Resources for Authors

There are tons of tools out there, some free and some for a fee, which can be useful for authors in all the various areas in which they have to operate–primarily in writing and marketing. Each month, Authors On A Dime features a different resource in the section below. But we thought we’d highlight some of the tools we use most…
This easy-to-use online tool allows you to make graphics for various purposes. Experts say that people are more likely to view or click a post with graphics. Here’s a free way to create those.

Need help setting your writing or editing goals and then tracking to those. Here’s a fantastic tool to help you with that. The free version only allows 2 projects at a time.

Doing fancier graphics that need more than Times New Roman & Arial. Check out these fonts. (Be careful about using only those that are designated 100% free and Public Domain.)

Deposit Photos
Need fancier photos, or you plan to do your own cover design. A subscription at Deposit Photos might be your best bet.

KDP Rocket
We use this tool (yes, you pay for it) to research best keywords for a given book. It’s been invaluable for Amazon keywords not only for search results, but also for Amazon Ads.

Author Cross Promotion
Looking to build your mailing list quickly with readers who actually interact and act on your announcements? Try the mailing list building events at Author Cross Promotions!

There are tons of resources and tools out there for authors. Which ones do you use constantly that you would recommend. AOAD is always looking for great tips! Send yours in and we’ll share.

Organizing Social Media Ideas

AuthorToolKit-SocialMediaLists.pngTechnology has made the world of the author into something very different from what it once was. Not only do we have the ability to self-publish and reach a mass audiences through ebooks, but marketing methods have also changed with the advent of social media. And they continue to change and evolve at a rapid pace with new tools and services available practically daily.

We highly recommend starting to keep lists of social media ideas, tools, services, and articles.

The level at which you track your social media ideas is entirely personal preference. Whether you use social media a little, or a lot, OneNote can help you get organized and stay on top of what can easily become overwhelming.Getting organized for your social media has several benefits, including:


  • making social media less overwhelming
  • ensuring consistent use of your social media outlets
  • ensuing varied types of posts and higher level of interest from followers
  • spreading social media out evenly each month
  • pre-planning for important events (releases, cover reveals, etc.
  • tracking ideas for later use

Use of OneNote to help me organize my social media is very basic (and therefore easy to use and easy to keep up with). This is as easy as keeping a bulleted list.

Pay attention to what you see other authors do (or anyone using social media for marketing), or articles you come across, workshops you take, etc. and add to your list anything you personally liked or found effective or interesting.

For social media tracking, take the following steps:

  1. Create a Notebook titled “Social Media”
  2. Create a tab in that Notebook titled “Ideas”
  3. Add pages titled “XXX Ideas List” for each form of social media
    • Facebook Ideas List
    • Blog Ideas List
    • Twitter Ideas List
    • Website Ideas List
    • Instagram Ideas List
    • Etc.
  4. On each page create a bulleted list.
  5. Start entering ideas (pull from articles about great ways to use those tools and ideas you pick up from other authors and industry folks)
  6. Click anywhere on the page
  7. Click the “bulleted list” icon in the top
  8. Start typing
  9. Hit the enter key to add another bullet for another idea
  10. Hit enter twice to stop the list

Don’t forget to copy and paste links to any great website examples or blog posts you find on that topic.


Here’s an example of a Blog Topic Idea Lists!

In your Social Media Notebook in OneNote you can also schedule social media posts/ideas a month at a time and keep To Do lists for specific activities (like price drops or book releases). But we’ll have to get to those another time!

Make Your Workshop Notes Work for You

Workshop-NotesWho loves to take workshops? *Raising hand and waving it around!*

Who has random notes on paper that either get stuck in a desk and never looked at or thrown away? Who took notes on a computer but never accessed them or used the again?

How about we make what we learn from those workshops easily accessible and useful?

By taking the below steps you will maximize what you get out of each workshop because you are immediately incorporating it into your daily use. In addition, you’ll have those notes already organized and summarized with easy Search capabilities to quickly locate information.


Step 1: Where We Take Notes

Step number one is to bring a computer with you to every workshop, every time. You will rarely get a spare moment to transfer all those hand-written notes to your computer. Taking notes directly into your computer has the following benefits.

  • Saves you time transferring/makes sure your notes make it in to your computer
  • Mobile and more easily accessible from anywhere
  • Notes become searchable = more useful

*If you are a non-computer person (I know many authors who still prefer to hand-write), consider making a binder to hold your notes similar to how we set up Notebooks/Sections/Pages in OneNote.


