Timeline to Write & Self-Publish the Pricing Workbook for Creatives

posted on: May 21, 2019

When I began my book writing research, I was curious how long different parts of the process might take.  I really didn't find many people who provided comprehensive timelines of book writing, editing, or design processes, so I'm making this blog post for anyone else who wonders about what it might take when self-publishing.  I had no idea what to expect, how much time it would take, or what issues I might run into.  Thankfully, I have learned to expect problems, so I planned for problems, and because of that, was still able to make the deadline.

The short answer for this book: 20 Years from beginning self-employment experiences to print.

Let's break that down into more real life details.... 
The biggest thing I learned during the book writing, editing, designing, and publishing process was to make progress wherever I could, rather than waiting for one process to finalize before beginning another.  You'll notice that several of my timelines below overlap dates with other timelines, because I didn't wait for one process to end completely before beginning the next.  This made it easier to move forward on the next step even when the last was taking a while.
Book Design & Print Proofing Process (3 months):
  • May 5, 2019 - First Edition Kindle & Paperback Publicly Available on Amazon.com!
  • May 3, 2019 - Get 3rd email about spine text not being within margins.  Resist the temptation to put my fist through a wall.  Decide to scrap the spine text completely with only two days left to going live with publication.  Designer makes 4th cover without spine text.  Upload new cover.  Praying I don't get another email about spine text when it's not even there.
  • May 2, 2019 - Get 2nd error about the cover text overlapping the safe zones.  Designer tries another fix, this time with smaller font in all caps for readability.  Upload 3rd Cover with Corrections for Paperback Edition.
  • May 1, 2019 - Get 1st error message about text overlapping safe zones.  Designer tries different approach and sizing of text.  Upload 2nd Cover with Corrections for Paperback Edition.
  • April 30, 2019 - Upload Paperback Cover and wait 24 hours for approval.  See more things I want to fix in the manuscript, but discover the Kindle manuscript is now on lock-down with no ability to edit or update while Amazon prepares for pre-orders.  Let go of desire for perfection.  Make notes for future book changes.
  • April 29, 2019 - I see the Paperback Printed Proofs for the first time in person in NYC, and it definitely looks like we need to redo the cover design so the spine text all fits more narrowly.  Email designer about the issue, and designer offers a new cover to upload.
  • April 28, 2019 - Printed Paperback Proofs arrive in the mail, Alex sends me photos of proofs while I'm traveling and I can see that we may need to redo the cover closer to guidelines.
  • April 26, 2019 - Place Amazon orders for Paperback Printed Proof copy of workbook to be delivered to my home and designer's home.
  • April 25, 2019 - Submit request for Paperback Printed Proof copy of workbook.  First message regarding Paperback Cover printing guideline errors, but I wait until I see the proofs to take action on the changes.
  • April 24, 2019 - Make final tweaks to book manuscript.  Power editing session in person in Michigan with designer on Kindle Cover, Kindle Manuscript, Paperback Cover, and Paperback Manuscript.  We make decisions about whether or not to number the blank pages in the print edition, taking blank pages out of the kindle edition, spacing of headings and margins, and addition of extra pages.  We run into errors, fix them on the spot, keep testing, keep finding issues, and keep uploading new versions until everything seems to come back OK.
  • March - April - Bring the printed workbook manuscript with me everywhere to keep looking it over for design tweaks while celebrating my 40th birthday with 5 weeks of travels. 
  • February 28, 2019 - Contract designer for branding, website, and book design.
  • February 4, 2019 - Do first test print of entire workbook on paper to determine layout issues.
  • January 28, 2019 - Reach out to designers to get quotes to help me with book design and get my messy online branding situation cleaned up.
Legal Consideration Interviews with Lawyers (3 days):
  • February 14, 2019 - Talk to third lawyer about copyright and trademark protection.  Suggests declaring copyright on every page of the book.  Recommends branding for Anne Ruthmann.
  • February 13, 2019 - Talk to second lawyer about copyright and trademark protection.  Suggests declaring copyright on every page of the book.  Recommends making Anne Ruthmann the larger trademark brand more than the book itself.
  • February 12, 2019 - Talk to first lawyer about copyright and trademark protection.  Suggests declaring copyright on every page of the book.
Book Release Date and Amazon Pages Set-Up (2 weeks):
  • February 20, 2019 - Set up Amazon Author Bio page and KDP select service
  • February 14, 2019 - Set up pricingworkbook.com and pricingworkbookforcreatives.com to direct to a quick email capture form to announce book release and email only specials
  • February 12, 2019 - Receive first online pre-order of kindle from someone in India, decide not to direct people to Kindle pre-orders, but to capture emails in order to offer direct specials
  • February 9, 2019 - Set Book Release Date on Amazon Kindle, upload first draft of manuscript, freak-out about deadlines, create timeline of work to be done before deadline
Eco-Friendly Book Printing Research (1 month):
  • February 27, 2019 - Blog about my research on Self-Publishing an Eco-Friendly Printing
  • February 21, 2019 - Having done the math on eco-friendly printing and amazon distribution, I realize that it's not going to be feasible to do both, and that Amazon is going to end up getting all of the printing business for the first print run, but that I could do an eco-friendly print run for a series of in-person workshops with alternative schools or after-school programs that may happen in the future and would be great for rallying a kick-starter campaign for as well
