Saturday, May 2, 2009

Juggling Promotion and Writing—When You Know You Need to Cut Back


Writers’ roles in book promotion have changed a lot in the last twenty years.  Instead of being expected merely to write and edit, they’re looked at as partners in the publicity process.  If you’re not promoting your book in some way (signings, interviews, blog tours, website giveaways), then you’re really not doing your fair share.  This doesn’t come as a surprise to any writers who are plugged into the writing community.  After all, with Yahoo Groups like Murder Must Advertise, and writing forums that share tips on promoting, writers would have to have their heads under rocks to not realize the current climate for book marketing.

But when are you too committed to promoting a book instead of writing the next one?  Is there an alarm bell that goes off when you’ve spent too much time away from your manuscript?

In an interview with Galley Cat, Sue Grafton confessed that it used to take her nine months to complete a book.  "It used to take me nine months to write a book, then ten, then thirteen, and so on," she explained. "Over the years, the publicity has begun to encroach on the writing process. Around the time of K Is for Killer, I began to realize that every time I had to do a phone interview, I was getting annoyed—'leave me alone, I've got work to do!”   She said that she went to her publisher to ask for more time to write and less time for interviews, and was able to work out an arrangement with them.

I’ll admit that I’m learning how to juggle promotion with my writing goals. I’ve just enrolled in a very informative online course, Blog Book Tours, which will help me organize and arrange blog publicity for my upcoming mystery, Pretty is as Pretty Dies (August 1, 2009).  I’m also trying to stay active in my promotional group, The Carolina Conspiracy.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.  If you’ve got some tips to share, please chime in with comments.

Write First—Your writing is the reason you’ve got something to promote. Make sure you satisfy your writing goal for the day first.

Get Ahead With Your Blogging—Feeling pinched for time? Try penning several blogs in a row. That way, if you have a day when you’re pressed, you’ll have something thoughtful to post on your blog.

Multitask—Okay, I know this is a difficult one.  But it can be done (this is coming from a mom who frequently writes at stoplights, mind you.) But you can read and post comments on blogs while a pot of water is coming to a boil. You can write your answers to a blog interview while monitoring your kids as they do their homework.

Know When to Say No—Are you getting too stressed out? Is your stress level pouring out into your interactions with family and friends?  You should scale back.  Nothing is more important than people who are close to us. 

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