Step 2: How We Take Notes

I’m going to use OneNote as my example. I use OneNote because it keeps my notes in one place (rather than opening multiple files) and is easily searchable. However this method can also apply to other note-taking apps/software as well as Word.

  1. Create a Notebook called “Workshops” (if you don’t frequent workshops often, then your workshop notes could be a Section in another notebook like “Writing”)
  2. Create a new Section for each workshop you take
  3. Create Pages for each topic in that workshop
  4. Type your notes directly on the pages


Step 3: Always Summarize & Follow Up

businessThe next step in taking your workshop notes is to summarize. You’ll want to do this immediately after finishing the class, while the material is still fresh in your mind. A summary can take several forms:

  1. Create a Page in that workshop Section with a summary of the information that stood out for you
  2. Add to any running “idea lists” or checklists you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  3. Add to any “process” notes you have in other notebooks/sections of OneNote
  4. Favorite the important links or copy them into any link lists in OneNote
  5. Go take any actions that don’t involve notes:
    • Sign up for other suggested workshops you think you’d like
    • Purchase books or materials they suggested that you think you’d find useful
    • Research anything they mentioned (tools, book cover designers, editors, local book stores, you name it)
    • Check out links they mentioned as helpful (save them to your links list if you find them helpful)


Step 4: Create Usable/Repeatable Tools

If you really like a concept from a workshop, try to create a reusable template that you incorporate into each new book project as you start.

For example, after taking a “Save the Cat” workshop, I created a template for my personal use that breaks down the different beats, timing for those, has notes to remind me of important details, etc. I fill that template out for every book now.

If you have a template on that subject, add to it with any details that you feel you want to incorporate into every project you do.

KEY: when you start a new project, check through your lists, templates and the notes summaries to fresh those concept in your mind. You can also do this mid-project when a specific topic applies (like ideas for humor, or ideas to get past writer’s block, etc.). When stuck, reference your notes!


In Conclusion

You’ll be more likely to incorporate what you’ve leaned from your workshops you into your method if you consciously review your notes. Making your notes as easy as possible to review and use will make you more likely to do so.

Best of luck and enjoy those workshop!

The Power of an Old-Fashioned Checklist

The Power of an Old-FashionedI have yet to find anything better than the old-fashioned checklist for keeping track of daily tasks. This is a very powerful tool that keeps my life sane, no matter how many deadlines and things-to-do that crop up both professionally and personally.

I’ve tried just about every task list software/app I can get my hands on for cheap or free, and none of them meet the needs and convenience of simply writing it down in a notebook – one which is portable. Usually, I’m a huge advocate for going digital when you can. But, for daily tasks, the notebook is your best friend. (Caveat – there is a tiny bit of digital cross over. Keep reading.)


There are several benefits and impacts of using an old-fashioned check list in this way…

  • You will better be able to prioritize your day, when you see both meetings and tasks on paper. (Like using a map to plan a route.)
  • It helps prepare you for the next day. You know what’s coming. You even know if you need to adjust your usual routine.
  • You’re more likely to get all those little things done. (I find anything that doesn’t get written down doesn’t get done. I like to think of myself as a reliable person. The checklists help.)
  • There is proven psychological impact to checking things off. It helps you realize just what you’ve accomplished for the day. (This is so satisfying to me, that I’ll even write down tasks I’ve already completed just so I can check them off.)

Your Daily Checklist

A daily checklist of tasks to complete is something I employ both at work and at home (these days that’s both).


Here’s how it works:

  1. Use a spiral notebook (or something similar).
  2. Use your last 15 minutes of work and/or the last 15 minutes of your day to write tomorrow’s list.
  3. At the top of the page, list all your meetings or scheduled events.
    • Include the time, location (address or phone # or conference room #)
    • Include events that even happen daily 
  4. Below the list of meetings/events, write your task list for the day

    • Put your most critical 2-3 tasks at the top of the list, then…
    • Include daily tasks (those that happen every day)

    • Add tasks that are weekly that happen on that particular day

    • Add tasks that are monthly or yearly that happen on that particular day

    • Look at the previous day’s task list – anything that didn’t get completed needs to be transferred over to the new list

    • Even small items should make the list – reminders to yourself to call the dentist or pay your bills

    • If your day is lining up to be on the lighter side, then add tasks that are preparatory for upcoming things (to get a head start)
  5. At the beginning of your day, double check your list.

