Another great post from Duolit!
“Break’s over.” – Jed Bartlet, The West Wing
Life loves to throw curveballs.
As soon as you’re feeling good about how things are moving —WHAM! — something comes along to knock you back.
If you’re part of our mailing list, you’ve read about the personal curveballs Shannon and I were thrown this summer, but I’m sure you’ve experienced similar situations, too.
A change in seasons (“Summer’s here — I’m going outside!”), big life events (“I’m having a baby!”) and just the simple ebb and flow of life all affect our priorities, habits and schedules.
At some point in your writing career, building your fanbase will be the farthest thing from your mind.
When you first waver off track, it might just be for a few days. But then, a week goes by…then a month, and before you know it, it feels harder and harder to get back into marketing your work and easier and easier to extend the break.
Eventually, you realize that you need to get back to promoting your work.
But where do you start?
Falling behind is terrifying. You’re afraid that you’ve done irreparable damage to your writing career by taking a break.
I mean, what if you have to start from — gulp — scratch?!
How to Get Back on Track After Taking a Fanbase-Building Break
First off, simply take a deep breath.
Even if you’ve been out of the game for a few months (or longer!) you won’t have to start promoting your work from scratch, unless you want a clean slate. Regardless of how dire it feels, the fans you’ve gained and the progress you’ve made won’t be negated by the time off.
I don’t want to mislead you — it takes effort to get the ball rolling again, but it won’t be as much as you think.
Are you ready to get started? Put on some relaxing music and let’s work through the five steps for getting back on the book marketing bandwagon!
1. Cut yourself some slack
Many writers I know (myself included) have terribly guilty consciences. Heck, I can still feel bad over mistakes I made as a kid!
But, one thing I’ve realized about guilt over the years is that it doesn’t do anything to help you move forward.
So, the first step for getting back on track is to forgive yourself for veering off in the first place. Taking a break does not make you a bad, bad author who doesn’t care about her career — it just makes you human!
Take a (-nother) deep breath and remember: the passed time is what it is; you’ve done nothing wrong.
2. Assess the situation
Now that you’ve taken care of the guilt, let’s figure out where you left off the last time you were working on promotion. It’s the best way to decide how to move forward. As a start, ask yourself:
- Do I have a website? If so, where?
- Do I have a blog? If so, where?
- Which social networks am I a part of?
- What was the last promotion/promotional activity I was working on? What were the results?
- Who are my readers? How was I trying to reach them?
- Who were my biggest fans and/or author allies? How do I get in touch with them?
Spending a few moments on the survey serves two purposes:
- Reminds you of the progress you’ve made in the past
- Puts you back into the self-promotion mindset
Basically, it gives you all the information you need to start moving forward and making new plans!
3. Focus on promotions you enjoy
While falling off the wagon can happen to even the most enthusiastic author, it happens more often to those who dread promotion or are only using certain promotional tools because they feel like they have to.
I officially give you permission to stop this madness!
Shannon and I are both huge proponents of book marketing your way. When the responsibility’s all on your shoulders, you get to decide which methods you want to use. Why? Because, if using Twitter triggers head-bashing tendencies, you will start finding reasons not to log in.
Remember: much to many authors’ chagrin, there is no one true path to publishing and promotional success. Some authors couldn’t imagine their success without Facebook, but others (who are doing just as well) have never even used the service.
Blaze your own trail and only partake in the promotional avenues you feel comfortable with and enjoy. You’ll be happier (and more successful) in the end!
4. Take small steps
After a break, you’ll feel tempted to make up for lost time by taking on a bunch of new marketing projects at one time, but don’t do it! If you do, that initial, enthusiastic push will fizzle into burnout, and that’s what we want to avoid this time, right?
Instead, focus on one promotional project at a time and break that task down into smaller steps. In this vein, we’re starting a new blog series with a monthly project for you to tackle, but you can easily do this yourself with any of your marketing ideas.
As an added bonus, breaking down a single idea into smaller steps will allow you to accomplish each one more quickly — and what feels better than quickly checking things off your to-do list?
5. Build in breaks
This time around, get ahead of the game by building mini-breaks into your promotional life. You’ll not only keep up your enthusiasm for promotion, but you’ll also become a pro at restarting things after a few days or a week off. Then, when real life strikes, you’ll know exactly how to bounce back!
If taking time off doesn’t make you feel comfortable, instead focus on moving at a pace that is maintainable for you.
As an example, if you realistically have 5 hours a week to devote to promotion, don’t try to schedule in 10 hours of work. Or, if you have more motivation during certain weeks, accomplish more during that week and plan for a more relaxed schedule the following week.
Very few of us work at this whole book marketing “thing” full-time. The more flexible you are with planning your time and accomplishing your goals, the happier (and more productive!) you’ll be.