  • February 20, 2019 - After receiving only 3 quotes and samples for eco-friendly printing from 15 different printers, I decide it's time to stop focusing on research and make a decision about a printer and how I'll be funding the first print run
  • January 31, 2019 - Consider the pros and cons of doing a kickstarter for an eco-friendly print edition of the workbook, friends are encouraging of going for it, but the numbers and shipping timeline may not work out with my travels to kickstart the first edition of the workbook
  • January 30, 2019 - Get first eco-friendly printing quote, start to strategize about what it might take to support the cost of eco-friendly printing
  • January 28, 2019 - Decide on binding style, cover and paper expectations
  • January 25, 2019 - Start reaching out to various eco-friendly green printers
Book Editing Process (5 months):
  • March 17, 2019 - Blog about my Workbook Editing, Testing, & Revision Process 
  • February 9, 2019 - Share book with second editor for additional fine-comb editing on grammar and details
  • December 12, 2019 - Continue recruiting more creatives and business owners to try out the Pricing Workbook on their businesses and needs for feedback and clarity
  • November 15, 2019 - Started sharing book-in-progress with first editor to check clarity and understanding of material as I continued to finish writing material
  • September 14, 2019 - Start recruiting creatives and creative business owners to try out the book, provide feedback, and use the material to DIY their business numbers
Book Writing Process (3 months to write book after 10 years of writing creative business blogs):
  • January 31, 2019 - Create table of contents and decide on checklist format for book 
  • December 11, 2018 - Finished writing Part 3 and completed entire first draft of Pricing Workbook for Creatives
  • November 20, 2018 - Finished writing Part 2, started outlining and writing Part 3
  • September 14, 2018 - Finished writing and formatting Part 1
  • September 13, 2018 - Started outlining and writing Part 2
  • September 11, 2018 - Started outline and first draft of Pricing Workbook for Creatives
  • 2008 - 2019 - Wrote many blog posts, worked with hundreds of creative clients as a photographer/musician/writer/performer/marketer/educator, presented at several different conferences, and worked with many different types of creative consulting clients on pricing and business concerns
  • February 9, 2008 - Wrote my first blog post specifically dedicated to Formulas for Pricing Products & Services after feeling like there were too many people in our creative industry that weren't doing numbers around what they needed to support their work
Real Life Experiences with Pricing Strategies in Creative Businesses (20 years of experiences):
The most important thing about my prior experiences is that I regularly reflected on what I was doing and how I could do it better.  I didn't just keep plodding on and doing the same thing and expecting to get the same results.  I constantly checked in on what was and wasn't working, and found ways to make it better.  Some of this was forced with each move and change in my business, but even in the years where the economy dropped, I found new ways of working and identifying ways to do it better.
  • 2018 Annual Review - Wrapped up retirement from photography business to shift focus onto book writing, traveling, consulting, and reiki teaching
  • 2017 Annual Review - Spent more time consulting other creatives and developing a reiki teaching practice alongside a thriving commercial architecture & interior photography business
  • 2016 Annual Review - Moved exclusively into architecture & interior photography, continued consulting other creative businesses, began developing reiki practice
  • 2015 Annual Review - Developed better pricing models for architecture, renovation, and design clients
  • 2014 Annual Review - After better understanding the local market and opportunities with my personal goals to have more weekends to enjoy, changed my photography business model from portraits and events to focus on architecture & interior design market and started licensing work on usage
  • 2013 Annual Review - Moved photography business to New York City, redid pricing and packaging for market
  • 2012 Annual Review - Took 8 months off to travel the world, and picked up clients in Brisbane, Australia
  • 2011 Annual Review - Did country-wide Smarter Business Workshop tour on pricing for creative businesses, launched local publication project, prepared to travel in 2012
  • 2010 Annual Review- Started working with clients who purchased five-figure photography packages
  • 2009 - Moved photography business into Western Ave Studios, where I did more studio portrait and commercial work and picked up a recurring contract for UML marketing photography
  • 2008 - Moved to Lowell, MA, needed to completely redo pricing and packaging for East Coast market expenses and client preferences
  • 2007 Annual Review - First year my photography income exceeded what I would have earned as a teacher, launched PhotoLovecat Blog to start helping other creatives figure out the business
  • 2006 Annual Review - Moved to Terre Haute, IN - My first year of full-time self-employment as a photographer, traveled a lot to other cities to work for clients who valued photography
  • 2004 - Detroit, MI - My first year of working for myself as a professional photographer.  This is one of the Recital Posters I mentioned in my TEDx Talk, created the first year I started offering to photograph for my music college friends.
  • 2002 - Detroit, MI - My first year of freelancing as a professional musician
  • 1998 - Lansing, MI - First time I freelanced as acting/model talent, paid as an independent contractor