  6. Add to it anything that came through since the day before (emails that popped up overnight, etc).
  7. As you go through your day, check things off, adjust, cancel, and add to your task list as needed. (The BEST part is the checking off. It’s addictive.)

A few extra tips:


DO break larger tasks into their individual steps. If your task is “write a book” every single day, then you won’t check that task off for weeks, months, or even years, which is demoralizing. Make your task “write 3 pages” or “write 1000 words” or “write scene A” etc.


Pay Attention to Your Timing

Do NOT include items you know won’t happen in a single day. This will be different every day depending on your planned activities and your priorities. But if you know that you’ll be in meetings for 8-straight hours, scheduling a task that should take you 4-5 hours isn’t realistic. Any tasks which you need to put off to tomorrow you can either…

A) start tomorrow’s list and add the item(s) there, OR

B) moved those tasks to the long-term list (which we discuss in a second)

Only Immediate Tasks


Do NOT include items that are further out in time. If you include tasks that are for later in the week/month/year, you lose the satisfaction of getting to check it off for all that time. Plus, adding tasks you absolutely won’t/can’t get to that day means your checklist will be WAY too long. You want a checklist that is manageable (another psychological trick). Move those long-term tasks to the long-term list (see below).

DO Take Notes When Needed

The notebook doesn’t just have to be for checklists. If you need to take written notes (I use OneNote, but that’s not always convenient) write them on the back of the checklist or the next page in the notebook.

Long-Term Tasks

I gave a small caveat earlier. I do use digital task lists. As a PC girl, I’m particularly partial to the task manager in Microsoft Outlook. Don’t use the digital list for the daily stuff. Use it for longer-term tasks. Things out in time that I don’t want to forget are coming or that I want to get to, but much later than today or tomorrow.

For tasks that are recurring but only on a monthly or yearly basis, use your calendar (Google for me). Schedule something on your calendar for those items (with a reminder) so that you don’t forget it’s due on that day. (Don’t forget to schedule in time to complete the task if it takes longer than an hour or two.)


Okay everyone. Now that you have the tool, go out and start checking off those tasks. I’d love to hear how it goes for you! Was this helpful?

Task Management: Top 10 Efficiency Tips


Task management. This is a necessary evil that every person with anything to do must deal with in some form or other.

At work, at home, with your kids, at school, in your writing life…No matter where you are in life, you are dealing with tasks. How would you like some tips and tricks to help you be as efficient as possible while you’re working through all those tasks, to-do lists, chores, and obligations? Here are my top 10 tips for task execution:

First 15

Set aside the first 15 minutes of your day. Review anything that’s come up overnight. Adjust the list if needed. Review your list and decide what your priorities are for the day.

Write It Down

This is a bit of a soap box for me. I don’t care how great your memory is. If you don’t write it down – even the little stuff – you will most likely forget something. I don’t care if you have an app on your phone, use OneNote, or use an old-fashioned checklist. Just write it down somewhere.

Prioritized Subset

Don’t work from  your entire task list on a given day. Keep one list for long-term tasks or tasks you know you won’t get to that day. Then, for today, work from a list of tasks that are just for today. Your To Do List won’t be so intimidating that way, and you’ll feel you accomplished more. Psychology is a big part of good task management.

Heads Down vs. Interruptible

Understand when your time is heads down (you can’t/shouldn’t be interrupted) vs. when you can be interrupted without it causing a problem. When needed schedule that heads down time, go to a different room (or get out of the house), or put up signs that say please wait until x:00pm. Being clear with yourself and with others about heads down time is the key.

Dare to Ask for Time

Dare to tell someone your estimate of how long something will take. Example…. your boss says I need XYZ by noon. You can dare to say “To do it right, I need until 2pm.” Let them make the call if they still need it by the original deadline or they can wait. If they can’t wait, now they are clear that they’re getting the rushed version.

checklistLearn to Ask Questions

Never be afraid to clarify. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I need ABC.” I gave them what they asked for and it wasn’t what they really needed. Frequently, clarifying questions result in my saying, “You don’t need ABC, you need EFG.” This saves everyone time and frustration.

Stop thinking, act! / Stop acting, think!

