Academy for Wayward Authors: Use a Not-To-Do List to Transform Your Publishing Business Potential

Why your not-to-do list matters as much as your to-do list

We are fourteen weeks into this year, and now you bring up planning? The reason is simple: if you’re a planner, you planned, and you’ve got a plan based on how you thought at the beginning of the year. If you’re not a planner, there is no plan to disrupt, and you’re merrily rolling along. In both cases, what changed is you.

We did some challenging introspection, and with that change came the need to adjust plans or make a plan. We spent the first quarter looking at you and where you are mentally. Without change between your ears, there won’t be change elsewhere.

If you shift your thinking, it will be no surprise that you scrap prior plans. But that’s not what today’s article is about. We will take a one-week break from your financial training to discuss planning. We are going to talk about what you shouldn’t do.

In a previous career, I worked with private equity firms. The best ones understood the power of NO. Too often, the latest hot trend gets the herd in a froth, and you feel you’ll get left out of the next big thing. See the bandwagon jump on!

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In private equity, the best firms understood their investment thesis and what value they added to an investment and then stuck to it. They stayed in the lane they knew. 99% of the time, they would say no. Only one out of every one hundred deals they looked at would be acquired. Sometimes, even after getting far down the road where lawyers were engaged and money was being spent, they would see something that wasn’t in line with what they wanted and would say—no.

Did they miss out on some tremendous opportunities? Absolutely, and those stuck out because they were so big. But that one winner looked like a hundred losers, and by missing out on that one good one, they also missed out on hundreds of bad investments.

I’ll share what I’ve observed about the most successful authors. Most eventually create a substantial not-to-do list.

NOT TO DO: social media except to support their community.

NOT TO DO: spending too much time in the author community focused on drama and the latest hiccup on Amazon.

NOT TO DO: waste time helping others who won’t do the work.

The list gets longer as you mature in your career. The earlier you start your not-to-do list, the more time you will win back.

The English rowing coach that led England to Gold in the Olympics had a simple driving principle: “Will it make the boat go faster?”

You can quickly build a NOT TO DO list by evaluating everything you do by the idea: does this help me build a cumulative advantage in publishing? To simplify this further, does it help with funds or fans? If you have to think about it too long, it belongs on the NOT TO DO list.

I NEED to learn this new social media platform.

I NEED to post X times a day.

Unless you already see these things working for you, the likely place for them is on the NOT TO DO list.

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This doesn’t stop at the perimeter of your business. What things in your personal or family life are blocking your dream of writing full-time, or if you are doing it already, are stopping you from going to the next level?

What is at the top of your TO-DO list? Write. Successful authors write. They write to produce sellable works. They correspond to get better at their profession. Is the first thing you do getting your words in? Is this business your top priority?

My clients track words and typically produce around 700,000 words a year. Not all of that ends up published, but it all goes to the greater cause of making them better writers. For most, it isn’t. They put others’ priorities before theirs.

Start today with your own DO NOT DO list. Eliminate these time-sucking, soul-crushing behaviors.

PS: If you didn’t know, I created a little reminder system for your planning. Go to this link and complete the survey, and I’ll send you a series of emails that will remind you of your plan.

Read: Calculate Author Royalties Kept (ARK) for an Eye-Opening Business Evaluation