Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Reasons You Can't Do It All

When it comes to marketing ourselves and our work, there are a lot of different options available to us. Next week, I'm starting a new series that highlights a different social media site and lists links to the experts on how to use them. As writers, it's tempting to try every new shiny thing that comes around, but that can be a recipe for disaster. So before you dive in and try to tackle everything, keep in mind that you can't do it all, no matter how much coffee you drink. Here are three reasons why it's okay not to do it all.

My favorite coffee mug. It says "Behold the power of caffeine".

1. There aren't enough hours in the day
Even if you are a superstar who only needs 4 hours of sleep a night and had no other obligations, you still can't do it all. There are just too many options out there for ways to market yourself and your work. And don't forget that you have to write still.

You'd be better off setting aside a specific amount of time every day or each week dedicated to marketing. For me, I like to get on all my social media sites first thing in the morning. Checking in with everyone makes me feel connected to the writing community and gives me a boost of confidence to get my writing done. But I know that by 10am, I need to shut it off and get to work.

2. You can't be an expert in that many areas
Participating in dozens of marketing efforts means trying to master a lot of areas. You may be okay or even good in these areas, but it's doubtful you'll be outstanding in all of them. If you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to be outstanding.

Instead, pick a few things to focus on. Become amazing in these areas. You can always change your mind and branch out later, but keep your focus narrow to start. 

3. Eventually, something has to give
Even if you are able to keep up with a blog, FB, Twitter, guest posts, 6 different forums, book club, a weekly paper column and that new editing service you started, it can't last. When we start new endeavors, everything is bright and shiny so the newness tends to give us a bit more energy and enthusiasm. But it can't last. At some point, you will run out of steam and then something has to give.

As a writer, your brain is a hot commodity. A  professional athlete who over-trains risks permanent injury that can put them out of the game, and writers are no different. If you burn out, you may have to take a break from everything just to get your feet under you again. The only thing worse than doing too much marketing is doing none at all. Don't let yourself get to that point.

Now that you have permission to not do it all, I hope you enjoy the new series. The goal is for all of us (myself included) to learn enough about all the options available to us as writers, so we can make an informed decision about where to spend our time.

14 comments:

  1. Great post, Sarah. I marvel at the writers who seem to be on Twitter and their blogs all the time and still manager to tell us when their latest book will be published. When did they get to write? Probably they're really organised, unlike me. I find I sometimes set out to check on my favourite sites and network with my favourite people and 'poof' my writing time's disappeared.

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    1. Yes! I love the networking and interacting with other writers. It fills my inspiration well, but we have to set limits or we'll never write.

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  2. I know some who seem to do it all (I'm lookin' at you, Kelly!), but at the moment, trying to do it all isn't my problem. I'm having trouble doing anything... just not in the mood. :-)

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    1. I don't think social media works unless you want to do it. Sound like you could use a break. Give yourself permission to do that. :)

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  3. I needed this reminder today. OMG, Lexa, are you talking to me? LOL I do try to do it all. I admit it. It's really tough though. It wears on me after a while.

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    1. Don't forget to give yourself a break now and then. :)

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  4. I'm looking forward to this, Sarah!

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    1. Good to hear. Next week kicks off with Tumblr. :)

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  5. Very true. In advertising and PR when we decide what tactics to use we cater everything based on the product, or person(s). You get what'll work best for you, not what everyone else is attempting :)

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    1. I think a lot of authors are looking for the magic formula that will propel them on to the bestsellers list. Just like there is no "right" way to write a book, marketing your work is something unique to each author.

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  6. Great post Sarah, and so true. The thing is, if we're not trying to do it all, we feel guilty. Looking forward to the series.

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    1. Yep, it's like the writer's version of the Supermom Syndrome.

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  7. I'm not positive, but I think Socrates said "Know Thyself", and it's good advice. I came into writing with 15 years of experience in marketing and sales, so I have that going for me when the book (product!) is ready to ship. I took a test run at online marketing venues you've mentioned, and I've found them time consuming and overwhelming (and I'm a big tough guy! lol)

    When the other books are ready, I'll play to my strengths when I begin the marketing. I know what my strengths are (sort of) and I'll focus my efforts there. I won't be across all platforms (and in 3 months there will probably be more, considering how fast online modes are evolving). The components of my marketing platform will be basic, and used well- a blog, email list, and reviewer sites. No tweets from this twit. Facebook... too noisy, other than a presence pointing to my blog.

    Once my tools are in place, I'll refine their performance as opposed to pick up a new shiny. Which will be tough... I LIKE new shinys!

    I suggest self pubbed authors read 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'. It's a great guide for enteprenuers, and like it or not, that's what we are. I read it over 20 years ago, and Covey's principles are still valid, if not even more so in this distracting world online.

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