Certain bloggers, including some influential writers, have been saying for awhile now that authors shouldn’t worry too much about marketing. They should write the next book. As the idea has spread some are replacing the too much with not at all. They claim that writers should just keep writing and publishing books without worrying about the whole marketing side. Let the readers discover your work. The cream will rise.
There are a couple of important kernels of truth in this. One book does not make a writing career. It takes at least three books to start gaining traction as a writer. So if you are spending all your time marketing that first book and wondering why you aren’t getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to get back to writing.
You also shouldn’t be spending all your time on marketing. Marketing, especially social media marketing, can be a huge time suck. You can spend hours on facebook and twitter pretending that you are actually achieving something when really you are not.
But you do have to do some marketing. If you doubt me, here is a simple experiment. Go to Amazon, or wherever your book is being sold, and start browsing for it. By browsing I mean don’t use the search bar to type in the title. Instead use the mouse to find books and then your genre. Unless you are a best seller in your genre, your book won’t be on the first page. In fact you might be shocked at how many pages you have to scroll through before you do stumble across your title. How likely do you think it is that the average reader, looking for a new fantasy novel, will scroll through a hundred pages of other titles to discover yours? Not very.
If you don’t market, your book will likely sink into the growing sea of books published every year. They may not remainder and go out of print, like in years past, but they will sink into obscurity.
How much time and effort should you spend on marketing? I have yet to find a simple answer for writers. I have found a simple answer in books on self employment and writing is a form of self employment. Self employment books warn that most small business will only be able to bill for about sixty percent of what they do. The other forty percent of their time will go to the business end of things, book keeping and marketing.
While there are differences between being a freelance auto mechanic, for example, and being a writer, they are both self employed. I try to spend the majority of my time writing, but I dedicate a significant minority to the business side of things, especially marketing.
The challenge presented by marketing is how to do it effectively without wasting a lot of time. That requires you identify the things that make the most effect on your sales and concentrate on those. Personally this is still a work in progress and I don’t claim to be the expert.
I try to keep a balance of time spent on promotions, blogging, time spent on social media, etc. and new writing. As I learn new tricks and ideas I will share them, so stay tuned.
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