A Confident Crisis

“Ok, I’ll go have a shower – perhaps that’ll get me going. “
En route from office to bathroom I stop and address the dust motes swirling around in an early sunbeam:“think I’ll have a coffee first”.

Downstairs, in the kitchen as I faff around, MCV (my critic’s voice) makes itself heard. Didn’t think it would take long before it made an appearance on stage.
“You’ve not written a word; you said you’d do three chapters a week. You’re still on the first. You’ve not written a word.”
“I know I know, but I’m stuck. I can’t think of anything to say – so get off my back. Anyway, I’m just going to iron these few things.”
“You…iron? You don’t know one end from t’other. Can you actually remember where it is? Have you unpacked it yet? You’re only been here two years now. Just how desperate can you get?”
Well pretty desperate actually.

This silent conversation that I have with MCV has been going on now for a few days. I find myself in a pother of procrastination. I have work ahead of me; deadlines to meet; people to see. For once I actually have stuff to write for which people want to pay and I find myself la-la-ing around, titivating, fiddling, fancifying even ironing (in a half-hearted sort of way)…anything to stop myself going up the stairway to hell – aka my office. Even if I do get there I gaze out of the window and the sea twinkling benignly in the sun invites me to cast off a clout or two and go for a paddle. I’m not deceived though. I know from bitter experience that emerging from an icy dousing in the North Sea is not like Venus rising from the waves in her scallop shell. No, it’s more akin to a frozen turkey lugged from the freezer on Christmas Eve. I did wonder at the time why all those kids wore wet-suits whilst I frolicked in a modest swim-skirt…but I digress…again.

I usually have a number of tricks to overcome the occasional slice of procrastination – make a game of it; do 1 minute’s worth and then stop; analyse the “why”; divide and conquer…I could go on but I’d rather you bought my book (see sidebar and sorry about the plug).

Actually this isn’t a dose of the put-offs. It is what my mother called “a phase she’s going through” in response to my rather feeble adolescent rebellion that consisted entirely of teaching my eyebrows the trick of independent suspension so that I could flick just the one to create a quizzical, faintly supercilious effect.It’s a skill I’ve cherished all my life.

Am I having a “forty is the new sixty” life crisis or do I mean “sixty is the new forty” life crisis? Either way it’s a pile of goose-poo. I can tell you with confidence that I’m just having a crisis of confidence and I have had those since I was knee-high. To quote my mother again, this time on the subject of puppy fat, “it’ll disappear when you grow up.”
For the record I’m on my fourth diet this year alone.

However, I have a solution.

Stuck for words? Can’t seem to put pen to paper? Rather do anything, anything at all but write?

You need…A BLOG, probably the most effective displacement activity in the world.

Kindle Revisited

My exclusive 90-day deal with Kindle Prime for Time for Your Life will soon be up and I thought now might be a good time for a bit of reflection.

The original idea for Time for Your Life was to start to build up a library of articles and e-books on my business website http://www.thecoachingcorner.co.uk to support my coaching activities. I never expected to sell many copies – just as well really as it turns out.

The book garnered 3×5* reviews on UK Amazon and 1×5* on Amazon.com (Thank you Gwen Bristol) but I have sold very few copies through Kindle. On the other hand I have negotiated three-year licence agreements with a couple of companies for it to be available to the staff via the company intranets. This alone has more than covered my costs and will keep me in jelly beans for a good few months. Both those agreements came about because I sent free PDF copies to Human Resource Directors and two of them got in touch with me. The next step is for it to be available as a PDF via an on-line training and personal deveopment resource website: http://www.glasstap.com. This will expose the book to a completely different market.

I also had some picture postacards printed with the front cover of the book on one side and message/address space on the other. These I sent out to my past and present individual coaching clients. As far as I know none of those has resulted in any Kindle sales but I have sold PDFs.

So what have I learned?

1. Publishing an e-book takes very little time if you have the tech skills or the right people behind you. However marketing an e-book and getting sales takes a very great deal of time. I haven’t put nearly enough time into marketing. I had a marketing plan but seriously underestimated what time it would need – particularly finding, getting and keeping active on different book forums, blogs etc.

2. Pricing an ebook is a bit of a thorny question for me. I didn’t do enough homework on prices and so, in comparison with other books that appear to be of similar content, Time for Your Life may look pricey. £6.00 as opposed to the £1.99ers. Perception is all here. I have a view that if something is offered for sale at what seems to be a very low price then I have very low expectations of it and am more likely to pass on it. I also hold to the belief that you can always lower a price but if you start low and then try to go up in price, you pretty soon piss off a section of your customer base.Maybe I need to review these beliefs…I’m not sure.

3. I’ve mentioned this in other posts but for non-fiction it still may be better to bite the bullet and go for hardcopy publishing. I’ve been asked so many times for a hard copy or “proper” book as many have called it. I think this is an issue of disposable v for keeps.

4. I’m not totally convinced of any advantage Kindle Prime offers for this type of book other than the % rate. With hindsight I would have preferred to have offered the book from the get-go in as many ways/formats as possible.

So just something to chew on this Friday morning. I’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts/experiences – perhaps between us we should put an ebook out on the definitive way to self-publish.

