Chip MacGregor

November 13, 2012

How do I balance marketing and writing?


Someone asked, “What is a realistic schedule for writing that second book while promoting the first book?”

This will be unique to each author, since each person writes at his or her own pace. But if a novelist takes seven or eight months to create a novel, that means she will need to block out time in her schedule to market the releasing book as she creates the next one. It can be tough — do you spend all your time marketing the first book? Do you spend it writing the second book? Where’s the balance? This is why I encourage every writer to create a writing calendar, where you can map out which projects you’re working on for the next year or two — whether it’s writing, editing, marketing, or just taking time away to reflect on the next book.

Generally speaking, most authors find they simply must help market their releasing book right around the time of release — so build that into your calendar. I realize you didn’t get into this business to be a full-time marketer, but you don’t want to let the book release and do nothing. So build in some marketing time, if not in your regular week, at least some focused time during the release season.

By the way, here’s one piece of advice I’m famous for sharing: Good is always better than fast. Your publisher will want books fast, since he is in the business of selling as many books as possible. So he might push you to write a new book every four months — and will almost certainly encourage you to create a new book every six months, so you have one releasing each selling season. But if you require eight months to craft a good novel, then agreeing to the six-month plan is career suicide. You’ll either miss all your deadlines (and sour the relationship with your publisher) or release bad books (and sour your relationship with your readers). Don’t take the bait. Focus on doing good books, not fast books, and you’ll be happier. I’ve known plenty of authors who were unhappy they rushed a book, but I don’t know that I’ve ever met an author who was unhappy because she took her time and created a great book. Good is always better than fast.

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  • Soul Supply says:

    Thanks for this post Chip.

    Not sure about your automotive knowledge but good is better than fast is exactly illustrated by the Toyota Tarago. In the early ’80s the auto market was scrambling for people movers as they currently scramble for SUVs with the demise of the front bench seat in a sedan.

    Mitsubishi hurriedly placed some windows, splashed some poor carpet across the floor and inserted most basic seats in their courier van, the L300 – it was an immediate sales success until three years later when Toyota released the Tarago, which was a dedicated people mover, with a long lead time and not a tarted up commercial vehicle. The L300 struggled for sales for the next decade until it finally failed in the marketplace and Tarago still tops its segment today.

    Keep up the great work,

  • Kathy Harris says:

    Good stuff, Chip. Thanks!

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    Thanks for the insight. I’ll keep this in mind — when I get to that point!

  • Mart Ramirez says:

    Great post, Chip!

  • Jennifer M Zeiger says:

    Awesome idea of a writing calendar. I’ve heard of writing goals with deadline dates but the calendar idea seems a step farther. Thanks.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yeah, a writing calendar (which you can tie to a writing budget, in order to see how much your writing will pay you) is a practical step to take, Jennifer. Glad you like the idea.

  • Meghan Carver says:

    Excellent advice. Thanks!

  • Amy Simpson says:

    Great advice here, Chip! Very helpful.

  • “Good is always better than fast”. I wonder if Lance’s people are saying the same thing.

    I heard another phrase a year or 25 ago, “good is the enemy of best”. I’m not aiming for good, I’m aiming for “knock your socks off”.

    I’m not going to balk marketing at because I want MY name out there. But I’ll never bend to having my name on a mug. Unless my kids made it.

    PS-my crit partners sent me here…nice digs, Chip.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. And no, Lance long ago disagreed with me, thinking “fast is better than good.” Which might be true for a while, or when relatives are showing up unannounced and you want the kids to pick up their toys, or you’re being asked to eat liver. But rarely in life is “fast” better than “good.”

  • Karen Morris says:

    I love the idea of a writing calendar. Seeing your schedule in print can help us turn “someday” into a specific day. And even if you have no deadlines imposed by your publisher/editor right now, it never hurts to get in that mindset early on…so it isn’t a shock to your system when you do get that call.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yes — I started using a writing calendar when I was making my living as a freelance writer years ago, Karen. It keeps you on track. Glad you like the idea.

  • Becky Doughty says:

    Good is always better than fast. Good is always better than fast. Good is always better than fast. I’m reminding myself of this while I wait. And write. And write and wait some more.

    This also applies to offers of representation and/or publishing offers. Don’t just take the first agent or pub offer you get. Make sure it’s a good agent/pub offer, not just the fastest one.


    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yeah, I agree with that, Becky. Decisions I’ve raced into tend to be the ones I regret. (“You should BUY those leather pants, Chip! They’ll look great on you!”)

    • Becky Doughty says:

      Must have been a needy writer who preferred leather over plaid and was trying to butter you up. Stick with the skirt – it works. That’s my sage advice….Although, I hear that the Hunger Games craze has inspired a whole new world of Steampunk leather jumpsuits. Hm.

    • Ahahaha!! That was spoken like a true Braveheart!!

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