I Sold My Book; Now What?

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The other day I was reading a post on Bob Mayer’s blog, Write it Forward, and something he said caught my attention. It’s regarding a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about—author promotion. Here’s what he said about the subject:

Too many people are pouring the time and energy into promotion that they should be putting into learning the craft of writing. The best promotion technique available is a good book. And more than one title. In fact, I think new authors should wait until they have at least three novels in a series, before they focus a good majority of their time on promoting.

I think instinctually that he must be right. What better way to grow an author brand than by releasing more books? But then we get to the subjective part of this equation: how much time should an author focus on promotion?

One of the benefits of working with my fabulous new publisher, Entangled Publishing, is that I get a publicist who works with me on building my brand. Cathy Yardley is one savvy lady (and an author herself). Her take on the subject is that an author can reasonably spend no more than half an hour a day on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) (At least that’s what I got from our conversation; I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong.)

So half an hour a day? That sounds doable, even for someone with a hectic writing schedule. The problem is (and I think it’s one that many authors have) that I feel like I should be doing much more. I don’t know which of my marketing efforts will pay off, so that makes me want to do more of them with the goal of getting something to stick. But that becomes an issue if it begins to cut in on writing time. Writing is the most important thing, after all.

For you readers, what sort of author marketing gets your attention? In which ways (besides word of mouth) do you find new authors? For those of you who have already published, what marketing efforts have you done, and is there anything you feel has really paid off?

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24 thoughts on “I Sold My Book; Now What?

    Bellakentuky said:
    June 17, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Rosalie- I have been reading your blog for some months now. In fact, you are one of two blogs that I think are worthwhile. This particular one really struck a chord with me. I have always been a writer, but really truly began to get serious about it one year ago. I like everyone else I started looking for writing groups to join, blogs to follow… information, information. Then one day, about four months ago, I came to the realization that I was spending all my time socializing, networking and trying to learn something- not writing
    So I cut all those activities back to one day a week. Started writing and submitting my stores without needing everyone’s feedback. Guess what, I started selling stories. So I’m with you. Write! Write! Write! It has worked for me. I’m following your self-publishing experience with great interest!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 7:36 am

      Thanks! That’s always nice to hear!! 🙂

      It’s so easy to get sucked into social media, especially since it’s fun. But we need to keep in mind the end goal. If it’s to be a writer, then it only makes sense that writing be the majority of our focus.

    Liz Crowe said:
    June 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Rosalie,
    As a rookie writer (still in my first year) AND with a time consuming and creative “day job” (I own and am marketing director for my own craft microbrewery) this is one of the sanest bits of advice I’ve heard since getting that first “welcome to ____Press” notification. I follow several writers who truly do spend more time promoting than trying to craft readable stories. Impressive, all the blogging, guest posting, interviewing, give away-ing, facebooking and tweeting they do. However, I can think of a few books I read by these prolific networkers (wow! they MUST be good–they are all over the place) that were not only riddled with errors, head jumping and typos but whose story was so incredibly unbelievable as to be unintentionally hilarious.
    thanks for this.
    back to the WiP!
    cheers
    Liz

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 7:49 am

      Harsh lesson for them to learn. Balance is key. Writing a good story is the most important thing an author can do.

    Nina Pierce said:
    June 17, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I felt I should be getting the word out and killed myself balancing the blogging/guesting/twittering/facebooking/chatting with my writing schedule. I’ve finally settled into the 45 min a day to answer email and blog and that is making me much happier.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 9:16 am

      That sounds like a good compromise, Nina. It’s way too easy to spend hours and hours on all that stuff (and I should know. :-()

    Heather Thurmeier said:
    June 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    This is an awesome post with great advice. It’s really easy to get sucked into every social network there is because someone says you should, or you feel like you should. Some days I definitely spend more time networking and promoting than others, but I try to keep those days for times when the kids are home and writing new words is tough anyways. Times when the kids are at school, I try to limit my online time and focus on creating a new story instead. Speaking of which, my time online is up! Off to get my word count in!!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

      LOL, great focus Heather! You are so right.

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    June 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I think a regular blog is the best thing you can do, that and communicate with your readers – respond to any emails, provide the occasional giveaway. I spend maybe 15 minutes a day on Twitter, far less on Facebook – maybe 3-5 minutes. I view FB as a major time drain and I won’t get sucked into that.
    One of the best things I’ve done is get to know book bloggers and other authors. I talk to them, comment, they talk back to me and we become friends. It’s sort of a backdoor way of promotion.
    One thing that does not work at all are paid ads. They are a big waste of money.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 10:54 am

      I agree about Facebook and Twitter: huge time drains if you let them be. I’ve always got to be careful when I’m on them.

    Cathy Yardley said:
    June 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Thanks! *blush* I will say, it’s easy to be a publicist when I’m working with such wonderful authors… and such great novels!

