Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Balancing Act

Writers enjoy, or at least can tolerate, hours of being alone with their thoughts. I’ve met many people who talk about writing a book but never do it. I can predict the ones who won’t ever “find the time”. They’re outgoing and always have full social calendars. In other words, people who need people - a lot. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found writing and a full social calendar to be mutually exclusive. My friends who are way more outgoing than I would be miserable sitting in  a room alone for hours and hours writing. And hours. More hours. I can hear their agonized screams.
Which brings me back to the subject of career writers making social media and promotion work for us. Frequent discussions among writers about jumping into social media, mingling at conferences, and self promotion have familiar subtexts. They are:

  • “Oh God. Do I have to?”
  • “No, no. Don’t make me!”
  • “If I have to, I will.”
  • “Is there another way?”
  • “Okay. Fine. I’ll do something.”< insert long sigh>
Those who shudder at the “get out there” advice are just being normal writers. Translation - hermits. There are two schools of thought.
  1. Yes, you have to promote yourself and your books. No one will buy your book if they don’t know about it. Blog! Do blog tours! You don’t have a Facebook page! Are you insane? Get one! Like yesterday!
  2. Write book. Release book. Repeat. Yes, put up a nice looking website that lists your books. But do it and get back to writing. Fast.The best promotion of your writing is to write more books and stories.
Yes, I know you’ll get advice to promote. For all the writers whose sales spike, an equal number who don’t see a big change. But here are some tips based on my l-o-o-oong experience:
  • A static website with updates really is a standard these days. If your site includes a blog and people get on your nerves, turn off comments.  :-)  Blog about subjects related to your books such as historical facts, info about the setting of book or series, etc. You know; stuff that interests you. People who read your books will also be interested.
  • If you can, take your time and find SOMETHING to enjoy about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, etc. No rush. Pick one. Sometimes you just have to give it a chance. Took me a good two years to “like” Facebook.
  • Promotion and marketing does work - trouble is nobody can predict when or if it will work for you. Manage your expectations. I’ve found that one ad or effort rarely leads to blockbuster results. That’s like winning the lottery. It happens, but... A cumulative effect is the reality for most authors. I’ve been doing various things since 1995. Yeah, that long.
  • Spend most of your time writing.
Here is my super simple Facebook page. No bells, no whistles. Tip: I have a different personal profile (different e-mail addy) . When I blundered into Facebook two years ago I made the mistake of just putting up a page. Soon I had writing related “friends” I hardly knew mixed in with family. My brother, nephew, cousins, old buddies shared pics and information really on suitable for my personal circle. Some of my peeps fell into the TMI trap. Smile Thanks to a VA (virtual assistant), my first personal profile was switched to a “page”. I set up a new profile and re-invited family and “almost family” friends to “friend” me again. Much better.

Now your turn. Share promo tips and what has worked for you so we can help each other.
Lynn Emery


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm on facebook with a regular pge. I should set up an author page. maybe when I have some time. :)

Lynn Emery said...

The FB page is easy, Charles. But no rush. Have fun and write first! LOL

bettye griffin said...

Lynn, I have a blog post today with the same title of "Balancing Act." Mine is about working on more than one project simultaneously. Is that a hoot, or what?

Lynn Emery said...

Great minds... ;-)

I worked on two books, and had 3 deadlines once. Never again. Found out I'm no good at it, my brain ached! I also caught myself writing the name of one character in the scene of the wrong book =80 I made through those weeks, but had nightmares for a while LOL

Liane Spicer said...

“Oh God. Do I have to?”

LOL. You're on to me all right...

I haven't done much in the way of actual promo, but I've covered the bases, I think: blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and (grudgingly) Twitter. I'm not a fan of FB or Twit, but I do enjoy being part of a blog community. I basically maintain an online presence and post a promo item or two now and then. Selling oneself goes so much against the grain for me! I have no problem posting promo articles on behalf of other writers, though.

From what I've observed over the past six years, writers who team up with others and cross promote with a vengeance tend to see results. In a number of instances that I've observed, splendid results, up to getting on bestseller lists. The network creates a buzz even before the books are released by writing articles, reviews, interviews, hosting blog tours etc.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Yes, finding that balance is something a problem - I definitely have an inclination to spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than I should. People post such interesting stuff! But I do have a secret weapon - my AlphaSmart Neo. When I think I've spent quite enough time surfing, er, researching, I turn the desktop off and get to work on the Neo. Without the temptation of the Internet, I get a lot more done.

