We’ve all heard about the need for a work/life balance. This isn’t a new concept. The proverb, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” first appeared in James Howell’s book of proverbs and was later popularized in such movies as The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Shining. Perhaps the need for walking the tightrope has never been more in the forefront of our minds than for modern writers. How writers can find balance in their lives is a necessary and important quality when juggling marketing with creating.
This question comes with so many answers. On the one hand, regardless of how impressive your writing skills are, how will someone find your book? On the flip side, if you spend all of your time marketing, you aren’t writing new material. Let me break down how I see the savvy writer/marketer finding balance.
Before any thoughts of social media, networking, blogging, or advertising enter your head, you have to first make that book the best it can be. Imagine what would happen and how you would feel if you spent countless hours and perhaps even more dollars in marketing efforts only to have the reviews of your book be less than stellar.
I know what you’re thinking. If you only focus on writing what happens when you actually release the book? Will it find its place on Amazon only to hear crickets chirping in the background? I understand that you want to be able to shout about your book from the rooftops. It’s good to be excited about a project. It’s even better to work smart.
Instead of putting early time into marketing your book, focus on building relationships. As you write your book (and might I add…rewrite, edit and then rewrite again), it’s fine to connect with other writers and readers. Connecting with people is a universal need, not just a writer’s need. So, think of it in terms of the humanity behind the connection. Ask people about their interests. Take an interest in those interests. In short, be a friend…not a book promoter. Once your book comes out and has proven to be worthy of people’s time, then you have a reason to go back to these friends and tell them about your book…while of course, working on the next one.
There are millions of books on the market today. Even if your book has received praise from early readers, how will others find it if you don’t put in some marketing effort? When should the writing effort stop and the marketing effort begin?
I find that many authors refer to their books as their “babies” and yet, they certainly don’t treat these books like we would human offspring. I have three children and love them equally. I give them equal time in terms of help with their homework, driving to activities, and my love and attention. Can you imagine if I told you that I praised and loved the first born until the second one arrived and then I turned all of my attention to that child? You would be horrified and so would I. So therefore, why as authors do we tend to put in more attention to our new books and virtually forget our older ones?
Of course, book launches are necessary, as well as fun. But, a new book shouldn’t take priority over the hard work you’ve put in on the former books. Those early books should serve to market your newer ones so that each subsequent book is a testimony to those that came before it.
Imagine how comfortable you could be in terms of time and responsibility if you planned out and wrote three books…even two if that sounds daunting. As you market the first one, there’s another waiting in the wings. Even Amazon will help you along in your efforts by telling consumers, “If you liked this book, you might like this one.” But, if you don’t put in the time to write, there aren’t any books to market.
There are many stories of books that have seemingly been discovered by the masses and gone on to become major success stories. Fifty Shades of Grey was one of these ‘rumored’ overnight successes. Yet, upon closer inspection of the story behind the story, one finds that author E.L. James worked as a marketing executive. She knew how to leverage the marketing potential of her own blog to showcase her writing and garner the type of attention that eventually led to the publishing deal and subsequent sale of her book’s intellectual property rights that brought her worldwide attention.
But, more importantly than her savvy marketing skills, was the fact that she wrote the book that she wanted to see on the marketplace. For those who don’t know, E.L. James was a big fan of Twilight, and her book started as Twilight fan fiction. It was a story she had a passion for and as a result, she was able turn out three books, not just one.
It’s understandable that authors will consider not writing in favor of marketing simply because they know it’s hard to get their book discovered. Yet, if you spend all of your time marketing, you end up a one-hit-wonder. If your book was well-received, your readers are going to want a follow-up.
More importantly, you owe it to yourself to write for the love of the craft. Never forget why you decided to write a book in the first place. I’ve worked with writers for twenty years and never have I met one who told me they started writing as a way to get rich.
We are writers. We write because to not do so is unfathomable. Marketing our work is a necessary aspect that goes along with creating it. Yet, the balance between creativity and marketing is what will carry you through the hard times and see you through writer’s block.
For more tips and inspiration about the balance a writer must find in their life, check out Full Color Life: How to Live a Creative, Balanced Life.
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published by Shadow Teams NYC and represented by Lisa Hagan Books. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.