Marketing and finding time for it is, for many authors, irrespective of whether they are self-published or traditionally published, a bane. It is often a source of irritation because writing time has to be sacrificed to attend to it. Nonetheless, it is a necessary element in the authoring process. Without it how are readers to know the book(s) exist? Of course, there are some authors who primarily write for themselves, their relatives and their friends, and are not concerned about wider distribution. However, a majority would like to get their book(s) into the general reading community.
Undoubtedly, the best approach is to have a marketing plan. General advice from both professional and experienced writers and author help organisations and sites support this. Prior to preparing a schedule the author needs to determine their actual time availability taking into account such things as:
- Travelling: for those who have full or part-time employment. (Of course, unless driving, they may utilise this time for other things.);
- Work: again for those who have a job;
- Family: authors who neglect time with their families do so at their own, and their families, peril. (This applies whether there are children or not.);
- Care: for those who look after relatives.
- Domesticity: e.g. cleaning; shopping; preparing meals; maintenance; gardening; etc.;
- Pet care: e.g. walking the dog; changing the litter; defleaing; etc.;
- Exercise: keeping fit, beside having physical benefits, is also good for the mind, thereby helping authors to work at full capacity;
- Self: people often forget everyone needs some time for themselves;
- Reading: authors should always be reading other authors books, not just their own;
- Other events and tasks: Everyone is unique and has varying demands upon their time.
Authors need to be realistic when assessing how much time is required for each activity. It may help to monitor each over a number of days prior to establishing a plan. Once determined they may sit down and decide how to portion and allocate the time remaining. The following are some suggested activities for which time will have to be allotted:
- Writing: naturally, this is a prerequisite for authors;
- Proofreading and Editing: necessary procedures if the author is to produce the best book possible;
- Blurb/Synopsis: (Blurb: for back of book and book retail pages.) (Synopsis: where an agent and publisher are sought.) These are notoriously difficult to write and consequently, take more time than is normally appreciated;
- Metadata: Front and Back matter e.g. copyright statement; dedication; genre; category; keywords; etc. It is widely accepted such information may have considerable impact upon a book’s discoverability;
- Cover design and/or purchase;
- Submitting manuscripts: applies for both self and traditional publishing;
- Publicity: e.g. cover reveal; pre-publication promotion; pre-order set up; etc;
- Marketing: in its various forms and formats;
- Blogging: ideally all authors should at least have a blog and/or website. Writing and, where necessary researching, posts frequently takes far more time than people initially realise;
- Social Media: maintaining a regular presence is considered important by many. Beside a website and/or blog, social media is where most readers get to know, and interact with, the authors they like and follow.
Undoubtedly, people will be able to think of additional time demanding requirements.
It has been suggested ‘burnout’ may be a major reason for authors giving up on marketing. For example: in the first flush of enthusiasm some my mentally allocate fifteen hours a week for marketing when in reality they only have fifteen minutes a day, or less, available. They may also propose a daily routine when the time left them only enables two or three visits a week. Inevitably they will not be able to meet the unrealistic fifteen hour target and will consequently suffer frustration, disappointment, a sense of failure, or maybe worse. Depression, mild or serious, is a terrible thing and is very hard to get from under. It certainly prevents people from working at full capacity.
Though it may be seen as a bane and a further frustration to achieving their writing goals, authors, if they are serious about getting their book(s) into readers hands, need to market.
To be effective they must first assess their time availability and then formulate a realistic marketing plan based upon that assessment.
Once established authors should stick to the schedule for two or three weeks and then re-assess. If it is working then fine but if they find it is draining their energies or not achieving the aim, a revised plan should be prepared. This time it may be based upon the realities of what they have experienced.
Marketing is frequently, if not always, a trial and error process. Perseverance is essential. Eventually, the author will find a formula that works for them, though they can never rest back on their laurels: the world is constantly changing and along with it such things as taste, likes, fashion, social media, etc. Reading tastes are not exempt. To be constantly effective, marketing plans need to kept under review and amended as becomes appropriate.
Please feel free to add any further insight you may have into the topic of ‘time for marketing’ by means of a comment.
Note: At the time of writing the world is in the grip of Coronavirus consequently, during lockdown, some of the activities mentioned in this article may not be happening. Nevertheless, a few remain relevant combined with the fact matters will, eventually, return to normal, though it has to be accepted ‘normal’ may be different to what it was before the pandemic.