Amanda Luedeke

October 17, 2013

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Find Time to Market and Write and Not Give Up on Life

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Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

One of the top questions or complaints I get when discussing the whole “You HAVE to market your book!” thing with authors is the  time factor…and the fact that there is not enough of it.

“When do I find time to write?”

“How do I prevent from getting sucked into the social media world?”

“How do you strike a balance between writing and marketing?”

I hear these questions time and again, and they always come from authors who are wearing panicked expressions as the reality sets in that yes, marketing is an absolute must, and yes, the brunt of the marketing burden is theirs to bear, and no, after you get your publishing deal, writing the next book doesn’t get any easier mentally or physically or emotionally.

And my knee-jerk response?

We make time for the things that are important to us. I’ve never met an author who didn’t have time to read the next installment in their favorite series…or who wasn’t able to catch the latest episode of Downton Abbey/Doctor Who/Castle/etc., even if it mean DVR-ing it…or who failed to show up for their day job because they were too busy.

It’s all about priorities, and for most authors, marketing simply isn’t a priority because it’s viewed as WORK. And even worse, it’s a form of WORK that doesn’t result in a paycheck at the end of the week. As far as the author knows, it may NEVER result in a paycheck. So that’s where the trouble sets in.

It’s a mind game, really. I’ve had authors who have no job, no kids in the house, no responsibilities complain to me that they don’t have time to both write and promote. And I’ve had authors who are single parents of FIVE bust out plenty of marketing awesomeness while simultaneously meeting book deadlines.

So how do you do it? How do you go from author example 1 to author example 2?

1. Recognize and BELIEVE that marketing is the one thing that you can do to help ensure a long and prosperous career. It’s even better than writing a super awesome book.

2. Write down your list of priorities. It may look like A) full-time job (Whether you’re an executive, parent, or full-time student, this will take up most of your time, so it should go first simply from a mathematical standpoint), B) family, C) writing career (equal-ish parts writing and marketing/business managing), D) entertainment (tv, movies, games, reading…yes, I will argue until I die that reading is a form of entertainment more than it is a valuable career step), E) friends.

3. Track your hours. If your hours of entertainment outweigh your hours spent on your writing career, then you’ve underestimated the power of entertainment in your life. And either you accept the fact that entertainment is more important than your writing career, or you start to cut out the number of police dramas you take in.

4. Maintain a schedule. Because career hours are much harder to work in than, say, going to work every day or flipping on the tv after dinner, they can easily go ignored. Fact is, you can’t plan your career hours if you don’t know what they’re competing against. Keeping some sort of schedule will help you stay on top of responsibilities and ensure that your career doesn’t fall lower on your list of priorities. Plus, it will ensure that family doesn’t slip farther down that list either.

5. Write every day. Some authors have word count goals (Wesley Chu shoots for 3000 words per day…did I mention he has a wife, a full time job, and a couple books to promote?). Others simply determine to write SOMETHING. Even if it’s one sentence. That was my goal when I wrote my first novel amidst juggling two 30-hour-a-week jobs, a husband, church responsibilities, and more. I began to view my writing time as my “me time” and consequently cut out tv, friends, and the gym. Which I don’t recommend, but hey, I ended up with a completed manuscript amidst the chaos of life.

6. REMEMBER: One part writing : one part marketing. For every hour you write, I recommend spending that much time marketing and business managing. This rule will ebb and flow as deadlines and book releases come and go, but when you’re just in the midst of every day life, try it out and see how it goes. For those who are able to get a lot of marketing stuff accomplished in a short amount of time, give yourself freedom to adjust the ratio. Maybe it becomes two parts writing : one part marketing. For those that really suffer with staring at the computer when it comes time to do marketing work, I advice keeping the 1:1 ratio in tact.

This is only a start. The path to true balance comes with practice and dedication. And I’m not saying that because it sounds nice. It’s the truth. And for tips on how to spend those marketing hours? Check out The Extroverted Writer. It covers Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and more.

