Nothing can ruin that pre-holiday joy like the wobbly sensation of anxiety in the pit of your stomach. Can you afford to take a break? What will your audience think? What should you prioritise?
Here at the Alliance of Independent Authors we advocate for regular, high-quality holidays for indie authors; not only for mental wellbeing, but as best practise for business too. A break is the ideal way to clear the mind, inspire new ideas, and manage the risk of burnout. So, today our team here at ALLi share their top tips for taking a break from business.
Sacha Black: Self-Publishing Advice Content and Communications Strategist
The first thing to recognise is that you can just stop. As Indies, we set up our businesses as passive income models. This means, even when we're asleep, we're earning money. This also gives us a little flexibility to stop when needed. In reality, there's very little that can't wait.
For me, before a break, I tend to try to clear my inbox and deal with as much admin as I can, because then I can switch off easier while on a break. But perhaps others are better at scheduling than me!
Most of the time, emails can wait, social media can wait. It's a hard reality to face, but no one is clinging to their laptop waiting for our emails. We're all just as fed up with the inbox bulge as each other.
What can't wait are the words. Structure your priorities around wording and everything else has to get in the queue.
If you are concerned about the financial implications of a holiday, there are things you can do:
- Consider setting launch dates for before you go away so your income will be higher that month.
- If you're worrying about cash flow, set a launch around 60 days prior to going away.
- Set a sale to be live while you take your break to create a buzz and boost income while you rest.
- Make sure you schedule your promo materials and social media before you head off.
Sacha Black’s one holidays for indie authors top tip:
Don't be me and forget to set an out of office on your email! Add a couple of extra days at the end of your holiday period to give yourself grace (even if you start answering sooner, it manages expectations).
Melissa Addey, ALLi Campaigns Manager
I have to recommend our ‘pyramid of priorities‘ from ALLi's Self-Publishing for All campaign as a good tool for thinking about holidays: what absolutely needs to keep going and what can you set aside?
Remember that, in theory, our book income is passive (i.e. we don't need to actually be there in the way a barista does for every minute) so try to build a business that allows for rest. If you never get to have breaks, you'll end up burning out, which we've seen as a common topic amongst authors.
I used to work with entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by developing better business practices, new products and services, and a consultant we used would always start by asking owners of small businesses when they last had a holiday. The answers were never very good: often they'd not had a proper break for years. He used to say, ‘I'm going to work with you until I can send you on holiday for two weeks without checking on the business and when you come back everything is fine.' It was a good approach and I still remember it!
Take a look at the self-publishing for all campaign and plan out your pyramid of priorities:
- Use the pyramid of priorities for longer-term shaping of your business to allow for breaks.
- Block out your calendar well ahead of time and refuse to put other things in it. I doubt, in our business, that's there is genuinely a life-or-death situation likely to occur. Things can be shifted.
- Work out what has to be done in that time period and see what can be done before or after. If necessary, it's better to take a week off and work on day in the middle of it, than to work a bit every day so that none of the holiday days are properly “off”.
Melissa’s one holidays for indie authors top tip:
If you never take breaks, start with committing to three proper full days off around a festive date, then aim for a week next year and build it up.
Michael La Ronn, ALLi Outreach Manager
As writers, we are high achievers. Most of our deadlines are self-imposed, and often, the only people who care about them are us. It might sound counterintuitive, but learning to step away is actually a critical skill.
In the decade plus of years I've been a writer, there has not been one time I've taken a break where something truly needed to be done while I was gone.
If you're planning a vacation, it's unlikely that you were going to plan a launch during it anyway (unless you forgot!). If so, push your launch forward or backward. The only real things that must be attended to are those where you are under a contractual obligation to perform, such as a cross-collaboration or a joint promotion effort such as a multi-author anthology or box set. And even then, you can pre-schedule newsletters, social media posts, YouTube videos, blog posts, and so on.
Michael’s one holidays for indie authors top tip:
Take a break on your terms! Stepping away for a holiday is good for your physical and mental health. If you can't learn to step away, you'll be forced to one day. For this reason, do it on your own terms, have fun while you're away, and don't worry so much about the writing while you're off. It'll always be there waiting for you. Every time I step away, I feel so much more energized when I get back to the writing desk.
Dan Holloway, ALLi News Editor
It feels strange to be offering advice on the importance of taking a holiday. I know it’s true, of course. Breaks matter. As an athlete, I know that the growth primed as you break the body in training actually happens during rest. But I also feel uncomfortable giving advice I don’t follow. And what I write about most is how to find ways to do things that work for you when the ways you’re told to do things clearly won’t.
So, as someone who finds it hard themselves, instead of telling you to take breaks in the traditional sense, I offer one idea: reframe what it means to “take a holiday”.
Have you ever heard of a micro adventures? A micro adventure is something that takes you physically and emotionally out of your usual place, just like a regular holiday. But you can start it at the end of a working day and be back for work the next. Yet what you have done in the meantime – whether that’s stealth camping, an all-night hike, taking a book to a hotel room in your hometown, or just driving till you find somewhere interesting to stop and explore – can be like visiting a portal into a completely other world.
And just like the portals we create in our stories, however little time has passed in the real world, you can come back to it somehow changed.
Dan’s one holidays for indie authors top tip:
Reframe what a “holiday” means to you. For those who just can't take the leap to a traditional holiday, consider a micro adventure as a mini break for your mind.
Find out more…
The Ultimate Guide to Creative Rest for Indie Authors
Indie authors by nature tend to be workaholics. We have to wear so many hats, and have so many roles to play, it's often difficult to remember one of those hats should be self-care. From quality sleep, to the importance of play, exercise, and meditation, this ALLi guide looks at how indie authors can get that all important creative rest.