We all know how hard it is to find time to write. HH and I are retired, and I had visions of writing a chapter every week day–5 chapters a week, 20 chapters a month, a manuscript every other month, a finished product every three months. Sounds good, right? It looks great on paper. Well, that’s the thing. It LOOKS good. It hardly ever works that way. My daughter got a job as a traveling nurse in our town. On nights she works, she stays at our place. And instead of writing when she’s here, I spend time with her. A no brainer. When she moves to the next job, we won’t see her that much. We’d better enjoy it while we can..
My cousin went into a nursing home. I try to visit her once a week. I have my writers’ club twice a month. I could go on and on. We need groceries. It’s a good idea to pay bills. One day gets eaten up here, another there, and soon, I’m lucky if I can sneak in an hour or two of writing three times a week. Today, the flower beds needed prepped for the end of the season. Tomorrow, our grandson and his wife are coming to stay the weekend with us. There’s not one of these things that I’d miss. So… I write when and where I can. I have more time than I used to, but not nearly as much time as I thought I would.
But that’s just fussing about WRITING–the actual work of telling a story. But that’s not even close to all you need to do to be a writer. Yes, you write a book–somewhere between 45,000 to over 100,000 words. You have to include rewrites and polishing, editing and tweaks. And when you finally get it done? You need to decide what to do with it. An agent? Small publisher? Self-publishing? And don’t think that doesn’t take serious time. Research. Queries. Formatting. A cover? A blurb? Key words. Branding. Social media. Every step of the process has to be your best, because there are over a million other books on Amazon. How do you make yours stand out? How do you find readers?
My friends are divided into two camps. Some of them, like me, write blogs, connect with friends on twitter to support one another, and spread the word on social media when they put out a new book. Other friends don’t bother with social media at all. They pay for ads on BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, Written Word Media, and EReader News to promote their books. And if they have enough books in a series (and I think you need at least 5 to make it worthwhile), they do pretty darned well.
I repeat. My friends who are successful have AT LEAST 5 books in A series. When they put one of those books on sale for 99cents or for free, readers buy the OTHER books in the series, and they make money. The more books, the better. Which is my way of hinting to you to WRITE A SERIES or books that are similar enough in style to be considered a series. The sad truth is, though, that to promote a book these days isn’t cheap.
When I make a book free right now, when I only have the first book written in POSED IN DEATH or A CUT ABOVE, and only two books in my Lux series, I know I’m going to lose money. I’m only promoting the book to invest in finding new readers. I just paid $60 to The Fussy Librarian to make POSED IN DEATH free for five days. $60 gets me ONE day of promotion in The Fussy Librarian’s newsletter. But it also got me over 2500 downloads. For me, I lost money, but it was worth it. The next question. Out of 2500 downloads, how many people will actually READ the book? I’ll be thrilled if it hits 1,000, and I get a few good reviews, but let’s be honest. How many books have you downloaded and intended to read, but never did?
At this moment in time, it would be a waste for me to invest the BIG bucks it takes to get a book on BookBub, because I don’t have enough books in any of my new series. My friend just paid $410 to have BookBub (which is HARD to get into, but they accepted her book, hooray!) do a new book release for her 18th Regency romance. A SMART MOVE. And I hope she sells TONS of books! Both of us, though, have paid for advertisements that were total busts. Some sites do better jobs with romances than fantasies or mysteries rather than speculative fiction. You never know. You cross your fingers, pay your money, and hope for the best.
But if you don’t have the cash to invest in advertising for your book, then you have to invest TIME. Hopefully, you have blog friends who will promote your book and have you as a guest on their blogs. Some authors pay to have someone set up blog tours for them. The Goddess Fish did my early tours. And don’t even think that blog tours aren’t a lot of work. Because they are.. No one wants to follow a tour where they see the same information on each site. For most tours, the author has to write original material for each site he/she visits. My first blog tour had 25 bloggers sign up for it. And each one wanted something different. Which was great. But it took FOREVER to write unique material for each one. If you’re not up for that, you can design ads to put on twitter with canva.com. But you have to do SOMETHING to get readers to notice your book, or else it gets lost in the deluge of new books that come out All The Time anymore. At least, a million a year.
The question is this: WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD? TIME? MONEY? BOTH? Jan Sikes is doing a series of blogs on marketing for Story Empire. This is the first one. She’s up to six now, I think. I’ll add a link below.
There are all kinds of ways to market your books out there. Some have worked for me. Some haven’t. I can’t figure out how to do ads no matter if I bid low or high. So don’t ask. I can’t give you any good advice. My best luck, so far, has been paying for promotions, even though it’s been hit or miss. I have more luck on Twitter than on Facebook, but then, I spend more time on twitter, too. I don’t have any brilliant answers for anyone, but I know this. If you don’t do SOMETHING, or get a publisher who’ll do it for you, your book gets lost in the thousands of other books out there.
Debbie Macomber, who has a publisher and sells a kazillion books, wrote a great article on marketing your book. I’ve posted it before, but I’ll post it again, just in case you’re ready for it now. And happy writing!