Category Archives: JT Ellison

The Divine Inspiration of the Perfect Podcast

By J.T. Ellison

I am late to the podcast game.

I am a visual learner, which means when I’m in the car going places, I’m don’t normally use that time constructively. I make phone calls (hands-free, of course) and listen to music. I’ve tried audiobooks, but unless they are seriously engaging (Rosamund Pike reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for example) I have a difficult time with them.

But I wanted to use my car time more productively, so I subscribed to Elizabeth Gilbert’s MAGIC LESSONS podcast. I hadn’t read Big Magic yet, but I liked the idea of getting bits of inspiration as I drove around town.

And boy, did that work. I was hooked. I caught myself creating trips out just to listen. (I know, I could have listened at home, but I LOVE to drive, so…) When I finished, I told everyone I know to listen, and listen now, and I looked for something new to capture my attention.

I came across a podcast called WRITING EXCUSES. It has an adorable pitch— “15 Minutes Long, Because You’re in a Hurry, and We’re Not That Smart!”

OK. Totally in.

I scrolled for something that looked up my alley, for something I’d connect with. The proprietors of said podcast (Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells) all write in the fantasy, sci-fi world, so I worried for a moment that I was going to feel lost in space somewhere, but I love Sanderson, and what the heck, it’s fifteen minutes. (Though of course it has 12 SEASONS)

I picked an episode called “Elemental Thriller.”

Holy shit, people.

You know what’s totally awesome? Having people who don’t write your genre exclusively dissect your genre. I learned SO MUCH. A lot I already knew instinctively, I just hadn’t heard it phrased that way. But the most important thing was, I listened for five minutes and suddenly realized the essence of what was troubling me with my WIP—and fixed it that night. This particular episode was the key to allowing me to finish LIE TO ME.

I was hooked—again. I never expected something presented in a such a silly way to have such a remarkable effect on my writing. I of course went back to the beginning of Season 9 and have been systematically working my way in. I’m halfway through Season 11 now, and I am 100% convinced my writing is stronger, tighter, and more impactful because of all I’ve learned. The way they talk about story, about themes and elemental genres, just makes sense.

Highly recommend you listen, and try some of the writing prompts! It will help you think about your story in a different way, guaranteed. And hey, we all need to learn, right?

Via: JT Ellison

    

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

By J.T. Ellison

Hi, guys! It’s me, The Kerr. Did you have a good week? Everything is getting so green again, I wake up to a brilliant blue sky every morning, and the evening sun hangs out much longer after work than it used to.

I love spring. I love feeling the warm breezes, working by an open window, seeing the joggers and stroller-pushing mamas out again. I feel a bit brighter, too, full of energy and possibility. I hope you’re feeling it too!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

What I’m Eating

Confession: this is kind of like guacamole. But not really.

I had this avocado salad at a little brunch place near my house, and I order it every time I go—it’s so simple, yet so delicious. Diced avocado, shallots, grape tomatoes, lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. That’s it! Gentle tossed together, it’s a perfect little salad to serve for Easter brunch, or placed on spinach with some chicken on top.

Alas, I have no photos of said salad, because…

Another Confession: I am not a professional food blogger. This is evident by the way I consume everything I eat without taking photos of it. What can I say? When it comes to food, I have trouble with the word no. 🤷‍♀️

What I’m Playing (on my headphones)

I’m a sucker for a good podcast. This week I blazed through S-Town, from the producers of Serial and This American Life.

Murder, mayhem, a treasure hunt, a clock maker, small town Southern politics, a backyard maze with 64 permutations of escape, Kant and Plato. This seven-part series is all over the place—I mean that in the best way possible. Every spare bit of downtime I had—cooking, cleaning, dog walking—I was listening to this riveting show. It has the intrigue of Serial Season 1 without having to wait weeks for the next episode. I highly recommend it.

If that didn’t convince you, here’s a lil’ preview.

Um, yeah. Go listen to it.

What I’m Reading

Remember last week, when I talked about my favorite, must-pre-order-book-as-soon-as-I-see-it-and-wait-in-breathless-anticipation-for-release-day authors?

Anne Lamott is one of those authors.

This week, her new book HALLELUJAH ANYWAY showed up on my Kindle. I have gleefully been reading a chapter every morning over coffee—it’s my motivator to get out of bed and get through a workout, actually. The sooner you get this over with, I think, the sooner you can go read Anne.