There are times when you think a project to death and never actually do. As an author, I’ve had a LOT of friends tell me that they’ll write that book someday, but don’t get to it because they over think it. That’s when you need to stop thinking and act. Frequently getting started will get your creative/cognitive juices flowing.

There are also times when you are moving too fast. This results in mistakes and having to go back and redo. If you catch yourself doing this, take a deep breath and deliberately slow down. Or even take a break and then come back.

Manage Expectations

If your task is something you owe to another person or people, manage expectations. It’s better to over communicate in general. Tell them when you’re running late, but give an ETA. If you’re running up against that ETA, then let them know you need more time BEFORE that time passes.

2-Minute Rule

Tasks often pile up throughout the day. Any tasks that take you 2 minutes or less to complete, do them the second they come in. It gets those off your plate immediately. Also, most time management experts say that you are more efficient working on the shorter tasks first.

Caveat: If you are someone who has trouble getting back into the groove of what you were doing, then save those 2-minute tasks. Work on them after you complete what you’re working on at the moment.

Last 15

Take the last 15 minutes of your day to:

  • Knock out the rest of your 2-minute tasks (if any are left).
  • Check you didn’t miss anything major.
  • Send ETA emails / set expectations as needed for the following day.
  • Write out your task list for the next day.



Top 10 Tips to Set Your Yearly Author Goals

As 2016 is coming to a close, and 2017 is mere hours away, you know what time has arrived…that’s right, time to set your goals for the year.

You thought I was going to say New Year’s Resolutions didn’t you? Nope!

Goals and resolutions often go hand in hand. Think of it this way, a resolution is usually based around making changes in your life to improve it or make yourself a better you. Whereas goals are a desired end point, an achievement toward which you direct your effort. For example:

Resolution: I’m going to become healthier this year.

Goals: Lose 15 pounds by April. Go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Limit myself to 1 coke/week.

Setting goals as an author is important. Let me repeat…this is an important exercise every author should take the time to do and most don’t.

Top achievers in ALL fields all set goals. Goals help you focus, move you forward, motivate you to achieve, help you to organize your time and resources, hold you accountable, help you believe in yourself, and get you closer to your dreams.

Today, we will not be setting “life” goals, but “author” goals. If it helps, think of your goals in this scenario as a mini-business plan for your author life for the year.set-your-your-yearly-author-goals

Our Top 10 Tips for Setting Your Yearly Author Goals:


1. What Is The Dream?

Every author has a dream or two related to writing. Do you want to publish your first book? Do you want to finish a book? Do you want to get a “YES” from a certain publisher or maybe an agent? Do you want to be a best-selling author for a top five publisher whose books are made into an award-winning series of movies or HBO show?

No matter how unattainable you think them, write down  your dreams for yourself as an author. These won’t be your goals, but you may set some (or many) of your goals this year with the dream(s) in mind.

For example: If the dream is to finish your first book, you might set a daily word count goal, or set a goal to find a mentor to help you, or set a goal to join a critique group.

2. Evaluate Your Current Situation

Evaluating where you currently are is always a great place to start. Look at what you achieved during the past year related to your author career and all the factors affecting those achievements. Evaluating where you are can help you determine where to go next. It also gives you a good baseline of what is achievable, where you could grow, and where you can let go.

For example, if in the past year you finished 4 books, perhaps your goal in the current year is to finish another 4, because you know you can do it. Or, after having had that experience, you realize that pace takes away from your personal life too much, and your goal is reduced to 2 or 3 books for the year. Or, on the flip side, you might realize you can do more, and set the goal at 5.

3. List Out Known Expectations

Most likely, you are starting the year with a known list of expectations. Do you have a contract with dates you owe agents or publishers your work? Do you have a pre-order date set, or you’ve announced a publication date to your readers? Have you already registered for classes? Or plan to attend an upcoming conference?

Write down a list of all the known expectations, because these will do 2 things:

  • Feed into the goals you set for the year.
  • Affect additional goals (conflicts? changes in direction?)

4. Pick Goals That Motivate You

Think about past goals and expectations. The ones you were excited about achieving and working on are most likely those you did achieve or even exceeded expectations.

Most authors are authors because they have a passion for the gig. So the goals you set for yourself, most likely should be ones you are excited to achieve. Passion is a key to achievement.

Ask yourself…why do I care about this goal?

