Putting emphasis on marketing over writing: an indie author issue.

It’s probably not a secret by now that I find a lot of my blog post ideas on Twitter. Be that something i don’t agree with, or something I whole-heartedly stand behind, or even something going on that I have an opinion about and want to share with others who might find that event (for lack of a better word) interesting.

Writer Twitter is fascinating, to say the least. Lots of ideas ranging from “you can’t make a living writing” to “a book deal is the only way to go” make a unique experience when you’re scrolling through the #writingcommunity hashtag.

Obviously I have my own ideas when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, and I believe in a few things that not all indies agree with: writing to market, picking a genre and sticking with it to build an audience, not using Twitter as a place for successful promo. I could probably list a few more, but it’s not important.

Today I saw a tweet from Joanna Penn, and she had commented on Lindsay Buroker’s tweet about how many books she has published:

I’ve listened to Joanna’s podcast enough that I totally read her tweet in her voice and British accent! Joanna always exudes an enthusiasm with indie publishing and life in general that sometimes it wears me out listening to her. But her excitement is usually infectious and it makes me glad that I’m an indie author and part of her community.

This is a really long intro into what I wanted to talk about today. I think that Joanna’s right in that indies put a lot of emphasis on marketing and not enough (or as much as they should) on the actual writing and publishing side of things.

The saying is true that the best marketing is writing your next book but we get really caught up in the excitement that comes with a launch and we want to push that book as long and as hard as we can. I don’t want to take away the satisfaction that comes with writing and publishing a book–we should always celebrate that–but as another saying goes, this is a marathon not a sprint, and you can celebrate the first mile, but trust me I ran a half marathon (once a long time ago) and the first mile isn’t much when you think you have twenty five more to go.

Lindsay’s brilliant career aside, I made up a list of the real reasons why it’s better to publish consistently, even if that’s just two books a year.

The Amazon algorithms will favor your book around your launch period. Amazon wants to give you boost, and anyone who launches well in their categories without doing any work can tell you this. They give you a head start, so to speak, but it’s up to you what you do with it. Most indies drop the ball because they haven’t mastered ads, or they don’t have a newsletter, or they think they can keep ranking without doing anything. But a good launch ranking is more of an illusion than anything else and if you don’t use it, you’ll sink like a stone. Publishing consistently will at least keep the Amazon’s algorithms eyes on you and as you and your books build momentum, the little push Amazon gives you can turn into something useful. All it takes is a little spark to create a flame.

Here are the stats from an author I know who launched a book during the first week of August 2019:

A friend and I were chatting about how well he was ranking for a first time author without prior books released. We didn’t know then that it’s normal to rank higher during launch week. Those aren’t bad numbers for a new author with no backlist, newsletter, no ads running, and no audience. I can’t give you the exact date he published as he re-released his book in the summer of 2020, but it just goes to show that Amazon wants to help you. Use that to your advantage.

Your Amazon Ads will do better. There are a ton of things I could talk about with ads, but the most relevant one concerning this blog post is the fact that if you’re running ads to old books, it’s like pushing a boulder up a mountain. I think it was Robert J. Ryan in his book Amazon Unleashed that used the metaphor. You might make a little headway, but in the end it probably won’t work that well. I skimmed through the first part of his book trying to find it, but I can’t. I’m pretty sure I read it in his book though, and it’s a great resource if you’re looking for more information about running Amazon ads. It all comes down to relevancy. All my books are over a year old and I try like crazy with ads to sell them. It doesn’t matter how much I bid, how high my daily budgets are, Amazon knows they’re old, and to be fair, Amazon knows they didn’t launch well. It’s tough to make Amazon care about your book and if you waste your launch period, it’s even harder.

Your frontlist sells your backlist. That’s something I’ve heard many times, but it’s not applicable if your lone book is your backlist and no frontlist is forthcoming anytime soon. This is especially important if you’re writing in a series. I still see so many indie authors trying to push a book one, when they aren’t even writing book two. What is the point of that? All that work you’re doing right now to bring readers into your series, you’re going to have to do over and over every time you release a book. Yeah, you can get them onto your mailing list and keep them updated as you write more books, but honestly, I’ve only seen this work for established authors who have an audience and that audience trusts them to follow through with the series. I’m going to stop there because I’ve blogged about that many times. But here are a couple more articles on frontlist selling your backlist.

What is a Backlist?

We Need to Talk About the Backlist

You’re giving readers what they want. As your audience grows, you’ll be giving your readers what they want. Being prolific can add stress and pressure to your career, but when readers are looking forward to your next book, that’s a good problem to have. I feel sorry for George RR Martin. Readers really want the next GoT books, but he’s stated the pressure is so intense it’s given him writer’s block. Of course, we can all hope to have the problem the size of George’s, but as you grow an audience they will look forward to every new release and publishing consistently feeds them. Out of anything on this list, this reason is probably the most important in the argument for consistent publishing.

As indies we talk so much about marketing that we forget we need something to market. I’ll never forget the writer who started Bryan’s Amazon Ads Profit Challenge and asked after we started: Do we need a book published for this? I get we can be excited and sometimes that excitement is putting the cart before the horse. Writing is hard. Learning ads is easy compared to that. Writing is hard. Playing with Canva is a lot more fun. Writing is hard. Writing a blog post or updating your website is a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Writing is hard. It’s easier to read in your genre and call it research.

Not everyone can be like Lindsay and have several 10,000 word days a week, but she does, and it’s no secret how she can write a 150,000 word epic fantasy novel in just a few weeks’ time.

Being prolific helps with marketing. It’s a lot easier to market if you have a new launch every few months.

