Twenty Percent Activities

Are you an author entrepreneur (someone who writes and tries to make a living off of their writing)? As an authorpreneur, you have to be very careful time management. In this way, you’re no different than any self-employed individual. However, there is one aspect which is unique to our time-consuming activities, and it’s vital that you understand it.

Over my short career as a writer and self-publisher (with six published books to my name) all the while, balancing the management of another couple of unrelated businesses, I have learned that all your author activities can be categories as one of the two following types:

A 20% Activity, or an 80% Activity.

In other words, you should be spending 80% of your time on one type of activity and the other 20% on the other type of activities. To be successful, you must determine whether an activity is one of those which belongs in the 20% basket or 80% basket.

So how do you determine this?

There are all sorts of formulas suggested by others to apply to and categorize each activity. But they complicate what should be a pretty simple process. I constructed this graph to make it simple:

How’s that for simple?

“Well,” you say, “what about ___(Fill-in-the-blank)___? Surely that’s not a 20% activity, is it?” The answer is, “yes!” Everything which doesn’t involve, writing/editing/and publishing your next book is a 20% activity. This includes: conversing with your cover artist, promoting the launch of your new book, even corresponding with your readers (either directly or via social media).

In other words, all activities except writing your next book, are less important (overall) than writing your next book.

Why is this so important?
It’s so important to identify and be aware of which is which, because it is so easy to reverse these two numbers: spending 80% of your time on non-writing activities. In fact, writing this article is a 20% activity, and it chips away at my limited time to write & publish my next book.

The most crucial point is that, writing your next book is your highest earning activity. You could literally hire others to take care of all of your 20% activities for you (some successful authors do), but you cannot hire out the writing of your next book, unless of course your name is James Peterson.

How much are you worth?
I sat down and punched the numbers–I’m a bit of a numbers nerd, and I found out that my Writing Wage is between $50 to over $100 per hour, depending on the success of the book I’m writing. Can you say you’d earn anything similar for any of your 20% activities? You see, other than promotional activities, I’m guessing none of your 20% activities actually earn you any money. But writing your next book will.

How to calculate your Writing Wage?
First I calculated my total number of hours to write my last couple of books (based on my very low average of 500 words per hour). That is the total amount of time to create my first draft, to re-write a second time, then to re-write again after sending to my betas and my editor, then the final re-write after the proofreader, and finally compiling to book form for upload. I took this number and divided it into what each book should be worth in one year’s time in royalties. I estimated $10,000 on the low side and $20,000 on the high side (after costs of editing, covers, etc.). This gave me my “writing wage.” What’s yours? Go ahead and calculate it.

To review, the next time you start into an author activity, as yourself, the following questions:
1. Is this a 80% activity?
2. Will I earn the equivalent of my Writing Wage (as much as $100 per hour) to do this activity?

If your answer to both of these is “No!” then don’t do it. Instead, shouldn’t you focus on your 80% activity instead?

I think I’ll take my own advice and get writing!

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