Thursday, August 23, 2012


Sometimes I think there is a container filled with words somewhere in the back of my mind. Not only words, but a kind of fluid energy that makes its way through the mystery of consciousness to movements of fingers on keyboard and brings those words into form. Manifestation of something from nothing.

In a perfect world that reservoir would be dedicated to just one task: writing. It's not a perfect world, as you may have noticed. The same reservoir is used to comprehend words, write words in emails, participate in forums and so on. Research, reading, anything written. Communication in language.

Including SELF-PROMOTION, the dreaded demon that sits waiting to pounce on all writers except those who have already sold millions of books.

Which brings me to the heart of today's post: Balance.

How do you strike a balance in time and energy between getting the writing done and doing the promotional things to make your writing a commercial success? By commercial, I mean sell enough books to make a reasonable living doing it.

Everyone has a different definition of "reasonable living". It probably revolves around a dollar figure that allows you to take care of all your obligations, provide a sense of future security and leave enough left over for that trip to Hawaii or whatever without breaking the bank.

To reach that goal as a writer, you have to sell lot of books. Selling a lot of books requires self-promotion. Earning a living as a writer may not be important to you. If that's the case, God bless you, but you still need to promote yourself if you want anyone except friends and family to read your work.

Discipline is essential. If you don't apply discipline and organization, you will drain the reservoir. You will lose the balance. Life will become dreary. That is not a good thing. Here are a few suggestions to maintain. They aren't written in stone and may go out the window during a big promotion. Something like a 3 day deal on Kindle Select, or planning new book covers, or getting a book trailer together.

For what it's worth, here's what works for me. It's partly practical, partly my particular philosophy about writing. Alas, I sometimes fail to follow my own advice. That always has consequences, in terms of energy and focus.

  • Don't fall into the trap of checking email more than a few times a day
  • Keep a notebook of who you've contacted, what you've planned
  • Write at least five days a week
  • Write at least 1000 words each day
  • Take frequent breaks from the computer
  • Set a time each day to write
  • Promote yourself when you are done writing, not before
  • Keep track of ideas for your book and for your promotions: a whiteboard is good
  • Focus with high intensity on promotion when there are specific events like the KDP 3 day promos: these require intensive planning for success, sometimes months in advance
  • Be friendly in the various groups, forums and networks you follow.
  • Look for opportunities to support other writers. Not because you think it's a good idea to help sell your books but because you really do want to support them.
  • Don't get hooked into hours of "liking" pages and "tagging" books. That can really suck up your time and energy. Do it when you feel like it, when it's convenient, and because you actually like someone's book/work.

In General:

  • Keep writing.
  • Take a break when you are done with the draft.
  • And when you're done editing.
  • And when you are done revising.
  • Revise again
  • Find Beta readers, but trust your judgement
  • Don't dilute the reservoir with self-doubt
  • Hold yourself to the highest standard you are capable of
  • Keep learning
  • Read a lot and improve your understanding of the craft

Easy, right?

In the future, I'm going to try some different things here. Maybe interviews with my characters. Maybe flash fiction. Stay tuned...

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