I always need a kick in the pants, and Anne is always there to give me one—and a laugh or two along the way. Filled with thoughts on mercy, why we all need it, and how to spread it around, it’s a lovely way to start each day, a goal to aspire to. I fail miserably, but I’m still practicing.

What I’m Watching

This. This video from Harlequin is hysterical. The 75 seconds are worth your time, I promise.

Dog of the Week

Crockett the ridiculous greyhound

This week’s winner is my greyhound, Crockett, for being this week’s #1 office distraction. He can’t understand why anyone would ever stop snuggling with him.

I know, buttercup. But Mommy’s gotta bring home the rawhide somehow.

Via: JT Ellison

    

A WORD ON WORDS with John Hart

By J.T. Ellison

“Humans are flawed creatures. The things that make them great aren’t always bright and shiny.”

So true, John Hart. So true.

Watch this brilliant interview with my co-host, Mary Laura Philpott, and her Davidson College co-alum, thriller novelist John Hart. Redemption Road is a phenomenal book, go check it out!

Via: JT Ellison

    

What I'm Into (March & April 2017)

By J.T. Ellison

Welcome to Spring, y’all! Storms are popping, pollen is invading (trust me, I can’t breathe) and it’s time for another edition of What I’m Into this month — a special double issue since I lost the March version and found it again… March 31. Oops! Off we go!

Roomba - it's a lifesaver

Roomba

Last year, after a terrible kitchen leak, we put hardwoods throughout our house. I soon had a crick in my back from trying to keep them clean. Did I mention we did *dark * hardwood? It’s absolutely gorgeous, but the upkeep is incredibly rigorous. My folks gave us a Roomba for Christmas, and I have never been so happy with a gadget in my life. A remarkably clever device, it has our floors looking just mopped all the time now.


Happy Tales Humane

Happy Tales Humane

A little over three years ago, when we were looking for a kitten to adopt, we were divinely led to Happy Tales Humane in Franklin, Tennessee. They are a wonderful no-kill shelter, doing an amazing job of helping homeless animals in Middle Tennessee. When we lost both my brother’s cat Miraj, and my parents’ cat Jamocha, in a four-day span last month, I had to do something, so I made donations in both of their memories to this great organization. I’ll tell you, when Jade passed, a reader of mine made a donation in her name to their shelter, and I can not begin to tell you how touched I was by the gesture. It opened the door to a beautiful friendship, too, so win-win for everyone.

I wish I could donate to every shelter, everywhere. Drop a few dollars at your local one this week—or even take them some old blankets, towels, newspapers. Anything helps.


Colorado is the best

Mountains

I spent part of the month out west on a writing retreat. I was hoping for some major snow: the brisk air, snow-capped peaks, evergreens and frozen lakes are always a true balm for my soul. It was not to be, though. It was warm, really warm, like take a wander in the woods in shorts and hope the bears aren’t waking up warm. Even my research trip to Viail was done in short sleeves. But, it didn’t matter. It was gorgeous out, and I locked away, and just the mere thought of snow possibilities helped me write a TON––and the first draft of this book will be done next week!


Graham's 20 Year Tawny Port

Grahams 20 Year Tawny Port

I’ve always used sworn that I don’t like anything but Vintage port, and boy, was I wrong. We had dinner at Flemings Steak House a few weeks ago and our server, who was exceptionally knowledgeable, even for a decent wine restaurant, talked me into it. I am so glad she did. It’s sheer perfection—and to be honest, I think I like it better than the Vintage. Old cat, new tricks…


Eyeglasses from Zenni Optical

Reading Glasses from Zenni Optical

Don’t laugh. A few years ago I switched to progressive lenses for my full-time glasses, and I have to say, it’s been lovely not to have to remove my glasses every time I need to read a book or a label. The thing is, I still have a little trouble reading in them for prolonged periods, most especially print books, so I get straight readers from Zenni and use them if I’m settling in for a few hours reading.


NYDJ Jeans

Nordstrom NYDJ Jeans

Soft. Stretchy. LONG ENOUGH (a problem I have with everyone’s jeans—hello, 34” inseam). Tons of colors and styles. I am in love with these jeans. I’m trying—trying—to get “dressed” to go to work each day, as part of my home streamlining. In order to empty my closet, my new rule is—if I can’t leave the house in it, it’s time for it to go. But… I refuse to sacrifice the comfort of my yoga pants for daily wear. These jeans fit the bill, and I don’t feel weird running around town in them.


