Combine Writing, Marketing, And Real Life. Now, Mix

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.

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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.

Sigh.

Let’s deconstruct.

WRITING

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.

MARKETING 

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.

REAL LIFE 

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.

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Comments

  1. Rachel,

    I can understand why the guy you used as an example in the beginning of your article threw up his hands and walked away – it’s hard….but writing, marketing, and every day life is hard and shouldn’t be used as an excuse…something I am seeing myself doing more and more over the last few months. I fell into the rut of “I don’t have enough time in the day” and just let it all slide away. I felt that what I was doing marketing wise was not working. I was waiting for sales that were not happening. And I wasn’t writing. I haven’t written anything decent in months – not anything on my third book, not my blog, not even book reviews. But now I am feeling that cloud of self-doubt and excuse making lift. I’ve begun a list of blog topics I am going to write on and commit to a once a week schedule. I am printing up the original version of my third book and am beginning the rewrite of it. I am getting back into my social media (something I still struggle with on the marketing aspect) but not so much for spamming my current titles, but for getting myself out there, tweeting and posting about things related to the topic of my books (romantic suspense) and my love of reading…all things I have learned from you.

    • HI Michelle and thanks for sharing. Yes, a blog list (or calendar) is essential for any author/blogger. In fact, I suggest coming up with 5-10 topics that you are interested in/passionate about — they may not relate one bit to your book at all — and that’s okay because when we share what we’re passionate about, we share our true selves and that’s always more interesting!

      I also find it helpful to write a few posts at a time — schedule them in and done.

      hope that helps!

  2. It is sometimes a little hard even for a complete novice with my tiny band of followers. But I absolutely love the sharing and sense of community I get from twitter and from reading and writing blogs – not to mention the exposure to other styles of writing and development of my own. Thank you for affirming it’s all worth it and not the time waste some claim it to be – and thanks especially for #MondayBlogs and the free copy of Broken Pieces, this morning :D

    • Ha, thank you!

      I started #MondayBlogs for that main reason — I find being part of a creative community is extremely motivating and such wonderful learning.

      Keep doing your thing — it doesn’t happen overnight (I’ve been blogging since 2008-ish) and it’s still a focused effort to grow every day. but worth it!

  3. Thanks Raqchel. It’s always a pleasure, and a learning opportunity, to read your wonderful, supportive, positive articles.

  4. Sorry, Rachel. I don’t know where that ‘q’ came from! Obviously didn’t proof thoroughly. Apologies.

  5. There are many distractions that we must all work through in order to feed the appetite and passion to write. It’s a small price to pay to actually spend quality time enveloped in an activity that is rewarding and calls you from the depths of your soul.

  6. There are many distractions that we must all work through in order to feed the appetite and passion to write. It’s a small price to pay to actually spend quality time enveloped in an activity that is rewarding and calls you from the depths of your soul.

  7. I do the same, put out immediate fires then shut off social media to write. I take weekends off if I feel like it, too. I love to write, so chances are, if I’m not working on the new book, I’m blogging, tweeting or writing email.

  8. I love what you said about not wanting to rush a book just to release it by some imaginary “best by” date. I keep seeing posts and articles about folks who push themselves to write as much as possible and release a novella a month, a million words a year, or what have you. I just don’t think that sort of work ethic is sustainable. What happens when a million words a month becomes the norm, and then you have to publish a million and a half to stand out? Stop the madness. Write the best book you can. If you can do that in a month, wow! If it takes two years, that’s fine…and normal. Obviously, as you’ve proven, a good book has legs and you don’t have to distract your own readers with the newest shiny thing just to stay on their radar. Far better to maintain the balance you talk about here. :)

    • Thanks, Jenni. When I released my first book, a ‘mentor’ told me that unless I was prepared to release a new book every 3 months for the next 5 years, I’d be a ‘nobody.’ I did two things: I ignored their advice and removed them from my sphere of influence. ( FWIW, I’ve released 3 in 3 years).

      Ultimately, we have to trust ourselves. It’s OUR name that goes on the work. Many folks will disagree, but that’s okay. It’s my life, my books, and my time. If it’s not ready, I won’t release it.

  9. What a wonderful article, Rachel. We think a lot alike. I have seen so many websites this week with just really “in your face” sell approaches. I even asked someone nearby if that even really worked. I’m so turned off by it. Sell me on you first, and then I will consider buying what you offer. They just don’t do that. Back in my real estate days they taught me a golden rule for business…

    People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

    Loved this article and THANK YOU so much for the tips for the twitter tools. I’m drowning over there trying to keep up with it all. lol So kind of you to share!

    Writing on the wall of life,
    ~Topaz

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Topaz — and you’re quite welcome! That’s a great rule, too. It’s so basic — connecting with people — yet so many people don’t even bother, or try, or attempt because … what, they don’t see the value? I’m still not sure.

      All we can do is continue to utilize social media in a way that works for us and I’ll continue to spread the gospel lol. #hugs

  10. Hi Rachel,
    Finding your blog this morning was a blessing. I am also in the middle of a struggle between writing and marketing; not sure how to proceed. Combing the two on my blog or create separate blogs for each.

    I have a webinar to attend right now but I will be back to look over your site more and see how you are making it work for you.

    Have a wonderful day and thank you again. Monna

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