check them off as you complete, this is good in two ways, firstly it ensures that you don’t miss anything important and secondly it helps you when reflecting upon the day that you have actually been productive (when working alone it’s good to feel a sense of achievement, even if it’s from yourself).
Four – Distractions
Distractions are far more prevalent when working from home, social media is only a click away and it is easy to get sucked into watching an hours worth of nonsense on YouTube, so you have to be strict with yourself, switch off all social media and only check a couple of times during your working day. Now this may be a little harder for some, if you use social media for your business then you may have to go on to check and update, but be realistic in your usage.
Five – Breaks
The flip side from working from home is that you tend to find yourself working more hours, you can also miss out on taking a lunch break and instead eat while working. It’s really important that you take the time and schedule a break within your new working day, get up and away from your desk (or kitchen table) and step outside for a moment, of course keep your distance from others, but spending five minutes in the fresh air (even if it is just outside your front door) is really good for clearing the mind.
Try to eat away from your desk and make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Six – Communication
Working remotely will still mean that you have meetings with colleagues, it’s just now they’ll all be conducted online. There are many different applications that can be used for this and your company may have its own preferred application that it will want you to use, the same goes for your email and messengers. So, it may sound obvious, but, making sure these are set up upon your device correctly before you start work will lead to a smoother day (realizing five minutes before an important meeting that your laptop needs to be configured for it to work is not great). Also, for meetings, make sure you are dressed the part and not in a dressing gown.
Seven – End of Day
Once you have completed your work for the day, make sure you close the door on your work space or clear everything off of your kitchen table, it’s good to still have some boundaries between work and home, it helps you to unwind from the day’s work and ensures you can sleep well (so you can still be productive for the following day).
Social media (like fashion) changes with time, most of us have a Facebook account followed by a Twitter feed, but the switch to predominantly using Instagram happened a while ago, so if you’re not already on this platform too, you could be missing out.
The great thing with Instagram is that it’s very visual, it’s easy to use and very focused towards using with your cellphone, so no matter when and where you are, there’s normally an opportunity to connect with your followers/readers.
So, first thing’s first, if you don’t yet have an account, now is the time to set one up, you can sign up at https://www.instagram.com/ make sure you select a professional looking (and relevant) profile image, also take the time to write a short bio for your profile. If you download the app from either the Google Play or Apple Store, you’ll be able to sign up via the app too.
One – Adding content
Instagram is focused more towards mobile use, so adding images is incredible easy using their app which allows you to take photos from your phone, add filters and then upload. However, if you want to add content that you make on your computer you’ll need to ensure that the size is correct (you don’t want to add a huge panoramic only for it to be hard to view once uploaded.
If you go larger than their recommended sizes Instagram will compress the image, this can make the post look a little blocky in comparison to the original image, so try to stick within their guidelines for the best results.
You can add content to your Instagram page through your PC, but it will normally require the use of a third party app to do so, you could also save the post to any cloud storage and access from you phone to post, or send it directly to your phone to post.
Two – Using Hashtags
When I first started with Instagram I was posting some great content but never using hashtags, the result, no one saw my posts. Hashtags help people (who aren’t following you) find your content, of course they need to be specific to what you’ve posted and more than just one or two of them, however, don’t get carried away, if you use more than thirty you’ll find that the caption for the image gets removed.
Three – Self Promotion?
The golden rule is in not over promoting your book, if your feed is just one long advert then people won’t engage, you should aim to have just 20% of your posts being ads and the other 80% being non advertising. Think of what you like to view when browsing Instagram (or which ever social media site you prefer), is it just the advertising you look at? No, we all quickly scroll through this, your viewers will be just the same.
Four – Engagement
Social media is, well… about being social (the key is kind of in the name), so engage with people, comment on others posts and reply when people comment on yours.
Five – Look for moments to share
There will be millions of opportunities for you to share posts with your followers, now this doesn’t have to be every single meal you eat from now on (please, if you’re not a food writer, don’t share meals, we all eat, we get it). But, if you wander into your local Barnes & Noble and they have your book on display, take a photo and shout about it. Or you may have just completed chapter one of your next novel, an image of you with a big smile sat at your laptop would be great too.
Be creative and have fun, as long as it’s not a stream of constant adverts you’ll have a better chance of connecting with others.
Six – Keep Posting
Try to post something every day if you can, this will keep your feed in the mind of your followers and indicate to Instagram that the account is being actively used.
Also think about when you should post, now this will be different for each author, if your audience is made up of adults in their 30’s (for example) then you might want to post from 7pm onwards when they’re back from work. However, if your audience is mainly teens, then posting earlier when they’re back from school would be better.
If you’re not sure when you should post, look at other authors who publish in the same genre and to the same demographic, you can always copy when they post.
Seven – Ask some questions
An easy way to engage with your followers is to ask them something, what are they reading? What’s the best book or worst book they’ve ever read? What are they planning to read next? The list of questions you can ask is endless, just be creative and engage when your readers respond.
Eight – Advertising
You can pay to advertise your posts which can really help in targeting specific readers, just remember that if you are setting up an ad campaign it will be done through Facebook’s Ad Manager, this will allow you to get very specific with your targeting and also your budget, you can set daily budgets and specify the timeframe for the ad to run.
Nine – Give stuff away
Offering a free copy of your book (especially if it’s signed) is a great way to get followers to like your post and engage with you, you can also offer other prizes to increase the interaction with people who may not currently be following you. There are authors who give away copies of their own books with copies of a famous author’s book too, this way they have a better chance of gaining the attention of the other audience too.
Ten – Test and Monitor your posts
Try different approaches and offers with your posts, with some trial and error you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure that your content looks great, it’s interesting and that it’s not all advertising.
Book cover designers.