Newton Email

Newton

I have a new email program. Part of my personal workflow is a commitment to digital minimalism, and that means I don’t introduce new apps unless they are going to solve a need I have, not one I might have in the future. Last year, Gmail suddenly started sending all my website email to trash, so I missed a bunch of fan letters. Not good. I moved everything to Outlook, which, while powerful, I hated, because it’s just so busy. So Apple Mail became the default, and it works great except for two things: the font on the sidebar is about 8, which is ridiculously small (see reading glasses above), and you can’t hit Undo once the message is sent. I have a tendency to write and hit Send, then proof as the message goes out, which means, yep, you guessed it, errors everywhere. In Gmail I could click undo and fix, but in Apple Mail, I can’t.

Welcome to Newton. It’s like the Sparrow of old looks-wise, but even more minimalist. It has Undo Send. It has Snooze. It’s integrated into everything I do, so it lessens my work time. It’s freaking brilliant. And so elegant, and easy. It’s a solution I’m happily PAYING for — yes, instead of a free email program, I actually forked out some cash for this puppy because it’s so powerful and clean. A big win for us zen minimalist emailers!


What are you guys into these days?

Via: JT Ellison

    

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

By J.T. Ellison

Hey, peeps! It’s me, The Kerr. How’s it going? Anybody play a good April Fool’s joke on you yesterday? I have quite a few pranksters in my life, so I’m always on high alert on April 1. Nothing’s happened . . . yet. There could be some aftershocks that I just don’t know about. We’ll see. 🤔

Anywho, let’s get onto the links!

What I’m Eating

You guys. I got ridiculously good strawberries from Costco this week. Once again, all hail Costco. 🎉

I like mixing savory with sweet. Scratch that—I love it. I’m from West Tennessee, where we know our barbecue, and we make our sauce pretty sweet. I’ve carried this into adulthood, and on Monday, I accidentally threw together the best savory/sweet salad: spinach, sliced strawberries, goat cheese, avocado, pecans, and chicken breast—and it’s topped off with balsamic vinegar and basil olive oil.

I have eaten this salad every day since. I’m not sorry about it.

PS: I’ve also been chugging Earl Grey like mad. Because if I drank coffee all day, I would never sleep.

What I’m Playing

While I’ve been working this week, I’ve tuned into Spotify’s Your Favorite Coffeehouse station. Mellow and unobtrusive—that’s what I like when I’m doing non-writing work. (confession: I can’t listen to music with words and write at the same time. Cannot do it.)

If you like singer/songwriter or acoustic-y things, check that station out.

What I’m Reading

I’m a sucker for narrative nonfiction. I found STRANGERS TEND TO TELL ME THINGS by Amy Dickinson on a whim after I read fell down the bowels of the Internet and found an Ask Amy column that make me giggle something fierce. The book’s on my Kindle, ready for me to dive into. I’ll let you know how I feel about it soon.

Bonus read: this brought me to tears.

What I’m Watching

You know those authors who, when they tease a new book cover, you drop everything you’re doing, hop to your favorite retailer, and click Pre-order?

That’s how I feel about Liane Moriarty.

I. Love. Her.

So it’s no surprise that I’ve watched her novel-turned-HBO-mini-series, BIG LITTLE LIES, faithfully on Sunday nights right when it comes on. (When’s the last time you watched a scripted show on broadcast television right when it aired? Yeah, me too.) It’s 90% faithful to the book, which I and the rest of America loved. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern are remarkable in this, as is Alexander Skarsgård, who does not have the easiest role to pull off (just watch it—you’ll see what I mean). And truly, between the luscious scenery of coastal Monterey, CA, the beautiful homes on the ocean, and the gorgeous clothes, it’s a lifestyle junkie’s dream.

The plot also happens to be top-notch, full of twists and turns and psychological thrills. I bet you’ll probably like it, too. If you haven’t read the book, go get it.

Dog of the Week

This story is absolutely 100% true. I went to take the dogs for a drive today. Usually I open the trunk and they just jump in. Today Nellie BOLTED out of the door and ran to the car. She went to jump in, but realized too late that the trunk was shut. This is where she ended up. 6 feet into the air on my roof. My neighbor happened to be outside and we got her down safe. I’m pretty sure I’ve never laughed so hard in my life. Can’t make this stuff up! Nellies racing name is “Wild High Jumper”.. she is, in fact, the wildest and highest jumper Ive ever come across. #OnlyNellie

A post shared by Dibs and Nellie (@mrdibsandnelliebellie) on Feb 28, 2017 at 1:25pm PST

The story in the caption speaks for itself. Nellie the Jumping Greyhound, for the win! 😂

That’s all I’ve got this week! You guys have a good one, enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and I’ll be back again soon.