    And yes, 30 min a day is enough, especially when it’s “laying groundwork:” the months way before publication. A pre-launch and/or launch month might be a bit more, but really, the story’s the thing. Besides, that’s what you have a publicist for, right? 😉

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Yup, I definitely plan on spending more time around launch date, but I suppose that’s a given. And a rockin’ publicist really helps too!!!!

    J.D. said:
    June 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    As a pre-published author, I can’t answer this one yet, Rosalie. But I know I spend way too much time online! *laughs* Still I don’t know…as a reader, i tend to rely on word of mouth, if something someone speaks interestingly in a blog I read regularly, or in a yahoogroup I’m in, I know I’ve had tendency to be curious about their work. So I guess I still tend to rely on word of mouth about authors, from people that I trust, and then, of course, i always try to return the favor by telling them about writers I’ve enjoyed. 🙂

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      Word of mouth is the biggest, J.D. Also, for me, after I run into an author’s name several times on several blogs, I tend to get curious about that author.

        J.D. said:
        June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

        *nods* Right. I also tend to, sometimes find myself following authors, buying, or at least checking their books out of the library, if they’ve spoken to my local RWA chapter. 🙂 I’ve found a few new favorites, (and rediscovered some old favorites) in that way.

    Shelley Munro said:
    June 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I think the best idea is to pick two or three things that you enjoy and focus on those because, as everyone has mentioned, it is very easy to get sucked in and suddenly find you’ve lost your writing time. With me it’s blogging. I usually spend a little time on FB and Twitter and do a little blog hopping too, but that’s always at the end of my day once I’ve added to my work in progress.

    Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to determine what actually works and produces sales. We want to try everything and end up spreading ourselves too thin. Having a clear and definite promo plan helps.

    Great topic, Rosalie.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 18, 2011 at 8:50 am

      So trully, Shelley. When you don’t know what works, you tend to want to do everything!

    Jordan K. Rose said:
    June 18, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Hi Rosalie. Great post. My debut book launches Winter 2012 and I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing for promo, how much time I should be spending and where I should be spending it. I’m slowly pulling my strategy together. My goal is to figure out how to do it w/o wasting my writing time. 30 minutes a day sounds very manageable. Phew. I was getting worried about the time suck! Thanks for the post. Jordan.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

      Yeah, it was a relief for me to hear too, LOL

    Karen Duvall said:
    June 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    This really is wonderful advice, Rosalie. A writer recently posted a blog about what promo activities are the most worthwhile, but advice about limiting what we do to promote our books is much needed for all of us.

    My debut book with Luna is coming up in September and I’m nervous as hell, but at least I have some experience with self-promotion from my first book published with a small press. It’s a great way to cut your teeth on the publishing business. I managed to get some awesome exposure in a large newspaper, a national magazine, and a FOX television interview with that first book, but it didn’t matter since my publisher didn’t have the resources to make the book as accessible as it needed to be. So that was a lot of wasted effort for very little return. I spent zero dollars on that promo campaign, but since I was the only one doing it, I spent way too much time. I think we all need to be realistic when it comes to self-promotion.

    Karen Duvall
    author of KNIGHT’S CURSE
    An urban fantasy coming in September 2011 from Luna-Books @ Harlequin

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 18, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Such a good point, Karen. Yes, we need a monetary budget, but we also need to budget our time, which is the most valuable thing of all.

    Cher Green said:
    June 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Rosalie, you picked a great time to present this post. 🙂 I found you through the yahoo group, Romance Books R Us. I guess we can say that promotion tactic worked, I’m here. I have an upcoming novella release, my first, and marketing has become a huge issue. I have no time to write! I signed up for a few yahoo groups (promotional allowed) and started promoting. I’ve got three interviews set up to be posted on or after the release.

    What advertising leads me to buy a book? I’ll be honest. I’ve never bought a book because of some marketing deal – book trailer , posts on forum, etc. Recommendations from others is my big deal – from friends, book reviews on Amazon or Blogs, but usually it’s just a trip to the bookstore, thumbing through titles that catch my attention.

    Something you said in your post bothers me. Branding. Do we as writers have to be branded? I write in many genres and I do not wish to be branded in one or the other. I’m aware this may be the wrong approach, but branding just seems so wrong, lol, like sticking us in a little box.

    Best wishes,
    Cher Green

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      June 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      I know authors who write in multiple genres, so it can be done. That said, I also know that when readers really like an author, they want to read more of the same from that author. That’s definitely a factor. I’d say a lot depends on what your ultimate goals are. Is it to be a NYT bestselling author? In such a case a brand will help establish and grow your career. But if your goal is simply to tell good stories, that’s another matter entirely. 🙂

    Cher Green said:
    June 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm

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