5. Categorize

Often it helps to categorize your goals. Categorizing means thinking of types of goals. Doing this exercise will help you cover the bases. Many authors think of their writing goals (word count, finish a book by x-date, etc.) but forget things like personal growth goals like improving as a writer, or business-related goals like spend less on marketing.

A few category breakdowns you might consider:

Author Related:

  • writing goals
  • marketing goals
  • publishing goals
  • personal goals
  • business goals


  • Scheduled Goals (things you expect to achieve relatively easily, or things you are obligated to others to achieve)
  • Stretch Goals (goals that might stretch you a bit, but are still achievable)
  • Reach for the Stars Goals (goals that will be really hard to achieve, but you want to try anyway!)


  • work goals
  • personal goals
  • financial goals
  • social goals

6. How Many Goals?

This depends on you and the types of goals you are setting. Many articles out there recommend keeping your goal list short: Only 5-7 goals total.

If you’re someone who gets easily overwhelmed, or perhaps you’re just starting out, 5-7 goals is fantastic. If you’re a lister like me who is 5-10 (or more) years into their career as an author, you might need more.

My suggestion is write them ALL down. Then, if you look at the list and start to have a panic attack, start whittling it down to a size which makes you a little uncomfortable (you want to stretch yourself after all), but doesn’t make you want to throw up.

Remember, you want to be excited to start your goals list!

7. Think SMART, then Dream Big

SMART is an acronym which can help you set the specifics of your goals. Goals which set specifics such as a date, a quantity, a plan, etc. are more often achieved. For each goal you set, think about the following parameters:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable or Meaningful
  • A – Attainable or Action-Oriented
  • R – Relevant or Rewarding
  • T – Time-bound or Trackable

The SMART system is a great way to make sure your goals are not vague or irrelevant.

That said, they don’t tend to work for the “This is the Dream” related goals. Author’s dreams can be BIG, which is fantastic. The big stuff is what we’re ultimately trying to accomplish in the long-term. Check out this fantastic article on how to set goals for those big dreams: When SMART Goals Don’t Work, Here’s What To Do Instead

8. Put Your Goals in Writing

Write it down folks. Otherwise you’ll forget about it. I promise that, when I go to review my goals and see how I’m tracking, I have already forgotten half of them (usually the half I’m not working on yet).


9. Prioritize

Look at your final list of goals and prioritize. Make sure you’re focusing your work and effort and energy on the most important goals first. When setting priorities think about:

  1. How long will it take to complete?
  2. When is it due?
  3. Who do you owe it to?
  4. Urgency level?
  5. Downstream impact? (Something could be low urgency today, but if you don’t get started it’s a big impact to you by next month. Or 3 other goals hinge on achieving the first goal.)

10. Reevaluate Regularly

Check your goal list often. Once a quarter (every 3 months) is a good rule of thumb. If you have goals happening every month, then once a month is better for you.

When you review your goals do the following:

  1. Check off those goals which have been achieved.
  2. Look at remaining goals and your progress.
  3. Has anything changed which affects your list?

Reevaluating your goals isn’t just about checking things off the list. During the course of a  year things are going to happen which could impact your list in big ways.

Sometimes life gets in the way, and you need to pare back your goals. Which is okay!

Sometimes an achieved goal can lead to more unplanned for goals. For example, you could have a goal of landing a contract with a publisher. Let’s say that happens. Yay! But they not only signed your book, but contracted 3 more for the series with specific due dates, many within this year. I promise, you’re going to need to add those to your goals and likely re-prioritize your list.


I hope this article helps you create a fantastic goal list for the year. And I hope you achieve not only your goals for the year, but also your dreams!

OneNote: Get Started

onenote-startedOneNote is a tool of choice for many authors to keep their writing life organized. Get started today with this quick tutorial!

OneNote is a note-taking software offered as part of the Office suite by Microsoft.

The way to think of OneNote is like that large binder you had in grade school. A broad topic is the binder. Subject tabs within that binder divide up sections. And then pages in each tab are where you take the notes.

As an author, you can use OneNote to keep records of things like:

  • Notes for books such as research, websites, ideas, editing needs, outlines, tracking series details, and more.
  • Notes on querying including research about editors/agents/publishers that I’m looking into, query letter drafts, queries sent, responses, and more.
  • Notes from workshops and classes and how I’d like to apply concepts.
  • Publishing information including formatting for Kindle vs. Smashwords vs. CreateSpace to help me get faster at that, tracking all the websites and tools I use, etc.
  • Social Media/Marketing Management including check boxed to-do lists, monthly schedules for blog posts, ideas of upcoming marketing fun, and more.