Anyhoo – signing off for the weekend which is predicted to be warm and sunny – so have a good one.

Oh to be a polymath now that April’s here

Today is a day-job day or rather it’s a get-all-the-office-stuff-sorted day because the end of the financial year is nigh. I love my day job but loathe the pernickity admin that clings to it – in particular THE ACCOUNTS. I haven’t done them since last September and there are little heaps of paper, post-its, bank statements, receipts and parking tickets (all carefully filed not piled please note) at various strategic points in the house. Now I know I’m Mrs Time for Your Life and hence the world-renown expert on taking control of your life and the stuff in it but give me a break – I’m half human after all and entitled to the odd bad fur day.

Anyhoo, today is the day I round up and corrall all this paperwork before converting it into finance speak. Therein lies the rub. When it comes to numbers and maths my head is in a dark place where it was never intended to be. Even the calculator takes on a life of its own as it flashes, blinks and spews up impossible answers.

HOW much tax? That’s half the national debt. It’s no wonder I’m in my very own, truly personal triple-dip recession. The machine is no more helpful when it comes to income either – £0.0012 for a year’s work or did I just press the square root button?

Then I have the dilemma – use an accountant or fill in the forms myself. It’s quite possible the accountant’s fees will exceed my income so I’ve resolved to tackle the beast that is an income tax return myself. I know before I start I’ll be totally befuddled by the multiple choice questions and propositions “if you answered X to question A then go to section 2 and answer question Z. However if you did not answer X…blah blah.”

After that, assuming I survive, there’s another side to my financial world. My measly ISA (that’s a tax free savings account)comes to the end of its special for one year only interest rate. Now I have to trawl the internet to find an ISA that is kind enough to let me access my own dosh when I want to and yet pays me something more than £0.00012 in monthly interest equating to an APR of 0.5%. When it comes to finance – it’s a foreign language.

It’s no good going in person to a bank and asking for help. I’ve tried this and was met by a brightly smiling infant in uniform who told me the so-and-so bank has sooooo many products it’s impossible to tell me the interest rate of their one and only internet-only, instant access ISA. Instead, she tippitoed off to print out a list of all the products. When she returned, limping a little under the weight of the paper, she thrust it into my arms and with another bright smile wished me “have a nice day”.

A well known Anglo Saxon phrase came to mind ending in “off”.

I wish I’d acquired a broader education – if it wasn’t history, french or english literature I didn’t want to know. How much easier life must be for those characters who, like a sponge, absorb all the learning and knowledge thrown at them so that, in real life, they can fill in a tax return without spending the next three months in therapy.

So methinks no literary pearls from me for a day or two but y’all have a nice day now.

To-do or not To-do – that is the question

Yesterday I continued my boxroom de-clutter in preparation for the Big Weekend Decorating Push and now the flotsam and jetsam of my life thus far is destined for the tip, the recycling centre and the charity shop.I’m sure I should write something deep and meaningful about that, about the post-apocalyptic symbolism of a broken relationship…but I don’t do deep and meaningful.

However, during this epic struggle with the evil “I might need it some day” Hydra, that kept subverting my good intentions to clear, clear, clear, my faithful vacuum cleaner snorted up one too many doses of dust, plaster and paperclips and is now moribund, only occasionally emitting an asthmatic wheeze.

I administered the last rites, abandoned it on the landing and trotted off to add ‘purchase new hoover-upper” on my to-do list – but said list was missing. I was desolate. One of my greatest pleasures in life is adding and crossing off items on my to-do list. There’s a technique to it, you see. The new items are added neatly, in standard Marian Richardson style handwriting – clear, open letters, no fancy loops or curlicues. The crossing-off items require different styles according to the degree of detestability of the task. So, really hateful or boring items get the slow, tongue-in-mouth-corner heavy scoring through the offending words. The houseworky-type items get a quick devil-may-care slash , preferably with a red pen and the go and buy myself something nice items disappear from the list with a frivolous wiggly-squiggly line. I could go on, but are you still here anyway?

So where was the errant to-do list. I expected it to be on the corner of my desk (my motto is always have a hard one to hand – sorry let me clarify, I mean hard copy) but all I could see was a pile of scrap paper with scribbles all over it. Closer inspection showed it to be the list, that unseen and unsupervised by me, had spawned little illegitimate to-do’s, overnight.

Oh no! This cannot be. I am the author of the best organise your life book ever (so my friends tell me – but then five ever so tipsy ladies do not make even half a rational critic).

The to-do list – I examined it, turning one limp page after another. Clearly said list was exhausted by the weight of tasks bearing down on it. How did these 2-minuter tasks get on it? Whatever happened to dump, defer or delegate? Who put one of my latest life ambitions on it? For in my world the ideal to-do list is short, relates to the present and near future and is specific. What happened?

It’s blogging wot done it.

You see the first half hour of every day used to be dedicated to the maintenance and updating of my to-do list. Now I spend that half hour composing my blog (yes I do put some thought into these blogs – they are not the ravings of a hermit on hash). I am going to have to give serious consideration as to the re-arrangement of my day.

Can I live in the shadow of an over-long, untidy scribble of a to-do list?
It’s touch and go.

You’ll have to hang on to the cliff and wait for the next bulletin.