Many writers are exhausted by book marketing — even those who haven’t released their book yet. Sometimes, simply the thought of where to begin can be enough to stop a writer from ever starting at all. What to do?
There are really three situations we find ourselves stuck in:
- Analysis Paralysis: there are SO many options, you don’t know where to begin, so…you don’t. You research and talk to people and learn things, and go to webinars and chats and write about what you might do so that counts, right? But you haven’t taken any action or made any decisions. Yet. But you will. At some point. Soon. Key cause: you want to make the most right decision.
- Procrastination: you’re thinking about starting to market your book, but you’re afraid of making the wrong choice, and if you do, then you’ve blasted your budget all to hell, and then, shit. You’re done. Life is over. So, it’s easier to do nothing and keep thinking about it. Key cause: fear is your greatest motivator.
- Overwhelm: you know you should be marketing, so you do a little bit of this, and a lot of that, and oh, what about this? And, dang it, that looks good! And before you know it, you’ve forgotten what you have and haven’t done and nothing is really working, and you haven’t sold a damn thing, so meh, this book marketing thing sucks. Why am I even bothering? Key cause: lack of planning.
Does any of this sound familiar? It’s all pretty exhausting. I get it. Today I’m going to show you that it doesn’t have to be.
Nobody wants to be ‘wrong,’ especially when it comes to marketing our books (babies). There are so many options, and it’s honestly quite difficult to know what’s ‘best,’ with all the shiny calls to ‘do this and sell 10 million copies for the low, low price of $49.99!’ and such. As an author since 2010, I get it. I’ve fallen for those easy-button sales pitches myself.
I’m not here to tell you what works and what doesn’t (see my BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge or past posts for that). This section discusses ways to pull you out of the feedback loop of constantly analyzing and achieving no results.
Analysis is important. Don’t jump into book marketing blindly. Research the best options for your book, your brand, and your genre. Create a marketing plan. Set a budget. Have realistic goals. Then, make a decision and move forward. How? Some tips:
- Give yourself a hard deadline. Writers have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I personally love them. If I know something is due on a specific date, I get it done. Treat your marketing plan (or whatever is it) as you would a college paper or business project deadline. Drop-dead date, no exceptions. You can even make your editor or close friend an accountability buddy.
- Stop researching and make a damn decision. At some point, you’ve talked to enough people, asked the same question in twenty-five Facebook groups, looked up the answer on YouTube, Google (Bing, Yahoo, whatever), and read 100 blog posts about it.
You have the answer. You are simply avoiding decision-making out of your fear of being wrong. Well, newsflash, you will be wrong. You will make mistakes. So what? It happens. Every mistake is a learning experience for your next book.
Take baby steps. Make smaller decisions. I fully comprehend how difficult book marketing and spending our hard-earned money is, particularly for unknown services. It’s a leap of faith on ‘soft’ services, and there’s no guarantee of a ‘hard’ sale at the end. (Many writers don’t understand this — so instead of building relationships, they go right to the pitch out of desperation. More on that later.)To shake you out of this paralysis, give yourself small decision-making tasks and do them — which social media management tool to try out to save time (I’m using Promo Republic lately which totally rocks — it’s like a combo of Hootsuite, Buffer, and Canva all together), or which influencer to follow and perhaps approach to request a guest blog.
When you procrastinate, you are doing one thing and one thing only: avoiding pain. That pain can be fear, shame, or vulnerability. For many writers who have never published before, the most common is fear: what if people hate my book? What if the reviews are terrible? What if, what if, what if? Then you feel guilty and anxious and mad at yourself. It’s a self-defeating loop and it sucks.
When you procrastinate, your anxiety is speaking for you. It’s taking control of your life, wasting time you are constantly whining that you don’t have. Isn’t that the ultimate irony?
We are always saying we don’t have enough time to do what we need to do, yet procrastinating about doing what we need to do to market our books is wasting the time you need. What to do? Some tips:
- Visualization. This may sound a little woo-woo but just go with it. Picture whatever is blocking you from achieving your goal as a black cloud. Now, push your way through it and get to the other side. Takes literally 5 seconds. Clouds are easy because they’re light and pliable.
- Learn new skills. Stop ‘putting if off til later.’ Many writers don’t market because they tell me (and/or themselves) they don’t have a marketing degree and don’t know how to market. Newsflash: I don’t have a marketing degree, either! I have decades of practical sales and marketing experience in Big Pharma, yes, and about nine years in publishing, but the magical marketing fairies don’t magically drop knowledge in my lap. I take courses, go to webinars, and read and research, just like you.
- Focus on short-term and long-term goals. If your focus is only on right now, that makes you no different than a toddler *stomps foot.* Book marketing is a long-term investment in yourself. Everything you do, every single day, works toward your future as an author. Hopefully, this one book isn’t your only book. The interactions and relationships you build now will go a long way toward building a long-term fan base.This is what many writers miss out on when they blast, ‘Buy my book!’ links constantly on social media. There’s no relationship there. Imagine how much more effective they could be?
We’ve all been overwhelmed — by life, by work, by family, whatever. What’s important to keep in mind here is why you feel overwhelmed. Are you overwhelmed by external circumstances or is it self-imposed? One you can’t control (e.g., the weather), the other you can.
With regard to our topic here, you absolutely can control how you feel by taking charge of your activities. Many authors try this or that, make some effort, and then quit (sound like you?), complaining that nothing is working. Stop rushing around and remember, publishing is a long game and being an author is a business. Many writers who feel overwhelmed tend to not have a plan in place; would you start a business without a business plan?
How can you prevent this from happening in the first place? Some tips:
- Strategize. Take the time to create a book marketing plan and stick to it. This doesn’t mean you can’t stray from your plan if an opportunity arises (e.g., an interview or BookBub). Think of your marketing plan as a map to guide your journey from nowhere to somewhere. This means you need to follow your map so you know where you’re going and how to get there.
- Set Realistic Goals. This, more than anything, will help you through the book marketing process. Decide what you need to do daily, weekly, and monthly. Write down your goals in a planner (online, paper, whatever works for you) and check it off as you go. Be specific: what do you have now, what do you need, and what have you achieved. Start small: ten book sales per month = 2.5 sales per week. Once you achieve that, double it.
- Prioritize. When everything is important, nothing is important. You are just one person. If you can’t hire outside help (like a consultant or author assistant), it’s all on you. Create a task list and narrow it down to what’s doable that day.
Answer this question first thing every morning: what’s the one thing I must do before anything else? And do that one thing. Before Twitter, Facebook, email, phone calls — anything. Don’t allow white noise to distract from your focus.
Building your author platform, building relationships with readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers, and making your book the absolute best it can possibly be are not optional if you want to sell books. It is a lot of work, I won’t lie to you. But remember, you don’t have to do it all at once.
“I don’t wish for people to have all of their dreams come true. I wish them to be okay with the fact they won’t. If you go into the world not letting it stop you when things don’t go your way, then you’re unstoppable.”
~ Louis C.K.
By Rachel Thompson
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