BIG SCARY GOALS - Pricing Workbook for Creatives

posted on: May 14, 2019

I have quite a few BIG SCARY GOALS for the Pricing Workbook for Creatives.  However, I also know that in order for them to come to life, I will need quite a bit of help along the way.  Some of these feel impossible to me right now with the average projections I've seen of other similar projects, but that's never stopped me from setting big goals and attempting to go after them.  Trying for something big and learning along the way is better than not trying at all- this is just the story of my life.  This blog post is my way of writing these goals into the universe so that (just in case I die tomorrow) the book can continue its journey no matter what happens to me and my personal journey.

If I die tomorrow, I will be happy knowing that the last 15 years of figuring how to jumpstart a creative business and quickly get it to a successful point- no matter where I landed- was not experienced purely for the vanity of my own success or happiness

How amazing would it be if everyone could feel fully supported for the work they create and sell?  How much would it change the world if no one felt like they were undervalued in their efforts?  I believe the Pricing Workbook for Creatives can establish a sense of self-worth and creative-value that has often been squashed by industrialized societies and corporate colonial structures that haven't created many pathways for independent creatives.  It makes sense to focus on translating into the top languages currently being spoken in the world... Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindu, Arabic, Portuguese, Malay, Russian, Bengali, French, Hausa... however, if the workbook makes it into 10 languages of any kind, it will still be meeting its goal.

Rather than trying to be a singular point person for everyone interested in this work, I'd rather support local leaders who can provide local help, localized community, and local resources.  These people will also need to build their own set of locally trusted referrals for CPAs, independent financial advisors, and lawyers to offer additional professional resources to people who need business and financial help that goes beyond the basics.  The workbook is already laid out easily for a curriculum format, but pacing can be tricky depending on how much time people have to work on it, and a lot of people may need extra hand-holding in order to make it happen.  I can't hold everyone's hand, but I can develop resources to help people find a local person who can help hold their hand.

Creative work makes the world a more interesting, beautiful, and joyful place to live.  Creative businesses and independent creatives have unique needs and are often driven by motivations other than profit, which is why they need a supportive place that doesn't try to force them to seek investors who may be looking to capitalize on their work and then divest from it (if a creative wants to go that route- there are already plenty of options).  Likewise, many incredibly creative people never make it past the starting line because they don't come from a hefty savings account or a good supportive network for creatives and don't have the ability to get a loan to launch their creative projects.  I would like to figure out how we can best support creative businesses in their unique needs by creating a supportive program for the early years, without obligating creatives to turn over their profits later on. This is going to be a big challenge- but I have to believe it's possible to figure it out.

I have even more goals, but I find that it's better to focus more narrowly on three big scary goals, and see what happens along the path of pursuing those goals in order to determine what else may need to be done.  The path to making all of those goals happen is still wide open and and unpredictable, and I have no expectations of how it will unfold, only that these are my intentions behind creating the work and how I'd like to see it grow as it travels through the world and helps other creative businesses.  So, how am I starting right here, right now, with the resources I have in this moment?

For the first year of the Pricing Workbook for Creatives, I'll mainly be focusing on promotion and distribution while I'm traveling.  I need more people to meet the material where they are, with what they know, and see what kind of struggles or issues come up that can be clarified in writing.  After one year of other people using the workbook on their own and giving feedback, I should be able to revise the material as needed to make anything confusing even easier to understand in writing.  The first year will also help me create additional helpful content like more robust electronic spreadsheets, videos, software, or workbook samples that can help people out above and beyond examples that are already available in the workbook.

Should I end up in New York City when I get back from traveling the world (which is the plan as of today- but who knows what will happen), one of my goals is to develop a Creative Business Workshop Curriculum for Alternative Urban High School and Vocational programs.  I came from an inner-city upbringing and never would have attended High School myself if it weren't for the opportunity to be creative in Choir, Band, and Theatre.  All I cared about was performing and creating, but no one treated creative careers as options to make a living from or offered me a program that helped me turn my creativity into a business.  I started working to earn money as early as I could- and if someone had given me a roadmap that allowed me to start using my creative talents to make money at that age- I would have a huge head start on developing myself as a creative entrepreneur rather than spending more time in school systems that were training me to work for other people rather than helping me learn how to work for myself.  I had a lot of inner city friends who felt the same way I did and didn't fit into corporate structures or environments, but definitely had the inner creative drive to make their own business happen.  I'd like to make sure we are offering paths and openings for teens to create healthy lives by giving ways for them to understand how they can package their gifts and offer them to others.