The first thing you need to learn about OneNote, and set up, is how it is organized.

First, OneNote, unlike Word or Excel, doesn’t have you save individual files. It automatically saves anything you enter. It is a system that automatically creates/saves the files for you. So there is no “Save As” mechanism.

Note: OneNote is a Microsoft Office application. The steps to do the below will differ slightly for different versions of MS Office. These instructions are for Windows 8 with Office 365.



Notebooks are listed down the left side of OneNote. Notebooks are like your class binders – you’ll use these for overall topics.

To create a new Notebook:
1. Click to the File menu at the top
2. Click the “New” option on the left
3. Under “New Notebook” select where to save (I usually save to Computer)
4. In the “Notebook Name” field, enter the name for your Notebook
5. Click the “Create Notebook” button

As an author, some Notebooks ideas include the following:

  • A notebook for each series of books
  • 1 notebook for standalone books
  • Querying
  • Workshops
  • Publishing
  • Social Media/Marketing
  • Ideas/Misc


Sections are the equivalent of tabbed sections within your binder. Use these to breakdown the larger notebook topic into sub-topics. In OneNote, Sections are listed as tabs across the top of the page.

To create a new Section:
1. On the left side of OneNote, select the Notebook in which you want to create the section
2. Along the top, there will be a tab that has a plus sign… Click that tab
3. It will change colors and say “New Section #” with the ability for you to type and rename
4. Type over that text with the name for the section/tab


Pages are like the note pages inside the tabbed sections of your binder. This is where you take the notes. Pages are listed along the right side of OneNote.

To create a new Page:

1. On the left side of OneNote, select the Notebook in which you want to create the section
2. Along the top, click the section tab in which you want to create the page
3. Along the right side, click the “+ Add Page” button
4. OneNote will automatically create a new page and put your cursor where the title of the page is
5. Type the title for the page
6. Then click anywhere below the title and start typing your notes
For example, in my Svatura Characters & Details tab, I have pages for the main cast of characters, for the bad guy cast of characters, for the minor characters, etc.

A few tips and tricks:

You can create multiple areas of notes on one page, simply click somewhere else on the page and start typing.

You can drag and drop those areas of notes anywhere you want (very loosey goosey, I know – but you’ll get used to it)

You can make subpages. Once a page has been created, on the right hand side, right click the name of the page. Then click “Make Subpage”. It will indent the page. Helps with grouping of like notes within a section.

If You Are Using Word or Something Similar: Use a system of Folders and SubFolders for the Notebooks and Sections equivalents and save your notes on individual Word documents.

Dealing With Deadlines

duedateDeadlines. We all have them. I don’t care if you’re a student, a parent, a CEO, or President of the United States, you deal with deadlines regularly. Even bills could be considered deadlines. If you are one of those people who suddenly has to work extra hours to meet a deadline that seemed to loom sooner/faster than you expected, then you need help with managing your deadlines.

Here are some tips and techniques that could help:

Give Yourself a “Soft Deadline”

Aim to have your project/work completed ahead of schedule. How much depends on the deadline. If you’re given 1 week to complete something, try to finish 1-2 days earlier. If you have months, try a week or two earlier.  If you can psych yourself out to think of this as the actual deadline, even better. Having work completed ahead of time is both a huge stress relief, and gives you extra time to double-check and tweak if needed.

Break It Down

Break your project down into steps.

  1. List out all the steps of a project. Start higher level. For example, your first pass at the list might just say “make presentation.”
  2. Break your steps down more if needed. For example, make presentation becomes analyze the data, gather materials, outline, create presentation materials, etc.
  3. Write the tasks down in the order you’ll need to complete them.
  4. Include how long you think that individual task with take you.
  5. Note any specific deadlines for parts of the project (sometimes there are sub-deadlines involved)

Back It Up

Use backward planning to set your plan in place.

  1. Start from your soft deadline and move backwards task-by-task.
  2. Adjust the schedule as needed until it fits your time frame. There are a lot of ways to adjust. Here are a few:
    • double up tasks
    • add extra time on certain days or weeks
    • shorten amount of time you’ll take on certain tasks
    • ask for help
  3. Write your plan down. You can use a few methods for this including:
    • a simple checklist
    • a project management software or Gantt chart
    • put it on your calendar
  4. Don’t wait to get started – sooner is always better.
  5. Adjust your schedule as you move through the project.

