As authors, we are driven to connect with our readers. We use Pinterest, we post on Instagram, we tweet on Twitter, and we create our author pages on Facebook. We post excerpts of our books on our blogs. Some of us form book clubs. We want to connect with readers, let them know what we’re working on, and hope one day with all the book buzz we’ve been building that on launch day, everyone is excited to read our books!
This all can be a marketing trap. There is only so much time in a day–especially if you have a day job or have kids, pets, or all of the above. A blog post about your inspiration is great . . . but could that time have been better spent working on your book?
We all love to use Canva to create aesthetics. They help us picture our characters, put us in the mood to write. But how long do you flip through photos to use? Search for that special font that will tie it all in together? Is creating an aesthetic that useful that you need to participate in every #aestheticthursday on Twitter, or do post a weekly aesthetic to your Instagram feed?
Here’s an aesthetic I made up for this blog post for my new couple Ivy and Logan:
It took me close to an hour to make this. Choosing pictures, looking at font, and waiting for Canva to stop dragging (it really slows down my Chrome browser for some reason) and apply the filters I wanted to the photos. Do you know how many words I can write in an hour? A thousand. When you are fledgling writer, or a person fighting for time to write, an hour is a valuable amount of time. And what will I do with this aesthetic? Post it on Instagram? Maybe Tweet it? (Most likely, leave it here for your eyes only. 🙂 ) You can be a million places online, but you can’t continually post the same things. So the hour I took to make this will equal into only a few minutes of media exposure for the graphic.
Not a very big return on investment, if you ask me.
You can make graphics to feature pretty lines from your WIP, you can play Instagram games and try to draw readers and writer friends to share the excitement of your book, but here’s the thing: Sooner or later you’re going to have to produce the book.
Otherwise, what are you building buzz for?
After a while, if you can’t come up with a publication date, if you can’t announce some kind of plan, all your marketing is going to do the opposite of what you’re trying to do. No one will listen to you anymore. Because everyone will think you’re full of crap. Anyone can pull a pretty sentence out of thin air and say it’s from the book their working on. But is it?
And you have to keep in mind that while you’re blogging about your character’s interests and hobbies, other writers in your genre are getting it done. They’re publishing regularly and the only social media they’re engaged in is creating ads for their books.
So, here’s the thing. You want readers. You’re marketing. Write the book. If you’re not writing, and only messing around, then be honest with yourself that no, you’re not going to produce a book, the lines and characters will never see the light of day, and be prepared for that eventual drop in traffic on your social media platforms.
Readers read. And they can only read books that are published.
It’s easy to get caught up in marketing and building your social media presence. It’s fun to play with website templates and creating covers for books not written yet. And I’m not saying it’s bad to do those things.
But if you have a limited amount of time to write, you should be writing. All those writing memes aren’t wrong.
I’m not trying to be snarky, or make you feel bad if you happen to do more Canva creating than writing. But I am trying to tell you that the writing is on the wall. Independent writers are publishing three to four books a year. I know for myself I’ll be rapid releasing four books around the holidays, providing that nothing goes terribly wrong with my family or my job.
There’s a lot of debate about trying to keep up with your fellow authors or doing your own thing. But what if I told you that you don’t need to tell everyone all the time what your characters are eating, or what their favorite color is? Why not let them discover those things as they are reading your book?
Sometimes you need a reality check. Or sometimes you just have to tell yourself the truth: that you’d rather play than write. And that’s okay. We all have our things. I write a lot and surround myself with people who do the same. They write and they want to make money from their books. I hang out with like-minded people because I have a business ethic and feed off the energy of others.
Publish or get left behind. And that’s not me saying that to be mean, that’s the harsh reality of the fast-pace independent publishing industry. You can only stay relevant in the industry for so long if you aren’t going to produce content.
Sorry, folks. But you gotta pay to play.
What do you think? Is there a place for someone who will market for two years before producing a book? Let me know what you think!
Some other articles on marketing before your book is ready:
When should you start promoting your book?
BOOK MARKETING PLAN THE DEFINITIVE CHECKLIST
by Tim Grahl
I see people do that AestheticThursday and think, gee, that’d be fun… and then never do it. I prefer to let people fill in the details in their own minds, I’m not casting the movie. I don’t do Pinterest, I’ve all but given up on IG, and while I still have a Facebook account, it admonishes me when I do log in that “your readers haven’t heard from you in a while.” There are only so many hours in the day, and most of them are taken up by my day job.
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I completely understand! There’s only so much content to go around, too, and I’d rather save my brain power for my books. Good to hear from you!
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I don’t do the “sharing about my WIP” for my readers, I do it largely for me. I have been trying to scale back on what I do share though because I do want them to have their own interpretations of the story. I’m pretty much a fail at the aesthetics lol so I no longer do those, and I’ve stopped wanting to share lines because 9/10 those won’t be the final lines. I’m doing the character takeover because I’d love people to ask questions, allows for engagement on the blog, and it helps me catch things I may miss when reworking the previously broken character arcs.
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Whenever you can find engagement, that’s a good thing. 🙂
I have *tried* to set aside marketing days and writing days. Then I let myself get lax and haven’t done either. LOL I’m always my biggest hurdle in a lot of ways and while I won’t ever be a writer that puts out a ton of books a year, my goal is at least one. I call myself a turtle writer for a reason. LOL But your point is correct in some ways. I don’t really worry about all the graphics and such until after the book is done. I don’t need the added distraction. LOL
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that kind of marketing, when you have to set aside time, to me means analyzing ad content, numbers, clicks vs sales, that kind of thing. math. the other “marketing” is just killing time. LOL i think if you run ads, you definitely have to make time for analysis. or your ROI could be in the lower depths of hell and you won’t know. Looking forward to a blog update, Meka!
Hi, I am a marketer. What I understand that here you are trying to emphasise in the quality of the writing than on the quantity or how you promote it. I find your ideology quite useful, but I have one question. Are you just focusing on marketing as promotion here, or is it everything related to marketing. What I can understand, all your time involved in the production of the content that you are producing is promoting itself in many ways. So, I feel that you are going for a content-focused promotion. Please let me know if you think my understanding is not right.
I think content marketing if you write non-fiction is easier than when you write fiction, like I do. I’m trying to get better at sharing snippets, and I know a lot of authors who will record videos of themselves reading excerpts. We always say the best marketing is to write another book, but if you don’t market somehow, you’ll have a big list with no readers. I think I’m going to maybe cool off on learning ads and focus more on promotions. 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Thanks for clarification. Got the concept now.
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This article is really great. Love to read your other blogs….keep posting!!
thank you! that means a lot! 🙂