Warmly,
The Kerr

Via: JT Ellison

    

A WORD ON WORDS with Jacqueline Woodson

By J.T. Ellison

photo credit: Nashville Public Television

“I think what people need to realize is that not only do they have a story, but they have a right to tell that story. And the more specific that story is, the more it’s going to speak to a lot of people.”

Wise words from brilliant National Book Award winner, Jacqueline Woodson. Watch her phenomenal interview—her “books as windows, not mirrors” metaphor is so powerful. We had a blast meeting her, and could’ve listened to her talk for hours! #keepreading

Via: JT Ellison

    

Save Time and Be More Productive with Workflows

By J.T. Ellison

This post first appeared on RT Book Reviews last year. If you missed it there, it’s your lucky day!

Workflow. It’s a common business term that describes how a project moves from inception to completion. It is a simple, powerful way to get things done. For writers, the concept of workflow is intrinsic—we start a novel, we finish a novel. We start a short story, blog post, interview, we finish and submit. But if you think in broader terms, workflows can be applied to all aspects of your writing business.

Business. That pesky word again. Writing is a business. Those who treat it as such reap the rewards and build their readership. We can’t escape it—marketing and PR falls partially (sometimes fully) on the authors now. If you find ways to automate the most mundane tasks, you free up time to write.

This is probably old news to established writers, but for the ones who are getting their start, establishing this kind of organizational structure to your writing business now will save you so many headaches down the line.

Though we act in the art of creation, there are still hundreds of moving parts that can be wrestled into some semblance of order to make your life run easier and smoother.

Do you blog? Find a service that will deliver your blog directly to your social media accounts so you don’t need to post directly. Dlvr.it is superb for this. Want to post to Twitter at regular times, but don’t want to log in four times a day? (because hello, time suck!) My team uses Buffer, which allows us to automate and schedule well in advance. Even Facebook now has scheduling in advance, so you can sit down once a week and populate your feed with great content. Set it and forget it, which allows you to spend the time doing what social media is supposed to do for you—engage. When you’re done writing for the day, talk to your readers. Chat with them. Get to know them. Build a community. Your content is only as good as your relationships with the people in your networks.

But workflow can be much more robust than simply automating your posting to social media. Let’s take a book, for example. For every book you write, you already know the actions that have to take place. Develop your idea, create a synopsis, outline the book (or pants it, like me, based on the general idea of what’s happening) finish the book, edit the book, edit it again, deliver to beta readers, edit again, deliver to agent/editor, line edit, copy edit, last pass pages. Meanwhile, the business side kicks in—cover art is developed, sales get underway, marketing plans are written, PR begins, then you have release day, promotional tours, etc.

For those of you who are indie, the process is similar, but you’re the one doing the work, hiring the art and editing, establishing the marketing, setting up the PR, deciding on sale price and release time. Plus doing all of the backlist promotion you do, scheduling discount sales, etc.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking through our process.

When I hired my author assistant, The Kerr, in 2015, one of the things we worked on first was automation and workflow. We try not to reinvent the wheel every time a new book comes out. Add in we’re self-publishing through our own press and juggling multiple houses on the traditional side, and believe me, the established workflows have saved our bacon more than once.

Here’s a typical workflow we use when we’re looking at scheduling a book launch. It’s very top-line, because each project is slightly different, but you’ll get the gist.

JT's Book Launch Workflow

As you can see, the step-by-step process makes it easy on us both. We know once the book is listed on Amazon, we put the cover up on the website. We know when to change our Facebook, Twitter and website banners to announce on-sale dates. We plan what information goes into which newsletter. We break everything down across the board as such:

Project → Tasks → Subtasks.

Once you build the workflow, it’s there, and you don’t need to think about anything but content creation.

We have to be flexible, of course, because every project is its own beast. New opportunities arise. A blog that normally features us goes defunct. Contacts move on. But in general, this flow takes us through, making it easier on both of us. We apply this basic structure to every project, putting in place a general workflow the moment a deal is done.

