Some fella I don’t know sent out a group email the other day, complaining that writing and marketing combined with real life is just too much, so he’s ‘deleting his book and shutting down social media and the blog’ until such time as he makes his millions to hire people to do it all for him.
I get it — it would be much easier to throw in the towel and walk away. But I couldn’t ever walk away from writing my books. My guess is, he got so overwhelmed that rather than hiring an assistant or consultant to help or teach him (which he may not have been able to afford anyway), or looking into some time-saving time-management applications, he threw up his hands and gave up.
The writing. The writing takes time (for most of us). We have real lives, we market our previous works, we attend conferences and travel to book signings … all of which is fun, exhausting, and cool (I mean, come on). However, it does take away from our writing time. Have you ever tried to write while squished in the middle seat on a small plane to Winnipeg during a storm?
I released my latest book, Broken Pieces (currently free on Amazon for a few days — no Kindle required) in December, 2012. 2012! That’s like 14 in publishing years. Yet, it still has legs and continues to win awards and pay my rent. I’m not bragging — it’s my third book and I’m honored and thrilled to have written something that resonates with so many people. But…what have I done for you lately?
Lots of consulting and marketing (more below), but I’m also writing for at least one hour per day on Broken Places, the next book in the ‘Broken’ series. It’s coming along, but I don’t see it releasing before fall. I’m not personally willing to rush it out to meet some imaginary ‘best by’ date. I know some authors who release a book every three months and good for them. Seriously. That’s just not me. It’s not how I work. And, as I always remind myself, it’s not a competition.
Kids, my business, my family, laundry and kitchen, burning dinner…it’s all pulling at me, just like it is with most writers. I’m not different or special — my point is, I have to protect my writing time. It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to my work if that’s what it takes to get to it.
No doubt, marketing takes a huge chunk of time. Blogging, updating my websites (this one and my business site, BadRedheadMedia.com), promotions, advertising, reviews, guest blogs, all the articles I write (BookPromotion.com, Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review, etc.), not to mention my business clients, combines to take me away from that ‘balance’ of marketing and writing.
What to do? After coffee, I check all the sites and my emails, put out any fires, and then shut it down for an hour (I’m always available to clients via phone). I just see no other way around it. Facebook in particular is a huge time suck — not because I love it (it’s fine, whatever), but because of the sheer number of notifications and interactions required to maintain an active presence. My personal favorite is Twitter, and Pinterest is a close second, but even that I limit myself to non-writing hours.
How do I manage it all? I use a combination of three sites: Hootsuite (I schedule in quite a bit), Pluggio (I love their dripfeed feature), and ManageFlitter (for growth and deleting fakes, eggs, etc). I’ve written about each one previously, but they all have free options for you to try out, and I can’t recommend them all highly enough. You need these programs to manage, grow, schedule, and interact across your platform in the most efficient (yet still interactive) way possible. Remember: social media is not one-way communication to sell sell sell your books. It’s a wonderful way to interact and build relationships.
I can guarantee that the fellow above did not use any kind of time management system to help to manage his social, which usually has the biggest learning curve and takes the most time. However, social is our generation’s ‘word of mouth,’ and is critical to any author’s success. So stop whining and get on it.
I find that most authors have pie in the sky expectations of their first book. They want it to pay their house payment or rent, send their kids to college, and cover any and all advertising and marketing costs. Not even Stephen King of Anne Rice had that kind of success with book one — and they were picked up by large publishing houses and had lots of media support! Why does everyone think that one book will make them?
I never thought that. I figured if anyone reads me, great. If I can connect with folks and develop a fan base for future books, even better. Publishing a book isn’t a magical way into some nebulous millionaire’s club. It’s a means to an end: getting your work out there. If you’re using social media to ‘push’ your work on an uninterested, undeveloped fan base, you’re not helping your sales and you’re likely spamming, which can lead to account suspensions.
I have friends who have written 30 books, have made it to the NYTimes Best Seller lists, and still work full-time jobs as lawyers and accountants and cooks. Writing as a living isn’t easy — who said it would be? I’d like to meet that person and ask them.
NOW MIX IT UP
Use your real-life experiences in a way that can help others. From a karma standpoint, isn’t that what this whole mortal coil is all about anyway? That’s why I started #SexAbuseChat (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST) with survivor/therapist Bobbi Parish. We’re opening up a growing dialogue with survivors and families of survivors. Some of them may or may not read my book and that’s okay — that’s not what this is about.
I’ve also been able to start #MondayBlogs (in November, 2012). I wanted one day devoted to bloggers (any topic is fine). Blog any day, but share on Mondays using the hashtag AND return the favor by retweeting others. It’s grown so dramatically, thousands participate each week and generate anywhere from 5-8,000 tweets on Mondays! These are my ways of giving back. I make no money, charge no fees, and everyone is welcome.
Point is, all of it is hard. All of it matters. None of it is easy. Adjust your expectations, fellow authors…and above all, keep writing.