Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I thought I was writing books, but I'm in a marathon

I thought I was writing books, but I'm in a marathon. That's what I read on a blog (in so many words) earlier today. If you're a published writer you're also a promoter. If you've been a promoter long, you'll know it's a marathon not a quick sprint. This is particularly true if you're like me and not rich. The same article also stated that the average author spends between $3,000 - $15,000 promotion per book. Whoa! My husband would literally give birth to a cow if I spent even $1,000 promoting several books at once. The closest I've come to spending $1,000 is when I've attended writing conferences. I know it's recommended by promo gurus online and also by authors who have had more success. Lori Foster's husband advised me to take out big full-page ads in readers magazines. It's sage advice I know, but unfortunately, I just don't have the financial wherewithal to do that. So that means that I and other authors like me, have to put in a lot of time promoting our books. I also have an accounting/business background so I adhere to equations and this is a well-known formula in the writing/promo business: time x money = promotion. That's oversimplified, but both time and money have to be input to get your book news and author name into the readers' eyes. The more money is available for promotion (i.e. hire a publicist and purchase ads), the less time you have to devote to promotion. The less money is available for promotion, you must input more time. It's not always easy to find time, either. Many authors like myself, hold down day jobs. We have families and other obligations. And yet, we must devote some time to promotion or no one will find out our books exist. My current promotion project is learning how to Twitter. I've spent many hours in the past week reading articles about this new phenomenon and tweeting. Now that I'm feeling pretty comfortable with Twitter, I'm going to turn my focus to learning all about Facebook. More than half the articles I've read about promotion and Twitter recently tout Facebook as a place to be. I signed up months ago, invited two friends and haven't been back. I got busy writing and exploring the mysteries of MySpace and falling in love with blogging. Now it's time to return and forage ahead with Facebook. Promotion is a never ending pursuit. It's about learning and evolving and staying current with social media. It's about building relationships. Making new friends is the best part, but I will not lie and say it's the only part. Promotion, even with the world's savviest publicist on your side, is not done with a rocket ship. You can't blink your eyes like Genie in I Dream of Genie or wiggle your nose like like Samantha in Bewitched and get instant results. Instead you need to hunker down and get in the trenches. You need to prepare yourself for a long marathon. It tickles me and alternately annoys me or makes me feel sad for the person when a soon-t0-be-published first time author states that as soon as their first book is published they'll be rich. Yes, instant fame and wealth happens sometimes, but not very often. Success in the writing world is usually a combination of talent, perserverance, and hard work. Spending money on promotion is a shortcut. (Ask any direct mail marketer and they will tell you that you must spend money to make money.) Luck sometimes comes into play. Here's one last thought. Be prepared to fail. Also be prepared to pick yourself up from each failure, dust yourself off, and try a new way to accomplish your goal. I had a wise boss who built a number one organization in its league from scratch. He experienced several failures, but he kept trying new things until something worked. The company now has about twenty successful departments which together forges a top-notch organization. Good luck and gear up for the long haul.


Sandra Cox said...

Boy, isn't that the truth about promo. I signed up to twitter but haven't kept up with it.

Molly Daniels said...

I've checked in with you and another author on Twitter, but it looked complicated. I prefer Facebook. I'll look for you later:)

Hahahaha...when I first published, I envisioned the book tour, and fans ala the red carpet:) And when my alter-ego got her first contract, my hubby asked if he could go look at new trucks! I said, 'The royalty is going to be the same, so not until I build up mega-sales!'

As a first-time e-book author, I'm trying to decide how much is too much. With a week before the release, I've been pretty quiet, but I know I need to get more active on the chat loops. My fear is if I sign up for a chat, will anyone show up? That's sort of already happened, although who knows how many lurkers and digest readers were reading the posts. So who knows?

Regina Carlysle said...

I can't imagine spending that much money on promotion. I know some authors who buy a ton of giveaway stuff for the release of one book. I don't get that. I keep my purchases generic so that they don't become 'dated' and I take advantage of the free stuff.There's plenty out there.

Unknown said...

I completely hear ya! Your preaching to the choir and I'm AMENing from the back pew. Or at least that's how it feels being the last kid to enter the church and made to sit in between your grandmother and her nasty smelling

Self-promo is killer especially for a writer that isn't published. Trying to build your name so that you can have some thing on your resume is even harder.

But like many, I to have taken to blogging, twitter and myspace. Facebook is the IT baby for the moment, but I'm still not grasping it's mechanics. Hey, I'm not a computer nerd.lolol

Like you said, you have to persevere, and if you fall get right back up. Because for every failure it brings you that much closer to success. So I must be getting pretty close..lolol

Unknown said...

I have never given the whole promo deal a lot of angst ridden thought. People will buy or not and spending heaps of $$ is good at tax time but really to me it's like every thing in life - take it seriously up to a point and then just let it be.

Mia Watts said...

Am facing several promotion considerations as well with the next upcoming release. Fortunately none have cost me even close to 1k.

Unknown said...

Last night is truly the first night I did much with Facebook. From what I could see it was a lot of fun stuff - games and surveys and more loops for fan clubs and causes. I'm not sure how the promo part comes in. I was thrilled to find two of my cousins there I've not heard from in awhile and one answered me within less than 10 minutes!

I don't want to have to think about promotion or do any if the truth be known. I have kids, a hubby, a day job, and writing. I'd rather spend my time that way. But I've also come to rely upon a certain level of royalty which I'm afraid is very dangerous. I've not made new bills against it, but the rise in the cost of living without a subsequent rise in my day job's paycheck has made the royalties that much more crucial. So I have to try.

btw, if you're on facebook please help explain it to me. :)

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