Now to the other side of the coin. I believe very deeply in this concept: your art is your business. At the same time, you have to create your art in order to have a business. That means finding pockets of deep work time which allow you to focus on nothing but writing.

For some of you, the business side comes naturally. For others, it doesn’t. And that’s perfectly okay. There’s an easy solution for both writing brains: help. There are amazing author assistants out there who are trained to help you manage the business side of things. I think it’s very important to find people to work with who are fun, flexible, and dedicated to helping you be your best.

For those who think the cost of hiring help is insurmountable, let me say this: words equal money. The more time you spend writing and creating, the faster your business will grow. An author assistant can help you automate, create workflows, and in general free up your precious time so you can write. They can do as much or as little as you need. Even in only an hour a week, they can draft a monthly newsletter and program your social media for the week, and you can spend that time writing. It adds up. Say you can write 1,000 words in an uninterrupted hour. That hour a week you offload some business on an author assistant can add up to 52,000 words in a year. I think that’s worth $25 a week, don’t you?

Even if you don’t have the extra money to spend, you can get help. Contact your local college English department. They are always looking to place interns. These incredible young adults are tech savvy, social media aware, and bring so much to the table. They get first-hand experience in writing and publishing, and you get that extra hour a week for your deep work.

We all want to be more productive. Proactive planning, comprehensive workflows, and finding deep work time will get you there.

Here are some tools to get you started:

Freedom – the gold standard for tuning out distractions by shutting down your internet

Dlvr.it – automating social media feed systems from your blog

Author Rx – Mel Jolly has a ton of resources on finding author assistants

Cal Newport – The author of DEEP WORK, a book you must read

Asana and Wunderlist – Workflow task managers

Buffer – The best service for scheduling and sending links out to the world

Via: JT Ellison

    

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

By J.T. Ellison

Hi, friends! It’s me, The Kerr. Did you have a good week? It was a bit crazy in our neck of the woods. Between the RITA® nomination for FIELD OF GRAVES and THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE hitting #2 on both the New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller lists, there was much hoopla here in Nashville! Top that off with warmer spring weather, and I’d have to give this week a 10.

Without further ado, here are your links for the week:

What I’m Eating

This week, I’m all about quick, flavorful proteins. Lately, I’ve been on a roasted chicken thighs kick (because you can get a big pack of boneless/skinless thighs at Costco for very little dough). I preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, sprinkle them with a spice rub, and roast for 40 minutes. Pair it with a salad or green vegetable and boom: instant healthy meal!

Variety is the spice of life, and I like use different spice rubs on my chicken. This week I used Primal Palate BBQ Rub. And whoa!!! Talk about a flavor explosion!

I wouldn’t say this chicken tastes like BBQ. In fact, I noticed this rub has 11 herbs and spices . . . if you catch my drift.

BTW, Primal Palate spices are the bomb. I use the Adobo Seasoning on everything—it’s especially good on sautéed veggies (and bonus: these make great gifts for the cook in your life).

What I’m Playing

I love Lady Gaga, and I don’t care who knows it. When I need to motivate myself to get up and get moving, I play “Just Dance.” Because who can’t dance when listening to Lady Gaga!?

What I’m Reading

Confession: I’m not into “diet books,” but I am trying to be more conscious about what I’m put in my body. This week I’m reading Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf, and I’m finding it pretty fascinating.

Robb talks about why we humans eat and crave food the way we do, and how we can become more conscious eaters who consume foods that our bodies can not only handle, but benefit from.

I’ve just started it, but I like it so far!

What I’m Watching

If, like blood types, we could be categorized with Humor Types, mine would be Tina Fey. On any given lunch break, I am probably watching 30 Rock. Because I am a sucker for smart and goofy physical comedy.

Please go watch it. The end.

Dog of the Week

Crockett refuses to leave the bed

This week’s award goes to my greyhound, Crockett, who loves the bed so much that he refuses to leave it . . . even after the bed is made. He is a goofball.

That’s it from me! Go forth and cook some chicken, pat a dog, stop to smell the roses, and we’ll chat again soon.

Warmly,
The Kerr

Via: JT Ellison

    

3 Ways an Author Assistant Can Help

By J.T. Ellison

I’ve had the privilege (and infinite pleasure!) of working with J.T. for two years, and I’d say we have a pretty good working relationship. Sure, our Type-A personalities jive (confession: our first bonding moment was a joke about nesting folders—yes, we are nerds). But maybe there’s a little more to maintaining a good working relationship than a shared love of hyper-organization.