I don’t have a system yet as to how I write and publish books. Publishing consistently gives the process almost an assembly line feel, but I try not to think of it that way. If you have a process, you’re much better off to think of it as being efficient with your time rather than typing The End, looking up from your laptop and yelling, Thank You, Next! a la Ariana Grande and shoving the manuscript on to your editor. Just because you publish frequently doesn’t mean you don’t care about your books or characters less than someone who has to take a year to write a book.

In a previous blog post I talked about taking time with your launches, enjoying your books, giving them room to breathe. I haven’t done that, not with the 13 books I have completed on my laptop because I enjoy the writing process so much. I jump from one finished book to the next without regard for how how I’m going to publish them or when. I may have gotten carried away with the writing part of it, but at least I’ve got the hardest part down pat.

As a friend likes to say, it’s all about the books. But you can’t market if you don’t have any. Create the product then worry about the rest later.

Until next time!

Thursday Thoughts: How fast do you write?

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope the week is treating you well.

There isn’t much going on in my corner of the world. I’m close to finishing my fake fiancé billionaire romance. I keep saying I’m going to take a break from writing and do other things, things I need to do like set up my newsletter, but I always dive into another book. After this book is done and breathing, I will get my newsletter sorted out and go through the edits my beta reader will give me when she’s done with my ugly duckling trope I gave to her a few weeks ago. I’m going to have my newsletter link and welcome email ready for the back of that book and publish it as soon as it’s ready. That is my plan for the next couple of months, providing everything goes well.

I only say that because I’m still dealing with this infection and while it’s only a bit painful and uncomfortable, it still takes away my focus. With any health issues, minor or major, sometimes you can’t help but worry about what’s going on. Thinking I might have to live with this for the rest of my life (there are only so many rounds of antibiotics I want to subject my body to) causes me some stress, though thank goodness I don’t have the anxiety I had at the beginning of the year. I admire anyone who can write while they have health issues, mental or physical. I am doing my best to stay positive and keep writing, and hopefully, one day, this too shall pass.


On that note, I want to talk a little bit about writing speed. There’s been some talk on Twitter about quality versus quantity, and the majority agreement seems to be you can’t have both. I have to admit, this makes me a little cranky because as someone who has a lot of time to write, and uses that time, I do manage to write a romance novel of about 75k to 80k in about two months, give or take. Writing in 3rd person past tense was harder for me for some reason, and writing in 1st person present tense, the books seem to go faster. All that is besides the point though. There will be writers who take years to finish a novel, and there will be others who can finish a book in a month, or even a couple of weeks.

I think one of the main reasons we still think it should take time to write a book is because the traditional publishing industry only publishes one book a year by an author. (Normally. Nora Roberts’ publicist just mentioned on Nora’s FB official page that Nora writes four books a year. They have to go somewhere.) That is their publishing schedule, and we tend to to think they do that because the author needs that year to write the book, when in reality, that author probably wrote that book in three months, and it takes the rest of the year for edits, book cover design, formatting, and a huge marketing push before the book comes out.

With indie publishing, any timetable is non-existent. Write as fast as you want, publish when you want. Depending on the genre–romance, cozy mysteries–authors can write books quickly, send them off to their editors, hire out formatting and book covers, and keep up with a schedule that might seem grueling to some, but easy for them. That does not mean their books are crap.

I really resent anyone who implies my books are crappy because I can write them in a reasonable amount of time. There are writers who are faster than me. Lindsay Buroker averages 10k to 12k days (not weeks) regularly. Does that mean her words are crap? She’s a seven figure author. She’ll tell you her readers say, no, her books are not crap. There are writers who dictate and can write thousands of words an hour. Do I feel slow writing romance? Maybe. I feel REALLY slow knowing I haven’t published anything since early 2020 and I’m taking the steps I need to rectify that.

I could go into my daily routine and show you all my obstacles and how I write despite them, but you all know I’m divorced and a single mom of two human kids and three cat kids. I work full time. I do the shopping alone. I read fiction and nonfiction, write this blog, spend time with my sister, listen to podcasts, and go for walks. I still write 10-15k words a week.

If you have to belittle someone for using the time they have to write, you need to look at yourself and your own schedule. Where does your time go? What is your mindset? Where do you want your career and business to go and how fast? Do you think of your writing as a business or is it just a hobby? If you say you don’t want to write one day because you’re not in the mood and all you’ll write is crap, guess what? You need to write the crap before you write the quality. In quantity comes quality. It takes thousands of hours of practice to master anything. If you don’t put in those thousands of hours, you won’t have the quantity and your quality will suffer. I learn something new about myself and my writing every time I write a new book. A writer will never stop learning, and every book he writes will be better than the one before. That’s quality and quantity in a nutshell.

Craig Martelle did a 5 Minute Focus on the topic of quality. You can listen to it here:

So please stop sneering at the people who write quickly. It doesn’t mean their books are terrible. There are going to be terrible books out there. A debut novel will never sound as good as that author’s tenth, even if they worked on it for five years. I’ve clocked a lot of hours writing, a lot of hours going through beta readers’ notes, and editors’ comments. I write. I learn. I write some more. I’ve earned a two-month book.

If you want to increase your speed, here are two great resources! Check them out. 🙂

Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love is a fabulous resource.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Also, Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour will help you boost your word count.

Photo grabbed from Amazon.com

Chris also did a really fun interview on the Six Figure Authors Podcast where he talks about writing speed, making your writing time count, and writing to market. I love listening to him speak, and you can listen here:


And last, but not least, I’m formatting interview answers by the lovely Barbara Avon! She’s been writing and publishing for a little while now and she has some great advice when it comes to navigating the indie publishing world. I’m also giving away a paperback copy of her book Sacrilege and a $25 dollar Amazon gift card. That interview will show up on Monday, so check back and enter!


That is all for now, I hope you have a lovely weekend! Keep writing!

Until next time!