The life of an author is a constant struggle for balance. For most, that balancing act includes a full-time job, family, social commitments, writing, and then when writers hear “marketing” they throw their hands up feeling overwhelmed and demand that they don’t have any time.
I’m here to show you how to add marketing to your schedule without giving all your time to it. There are hundreds of places to put your time in marketing. Which place will achieve the best results will require careful analysis of consistent work for months at a time. To achieve that, you have to set up a plan and stick to that plan.
Deciding your plan requires goals. Are you new to writing and need to build up a following? Are you promoting a new book? Are you building a backlist? Do you need more reviews? Analyze your time and then plan your strategy accordingly.
For example, I work from home, so it is not a problem for me to dedicate 2 hours a day to marketing. But I also work several side projects and have a strenuous publishing goal of four books a year, so I can’t spend half my day marketing and advertising like Mark Dawson does. For some, you can only put in 2 hours a day for book stuff period. You don’t want to spend all of that time marketing. You need to write more books, right? A good suggestion is to commit about 1/3 of your “book time” to marketing, 1/3 to networking, and 1/3 to writing.
That’s the rule I follow, but it’s up to you how you want to spend your time. I know some authors who lump marketing in with networking and do half their time writing and half their time marketing. Again, it’s all about the goals. Once you have them established, (and it can’t be vague like “sell more books” it needs to be as specific as possible.) you can plan the events and activities to support those goals.
The first key to maximizing your limited marketing time is to learn about automation tools to support your efforts. For example, if your goal is to build up a social media following then you will want to learn about tools like Hootsuite, or Buffer, which allow you to schedule automated messages to engage with readers at all hours, even if you can’t be online at all hours. These messages should be a balance of 80% fun stuff and 20% “promotional”. I set mine up about once a week, and then just check into my social media feeds for about 15 minutes at breakfast, lunch, and before bed. My goal is to appear “more connected” and responding several times a day aides that more than only spending an hour in the evenings, as som authors do. I am cheap, so I use the free version of Hootsuite for posting to Twitter, Facebook, and google plus, and then the free version of Later to schedule one post a day for Instagram.
If you want more control over your audience, you may decide to take up blogging. For my blogging, I write my blog posts on Fridays for the week before. Then I schedule my posts to go live the morning of. So convenient. Then I share those posts during one of my 15-minute check-ins.
Perhaps you don’t have time for blogging. You are only focused on collecting and keeping readers on your e-newsletter list and building the list to sell books. For e-newsletters, you can automate a welcome email that goes out when people subscribe at the back of your book or at an event. This lets them know who you are as an author, and how often they will receive e-newsletters from you. Then schedule your e-newsletter for what works best for your e-newsletter following. For mine, I send out a weekly email with a recap of the blog posts, and then a little of “What’s next” news. For many authors, one e-newsletter a month is enough. Most simply plug that into their calendar of choice, to automatically remind them they need to prep content for that and send it out. Even if your e-newsletter goal is to sell books, you need to provide content for your followers that's more than just "Buy my books" or you will find yourself quickly losing followers. I have seen some authors who give a free short story each month, and I love following those. Others provide a monthly e-newsletter with bookish news not just related to their books, like new releases, signings, book events, etc.
If your goal is to build up your reviews or plan a book release, you can e-mail bloggers each day. For the book release for Angel’s Dance, I was working full-time outside the home. My schedule had never been so tight. I emailed three bloggers a night and planned my tour 8 weeks ahead of the tour start date. It worked. If you aren’t planning a tour, you still want to find something to tie your request to, to add urgency. For example, when I am looking for more reviews for my series, I tie it to a new release, or to a promotional sale. Again, three or four emails a day will get you into blogs and will only take up about a half hour of your day.
When I was working full time, I was trying to build up my online reputation. I spent my lunch breaks emailing and calling newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, and bloggers to get that progress knocked out so I could devote my evening time to writing. I couldn’t get much writing done in a half hour, but I had no problem knocking out my marketing.
None of us can do all of the marketing things all of the time, which is why it is so important to track and gauge what is working for you and drop what isn’t so you can move on to something else that will work. For example, when I was working full-time, I threw money at Google display ads, but it wasn’t working. I tweaked and adjusted, and fiddled and played with it, but after six months I realized that I didn’t have the time to deal with it properly and that it wasn’t producing results. Rather than beat myself up, I switched up my tactics. Even now, I re-evaluate and adapt my tactics about every three months or so. Tweak if needed, and drop things that aren’t working.
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Be sure you are committing time for research into the tactic, and placing tools in place to measure your results. For example, during my last blog tour, my goal was a proliferation of the market, and SEO for specific keywords related to my series and genre. I built posts around those themes, and titles around those keywords, included the hashtags for the bloggers taking part. Those hashtags and keywords were in my Thunderclap and Headtalker. During the tour, I tracked the trending keywords, shared the guest posts through CoPromote, and watched what was driving traffic to my website. I was also looking to build up my e-newsletter list during the tour and ran an Instafreebie around the first book in the series. Tracking all of my results let me know what was and was not worth the effort.
If I had run around doing all that work, and then only tracked the sales, I would have quit. My launch produced less than $1,000 in sales. But because I was tracking all the other stats, I realized that my e-newsletter list grew by 350%, my social media followers grew by 75% across all platforms, I got within the top 100 for trending keywords with both my genre and my series title, My Headtalker went out to over 1 million people, my Thunderclap went out to 1.5 million. My guest posts got over 150 shares and were shared to over 70,000 people (that I could measure through CoPromote), and my web traffic saw a beautiful uptick of about 115% throughout the whole month. Not to mention, I got great evergreen content that I can add into my social media feeds.
Overnight successes don’t happen overnight. They happen because that author has a strategy and they invest in that strategy. Even if it’s only 15 minutes or an hour a day. Eventually, you will get that marketing rock up the hill, gain ground, and it will get easier. But you have to start, and you have to keep building, or you’ll never get there.
[bctt tweet="Overnight successes don't happen overnight. They happen with a strategy and time investment. #marketingtips #ourwriteside" username="hangellauthor"]
Do you need help planning marketing goals and strategies? Have questions? Let us know in the comments below.