Marketing, self-promotion, social networking. If you’re going to target or build an audience for your work, these tools are a necessary evil.
I know we would all rather be writing, or on the flip side, we should want to be writing instead of devoting excessive amounts of time to these secondary activities. The question is, how much time to spend on them, and where is that time most effective?
These terms are generally interchangeable, with Marketing having a more fiscally-connected connotation. But it’s all Marketing. Whether you are at a book signing, purchasing advertising, or tweeting about your latest chapter, you’re marketing your product, and yourself.
How much time and money do you spend on marketing? It depends. Where are you in the lifecycle of your product? Naturally, you are not going to spend much time when you first begin writing, you’re wrapped up in your story, as you should be. When you are nearing completion of your first draft, you find yourself talking to everyone about it. This is important self-promotion, priming your warm market. Then when you have your work polished and ready for submission, you build a website, and start trying to drive traffic to it from your existing social networks. These are all reasonable steps in the progression of your book.
But it is a delicate balance. Some writers can get caught up in their own hype, and spend more time Facebooking than writing. Others might overspend on ineffective advertising for a product they have not had properly prepared. Some writers choose to avoid marketing, or even publishing altogether, and have multiple volumes of a series lying in boxes, never to see the light of day. These are extremes you want to avoid.
First, have a professional with no vested interest in your work look it over. It may not even be worth pursuing. If that is the case, step back, evaluate whether or not you want to continue down this path. Take a few classes, rework, and resubmit. If your writing is worthwhile, have it edited. Friends are good for reading and catching some mistakes, but unless they are professionals, don’t treat them as such. I saw the episode of M.A.S.H. where they saved a guy’s life by jamming a pen in his throat, but I wouldn’t want me attempt it. It’s the same thing with your work. If it is valuable, treat it as such, spend the time and money to refine it.
Next, backburner your marketing efforts, but have them within arm’s reach. Log on and check your social media, but when you set aside time to write, log off and keep that time free of distraction. As you near certain points in the book’s progress, you may want to shift more time toward marketing, but be realistic. If your writing suffers, extra marketing may get you initial sales, but poor reviews and lower total revenue.