Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy! I wrote a book; it’s been published; my name is on the cover! Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!
Wait—there’s MORE? What do you mean I have to market/promote the book if I want it to sell? You’re kidding, right?
Now there follows the dreaded PPP ( Post-Publication Panic). I don’t know anything about marketing/promoting! How am I supposed to do that?
Whether an author has embraced indie publishing or has been contracted by a traditional publisher the bottom line is the same: Write the book. Market the book. These days, unless your name is James Patterson, John Grisham, or Dan Brown, you’re probably not going to enjoy a lengthy, all-expenses-paid book tour with stays in five-stay hotels, gourmet meals, and public adulation. It’s a nice thought, but that’s all it is.
So you don’t know anything about marketing/promotion? Learn. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes away from writing time. Yes, it feels like spinning your wheels when you don’t make the New York Times Best Seller List.
Bottom line: it’s a pain in the patoot.
The internet is inundated with how-to advice: how to write the book, how to manage social media, how to sell thousands of copies of your $2.99 novel. For the most part, it’s good solid advice—but only as far as the individual author can utilize/implement it. One size doesn’t fit all.
There are pitfalls. You can break the bank with paid advertising or break down from sitting at the computer using social media and inputting information into writers’ sites which promise exposure. You can race from conference to conference lugging books and swag because someone told you it’s the thing to do. Make connections. Gain exposure. In the end, you can become so overwhelmed as to simply sweep the desk clean of to-do lists and give up.
OR—you can approach the task with restraint. One step at a time. It won’t happen overnight. And no matter what you do, some books will sell like hotcakes while others just sit and simmer on the back of the stove.
I’ve had to confront all of these scenarios since I turned my “hobby” into something approaching a serious business. I’ve had my share of successes as well as failures and frustrations.
If you’re trying to make a living with your writing, the bottom line has to be sales and whatever it takes to get them. But if you started out writing for your own pleasure, don’t let that slip away. Remember why you write. Embrace the joy. Admit your limitations, and leave the stress behind.
The expression “keeping up with the Joneses” applies to writers old and new. You can’t keep up. Every time you think you’ve hit your stride, you’ve really only copied someone else’s race.
Of course, you want your book “out there”. You want to sell. You want the recognition, and that’s okay. But at the end of the day, you have to make sure your priorities are straight. Who are you doing all this for?
If it’s not for you, then it’s time for some serious re-thinking, which is what I’ve been doing this winter. And when spring comes back again—and it will—you’ll find me writing just because I love the craft. Marketing/promotion? Oh, you’ll see me around doing what I find comfortable and not so time-consuming as to distract from my writing time.
Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy! I wrote a book! My name is on the cover! I loved every minute of writing it, and I’m going to do it again.
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