Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On the Down Side

What happens a few months after the release of your book, once the high has worn off and the reality and responsibility of marketing your work weighs heavily on your shoulders? Honestly, this is where I think I am now.

This past Sunday I had my first book signing at Chapters and it was a wonderful experience. Seeing so many people walking around with my book in hand was amazing. I was surprised by how many people, having purchased their books before the event, had brought them in to be signed.

With this event now behind me, I come back to my question…Now what?

I haven’t written a self-help book with the ultimate twist that everyone has to read. I wrote a YA novel, one of a million books released in how do I let people know about it? How do I tell people my book is worth reading without burning myself out in the process?

Last week I was following a discussion with other authors who were at this point in their lives as well. Some authors, having published traditionally, were discouraged by the overwhelming amount of marketing required (something the publisher had taken care of in the past). Most everyone had some level of  frustration  because the marketing responsibilities were so demanding, leaving even less time to write. So it seems as though we are all in the same boat.

What am I going to do about it? ( I’ll let you know if it works.) Change the pace. I honestly believe I have no choice. The moment we start to despise a task, the less we take interest in it, and I want to be able to enjoy the experience, not feel as though I HAVE to do it. Thankfully I'm not there yet.

The first thing would be to pull out a desktop calendar, get a good view of the next six months and map out book activities. Signings, blog posts, giveaways, interviews and presentations. One appearance a week seems reasonable, and more important, manageable. By appearance I mean either on a blog or in person, since both require time and preparation. This will not only ensure a continuous visibility but also give you something different to talk about on fb or twitter every week (at a pace that won’t burn you out).

Next, pace yourself when it comes to the events your blog is hosting from other authors. A guest post/interview a week is also reasonable, though a minimum, but more than two can start to be a bit much. Remember, we are not bloggers first, but authors, and have to keep some time to write and edit our work. If you are hosting a guest post or interview one day, you can post a review another day and your ‘regular’ post another…changing your blog every two days or so. You probably have info about other stuff to share as well, and this makes your blog active enough to keep interest in your posts.

Limit the amount of time you spend on internet. Depending on your own schedule, you might have to limit this to an hour a day. Read through your messages, respond where necessary and then get off. Yes, I know you need time for research and posting on your blog as well as everywhere else…but limit that time and stick to it. I’ve tried giving up those wasted hours sleeping between midnight and 3:00 am to write…but that didn’t work out too well.

When was the last time you read something for the simple pleasure of reading, took a walk or shared a coffee with friends? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to cut down on some of that work load. Neglecting your down time is something that will have an impact on your overall performance.

Do you have any suggestions or comments to add? How do you cope with the demands of marketing?


  1. Great advice and I think a lot of us can sympathize with marketing burnout. As for tips...I've got nothing lol. Just trying to keep my head above water. :)

  2. Very good Advice. I have been doing a book event [usually a Barnes & Noble book signing] once a week since November. I went on 2 -16 day tours. This is all so new and SO much fun but I am still working a full time job. What has sold the most books for me in one day was a radio interview. See if there is a 'Press Club' in your area and ask to be a guest.

  3. This is a much needed post. The letdown after the launch can be overwhelming. But marketing is crucial, of course and scheduling yourself with discipline is even more crucial. The up side is that you are in control and your fate is in your hands. Go with the flow and be positive...all things in the right time. I do think that traditional publishing will regret removing the bulk of mid-list authors and regret that it gave the writers' community tremendous power and authority over publishing. Think of it. There is a proliferation of reading and writing going on...never before in the history of traditional publishing did that occur. Amazing. Go with it.

    By the way, I joined your site. Please return the favor and join my blog? Appreciate the support:

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone, and Doreen, I would have never guessed. I'll look into it.
    Goldensylph, interesting thoughts, and maybe you are right. An article I read recently about a lawyer who had written a book stated that after endless rejections (because they didn't know how to classify her story) she decided to self-publish. She sold so many copies that she was offered a traditional publishing deal, but in the end she refused. She said she was receiving x% in royalties and if she took a traditional deal she'd be down to half of that, so why bother (not to mention the fact that she retains all rights to her book).

  5. Hey goodluck with marketing. I guess it is a tough job...:)

    Came from goodreads. :)
    Read that also

  6. This is an important post, so thanks for writing it. I think it's vital to ask yourself, "Why do I write?" Are you writing to make money or to be read? If it's to make money, well I guess you're stuck with focusing 150% on marketing. Frankly, if your strength is marketing I would seriously question your quality as a writer. And that might be okay - maybe you don't care about the quality of your writing, maybe all you're interested in is selling, selling, and more selling. My advice to you is to find a format that sells, and just keep writing it. Look at the top selling books right now - both self-published, and traditionally published, and see what's selling. Analyze the structure, the dialogue, the characters, and just copy that. But if you're writing not necessarily to make a lot of money - if why you write is to answer something deep inside of yourself, then spend a minimum amount of time at the marketing, and devote yourself entirely to writing your stories. Your readers will slowly find you. You will reach who you want to reach one book at a time. But maybe that's not good enough for you - only you can answer what kind of writer you are, and what kind of writer you want to be. I've been both a professional writer and one who is now self published. I've made good money through my writing talents, but now I'm able to write what I want to write, and in many ways it is much more fulfilling for me. Will readers find my work? Maybe. But I'm content to not overwhelm my life (and my writing) through marketing. There will be those who will tell you that you can do both at the same time successfully, and I will tell you that they are saying that to sell you something. Usually, they're trying to sell you their book about marketing, or writing, or some other self-help guide. There are too many people trying to get rich off the backs of writers, and I suggest to you not to be pulled in by those people. Listen to your heart, to your soul, to that part of yourself that no one really knows. That's the real writer inside of you. Make friends with that writer, give her a sanctuary and take care of her. And she will never let you down.

  7. Great advice Darlene, and food for thought. I write because I want to share my stories, because I believe they are worth reading. Knowing you cannot get around marketing is a harsh reality, because if you do not tell anyone you are out there, it will make finding you that much more difficult. Finding balance between them has to be the key...I hope ;o)

  8. Hi Debbie, nice post. I have been posting the same things on my blog as well so I know where you are. I must say(I don't know how good this is)but it is comforting to know that I am not here alone. Marketing is tough! Reading your post gives me encourgement and your right, we are writers first. Time management has been my downside. I have to check my "addiction" level to the internet as well. Thanks so much for keeping me encourged. Our voices will be heard and our books will be read. Keep your head up! CAR

  9. Hi Debbie, great advice. Thank you so much for posting this. Time switch off the internet lol. Hugs

  10. Debbie, I think you would get a lot out of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's updated and revised THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER that came out earlier this year. The updated one has the white cover. She's good at showing you which publicity things give you the most bang for your time. And she's definitely frugal! Good luck!