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!