Think you can help with any of these BIG SCARY GOALS for the Pricing Workbook for Creatives?!  Reach out and let me know how you'd like to be involved!!

A Hacked Launch is Greater Than No Launch

posted on: May 6, 2019

... unless you're a rocket scientist. However, when it comes to business, launching something new in a hacked, unorganized, messy, or imperfect way is still far better than not launching at all.   Indefinitely delaying a launch out of the desire for a fully formed and perfected presentation is a great way to never launch something.

Consider how much you learn and can earn from starting early and messy, no website, no pretty packaging, just trying different things, learning what resonates and what doesn't, building your resources as you go, discovering what people are and aren't willing to pay for just by offer to do work, honing and perfecting your presentation and process with each trial, gradually creating something that really works and is built on a foundation of real meaningful experiences.

Now consider what happens when trying to perfect everything first in the mind, without ever testing it in the real world with different people, without getting any feedback or response before sharing it with the world.  It's a lot of time invested on the perfection of a vision, but little to no time invested in understanding how others perceive that vision, what they are willing to pay for, or what questions they have and need answered to help them understand the value.  Understanding how other people value our work can only be understood by sharing that work with other people.  Understanding what and why people buy can only be understood by attempting to sell something.

Launching the Pricing Workbook for Creatives required me to launch messy and imperfectly.  What do I mean by messy?  At the moment, there seem to be two different versions of anneruthmann.com currently online depending on what device you use or how the domain connects based on any cookies you may have stored on your browser.  You might see my architecture & interior commercial photography portfolio hosted with photoshelter.com that looks like this:

Or you could see an about.me page that looks like this:

Neither of these are what I was hoping to have in place while launching the Pricing Workbook for Creatives.  Even though I already hired a designer to craft a new website that will be a better showcase of my experience and the resources I can provide, I already knew that the new website would take more time and not be ready for the book launch.  Rather than delay the book launch for the perfection of a website, or put the pressure of having the website first, I decided to focus on finding another way to launch messy and prioritize capturing public interest in the workbook so I could build and share resources along the way.

Instead of having the domains PricingWorkbookforCreatives.com or PricingWorkbook.com point to a website page full of amazing copy and testimonials, I decided to point the domains to a simple MailChimp.com email capture landing page (shown below) so that I could capture the interest around sending special deals to the early readers who wanted in on deals and freebies:

I really held to the promise in this form and ONLY offered special deals to this email list.  Everyone else who was just watching on social media never got the deal I offered over email.  I knew it was highly likely that the people on this email list would still be watching me elsewhere online in social media, and I needed them to know how much I valued their early support, interest, and trust in me to deliver on my promise.  This made a tiny little email form far more valuable than a website would be, because it unlocked something no one else could get otherwise.  Any mention I made leading up to the launch on social media simply directed people to this form, rather than some long and rambling sales page, complicated website, webinar registration, free download, or anything else.  I wanted the process to be simple and straightforward, no complications.

In some ways, I find the interest of those early registrations to be far more meaningful and valuable than anything that comes from a more a perfected website or sales pitch.  The early registrations were all-in right away.  They didn't need to see more.  They knew what they wanted and were willing to get first dibs.  Regardless of their follow-through rate on sales, the emotional support to keep going when it was frustrating before launch came from just seeing those early registrations waiting in line.  Thanks to launching early and messy, the Pricing Workbook for Creatives got to have its moment of fame at the top of the New Release list for Kindle Books in the Business of Art category!

When building something important, I've realized the group belief in what you are offering is a key factor in getting to the finish line.  Group support for a product creates an encouraging fire to keep moving forward even when you might want to give up, much like being in a relay knowing an entire team needs you to be your best and reach your finish point.  It truly is special to know when people value what you're putting out into the world.  I don't think I would have learned how important that step really was if I had waited to launch with a more developed website or structure.

Having a hacked together launch can also help you mitigate risk.  If you anticipate a launch with a simple sign up page and get no sign ups at all no matter how much you promote something- it's a pretty good sign that something doesn't seem valuable enough to want!  Either that or you need to talk to more people and revise your offer until people do sign up for it.  Eliminating what people don't value and don't want helps prevent you from risking the time and energy to build something that won't be able to get off the ground when it's ready.

So if you're working on something new, or planning to launch something no one has ever seen yet... how about taking it for a test drive while it's still in concept form before going big?  Talking with people about what you're working on helps you refine what other people are most interested in and excited to see.  Whether you talk about it online or in person to build buzz and interest, try it while things are still messy and see what you can learn and revise to make it better for those who want it!

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