A Few Extra Tips

  • Project Interruptions: Pay attention to other projects, deadlines, appointments, holidays. Make sure to plan those into your timing.
  • Feedback Time: Make sure you include some time for feedback (from your boss, from your customer, from your teacher, from your kids, from trusted advisors, from other members of the project, and so on). And then additional time to incorporate any of that feedback.
  • Manage Your Stakeholders: Clear communication, early and often, with the people to whom you owe the work will always save you time, trouble, complications, and often missed deadlines down the road.
  • Get Ahead Moments: There are times when you’ll actually have some downtime. Doesn’t happen often, I know. But it does happen. Those are great moments to get ahead on your project. The more ahead you can get, the less stress down the road.
  • Utilize Your Calendar: Make appointments for key benchmarks (the bigger tasks that need to get done by a very specific time). Make appointments to block off time to work on the project uninterrupted. If your project is recurring (say every 6 months), make an appointment to remind yourself to start preparations.

Project managers will likely recognize many of these tips. Break It Down and Back It Up will get you to something that could easily fit into a traditional Gantt chart. If you struggle with meeting deadlines, start with the basics I’ve outlined and get used to the process. But I would recommend taking a basic project management course (not software but theory). I’ve found those to be helpful with ideas for personal time/project/deadline management.

Happy planning!

Flip the Script on Your Next Facebook Party

Legs of dancers

A Facebook Party is a ton of fun, but can also be super stressful for the hosts. These parties move quickly, with lots of different types of posts, games, and giveaways. In addition, there are the usual party niceties (manners) to be observed.

A fantastic way to reduce your party stress, host the best party you can, and make sure nothing gets forgotten, is to create a Facebook Party Script.


Below is an example of a script with all the parts. Feel free to copy and make it your own.

Scripting It Out

When you create a script, you will write out every post you’ll be posting before, during, and after the party. For each individual post, include the following:

  • title of the post (to help you remember what it’s about)
  • date & time you will post it
  • the exact wording for the post
  • a reminder of any items you’ll be attaching to the post (images)

*Tip: Save the post and ALL the images in the same folder

Write the posts in the order you’ll be posting. Some authors use Word, some use Excel or a spreadsheet. It’s up to you what works best.

Types of Posts

Party Description

Your party description is permanently at the top (or on the description page) of your party. Use this space to tell attendees:

  • what you are celebrating (is this a release party? or something else?)
  • your party theme (if any)
  • if it’s a release party, a bit about the book (just a taste)
  • logistics (date, time, what time zone)
  • guest authors
  • any grand prizes up for grabs


When you share or invite from the event, there’s no text to include. However, when you post on your Facebook page or other social media, be sure to include:

  • all the info from your party description
  • the link to the party to allow them to RSVP
  • an explanation that a FB party is online and live for those who’ve never attended

Pre-Party Posts

Don’t just create the event and then wait for the date. Make sure to post periodically to help get the attendees excited about your party. Types of posts you can do ahead of time:

  • introduce your guest authors
  • announce the release of your book (if it releases before the party date)
  • 1-2 pre-party games with giveaway prizes (a good opportunity to encourage attendees to invite others)
  • memes
  • news related to your book topic or party topic
  • encourage everyone to share pics of their party goodies–their virtual date, outfit, shoes, accessories, pet, and so forth (to be clear, theses are pretend goodies)

“Morning Of” Informational Post

The day of, post the logistics in the morning. This serves two purposes. One: remind attendees that today is the day. Two: get the logistics out of the way early. Make sure you include:

  • excited to celebrate
  • giveaway rules (when giveaways close, rules to enter each, when/how winners will be announced)
  • schedule (including when each guest author will be on)
  • the disclaimer – all FB giveaways require a disclaimer releasing FB. Rather than post it on every single giveaway, you can post it once here and mention that it covers all giveaways in the event)


Countdown Posts

Starting about an hour before the party gets rolling start your countdowns. It doesn’t take many. Just a few to start reminding attendees that it’s almost time. You can include pre-party questions or even a giveaway or two to make it fun for those who stop by early.


