Author Marketing: Don’t Do What You Don’t Like

Most of us have a To Do list a mile long. And it almost always includes things that we don't like to do.

Maybe we used to like a particular task. Maybe we never did. Either way those items keep moving from one day to the next or one month to the next, always hanging out there, weighing on us because we’re not doing them.

I find this is particularly true when it comes to marketing.

Building Your Platform

Whatever kind of writer you are, though, and however you publish marketing is likely to be key to your career. A big part of that is building your author platform. (Jane Friedman defines your author platform as your “ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.”)

And so many tasks go into building a platform.

Here are just a few you might have tried or that might be on your list:

  • building and regularly updating an author website
  • interacting on social media
  • staying in direct touch with fans, potential fans, and readers
  • networking with other authors and professionals who might be able to help you and whom you might be able to help
  • book signings
  • other types of public speaking or personal appearances

In addition, a lot of writers still need to work another job or have multiple other responsibilities.

Shortening The List

When I’m feeling overwhelmed often my answer is to try to power through my list. Like it or not, if I decided a particular task is one most successful authors do I feel like I need to keep it on my list.

So it was with great relief when I heard Jim Kukral of the Sell More Books Show say this week that if you don't like something relating to marketing don't do it.

When I thought about it, that made a lot of sense.

If you don’t like something, it will probably take you more time to do than focusing on something that achieves the same purpose but that you enjoy. You’re also less likely to be effective, or come across as genuine, if you’re trying to engage with readers in a way that’s not fun for you.

Finally, what works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. So why push yourself to do that thing that you keep moving from one week to the next (or one month to the next) on your To Do list.

Changes And Social Media

What you enjoy or don’t can change.

As an example, when I first started using Twitter, I loved it. I was working 10 or so hours a day (sometimes including weekends) at my law practice. Twitter was a nice way to take a break for 5-10 minutes a few times each day.

I connected with other writers, shared blog posts I'd written, and found content that helped me in my writing and publishing journey. It reminded me that I was also a writer in addition to being a busy (and often super-stressed) lawyer. It’s how I first came across The Creative Penn, which is now my favorite podcast on publishing and writing.

I also met terrific people who made a huge difference in my career.

Women's fiction author Melissa Foster and I connected when I had only one book out, my first supernatural thriller, The Awakening, Book 1. Melissa included it in one of the first book launches she organized. We advertised that launch mainly through Twitter.

That experience was key to me learning more about how to present my e-books and introduced me to other authors that I still keep in touch with to this day.

I also met Shiromi Arserio. She later produced and narrated three of the audiobooks in my Awakening Series. We bonded over a shared love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We traded blog posts, proofread each other's manuscripts, and became friends. The last time she was in Chicago, I got to meet her in person.

Over the last year or two, though, scheduling tweets is one of those things that keeps moving from one To Do list to the next. I’m just not as excited about spending time there. While I still check in with people that I already know, it's been a long time since I met anyone new through Twitter. And there's so much content out there now that my issue is scaling back on what I read and listen to rather than searching for insights and information.

Finally, I see a lot more angry and frustrated tweets these days about politics. I’m all for people sharing their viewpoints, but Twitter no longer serves as an escape for me.

All this is not to say I’m abandoning Twitter.

But I decided to stop feeling guilty if I don’t go there a lot. I’ll post the articles from this page and other occasional updates. I’ll see what friends are tweeting. But otherwise I’ll probably let it go.

What Do You Enjoy?

Without particularly planning it I’ve found myself spending more time on Instagram.

I like it because it's very different from when doing the rest of the day. Rather than sitting in front of a laptop I use Instagram on my phone. Also, rather than writing more words, which I do the rest of the day, I'm looking at or taking photos. I really enjoy using that visual part of my brain.

Also, because I haven't been on Instagram that long and I'm pretty particular about who I follow everything I see there is something I find inspiring or encouraging or striking or peaceful. Or that makes me think in a new, interesting way.

Is it as good for marketing?

I’m not sure, but maybe that’s the point. I connected the most with readers and other authors on Twitter when I was enjoying it for what it was rather than saying to myself “time to market.” So I figure that’ll be the case for Instagram too.

Anyway, it’s fun.

Have you been struggling with something on your to do list? If so, can you let it go and do something else instead might serve the same purpose?

That’s all for today. Until next Friday—

L.M. Lilly

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