How have YOU struck a balance? Or maybe you’re still figuring it out? Share your thoughts below!

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11 Comments

  • Rebecca Waters says:

    Great reminder of time management. My first book is due to be released in March 2014 and thanks to a conversation you and I had at a writing conference last June, I have been actively engaged in laying down a solid foundation for promoting my book. Now as I am writing my second novel, I find I am more aware of marketing strategies even as i write.

  • Lisa Van Engen says:

    Great encouragement. Sometimes I grow so weary of the platform building, this is a great reminder to keep with it.

  • Ninie Hammon says:

    I always buy a book-for-my book when I start a novel. The book’s for keeping track of writing hours, signing in and out every day. (Tried word-count and ended up with a 117,000-word behemoth manuscript, bloated from daily attempts to reach my word-count goal.) I purchased a book-for-my-marketing and found it’s a whoooole lot harder to keep track of and stay on track with marketing. It’s a nailing-Jello-to-a-barn-wall kind of thing, hard to quantify.
    Random question: I don’t see you recommending that writers spend a lot of time connecting with book bloggers. Did I miss that or is that not something you see as valuable? Other marketing gurus maintain that’s where the pot of gold lies, that book bloggers will make or break sales and that you must develop genuine relationships with them so they will “know” you when you ask for a review. Any thoughts on that?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I’m not sure how effective book bloggers are. I tend to think that since they are always featuring books, it’s easy for yours to be a drop in the bucket and for readers to dismiss it in favor of the next reviewed book. So I would rather tap into non-book-blogs that hit my target audience. For example, let’s say your book features horses. We know there are lots of people who LOVE horses. I’d tap into those horse-loving communities and tell THEM about your book.

  • dabneyland says:

    Grrr, it is a mind game. Darn-it. I blamed the four kids, homeschooling, baseball/karate, and tutoring on my lackluster marketing efforts. But I wrote the book while doing these things. Geeze.

    Thanks for the guilt. I needed it.

    Dabney

  • :Donna Marie says:

    This aspect of the whole social media/marketing thing is what plagues me the most. To actually follow blogs, read posts and interact properly, it consumes so many hours. I DO have to get a handle on it.

  • Lee Thompson says:

    Great post, Amanda! I just picked up your book yesterday and started reading it. I struggle with this stuff more than anything, but I know it’s all in my head and I only hurt myself by not consistently promoting myself or having a game plan that plays to my strengths. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned and making it easy to understand!

    • Shaun Ryan says:

      Been standing in the middle of the same road myself, fingers in my ears. But you knew that.

      A plan is where it’s at, as Amanda points out. Otherwise it’s easy to get too scattered, or end up with a network that’s a closed circle and not really doing anything to promote you and your work to the wider world.

      Helps to have something to promote, too.

  • Great information.
    I’m a new author, but I’m a longtime reader. I value the authors who take time just to make connections with readers.
    I think the time spent on FB, Twitter, and Goodreads (and even blogs) is so important. However, some authors just use those to sell, sell, sell. Eventually, I’ve deleted some from FB and Twitter and quit following or visiting their blogs. And being a librarian and voracious reader, I hear/see a ton of author names each day. If you’re off my radar, I’ll often forget about you, which means I won’t purchase your book for my library or myself.
    I love those authors that I feel care about the readers more than sales. I’m active on a Goodreads group where Camy Tang hangs out—not to promote her books but to engage as a fellow reader. Erynn Mangum and Kirstin Billerbeck fill their blogs with daily life (Erynn) and celebrity and social news (Kristin). I buy their books without even reading the summary because I have a connection with them.
    So, I’m trying to think of what I like from authors as I plan my marketing.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep, I’ve talked about the importance of not overwhelming your fans. Fact is, if they haven’t bought the book within a month of release, they probably aren’t going to buy it. So it’s time to move on and find new readership groups, while maintaining a steady, non-sales-related relationship with friends/fans/people you interact with online.

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