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Too Much Book Promotion, Not Enough Writing

BalanceOh, the time suck of promoting a book. Facebook. Pinterest. Twitter. Amazon. Etc., etc. etc… Everyone knows the players.

The amount of information on the Internet is infinite. The craving for new information is insatiable. The chances of readers finding a particular author’s information is infinitesimal.  (Like all those “I” words?)

Trying to keep up with the changes in Amazon’s algorithms, the constantly shifting rules of all the social media platforms, the newest must-be-there-or-be-square sites is overwhelming. (Bet you thought we were going to say impossible.) All the social media management sites on the Internet do not seem to reduce the time drain of maintaining a social media presence.

The sad truth is we now spend more time promoting than writing.

We’ve read many articles on how to reduce the amount of time spent on social media. We’ve tried management tools such as hootsuite and pingraphy. And they help. A little. However, there is no getting around the fact that even management sites require data input. An entire day can be spent setting up one month’s worth of scheduled tweets, posts and blogs, and no management software can take the place of the genuine interaction that is necessary when responding to comments and messages. Also, different platforms require different input. It would be counter-productive to simply post identical information across all sites. We have followed authors who do that and the constant repetition made us decide to unfollow  pretty quickly.

The really worrisome thing is that we have a sneaking feeling that all this time is wasted time. We have not seen a significant correlation between all our social media efforts and sales. Repins, retweets, and shares by the dozens do not seem to turn followers into readers. There are so many authors out there doing the same thing that our additions to the clamor seem like peeing in the ocean. Who is going to notice?

We could have blogged about “How to Successfully Promote Your Book in 10 Easy Steps”.  A quick Google search would have provided us with plenty of material.  But like the self-help books that try to show the path to enlightenment or the you-can-be-a-millionaire-too titles, the method that works for one person does not work for everyone, or even most folks. After all, how many blogs do we all need saying: Have a Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/Tumblr page? Post regularly! Interact! Connect! Use a call for action! Be visual! We all know how the game is played by now.

We’re going to keep plugging away at it. We are also going to try to write more and promote less. Just as soon as we get this blog posted.

Why Book Promotion Sucks

1. It’s tedious. Not at first. At first it’s new and exciting. Kind of like falling in love. But as time passes, monotony sets in. How many ways can you say “buy my book”? How many times do you have to say it? The answer? Forever! It’s an endless Groundhog Day of tweets, blurbs, and blogs. (Groundhog Day. The movie with Bill Murray where he lives the same day over and over. Just rent it and watch it. You’ll see what we mean.)

2. Everyone else is doing it. Yep. Me, you, our plumber, your mother-in-law, and everyone else on the block. The result? A cacophony of white noise in which nearly everyone’s attempts to be heard are lost. Like The Cricket in Times Square. (A book by George Selden. Go to the library. Borrow it and read it. You will see what we mean.)

3. It’s time consuming. Hours and hours every day. Must post. Must blog. Must check stats. It eats loads of time. Time that could be spent writing. Most authors are aware that the more books you write, the more income you bring in. And writing is what authors love to do. But who has time to do it? (Yes, we can already hear the writers who will say, I network, raise children, sew my own clothes, bake my own bread, and write ten novels a year. We admire you. We also promise to send flowers when you drop dead from over-work.)

4. It’s painful. In several ways.  Physically. (Repetitive strain injuries from being on the computer too much. Also headaches from banging one’s head on the desk. ) Mentally. (I can’t possibly think of one more blog/post/tweet. Plus my head hurts from banging it on the desk.) Emotionally. (Riding the roller coaster of feelings as we watch our stats rise to new heights only to tumble back, dashing all our hopes. And the drama of restraining each other from banging our heads on the desk.)

5. We suspect it is not quite as necessary as everyone believes it is. Do our tweets, blogs and posts really make a difference? Probably not. We don’t have enough followers on any site to claim that we have reached a broad range of people. And yet our books are selling; sales are steady. (Phew. We can stop banging our heads on the desk.)

The bottom line? Ratings, reviews, and pricing seem to matter the most in promoting a book. What do authors do when they want their books to be noticed? They cut the price and have a sale. Some give a book away for free, knowing this will draw attention to their work. The hope is that if readers like the free book, they will be willing to pay for other novels by the same author.

We are going to try an experiment. (Actually it is already underway.) We are cutting back on all the social networking. Not abandoning it, just reducing the amount of time spent on promotion so we can spend more time writing. for when it comes right down to it, a good quality story is the best promotional tool of all.


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