Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ruminations on Marketing versus Writing

Unless you are in the top five percent of authors, represented by a large publisher, you will face the quandary of where to devote your time after your first publication: Writing, or marketing?

I don’t have the answer(s), thus the title “ruminations.” The answer is individualistic.

First, let me narrow the thinking to fiction. Non-fiction writers often have the opportunity to tie their marketing with their career. A doctor writing about health may simultaneously be increasing his practice and his larger career. E.g. Dr. Oz writing a book is cross promoting all the time. Of course he is already in the top 5 percent, but you get the idea.

Fiction writers have a harder balancing act. Do you write one book and spend a year promoting it, or do you keep writing, and writing, and writing?

I believe the latter is the better choice if you are serious about being a writer. If you have more than one book in you, you need to keep writing. Concentrate on writing.

If you have only one book in you and that book is published, then concentrate on marketing.

Concentrate on writing does not mean “ignore” other things. I can’t make the recommendation as to how to split your time, but serious writing means serious time. If you have a “day job” then realistically, your time split is probably: 1st) your day job 2nd) your writing 3rd) marketing. Of course if you have a family, then it gets messy.

Amanda Hocking is the self-published poster child for this. She wrote 17 novels in her “spare time.” Yes, she was a killer queen at marketing through social media, but she has said countless times that part of her promotional technique was to get the next book out there.

We don’t all have 17 novels waiting to come out in the space of a few years. One can also question the quality of each of those 17 novels. But, by putting out this much she was building an audience not just by marketing one book, but by diversifying and improving her writing by writing. Writing is a muscle. The more you write, the better it gets.

Even Amanda did not sell her million books with the first book, it took time. As you market your first book, you should be marketing your second book by writing about it, talking about it, Facebooking it, and so on. As you write your third book, you tie it to the other two, talk about the other two while writing. Make the writing symbiotic with the marketing, but don’t stop writing.

Unless you have only one book in you.

If you have only one book in you, then make it count and don’t rush to publication. Polish it. Make it great. Then you can switch gears and become a marketer.

Most writers I know hate marketing. You can’t do well at something you hate. Go back to writing and market the best you can, but know that each book you put out is part of your marketing, part of your portfolio, and make sure each book you put out is better, or at the very least broadens you audience base, and that will be a fine start to marketing. Both good writing and a career at writing take time. We try and warn all of our authors at New Libri that they need to be in this for the long haul and that we are not going to be panaceas for marketing. A small press is just a stepping stone away from self-publishing. We like to think it is a significant step, but we don’t kid ourselves or our authors. If you are part of a small press, know that part of the marketing that is implicit is that you benefit not just from each new book you add to the press’s portfolio, but benefit from each new book the other authors add to the press’s portfolio.

It is long haul.

1 comment:

  1. As you know, this is a question I have been struggling with since New Libri published Painted Black in February. I am lucky enough that thanks to a little freelance editing/writing I am, for the time being, not having to contend with a 9-5 day job. But I did find that by checking emails and social networking sites first thing every morning, I ended up obsessed with, and burning out on, marketing issues and got very little writing done.

    For me the answer that seems to be working is simple. Now the first thing I do when I sit at my computer is open up the current manuscript I am working on and review where I'm at and what needs to be written that day. Then usually I'm off writing right away until at least lunchtime or later.

    I've already gotten more writing done this week than I did the previous three weeks, so I think the plan is working!


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