Spoiler alert: this is a negative review. This doesn’t mean Bria Quinlin isn’t a wonderful human being (I’m assuming) and a good author (as far as I know: I’ve never read her). I’m just a planner addict who didn’t find anything worth the price in here.
I was super curious about the AuthorLife Planner as I couldn’t find many details about it online except from the author. So in classic displacement activity, in an attempt to avoid actually writing, I took one for the team and bought it. I genuinely hoped it would contain useful material I could use this year in structuring my daily and weekly workflow.
I got the downloadable version through Bria Quinlan’s website for US $11.99 (that is not an affiliate link and I’ve never had any contact with Quinlan). You can buy a printed version on Amazon for US$19.99.
The planner is US letter size, and the file also works fine on A4 paper. The first 40 pages are a goals workbook, and the rest of it is a really basic and unsophisticated planner that didn’t tempt me for a second into trying it to increase my productivity. Let’s look at the planner first.
For each month there’s an overview with a Sunday start, room for “Make a Note” on the right, and a shit-ton of white space around the rest of the page.
You’ll notice the monthly calendar only has five weeks, so months like December 2018 require the extra days to share a square with the week before. I hate this as it doesn’t offer enough space to make useful notes.
Then you get a page for “Captured Ideas” with boxes for Plot Bunnies, Social Media Planning, Advertising, Cross Promo, Newsletter Topics, Seasonal Ideas, and one additional question which changes monthly, like Who is Your Dream Cross-Promo Partner?, or reminders to order your 2019 planner, register for Cons, or prep your taxes.
What annoys me here is the boxes for your actual entries are so small compared to the rest of the page. It looks very amateurish. This is the case the whole way through. The planner just isn’t designed very well. The margins are huge – arguably good for extraneous notes – but I’d prefer to have less white space at the edges and more room for tracking metrics and the actual stated functions of the planner.
Opposite is a page for Fill Your Well; to list relaxing and rejuvenating activities you will do this month, and a Scribble Pad, so you “Never let your ideas slip through your fingers.”
What follows is one double-page spread for each week of the month. On the right is the weekly planner, and on the left is a task list, and four sections to list your tasks, focus, and goals for Writing/Editing, Marketing/Business, Life, and Joy, plus a Notes section at the bottom.
The weekly calendar is a Monday start with a full column for each day. Quinlan offers four sections, marked with unobtrusive icons for Time & Planning (clock), Writing/Editing (star), Business/Marketing (triangle) and Joy (heart), so you can slot in the tasks identified in those four boxes. It is therefore particularly annoying that the weekly planner is oriented on its side, so you have to turn the planner around to fill in the working slots. I dislike this. A lot.
At the end of each month there’s a single page for a monthly review under the categories of Financials, Goals, Success & Celebrations, Learning’s & Adjustment [sic], and For Next Month. Opposite is a page for journaling your thoughts.
Interspersed throughout the year are three Quarterly Reviews (there is no quarterly review for Q4, it goes straight into the yearly review). These offer one page for notes, one page of journaling space under Success & Celebrations, Learnings & Adjustments, and Updates!, and one page for review of how you are progressing.
At the end of the planner are five pages for a yearly review, including journaling prompts, goal summaries, if you stuck to your Guiding Principles, how your chosen focus items went etc, an overview a financial summary and list of costs, a list of projects & tasks delegated/tossed/”ramped up.” Then there’s a one-page 2019 calendar and a two-page 2019 planning overview,
That’s the entirety of the planner contents. To be blunt, I expected more in the weekly and monthly pages, like weekly habit trackers, a weekly word count box, a top 3 goals section – all the stuff in every other productivity journal. And pretty much any other planner is better designed.
The Goals Workbook
While the planner part of this product is highly disappointing, the workbook offers slightly more solid value. Some. It’s 40 pages, but this implies a lot more content than you get, as there are two or three workbook pages for each topic. The goals workbook gives an introduction to the Eisenhower matrix, aka that Urgent vs Important priority quadrant, and defines SMART goals. Going through the worksheets will give you an idea of your current income sources, your top 3-6 overarching themes for your goals, whether they’re urgent or important, and, if you undertake the time tracking exercise (half hour blocks for one week), you’ll have a good idea where your time actually goes.
All of this is good stuff, but because of the deficiencies of the planner, essentially you are paying $12 for this in the e-version, and $20 for the print version. Is it worth $12? Hell, no. There are literally tens of thousands of goal-setting books on Kindle offering this information, and hundreds specifically on author goals and productivity. All offer more than the contents here (and you should believe me on this because I have read a terrifyingly large number of them).
Arguably, the most useful thing in the whole planner is a one-page workflow Quinlan offers, which extensively lists all the tasks required for a book launch, week by week e.g. weeks 1&2 write the Disaster Draft, week 18, Plan Cover Reveal, week 21 Plan Ads, week 24 Send Out Newsletter.
I don’t rec this planner. $12 isn’t a lot, but the contents are not worth it. To get most use from this as an actual planner you’re going to have to print it out and bind it, and the dimensions of the bound planner are unwieldy, to say the least. I think Quinlan should offer the workbook and the workflow appendix as a standalone for purchase, for a lot less than $12 though.
By the way, see how all those pics up there are of printouts, and not screenshots of the pdf? Apparently, I’m a fucking idiot, as I took the file into my copy shop to be printed and bound for US$20 before I looked at it. What I did read about the planner was so glowing I just assumed it was going to be at least a little useful. I would never have printed it out if I’d looked at it first. This review really is Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To.