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Delegating Tasks as an Author

Posted on 2014-Sep-02

by Paul Salvette

The Next Phase of Self-Publishing

Despite many naysayers during the early part of this decade, the debate has been pretty much settled that independent publishing is a viable option that can greatly benefit authors. Compared to legacy publishing, many authors prefer the creative control they have over the entire book and the ability to connect with fans directly. However, what about the financial aspects? Like any small business, there is inherent risk and no guarantee of success, but hard work does indeed pay off. Many authors are not comfortable thinking of their writing as a business, preferring to define what they do as art or passion. But like it or not, creating and publishing books is a business (a multi-billion dollar business actually), so it is beneficial to think like a businesswoman in your endeavors.

The Problem with Time

There are only 24 hours in the day. No amount of scientific and societal advancement will ever change that. In fact, despite the conveniences of the modern world, most people have less free time than in generations past. People are working longer hours than they used to, and the modern age of smartphones has made it so that anyone can get ahold of you at any time—holidays, vacations, and weekends included. Authors often talk about delivering a product that will be enjoyable during their readers’ limited free time. Authors have to compete with games, television, and movies that have substantial advertising budgets and production resources. But what about an author’s own free time? How can an author free up some of her time?

Hiring Contractors

Working with contractors is typically done by an author because they believe that they would not be able to do the job themselves and that these specialists can add value to their work. Contractors are paid a fixed or hourly fee for their services. Contractors typically employed by authors include:

  • Cover Designers
  • Editors/Proofreaders
  • Formatters
  • PR Special1ists

Often, many indie authors will try to do all these tasks themselves when starting out—it’s part of the indie, DIY ethos. Beginning indie authors will also hire out contractors because they feel the task would be too challenging to take on themselves. However, once your writing and sales have reached a certain level and your cash flow can support, you may want to consider hiring these services out to free up more time for your bigger goals and objectives. The more tasks you can hire out, the more time you will have to focus on more important tasks such as writing and developing a larger fan base.

Forming a Company and Hiring Staff

I am often surprised from our successful clients when they contact us directly about formatting. These are some very big names, and I figure they would prefer to delegate the task of coordinating with the formatting guys to one of their staff. Often these big-name authors are workaholic, one-woman shows. I have no idea how they have time to handle every aspect of publishing and marketing their books (perhaps they do not sleep or are robots). My hat is off to them, but it may be beneficial to add some team members.

If you are doing well and are short on free time, you may want to consider hiring full-time staff. Staff are different than contractors, because you are not just paying a company or individual for a specific service. Your staff will understand your objectives and brand much better than a contractor ever would. Many successful authors hire personal assistants, and just having one dedicated and motivated staff can make a huge difference. Many personal assistants that work with authors are avid readers, so you may be able to hire someone from your fan base.

Although, like any management job, it is important that you clearly communicate your priorities and long-term objectives to your staff. No employee wants to mess up at work, but often employees are not clear on what the boss wants. As we used to say in the Navy, “There are no bad sailors, only bad leaders.” Delegation is a challenge, but the more tasks you can remove from your plate the better off you will be.

Hiring an employee is a big step and there are certain legal obligations that come along with it. Please consult the laws of your country/state/province regarding employment. There are some things that can get you in legal trouble, so please pay particular attention to the following:

  • Laws regarding overtime and maximum hours per week
  • Income taxes for your employees
  • Taxes associated with social security, Medicaid, etc.
  • Providing healthcare for your employees (if required)

It is also recommended that you incorporate as a private company (called an LLC in many countries). This will prevent you from being sued for your personal assets. Limiting the liability and conducting everything in a legal manner is essential, and hiring a local lawyer to help set up your company is a good step that many authors have taken.

Label: Self-Publishing

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