5 Tips for Authors to Keep Writing-Related Tasks Straight

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days now available. See details below.

I’ll share what I do to keep the writing, marketing, financial, pay-it-forward, and event tasks straight. I hope other authors will share what they do. Now that I have eight books in different stages of publishing, I’d welcome more suggestions.

Tip 1: Make Separate Marketing Mailboxes for Each Book on Email.

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Since you’ll use these mailboxes every day, place them at the front of your mailboxes so you’re not constantly scrolling. Put them alphabetically by a title word or title’s initials.

Add sub-mailboxes that work for you. My sub-mailboxes are:

  • Ads
  • Announcements
  • Books in Store (where I keep all my purchased Kindle gift-book emails ready to forward for giveaways, contests, reviews, etc.)
  • Contests
  • Endorsers
  • Events (online and physical)
  • Guest Blogs
  • Influencers
  • Materials (bookmarks, postcards, business cards, posters, etc.)
  • Reviews
  • Winners

Drag pertinent emails into these mailboxes. When you have a question about what a blogger wants from you as a guest, you can find it quickly in the Guest Blogs emails for that book. Don’t forget to store your sent emails too so you know what you’ve submitted or agreed to.

Tip 2: Keep Logs for Certain Responsibilities.

I agreed to be the treasurer for a state chapter of an international writers’ group to pay forward help I’ve received. I’m responsible for special and yearend reports. So I keep a log in a word processor table (could use a spreadsheet) of each action I perform. Just a brief action, who, and a date. For special, monthly, or yearend reports, I don’t have to remember or hunt for what I did.

This would be good for keeping track of what you’ve done or assigned to others for a large launch party. 

Tip 3: Have Frequently Used Documents Quickly Accessible.


My husband John takes care of much of the marketing, financial, and KDP publishing tasks. We have a shared folder on Dropbox with subfolders and sub-subfolders: 

  • for each book 
    • final edited manuscript
    • long and short blurbs and bios, 
    • interview content
    • marketing documents (ad and tweet content)
    • memes
  • one for all books 
    • headshot
    • financial spreadsheets
    • all final book covers 
    • newsletter content
    • general marketing

I can quickly find the items hosts ask me to attach for my guest posts, newspaper interviews, and events. 

Tip 4: Make the Best Use of a Calendar.

Most writers put events and due dates on their calendars. Try jotting a note on the dates you’ll write a guest post, interview, or workshop. Enter a note on the date you’ll polish and send it and one on the date it goes live and you’ll promote it. Also, I enter dates I expect my guests to have sent their guest posts to me.

I live by a weekly schedule sheet I developed. When I create my schedule for the next week, my calendar helps make my job easy. I know what stages of projects I need to schedule. I don’t worry about ending up in a crunch.

Tip 5: Use Checklists for Repeated Tasks.

Writers usually have blogging or other tasks they do each week or month. I developed a checklist for putting my blog content on WordPress and promoting it. Then I don’t forget to add links, select a featured image, add tags, or who I’ve promoted it to after it’s published. 

What tips do you have to keep all your tasks straight?

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

How to Evaluate Your Creative Idea Before Presenting It to the Sharks

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn.” —Charles Brower

Great White Shark

At work, at home, or while volunteering, we are faced with presenting our creative solutions to sharks: spouse, boss, leader, children, city council, whomever. Many times our solutions are rejected, because, well, they’re bad ideas.

We can avoid championing bad ideas by putting our solutions through a checklist before selling them to the sharks. Answers to the following questions will determine whether your creative solution has merit.


Creative Solution Checklist


Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nature of the Solution – the description of the idea.

  • Is the idea simple?
  • Can you summarize the idea in a few clear and concise sentences?
  • Will the idea solve the problem completely or partially?
  • Is the idea a permanent or temporary solution?
  • Is the solution affordable?

Reception of the Solution – the way others will react to the idea.

  • Could average people on the street accept it?
  • Has a co-worker said he wishes he’d thought of the idea?
  • Will the people involved be able to accept the changes the solution requires?
  • Would God be pleased?

Results of the Solution – the noble value of the idea.

  • Will the solution increase production or efficiency?
  • Will the solution improve quality of life or quality of a product?
  • Will the solution improve safety, working conditions, or work methods?
  • Will the solution prevent waste, eliminate unnecessary work, conserve materials or reduce costs?



In building our dream home, I decided to incorporate arched interior transoms over two doors like I saw in a magazine. The transoms had glass and arched patterned wrought iron insets. The builder asked several times if I really wanted them. My husband, John, didn’t care if they were installed or not.

Problem: If I wanted the arched transoms, it was up to me to obtain the wrought iron insets and the half-circle glass windows.

mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Solution 1: I found online one pre-made wrought iron inset with an unappealing design. Then I discovered a company that would have to custom create the design, and the insets would cost $500 each, plus shipping. And this didn’t include the glass or our builder’s labor to form the arched frames. Total: $1,000+.

If I’d used the checklist to evaluate this solution before taking it to the sharks (husband and builder), it would have failed. It had become complicated. The cost didn’t fit into the budget. I believed the average man on the street would think the transoms were exorbitant for a bit of style. The expensive transoms had no noble use, other than they charmed me. Bad idea.

I was ready to give up the transoms.

Solution 2: John and I perused an outlet store with all kinds of home decorative items. On one aisle, we discovered patterned wrought iron half-circles the exact size we needed for $30 each. The only problem was the fleurs de lis soldered to their centers.

TransomsExcited, I summarized my solution in two sentences to shark John: “Buy these insets and remove the fleurs de lis. Purchase a round glass tabletop with the same diameter, which I saw for $60, and have it cut in half for the window sections. Total: $120.

This solution was simple. The cost was reasonable. The noble use, at that cost, was improving the artistic design of the house. John went for it.

John removed the fleurs de lis. The builder had the glass tabletop I bought cut in half for $5. John and I like how the transoms turned out.


What method do you use before you present a creative idea to your sharks?

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