I woke up this morning to a post by my pal Andrew Mocete that really resonated with me. Write More, Market Less: The Proof. It was, quite obviously, about how we should write more and market less. He linked back to this article about self-publishing statistics, which I found quite interesting. I was curious to see how I compared to the 1000+ respondents (a pretty small sample of the self publishing population). I self published early and while I’m not among those making a living from my pen yet, I do seem to be doing better than the majority of their respondents. According to this survey, self published women authors earn more than men (random and interesting–I’d like to know the gender breakdown of the overall sample). And not shockingly, those who were rejected from a traditional house and then chose to self publish said rejected work were among the lowest earners. There are a lot of other interesting factoids in there, but the part that really rang for me, which is what Andrew was drawing attention to, was this:
The Top Earners group spent more time writing than they did marketing, and those in the group who spent the least time marketing were making the most money. Out of all respondents, those who spent the most time marketing earned the least.
From ePublish a Book (share this quote)
I think, for those of us who are still struggling to balance day jobs and family and other obligations, that this is an incredibly salient point. There is so much pressure to MARKET MARKET MARKET. And while marketing is important, too many people aren’t good at juggling the two and wind up doing nothing BUT marketing and not actually working on the next book. Or, worse, they wind up marketing so much that they annoy the poo out of everyone they know and tank their chances of building a good fanbase by their tactics. (See Kristen Lamb and WANA International to learn the correct way to market without being an annoying eedjit).
Finding this balance is a challenge for me because I have such limited time, and admittedly, other than the social media I enjoy, I do very little continual marketing once a book is launched. It takes me several months to write a book. Red took about 8 months. DOTH is looking like it’s going to be the same, if for no other reason than I lost about six weeks between moving and Daisy’s FCE (seriously, I need to just plan my years such that I take March or April off since life always explodes then). These are full novels, 90-100k. DOTH will be shopped traditionally, without being self published first, as Red was (I’ll talk about that experiment some other time), so if I’m to get anything to market for readers this year, it’s going to have to be a novella. Novellas take less time, but still about 3-4 months to write well (shorter does not always mean faster). The good news on that, the one I have planned is in the Mirus world, so my fabulous and patient fans will have something fun to read. The bad news is that it’s still not Revelation. I swear, I really am going to write that book. It’s next on the docket after the novella (depending on what happens with the DOTH trilogy). And I could write it next, but I really really want to have something to release this year, other than the anthology short story I’ll have coming out in October–because momentum on that series–I haz lost it. Blame it on the teenagers who’ve hijacked my brain since last fall.
Anyway, the end take home message here, is that you have to find a minimal level of marketing (or dare I say, not marketing, but social media presence just so people know you haven’t fallen off the face of the earth) that you are comfortable with, and spend the rest of your available time writing the next book. And, you know, save a little time in there to refill the well by reading or hitting the movies or doing something fun so your brain doesn’t esplode.
Now get back to work!
UPDATE: The ever thoughtful Gene Lempp provided me with a link to another post discussing the methodology of this survey which was–well, there’s no other way to say it, as I do this for a living in my EDJ–total crap. Still, the point that you must always keep working on the next book is still valid.
Great points, Kait. I know a few out there do almost no marketing and yet have solid sales, although it takes a few years to build the proper momentum.
About the Taliest survey, Kristine Rusch, who took part in it, did a post last week going over the methodology, flaws, etc. Before putting too much faith it in you may want to peruse her post. Linkage for you -> http://kriswrites.com/2012/05/30/the-business-rusch-not-a-real-survey/
Oh fabulous. I’m just enough stat geek on a professional level that I never put much stock in surveys until I’ve seen the methodology. 😀
I saw Andrew’s post, and it made a lot of sense. If you work full time like you and I do, it’s hard to market AND write. It’s common sense which one to choose to do.
A lot of artist-types also shudder a little even at the word “marketing.” We usually aren’t sales types. But as you note, it’s more of a social media presence and getting the word out with fiction writers. Great points, Kait!
Brilliant post, Kait. I think maybe the fact that self-published authors need to spend more time on the stories rather than market is perhaps to balance out the fact that under traditional publishing, there’d be a team of editor/copyeditor/agent/etc helping with the writing bit, but self-published authors, unless they outsource, are on their own for all of that.
I think it’s less an issue of self-published vs. traditional (though of course this post started out about the former) but just something writers in general need to think about. Because these days unless you’re huge, you don’t get a promo team and marketing if you go traditional. You’re expected to do most of it on your own, and that can be very overwhelming and time consuming and suck you away from the next project. I know writers in both camps that really stress and focus too much on the marketing.
You’re right – and especially nowadays when everyone’s sharing their updates and progress and so on, it’s easy to become stressed over “am I doing enough???” Good thing to remember is not to compare our progress with that of others…
Eyes on our own papers! 😀
This comes at the perfect time I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and where to put my energy and efforts. It’s easy for me to get lost in the internet and not come out for breath. I need to put a time limit on my social time. when I’m doing ROW80- I make myself reach my word count before I can check email or any social media site. Now I need to write AND edit, which means less time. I was panicking, but now I’ll relax 🙂
Hi Kait, wonderful post and it goes along with what I’ve been saying for a long time. When my other writer pals lament that they want to increase book sales, I tell them, “write a better book.” Think about it, don’t you want to be the writer who writes the book that your friends/fans just absolutely fall in love with and then turn around and tell their friends: “OMG this is so great, you HAVE to read this book.” Yes, it’s going to take a ton of work to write that book, but in between writing binges, you can still visit your friends blogs and say “hello” on facebook. Thanks again Kait.