The first post of the evening. This is where you:

  • thank guests for attending
  • remind them about the logistics post from the morning
  • thank you guest authors for joining you
  • and usually start the first game/giveaway for the party grand prize (if any)

Party Posts

The bulk of your posts will be in this section. These are the fun part. What to post here could take up an entire blog post by itself (which we’ll do another time). For now, here are a few musts:

  • Introduce yourself (include fun facts and your social media links)
  • Try to post about every 5 minutes.
  • Break posts up with some longer posts that are games/giveaways, and shorter posts (memes, quick questions, etc.) in between
  • Do include several games/giveaways. Try to make them easy but fun for participants. Even better, make them related to your book.
  • Introduce guest authors 1-2 minutes before they start
  • Thank guest authors as they wrap up
  • If you ARE a guest author, it’s a nice gesture to make at least one of your posts about the author/book the party is for

Thank You

Be sure to thank the guest authors and participants at the end of the party. Take the opportunity to remind people to check out your new book and/or follow you on various social media.

Wrap Up

A final logistical post reminding people about when giveaways will close and when/how/where winners will be announced.

Winners Announcements

We recommend a single winners announcement post (including winners for all guest author giveaways). Include:

  • Who ran the giveaway
  • The giveaway name
  • The giveaway prize(s)
  • The winner (tag the person)
  • A congrats to the winners and repeated thanks


To get you started, here’s a very basic Word Document layout. Happy Facebook partying

Facebook & Twitter Idea Lists

great idea concept

Most marketing gurus will tell you as an author you need to have a presence on social media, including Facebook, and Twitter. However, the prospect of keeping up with posting on these daily can be intimidating, time-consuming, or looked upon as an unwanted chore.

We are not marketing gurus at AOAD, but as authors, we can tell you that there are many benefits to posting on social media. These tools help you connect with readers and other authors, give multiple points of access to new readers, and help you announce important moments in your author life, like releases!

For those who still aren’t sure, a great way to make Facebook and Twitter easier on yourself is to cultivate an Ideas List.

This is a list of various topics and ideas that you can review any time you are posting or scheduling posts. Pay attention to other authors. When their Facebook or Twitter posts capture your attention, write that down as an idea. Just make sure to keep your list somewhere handy (a note taking software like OneNote or Evernote is fantastic).

To get you started here are some generic Facebook & Twitter post ideas:

  • General/Daily Life
    • Funny Quotes/Memes you enjoy
    • Holidays/Celebrations (
    • Throwback Thursday (don’t forget you can apply this to things like, “4 years ago I published…”)
    • Observations about life/people (fodder for books)
    • Anything going on in your life worth mentioning, even if it’s not author related (don’t want to only be a promo machine)
  • About You The Author
    • Links to blog posts
    • Quotes/Memes about being an author
    • Pinterest pins about being an author or things you like which impact you as an author
    • Favorite quotes from other books
    • Periodic reminders about other social media and books – “re-announcements”
    • Pictures of you doing stuff (writing, traveling, etc.)
    • Screenshots of my computer – things I’m working on
    • Geek out moments
    • What’s on your Kindle (or Reading Corner)
  • About Your Books
    • Links to blog posts
    • Quotes/Memes directly from/about your books
    • Pinterest pins directly related to or about your books
    • Small teasers for the next books/story lines
    • Songs related to the books/characters/situations
  • Resources
    • “How to” blog posts
    • Pins about writing/publishing/authoring tips
    • Industry news you find relevant (sharing)
    • Workshops you liked
  • Being a Good Author Friend
    • Like things from your peers (their announcements, giveaways, things they posted that you liked, etc.)
    • Even better…Comment on peer’s posts
    • Even better…Share peer’s posts to your own wall and/or page and/or group
    • RSVP to peer’s party invites (and attend!)
  • Encouraging Reader Interaction
    • Scavenger Hunt in my books
    • Small Giveaways (participation raffle – relate to new release if coming up)
    • This or that (ex. Beach or mountains, shifters or vamps)
    • Favorites? (types of desserts, vacation destinations, character in a series)
    • Reader Preferences (hero archetypes, chapter lengths, etc.)
    • How do you picture this character? Building? (they send pics)
    • Requests for author or character questions from readers for blog post
    • Did you catch this small detail in the 1st two books?

SocialMedia-Tips.fwWhat other topics can you think of or do you enjoy posting to your social media? Keep the list going and add your ideas in the comments!