As inspiring as it is to read about indie authors who make it big selling ebooks on Amazon, such reports can obscure the fact that most authors work for years before they become an “overnight” success. There are two imperatives for writers who want to take this long road to publishing success: keep writing, and keep building your platform.
Platform-building means marketing not just your books but you—as an author, and (yes) as a brand. Marketing oneself requires a completely different mindset than writing a long work of fiction or non-fiction. Yet the two activities go hand in hand, and both must be sustained over a period of years, not months, to get the kind of sustainable income most writers dream about.
Find Your Voice, and Keep the Pace
What is the secret to balancing writing and marketing? The first and most important step is finding an authentic voice for marketing—one that carries your passion and wit, sounds close if not identical to your personal speaking and writing voice, and is engaging for your audience. Marketing in an authentic voice makes it more fun, too, which is critical for a long-term process.
The next step is to know where you’re going, and to set a pace to get there that you can sustain. Keep your writing time sacred, but be creative with rest. Use your natural rhythms to schedule short and long marketing bursts throughout the week. I use transition times between larger projects to check Twitter and Facebook, and schedule bigger chunks of time to email my list and other more involved tasks.
As tempting as it is to follow someone else’s blueprint, you will need to create a strategy that makes the best use of your unique goals, skills, and talents. If you love being on camera and enjoy social media, your platform-building strategy will look much different from someone who dreads the spotlight but already has a significant following from previous books.
Learning to Enjoy the Ride
Twenty years ago I signed my first book contract with a major publisher. At about the same time the internet happened, and suddenly a whole new world of book marketing and platform-building opportunities opened up. The pace of change in publishing has only increased since then, and without a strategy you trust and support to help you stay on track it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
Two weeks from now, on Thursday, February 13 from 9-12 PST, I will be offering a three-hour workshop called “Being an Author for the Long Haul: How to Balance Writing and Marketing.” This low-cost class is being held in conjunction with the San Francisco Writers Conference, and is open to the public—you do not have to register for the conference to attend.
If you are at the point where you need to re-balance the load between writing and marketing, are searching for a strategy that will work for you in the long-term, or just want to brush up on the latest tips and tricks for author marketing, please come join us. Registration is open, and space is very limited.
And if you are lucky enough to attend the entire conference, do come up and say hello!