Thursday, April 1, 2010

the dilemma of self-promotion

I hear it from traditionally and independently published authors alike: more authors are in charge of their own promotion. Whether it's keeping up on Facebook or Twitter or their blog, or booking their own readings and blog tours, a significant portion of time goes into these actions, taking time away from writing.

Case in point: Around 4:00 yesterday afternoon, I was about to start revising a chapter from WILS. I went to my email inbox to retrieve some comments from my reader, when Stephen Windwalker's email appeared that the Kindle Nation Daily post was ready to go live. As if automatically, I went into PR mode: I immediately hopped on Facebook and Twitter and posted links. I came here and typed up a blogpost (which took longer than usual because I kept getting html format errors when I tried to "publish"). I emailed the link to a few others. I went back to Facebook and responded to some comments about the link. Then I went back to Twitter and followed up on some Tweets in the same vein.

By the time I finished all of this, two hours had past, and it was time for dinner. And while I finally did get to the chapter (took me three hours, and I still think it sucks), I went back online to check my Kindle Store rankings (which took a significant jump thanks to the Kindle Nation Daily post), post a thank-you on Facebook to everyone who re-posted the link to their own profile page, and so on. Went to bed around midnight. Thankfully it wasn't a school night.

Promotion can be a lot of fun, but I can understand the complaints of some writers hesitant to jump on this merry-go-round because "I just wanna write." Granted, I'm the worst of the worst time managers, but there's no getting around the need to keep that promotion carousel spinning on a daily basis, and the easily formed habit of putting it before the writing. And yet, without the writing, there's nothing to promote.

Once again, it's all about balance. We're authors. We're writers. We've got to put the writing first. There's no rule on how much time we devote to it -- be it ten minutes or two hours or 200 or 2000 words per day. There's not even a rule that says we need to do it every day. But we can't make it the afterthought. We can't let other things interfere with our writing time. Lord knows we wouldn't cut into a doctor's appointment to update our status (well, I wouldn't...). Why do it with our writing time?

That said, I'm off to the coffeeshop to catch up on grading homework papers. Hopefully later I'll get back to the manuscript...


J.L. Penn said...

So very, very true. Every last word of your post applies to me, and I'm glad I'm not the only lousy time manager. I had no idea what I was walking into when I thought, "This is pretty good. I need to get it out there." ;)


Elisa said...

I thought our stories had some similarities when I listened to you last night on Book Chatter (especially w/ finding an agent, and then wanting to get it out there) -- I don't regret having self-published, though.

But getting the first draft done in two months -- wow!! My latest manuscript has taken two years!