Time For Authors

Time can be linked to your own mortality. “Time stands still for no man.” The clock keeps ticking, placing enormous pressure on authors. It is a scary way to measure success; by others and for yourself. Whether the day trickles or slips away in a blink, you will look back and discover what you did with your time.

Most authors have full-time jobs. They say things like, “If I was a full-time author, I would get more done. I could write more books.”

It’s not true.

I have fifteen separate “To-Do Lists.” The reason I have so many, is to better keep track of marketing, books, helping authors, blogs, ideas, appointments, events, and my daily personal life.

The farther along you become as an author, the more your To-Do List will increase. On the bright side, the more you are an author, the less you have to work at punching a clock.

However, if you are not careful, being an author can be a job. These days, marketing and networking is a must. From the publishing industry point of view, these things are more important than reading and writing books. How do I know this? Go to the bestsellers list. Those that can market and network, are those who rule the industry. (Even if they are not technically authors, but rather politicians, cooks, religious figures, and reality stars.)

I spend my morning clearing out my emails, making phone calls, cleaning up my Facebook, attending meetings, and putting a minor dent in a few of my To-Do Lists. I eat breakfast and lunch while doing these things. If I have a speaking engagement or an event to attend, the entire day is usually shot.

Marketing is important. I list it as one of the four keys of every author. (Reading, Writing, Marketing, Publishing.) It’s just tough, because you begin to miss the writing part of your career.

Over the years, people have worked with me and assisted with my duties. My manager is the best business partner (and friend) I have. She has two assistants that help, but their time becomes filled. I have two assistants to help, but their time has become full. So an author then hires another and another. No matter what, my time for reading and writing is limited.

If you owned a delivery company and started out with a car, you would eventually fill it. Then, you would get a mini-van, followed by a cargo van, and then a small truck. As you continue to grow, you decide on getting more trucks and vans. More people to help. But you have not saved any time. Your company has become more efficient, but you are still dealing with the trucks, vans, employees, and the overall business.

When you are published, it seems like you are pulled in a hundred directions. The publisher, editor, PR, manager, agent, financial and marketing advisers, will all add to your To-Do List. It can be depressing, because you spent years trying to become an author, and you miss the days when you could just sit down and write a book.

Let me tell you something. Learn to enjoy and manage your time right now. If you work full-time and have only twenty minutes or an hour to write in a day, use that time productively. Because when you become a full-time author, there will be days when you have two hours for writing and days when you have no time for writing.

Learn to do multi-task, especially with reading. I’ve said this a million times, “You may not write everyday, but you better read everyday.” Reading is the biggest part of your job. (More so than writing, marketing, or publishing.)

I find time throughout the day to read. Mostly, it is ten minute “spurts.” If you have to watch TV, then read during the commercials. You can easily knock out a chapter during the commercials of Desperate House Wives, D.C. (No, I do not watch that show.)

Read when you are waiting for anything. (Doctors office, picking kids up from school, on break at work.) Check out books on CD from the library. Listen to those while in the car. Read (and listen) to multiple books throughout the day. Just find the time.

As for writing, I came up with this system many years ago. For a new book, I write only one or two chapters a day. This gives me the time to think about each chapter. When I wrote five or ten chapters, it was not my best. I put my heart and soul into writing one or two powerful chapters and walk away. My books have improved as a result.

You can make the time to write four to ten pages a day and not feel guilty that your writing is taking a backseat to everything else you have going on. When you are a full-time author, writing a new book every five months, this system will work and keep you on schedule. Marketing, networking, and reading, will always be a big part of your day, but in a more productive fashion.

When my book is being edited or looked over by my team, I start the new book. When the previous book comes back with all that lovely red ink, I work on cleaning it up. You have to make time for redrafts, or else none of your books will be your best work. If you’ve done two redrafts, then you have not spent enough time on it. (My books are re-worked at least 12 times before you will ever see it.)

Reading, writing, marketing, and publishing need your attention. These are the four keys to every author.

Looking back over the last year, how have you spent your time?

Ron Knight

If you have the time, check out a preview of my novel, “2-10” www.upauthors.com/authors/ronknight

Literary Manager: Melissa Link

Contact: melissa@scbranding.com

Ron Knight

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  1. Hello Ron,

    Thanks for your great words of advice.

    I think I’m getting the reading part under wraps.

    Just a question: Do your red-linings come back hand-written or computer format? If computer(are they Track Changes or some other form?). I’m particularly interested in how editing is being done these days and whether computers are making any in-roads.

    Thank you.

    Just curious.


  2. Hey Zak:

    I red-line my drafts, along with a few other proof readers. This turns into 4 or 5 drafts. When I send to final edit, I’m sent via computer the original document, the changes, and the final draft. Don’t ask me the format, because I do not know:) I review the three copies and make changes as needed.

    Hope that helps.

    Ron Knight