Business Basics for AuthorsPublishing Fear Free

Setting Boundaries When You Work from Home

This post went through a few title ideas:

  • The Fine Art of Saying No
  • Good Fences/Good Neighbors
  • Admitting Limitations

I chose “Setting Boundaries” because it most adequately describes today’s topic: deciding what to do with your time and what tasks would be better to delegate or turn down. For me, this is a difficult subject  because I’m a people pleaser, and I want to say yes to everyone. I want to help as much as I can, and I want to make the task in question easier for you.

When I first started my independent publishing venture, I said yes to every offer that came along. Would I post on your blog? Yes. Would I order 50 books for your store? Yes. Would you give me advice about editing? Yes.

As I’ve released more books, my workload has increased accordingly. Now, I still want to say yes, but I just don’t have time to do everything. In some cases, I cannot do as good a job as a company or person that may specialize in the task.

Here are some tips for helping to establish boundaries:

  • Make your blog useful. I often get questions about self-publishing, editing, and book marketing, and I want to share what I know, so I created categories on this blog to share my views and strategies (for what they’re worth) here online.  This means readers can look up the information at their leisure, and I have links to which to direct people who need help.
  • State policies and procedures on your website. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there. For example, if you need 10 days to fill an order or if you only take Paypal, then you need to have that on your website so that no one will be surprised that they can’t get their order overnight. People should know what to expect.
  • Find specialized help and direct people to it. There are just certain things that I cannot do as well as a business that exists for that purpose.  For example, I’m a very small publisher, not a book distributor. While I’m thrilled if people express interest in selling my books in their retail locations, I personally cannot get them the best wholesale deal, guarantee returns, or even get the books shipped in the most expeditious manner. I do have a distributor that can do all those things, and I send interested parties there.
  • Realize that your time has value. If you have an interest in mentoring others or, for whatever reason, someone wants to do something that could otherwise be done by them or someone else, then consider billing them for your time. Your time has value.
  • Just say no. It’s not always possible to say yes, and when that happens, you should be able to turn down offers without feeling guilty about it. You cannot do it all.

It’s not easy to learn to manage time effectively or to decide when to delegate or turn down offers, but these skills will benefit publishers–and other businesses–in the long run.

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