Problematic Workload

When it comes to marketing, there’re two fundamental issues.  1) The work NEEDS to get done.  2) The work is ancillary to our REAL work.

We are writers—storytellers or informers.  Our work is to research, write, craft, and polish our work, and then submit and/or publish our written products.  Marketing those products is how we are compensated for our work—it’s not our work itself.

Even someone like me, who is a trained marketer and does marketing to supplement my other writing income, will downgrade the perceived priority of my marketing work in the face of a crushing deadline.  Considering I’ve spent most of the last few months running into deadlines like they were massive brick walls, I haven’t done nearly as much marketing work as I should have.

The thing is, if you have a column idea or a story or an article or a novel or a book, but you’re not doing the marketing necessary to get it into the market, then what’s the point?

I know it’s a balancing act.  I understand that the love-work drives us, whereas the marketing is something most of us would just as soon live without.  But the point is that our careers won’t live without the marketing.  We could—if we had the money—hire the best marketing team in the world, but we’d still be left planning, directing, and otherwise shaping what they did.  And since most of us don’t have that kind of money and because, even if we did, what we really want is a relationship with our readers, we’re left with a lot more of the marketing workload placed directly on our overflowing plates.

However much we’d rather ignore it, that’s really a good thing.  You’re not selling a story or an article, a novel or a book; you’re selling yourself as a storyteller or an informer.  You are your greatest marketing asset!  So, you need to balance that workload and find a way to make it work.  And so do I.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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20 Responses to Problematic Workload

  1. acflory says:

    I read this earlier just didn’t have time to respond. This last week I’ve been rushing to a) finish the edits on my book and b) do all the other bits and pieces required for a submission. Dinners were basic and we ate takeaway more often than I like. Marketing? Um….

    I agree with what you’re saying Stephanie but time, and /energy/ are finite. Something always has to give. 😦

    • I know. I know. That’s my problem, too. But, on the other hand, if you rush to get a product to market (and, remember, your book is a product) without having the marketing ready, selling it is going to be a lot more difficult.

      Submission? You’re not going indie?

      • acflory says:

        The Harper Voyager open submission is essentially a cattle call and I suspect tens of thousands will submit. Therefore I don’t think I’ll be accepted, no way, no how. 😀 But that wasn’t the point of submitting. The point was that I’d never done anything like that before. And I was scared, pure and simple. So I had to submit. Once the 3 months is up though, I will be going indie. This is just a bit of a detour.:)

      • Stephanie Allen Crist says:

        Good for you! Sometimes those unexpected opportunities just grab us–and it may turn out to be just what you need.

        All things considered though, if you’re accepted don’t just accept whatever they offer you–make sure whatever they provide is worth what you’ll lose by not self-publishing.

        My memoir was planned as a self-published book. I wasn’t overly inclined to go with a publisher. I changed my mind when a publisher approached me and was able to provide me with a level of assistance that I couldn’t get any way else. That’s why I went with the publisher.

        Make your decision carefully and good luck!

      • acflory says:

        If lightning does strike and my book is accepted the only benefit I’ll get out of it is the promotion and exposure. If the promised promotion is just smoke and mirrors then I’ll probably go it alone as I’d originally planned to do. 🙂

      • Exactly. On th one hand, increased promotion and exposure mean more sales. On the other hand, they take a huge chunk out of the revenues your book generates. It’s a trade off. You also lose some control inn the process. If you don’t end up in the positive column, then it’s just not worth it.

      • acflory says:

        I’m treating an acceptance as something I’ll be able to use as promotion…. down the track when I do go indie as I know that will happen sooner or later.

      • One thing I know some indie authors have done is start in the traditional publishing industry, because it legitimizes them, and then go indie later.

        The trouble with your book is that it’s part of a series. Unless the publisher refuses a particular edition, it would be “fair” for all the books in the series to be published by the publisher.

        So, I’m not sure how that would work within a series.

      • acflory says:

        Ugh…. I hadn’t thought of that. 😦 This is so weird. Now I’m actually /hoping/ I’m not accepted. 😦

      • No. Hope to be accepted. Then, if you don’t like what they’re offering, you’ll have the pleasure of turning them down! 😀

      • acflory says:

        rofl – oh gods, listen to us! Talk about counting chickens. But yes, having that choice would be incredible.

      • 🙂 It’s all part of planning–and dreaming big!

      • acflory says:

        Would you believe that even as late as this time last year I couldn’t make myself say ‘I am a writer’? That was one big dream just there. 😀

      • I believe! And you are most definitely a writer!!!

        Isn’t it great how big dreams can create a life of their own even when we’re a bit too skeptical for “their” tastes?

      • acflory says:

        Oh yes. 🙂 I always knew I could write but writing was just something I /did/. I’m ashamed to admit how long it took me to accept that I could also /be/ a writer. 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    Yes, marketing is important, but sometimes the best marketing is the reviews after your book is published. There is no guarantee your book will sell no matter how many hours you put into marketing. That is just a fact of life. An author friend told me that if I was writing for the money, I should not write. I hear stories about people talking about my book locally although the sales have not indicated massive success. Even J.K. Rowling did not become an overnight success.

    • Yes and no. There is no guarantee your book (or mine) will sell. And reviews are definitely important.

      But, to say that if you’re writing to make money, then you shouldn’t write isn’t something I can agree with. I write for money. Writing, for me, is a career. It’s how I support my family. If I don’t make money, then our power gets shut off or my oil tank goes empty (which is bad in Wisconsin), or our fridge and cupboards go bare.

      Simply put, If I’m not making money (profit, not just revenue), then I’m doing something wrong. If I’m doing something wrong, I need to take corrective action. It’s like any other business–it takes time to become profitable and it takes even more time to earn a living.

      Writing is also an artform. The best writing is passionate writing. It takes time to learn the craft and art of writing–and most people are not going to earn a living or be profitable during that time. That also means, however, that to write at your best, then you have to write something your passionate about–whether it’s a story or topic, fiction or nonfiction, passion is important.

      So, I write for money. I expect to make a living. I don’t expect to get rich, especially not quickly, but I do expect to be able to support my family. BUT money isn’t my only motivation, and in some very real ways it’s not my primary motivation. (If I was writing for money, I wouldn’t pour so much of my writing time into writing about autism–marketing is much more lucrative.) But it is one of the motivations and it is important to me.

  3. Sue says:

    I understand where you are coming from and I wish you all the success in the world.

    • I guess I was saying it less for your benefit and more for the benefit of other writers who are reading these posts and comments. I’ve got a few lurkers here, and I know how discouraged I used to get when I read things like that years back when writing was just a pipe dream.

      We are both working to find our strides and that’s okay. We’ve got time to get it right. In the meantime, you have a great book with a great message, and its success relative to the mainstream is not the key factor. How many hearts and minds did you open up? How many children found solace and familiarity in your characters? How many families are better able to cope because of what you’ve written?

      Unfortunately, you’ll never have the answers to those questions, but those answers are the true worth of your book. My memoir is going to be much the same way. It’s not going to be a bestseller–at least, I’d be totally shocked and amazed and speechless for days if it were. But it will really and truly impact the lives of some (perhaps even most) of the people who read it. And that’s why your book was written and that’s why my book is being written. And that, in a way, is what that phrase is all about.

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