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Sara Marks
Sometimes I have a plan, sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. Curious Unicorn, Librarian, Author, & Knitter.
Photo by Andrey Zvyagintsev on Unsplash

I recently took the Clifton Strengths assessment. I love an assessment. Give me the Meyers-Briggs (INTJ) or Enneagram type (5 — the investigator). I love learning about who I am. Hell, I love learning! I never want to work in a job where I can’t learn. I love organizations that teach me something. I was not surprised when Clifton Strengths turned around and told me my top strength was learning and my second was input.

What do these mean? Basically what I knew — I love learning, collecting data, and sharing it either by teaching it or curating it for…

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There are the MLMs that expect you to carry inventory and those that will tell you it isn’t necessary or it's even prohibited. I’ve been in both. Mary Kay, the company that expects you to have inventory has an adage that they probably still use today: you can’t sell from an empty wagon. After three rounds as a consultant in two different MLMs, I understand now that this is both true and false. Ultimately, this is a manipulation.

Can you sell from an empty wagon? When the first MLMs came on the scene, well before I was even born, I…

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Fifteen years ago I thought I would be able to make some extra money through MLMs. This was when social media was brand new and not a staple of our lives. I was coming off a difficult year in my life and needed to bring in part-time money from part-time work. I had a career I loved and had an advanced degree to be able to do. I didn’t enter into MLMs thinking I could replace my job with this income. I simply wanted to avoid working seven days a week to pay my bills. …

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These days I’m firmly in the Anti-MLM camp, but that wasn’t always the case. I was a consultant for two different MLM companies and one that I joined twice. Multi-level Marketing companies, direct sales, network marketing, or whatever you want to call them. They’ve always been part of my life. My mother sold Tupperware for a few years in the 1970s, before I was born and early in my life. I inherited the items my grandmother purchased to support my mother’s business. I remember someone coming to the house, selling Avon products. I had this cute little teddy bear pin…

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I’m not a plant person. I know this about myself. I will kill plants. Since it can’t tell me it’s hungry, I will forget about it. Don’t try to tell me how easy it is and all plants need is water. I’m speaking from experience — I killed bamboo.

I fail all the time and I see them as lessons. The biggest failure in my life happened at the age of twenty when I failed out of college. I’ll share more of that story another time but the experience made me explore goal-setting systems. There were two problems when I…

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Each year I give myself a budget of $5,000 to publish my books. I’ve never made that money back. Even now, I’ve not paid myself back for my first year’s budget. I’m working to make that change but I set this budget based on what I do make, what I can put aside from my full-time job, and my tax refund each year. I spend more than this amount because of marketing but the production of the book needs to stick to this budget.

In another post, I talked about my timeline. There are specific tasks in my timeline that…

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There are so many risks when you self-publish your books. Many people think of specific issues like not getting into bookstores, doing all the work themselves, and not being able to afford to self-publish. While these are important risks to consider, they aren’t the only ones. When I think of risks, I think about

Going over budget.
My editor will lead you down the wrong path.
I’ll need one type of editor but not realize it.
There will be countless grammar and spelling errors in my published book.
I’ll overspend on marketing for little impact.
I won’t be able to find readers.
Nobody will like my…

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This November I will write the first draft of the seventh book in my 21st Century Austen series. I’m still editing the fifth and it won’t be released until 2022. That’s good. I always have books in different stages of development. Since I’m starting this process now, this is a good chance to learn how I put all these project management techniques into action.

Since this is only about the first draft, let’s consider where I am and what I want to write. This book is another modernization of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This one I want to write around the…

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I’m not a fast writer or publisher. Over the years, I’ve slowed down my process to make sure the book is where I want it to be before I publish it. I don’t agonize over every sentence, to make sure it’s perfect. Years of National Novel Writing Month have taught me to get the first draft written quickly. Years of indie publishing have allowed me to find a good support team of editors to shape the story into its best form. At my best, it takes me two years to write the book after I’ve written the first draft.


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Writing is a creative experience. I’m a plantser — I fly by the seat of my pants and I plan my books. I know where I want to go, some major moments along the way, but I tend to follow the direction the story takes me.

When the creative process is done, I progressively shut down that part of my brain and shift into publishing mode. Publishing has elements of creativity, but it’s primarily when I have to change hats and treat what I’m doing like a business. A few years ago I completed a project management program. …

Sara Marks

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