William Doonan said...

Too funny!
I do Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, GoodReads, blogging. more blogging, independent authors network... the list goes on. I now have more networked connections than Skynet. I know it's important. I'm not going to stop doing it. But I really would like more time to write.

Lynn Emery said...

Liane - do you you enjoy. Makes it less painful :-) And people can tell if you really are forcing it.

Eugenia - you hit the target; the danger is starting to like social media too much! I sometimes drift into that trap, but then I realize what's important. Mo writing.

William - I put myself on a schedule. No FB or Twitter until I meet my daily writing goal. Right now it's hard, I'm proofing a scanned backlist title. And I put my IPhone in another room so I won't hear those little bells telling me a "friend" or "follower" has mentioned me, tweeted, etc. LOL

Sunny Frazier said...

The conundrum here, Lynn, is that once you publish, you become more social, like it or not. You are now an AUTHOR. People want to get to know you, like you're a carnival sideshow. I'm not knocking it, but all of a sudden invites come your way, people want you to give speeches and such. Maybe it's because I live in a small town where I'm the only mystery author for miles. I can't even go to the Post Office without the clerks asking "How's the new book coming along?"

But, these are the people who buy my books, so it pays to go to that Lions Club meeting and give a little talk. Or, be an honored guest at the local mystery theatre fundraiser.

We have a saying: You're a writer in private, an author in public. We all have to play that social role.

John Brantingham said...

I think I have the perfect set of circumstances for what you're talking about. I am a natural extrovert. I'm just about 100% extroverted, but when I was a kid, I lost my hearing on and off until I was about 20. It let me fall backwards into a world of books. Now that my hearing loss is gone through many wonderful doctors I have the desire to be with people sometimes and the desire to read and write at other times.

But that's just my story. My guess is that all people who love to write can go back to some moment in their lives when books became important to them. The trick is now to make selling the books important too.

Theresa Varela said...

Yes, to all, Lynn. I chuckle as I sit here commenting while hard at work between clients at my day job. It certainly is a balancing act. Next...!

Chris Swinney said...

Hey Lynn,

I'm a writer inching closer to having my first book published. I have a great coach, Sunny Frazier (see above), helping me out by turning me on to blogs like this. I'm a total social butterfly, outgoing and eager to be successful so I have embrassed the promotional part of being an author. I'm similar to William (see above) as I have twitter, facebook, goodreads,, and other media outlet accounts (a ton of work albeit). I'm promoting and networking like crazy without actually having a launch date for the book because I want to get people to notice me and my writing now. Blogging is next... Fortunately, I've been able to carve out some time to write a second book and help other aspiring writers get the words out of their heads and onto paper (that stuff still exists right??). The balancing act has been difficult at times, but we do what we must. The key is I'm having fun doing ALL of it!! Anyway, great information and advice Lynn.

marta chausée said...

Hey Lynn, you're not only on the ball and at least social in a cyber sense, but you are generous with your stock in trade- years of experience both writing and promoting.

Thank you! See you on FB, McTwitt (as I call it, due to my initials), Pinterest, even Myspace and Youtube.

Marta Chausée
Resort to Murder
a Maya French mystery
Oak Tree Press

Elizabeth Kolodziej said...

Very good article! Keep up the good work!

Liz ^_^

joanne guidoccio said...

Excellent advice for all writers--aspiring and established.I am slowly warming up to the idea of Facebook. Right now, I'm on Twitter and I blog regularly.

I like your Facebook page and blog.

Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

Sunny Frazier said...

What Chris didn't mention is that he has a full-time job as a narcotics detective, wife and child. Yeah, that's a heavy load. But, I did my best writing when I was holding down a job and a marriage. Crunch time!

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Time management is so important. Thanks for the article.

Juan Gonzalez Jr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juan Gonzalez Jr said...

Ever since I have started writing (seriously), I've found that it is extremely important to be social whether you like it or not. If you want to have some success as a writer, then there is no going around it. Being social has been something I'm not very good at but I know what I have to do.

I also wanted to mention a piece about expectations because they can tear a person apart. People have these high expectations when they start writing. They make up these extravagant expectations, which later sets them up for discouragement (I know this because I have done this). Don't expect to be famous over night BUT do not let it stop you from continuing.

Great post!