People complain about never having enough time. But really, it’s not about how much time you have—it’s about what you do with the limited time that you have. It’s about priorities and planning. We all have 24 hours in the day. What will you do with yours? Watch cat videos on YouTube…or finally write that book you’ve been meaning to?
You may start planning to write a book when you have a lot of time available. But life always seems to get in the way: new commitments suddenly pop up and you’re left with no time again. Is it such a herculean task to write a book while working full time?
Well, time is elusive for anyone with an aspiration to write a book, especially when you are encumbered by the daily grind: a 9-to-5 job, family, hobbies, school, and whatnot. Carving out a few moments to collect your thoughts is certainly challenging, but it’s not impossible. Nobody understands this better than me. Despite having a full-time job at IBM, I have still managed to write two books, with one of them currently published, The Complete Freelancer Guide.
I managed this with the help of several freelancers. In fact, I leverage freelancers so much that I’ve founded a startup called Peer Hustle, focused on local freelancers and the sharing economy.
In this post, I’ll share some of the methods I’ve used to balance having a day job with several complicated and booming side hustles while still finding time to write two books.
Sound too good to be true?
I promise it’s not! Here’s how I manage everything and how you can do the same.
Step 1: Break Each Task into Manageable Parts
Create separate smaller tasks for each major to-do item of the book. This makes everything seem more doable—instead of having a single huge challenge staring you in the face, you have several bite-size ones that you can accomplish and feel good about.
Here’s an example:
- Write Book
- Dedication Page
- Talking points
- Edit Book
- Review Book
- Typeset Book
- Design Book Cover
- Front Cover
- Back Cover
- Market Book
- Advance reviews
- Online and social media promotions
Step 2: Outsource Most of the Tasks
Assuming you have a day job like me and have other side hustles you’re working on, you don’t have all the time in the world to write a book. Never fear! There is still hope. Outsource every single task to freelancers so you don’t have to bear the burden of writing (much less learning to do book design) by yourself, eating into your precious time. Manage it all like a project manager.
This will ensure you can write a book while having a full-time job and still keeping some space for side hustles.
You will be working on the book an hour or less each day to manage its progress.
Step 3: Create an Outline of the Book
Since you have some ideas on your mind regarding the book, start with creating a chapter-by-chapter outline. Record every single idea that pops up in your mind and integrate them into the outline.
Next, outline each subchapter with your ideas. Write talking points for each subchapter. The idea is to convey your thoughts in a concise manner that will help you when recording an audio file (Step 4).
Step 4: Outsource the Writing
Get an audio recorder and record your ideas by talking them out. Rather than scribbling your thoughts in a notebook or typing in a word processor, you can save time by simply talk into a recorder to capture your ideas on every point. This way, you keep all your ideas handy and never have to worry about pen and paper. Nothing is worse than having your ideas scattered all over the place. The best thing about recording your voice is that you can record ideas practically anywhere, even while on the move.
This saves you time when you are facing that inevitable crunch of priorities and obligations.
After you’re done, hire a freelancer on a freelancing site like Freelancer.com or Upwork to transcribe the audio files into a Word document for you, subchapter by subchapter. Outsourcing frees up your resources and increases efficiency and output so that you can refocus on business as usual.
In addition, it’s very cost effective. You can find freelancers or services that will provide transcripts of audio files at cost of a dollar or less per minute of audio.
Step 5: Outsource the Editing and Production
Just because you have a transcript of all your audio files doesn’t mean you’re done. Once you have all the Word files ready, you’ll need a freelance editor. That editor’s job is to take the manuscript, edit it for grammar, and convert it into book-style prose.
You cannot cut corners when it comes to writing a quality book. So your focus should be not on polishing the manuscript yourself, but on finding the right editor. You want to outsource the editing part to an experienced professional who can edit the manuscript for consistency.
Next, you want to give a facelift to your book. While Word can produce good-enough book layouts, you want your book to look its best. So it’s a good idea to hire a professional typesetter to turn the final edited book into a professional-looking manuscript by leveraging software like Adobe InDesign. The InDesign freelancer should be an expert in typesetting books for publishers, whether print on-demand services like Ingram Spark and CreateSpace or formal book publishers. Professionals are up to date with the latest developments in publishing and can harness prior experience to speed up the process and enhance the quality of your book.
Step 6: Outsource the Graphic Design
A picture says a thousand words, and a great book is not about the written word alone. The design of your book cover should mirror the tone of your content and be attractive and inviting. Your book is your product, which reflects your brand. So you want it to wear a professional look.
You’ll want to hire a graphic designer to create the front and back covers of your book. The cover says a lot about the contents of your book. An enticing cover design can attract buyers—and it has to look good both in thumbnail format and at full size. The back layout is equally important to the front design, while your choice of color sets readers’ expectations (pink books aren’t often thrillers, for instance). A clunky cover, on the other hand, will not spark interest and could even create an impression that it was a hurried-up job.
A hard-to-read blurb screams “unprofessional,” making readers doubt their decision to pick up your book. The adage is true, people buy books based on covers.
Step 7: Outsource the Marketing
Marketing is a crucial part of book promotion. It’s about spreading the word about your work to the right audience. Now that you have outsourced the writing and design part of your book to a team of freelancers, it’s time to hire yet another freelancer to promote your book before your launch.
The best approach to reach out to your potential audience is through blogs. You can use software like Pitchbox to find great blogs in your niche to reach out. Your book needs visibility, and these blogs are a handy tool to reach out to book lovers, amplify your efforts, and create buzz about your work. You want a professional to pitch articles and blogs and write guest blogs on your behalf to increase visibility and draw targeted readers to your author site.
The idea is to get your book in the hands of people who would be happy to make word-of-mouth recommendations to an eager audience waiting to explore the pages of a new work. The intent is to gain maximum exposure and get your name out there.
Every writer also needs an email list to get the attention you deserve. It’s important if you aspire to publish a book, because it lets you reach your readers directly. Create a mailing list using software like Mailchimp to send out emails to people interested in reviewing your book. Email is the best way to build an engaged audience and create excitement about your next work.
Invite people to subscribe to your newsletter and provide remarkable content to engage your tribe. The idea is to keep them in the loop every time you launch a new work. It’s a good idea to ask for feedback, which can help you develop loyal fans. This will spark interest in the people who want to hear from you and become invested in the successful outcome of your book.
Putting It All Together
Using these steps, I have been able to write a book while having a full-time job and several other side hustles.
If your book is still in the dream stage, it’s time to take action. Perhaps you have been struggling with finding the time to pen your thoughts. Well, you will never come out of your time crunch if your seeming lack of time overwhelms you! Hiring freelancers you can outsource and delegate tasks to is the right step forward if you want to write a book while working full time.
I currently manage a team of 12 freelancers, all focused on different tasks. So rather than having only 24 hours in a day, this gives me the ability to work as if I have 288 hours in a day. That’s the power of outsourcing and delegating tasks.
For more on how to write when you’re crunched for time, check out these articles: