Authors, like any business owner in a competitive field, are expected to promote their products. It has always been this way, the need to set yourself apart from the pack and carve creative time out of the haunch of the promotional beast. Just ask Charles Dickens, who literally collapsed while on book tour. I don’t know if the pressure for authors to promote is stronger now, but I do know it’s more varied: Facebook, Good Reads, signings, blogs, blog tours, videos, Twitter, phone-ins to book groups, appearances at conferences, newsletters, is there more? Probably. And I’m probably not doing that, either.
You see, two years ago, about the time August Moon, the fourth book in my series came out, I gave myself permission to pare down my promotional obligations. I did this with a great deal of guilt shaded by jealousy as I watched my fellow authors promote circles around me. At least at first I did. But now, I revel in this tiny bubble I’ve chosen for myself, feeling only a twinge of guiltosy when I hear about new promotional breakthroughs for writers. It’s for sure the next best thing, let’s call it Twitbooking, but it’s not for me.
I’ve brought my focus back to writing. I blog monthly on the awesome Inkspot, I save enough money to attend one conference a year, and I set up a dozen or so signings in my region and happily show up for TV and newspaper interviews when a new book comes out. All that extra time that I used to spend desperately riding the next promotional fad I’ve channeled into volunteering for MWA (SinC is also a great place to invest some time, as are many other local and national writing outfits) and the rest goes right back into writing, or my kids, or my boyfriend.
That’s my balance. And each book sells better than the last. That might be because I’m building an audience with the series, or it might be because my writing has improved as I’ve made more time for it. Either way, I’m happier, and so are the people around me. To those of you who promote across the spectrum, I applaud you and I send some spare energy sparks your way to use when you feel overwhelmed. To those of you who are scrambling to do it all and who find you just can’t, I give you permission to stop Twitbooking and redirect that energy into being the most amazing writer you can be. We’re all in this together, I believe, and we all have to find our own right way.
There are many good ways to promote a book. There are also many good ways to write a book. Problem is, they both take time. What is your balance?