The more I learn about what it takes for an author (especially an indie published one) to get his or her name out there, the more I realize how vital marketing is. Especially within the online community. The bad news is, this kind of marketing takes a lot of time. The good news is, it’s mostly free. Marketing yourself isn’t really that difficult once you learn how—it just takes dedication.
What is Marketing?
My old boss used to say, “Everything is marketing.” It’s pretty accurate, too. Maybe not everything is marketing, but almost everything can be marketing. When I refer to online marketing, this is what it looks like for me:
- Putting together blog posts
- Spending directed time on Goodreads
- Updating and posting from my Facebook author page
- Finding, reading and commenting on useful blogs and/or articles
- Talking to people about my work
This isn’t an inclusive list.
Creating versus Marketing
I’ve found that most writers just want to write. They don’t want to hassle with the marketing aspect of the whole thing. Some assume that if they get picked up by a traditional publisher, that establishment will do all the marketing for them—an idea that’s not true (in fact, often before signing on a new writer, a publishing company will ask the author what his or her personal marketing plan is). If you’re a self-published author, you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of marketing your brand.
Of course, there are also those writers on the other end of the spectrum—those who are social butterflies online. In a way, they have one up on other authors because they don’t just get the whole networking thing, they thrive on it. They have connections everywhere on the internet. The problem is, often that’s where all their energy is directed. They’re spending all their free time online with little or no time left to actually write. And all the marketing in the world won’t help if you can’t get books out there.
I’m not criticizing authors for going to either extreme. I’m just expressing the two sides that pull at every writer. I’ve felt the tug in both directions. Since I learned about these two important sides of being an author, I think about them almost constantly. If I’m being really productive at writing for a good solid week, I worry that I’m neglecting the networking side of things. And if I’m spending quite a bit of time on social networks and blogs making valuable new connections, I feel guilty for not writing more. It’s a constant struggle. If you’re a published (or soon-to-be-published) writer, you might be feeling this tug-of-war, too.
I’ve talked about balance before. This is just another area where it’s vital. It’s easy for me to immerse myself in one side of the spectrum for a long period without coming up for air, but it’s healthier to get a good mix of both. I haven’t quite determined the best strategy yet, but I’m pretty sure it involves spending time on both each day.
They key to staying on top of things is to have a plan. With a concrete map of where you consciously choose to focus your time, you don’t have to worry about what you’re not doing at the moment. I’m in the process of figuring out what my own plan should look like. I’d love suggestions, if you’d like to share your ideas.
Do you have a plan? What does your writing time vs. marketing time look like? Which side comes easier for you? Which is more enjoyable?
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