As a job title, the “author assistant” is still fairly new. In the past ten years, along with the rising popularity of social media and the Internetz, authors have worn more hats than ever before and write for more platforms than ever before—honestly, a more appropriate term for author these days would be Chief Content Officer of their own small businesses.

As I discussed the last time I was here, the crux of my job is increase the amount of time J.T. has to write. I’ve noticed a few ways we assistants can successfully make that happen.

1. Anticipate

I’ve been in the book business for the better part of a decade, so I’m pretty familiar with the life cycle of a book, from the idea stage to the pure ecstasy of holding the finished product in your hands.

But you know what?

There are a. lot. of. steps. in making a book come to life. So many that it’s easy to forget a few, even if you’ve done it a frillion times.

Publishing is the ultimate plate-spinning job. At any given moment, J.T. is writing a book, editing another, and promoting yet another, so it’s crucial we keep all the plates a-spinning, even when we’re tired.

How do we do it? We anticipate.

It’s crucial to anticipate every part of the book-making process because books aren’t created in a vacuum. Authors, project editors, managing editors, copy editors, proofreaders, production managers, cover artists, printers, shippers, sales people, distributors, store owners: it takes a huge network of folks to pull everything together by release date. Any snag in the process means that someone else down the line is delayed in doing their job, which results in a Lucy-and-Ethel-at-the-Chocolate-Factory kind of moment.

this is the opposite of what you want in book-making

This is the opposite of what you want in book-making.

And in order to anticipate properly, J.T. and I are constantly referring to our workflows.

Y’all. Workflows have saved my hide more than once. Not even kidding.

When we decided workflows would be part of our lives, J.T. and I sat down and outlined our mosts common tasks: book tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks. At our staff meeting each week, we review where we are in each workflow and adjust accordingly (they’re great accountability tools, for sure).

Workflows ensure we’re on the right track. They take the guesswork out of where we need to go. And they help us decide how to pace ourselves and how to fill our calendars so we’re not running around with our hair on fire.

2. Delegate

Before I showed up, J.T. did everything by herself: write books, edit books, promote books, schedule interviews, design newsletters, curate social media, coordinate travel, and more. She wrote twelve books doing all the things before she handed off some of it to me.

When did she sleep? I don’t know. It still blows my mind.

And J.T. is good at everything—I’m serious. I’m not just saying this because she’s going to read it later. She has a Midas-like touch, and she is just good at stuff.

But just because she’s good at something doesn’t mean she should be doing it.

Delegation is a tricky thing. It takes trust to do it well, and I’m grateful to have hers (again, Type-A girl understands it’s not easy to relinquish control). Because in order to make this work, in order for me to have a job, in order for J.T. to have more writing time, she has to let go of some things. I’ve taken over the design work and website. I coordinate media inquiries and her appearances.

Sometimes, would it be easier for J.T. to answer one of those media inquiries herself? Sure. But that could lead her down the rabbit hole of “Oh, this will just take a minute” and an hour later find herself on Wikipedia reading about Vlad the Impaler (Has this happened? I’ll never tell…).

When everyone is clear on what their job is, and sticks to it, the machine runs more smoothly.

3. (over) Communicate

At some point, you’ve probably wished for the ability to read minds. (and other times have been grateful no one can!)

Human beings are wired differently, and we’ve all had different experiences. What’s obvious to some wouldn’t occur to others in a million years.

The foundation of any good relationship is communication, ensuring both parties are on the same wavelength, and that includes mine and J.T.’s. On a weekly basis, I guarantee we’ll have at least one “Who’s on First” moment because someone is partially explaining what’s going on in her head. When this happens, the other will say “USE YOUR WORDS!” as a nicer code for:

For the small things, for the big things, for the things you don’t understand, or even for the ones you do—say something. It’s better than saying nothing and being confused.

Or duplicating work. 😑

Or doing the wrong thing. 😡

Your author has limited time. Clearly say what you mean, and outline what you’re working on or how to reach a goal. Everyone will thank you.

How do you maintain positive relationships, creative or otherwise? Any wisdom to share?

Via: JT Ellison

    

3 Ways an Author Assistant Can Help You Stay Sane

By J.T. Ellison

I’ve had the privilege (and infinite pleasure!) of working with J.T. for two years, and I’d say we have a pretty good working relationship. Sure, our Type-A personalities jive (confession: our first bonding moment was a joke about nesting folders—yes, we are nerds). But maybe there’s a little more to maintaining a good working relationship between than a shared love of hyper-organization.

As a job title, the “author assistant” is still fairly new. In the past ten years, along with the rising popularity of social media and the Internetz, authors have worn more hats than ever before and write for more platforms than ever before—honestly, a more appropriate term for author these days would be Chief Content Officer of their own small businesses.

As I discussed the last time I was here, the crux of my job is increase the amount of time J.T. has to write. I’ve noticed a few ways we author assistants can successfully make that happen.

1. Anticipate

I’ve been in the book business for the better part of a decade, so I’m pretty familiar with the life cycle of a book, from the idea stage to the pure ecstasy of holding the finished product in your hands.

But you know what?

There are a. lot. of. steps. in making a book come to life. So many that it’s easy to forget a few, even if you’ve done it a frillion times.

Publishing is the ultimate plate-spinning job. At any given moment, J.T. is writing a book, editing another, and promoting yet another, so it’s crucial we keep all the plates a-spinning, even when we’re tired.

How do we do it? We, fellow author assistant, can anticipate.

It’s crucial to anticipate every part of the book-making process because books aren’t created in a vacuum. Authors, project editors, managing editors, copy editors, proofreaders, production managers, cover artists, printers, shippers, sales people, distributors, store owners: it takes a huge network of folks to pull everything together by release date. Any snag in the process means that someone else down the line is delayed in doing their job, which results in a Lucy-and-Ethel-at-the-Chocolate-Factory kind of moment.

this is the opposite of what you want in book-making

This is the opposite of what you want in book-making.

And in order to anticipate properly, J.T. and I are constantly referring to our workflows.

Y’all. Workflows have saved my hide more than once. Not even kidding.

When we decided workflows would be part of our lives, J.T. and I sat down and outlined our mosts common tasks: book tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks. At our staff meeting each week, we review where we are in each workflow and adjust accordingly (they’re great accountability tools, for sure).

Workflows ensure we’re on the right track. They take the guesswork out of where we need to go. And they help us decide how to pace ourselves and how to fill our calendars so we’re not running around with our hair on fire.

2. Delegate

Before I showed up, J.T. did everything by herself: write books, edit books, promote books, schedule interviews, design newsletters, curate social media, coordinate travel, and more. She wrote twelve books doing all the things before she handed off some of it to me.

When did she sleep? I don’t know. It still blows my mind.

And J.T. is good at everything—I’m serious. I’m not just saying this because she’s going to read it later. She has a Midas-like touch, and she is just good at stuff.

But just because she’s good at something doesn’t mean she should be doing it.

Delegation is a tricky thing. It takes trust to do it well, and I’m grateful to have hers (again, Type-A girl understands it’s not easy to relinquish control). Because in order to make this work, in order for me to have a job, in order for J.T. to have more writing time, she has to let go of some things. I’ve taken over the design work and website. I coordinate media inquiries and her appearances.

Sometimes, would it be easier for J.T. to answer one of those media inquiries herself? Sure. But that could lead her down the rabbit hole of “Oh, this will just take a minute” and an hour later find herself on Wikipedia reading about Vlad the Impaler (Has this happened? I’ll never tell…).

When everyone is clear on what the author’s job is and what the assistant’s job is, and sticks to it, the machine runs more smoothly.

3. (over) Communicate

At some point, you’ve probably wished for the ability to read minds. (and other times have been grateful no one can!)

Human beings are wired differently, and we’ve all had different experiences. What’s obvious to some wouldn’t occur to others in a million years.

The foundation of any good relationship is communication, ensuring both parties are on the same wavelength, and that includes author and author assistant. On a weekly basis, I guarantee J.T. and I will have at least one “Who’s on First” moment because someone is only partially explaining what’s going on in her head. When this happens, the other will say “USE YOUR WORDS!” as a nicer code for:

For the small things, for the big things, for the things you don’t understand, or even for the ones you do—say something. It’s better than saying nothing and being confused.

Or duplicating work. 😑

Or doing the wrong thing. 😡

Your author has limited time. Clearly say what you mean, and outline what you’re working on or how to reach a goal. Everyone will thank you.

How do you maintain positive relationships, creative or otherwise? Any wisdom to share?

Via: JT Ellison

    

Page 12 of 73« First...1011121314...203040...Last »