5 Questions for Those Who Don't Have Time to Market/Promote

(Pictured above: Writer’s Digest and HOW editors/designers, promoting “Art of Manliness” project)

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his
work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body,
his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He
hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence
at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or
playing. To him he’s always doing both.”

—James A. Michener

arly in my career, I often read articles and heard people talk about the mystical “work-life balance.”

More recently, I’ve heard a term that makes a lot more sense: “work-life blend.”

It is hard to answer people when they ask what I do for fun or how I
spend my spare time. Much of what I do off the clock is the same exact
thing I do on the clock. I’m reading, writing, engaging online, talking
about transformational issues that are confronting creative people,
particularly in the publishing industry, and the interesting
solopreneur-reject-the-cube-life phenomenon.

So it always brings me back to earth when I speak to writers about
marketing/promotion (especially when it comes to social media), and
they say, “But how can I find the time for that!”

Here are five questions that occur to me when faced with this dilemma.
I wish there were an easy answer, but everyone has to figure it out for

1. Why are you writing? If it’s just for validation, catharsis,
family/friends, or money, then of course you’ll be worried about the
time it takes to do everything required to be a successfully published
author. It takes enormous time and energy—not to mention the patience
of a saint—and only those prepared to devote everything will make it.
And I can assure you the reward will NOT be monetary.

2. If you don’t like the idea of spending time online with social media
or figuring out new technologies, then what other strengths do you
bring to the table?
Hands down, online tools are the fastest and
easiest way for unknown writers to begin building an audience, get
better at their craft, and network with others who can make a
difference in their careers. You don’t want to spend time doing that?
Then you’ll likely have to find another area of your life (another
strength area) that can help give you an advantage in the publishing
landscape. For instance, do you have a phenomenal network through
churches or a wide-reaching organization? Do you have expertise in a
media channel that will help you spread the message about you and your
work? Do you have friends in high places? You need something other than
luck and a fool’s hope to help you in the publishing journey. (As the
F+W CEO likes to say, “Hope is not a business strategy.”)

3. If you don’t have time to spread the message about you and your
work, then who will?
The best promoter of any book is its author.
Period. And unless you are best friends with Oprah or TV/radio
producers,  the best tool you have to spread your message is through
online channels.

4. Are you willing to make sacrifices for your writing and publishing
I often tell writers that getting involved with
marketing/promotion doesn’t take nearly as much time as they might be
imagining. On the other hand: Yes, it will require an investment, and
maybe your time is extremely limited and precious. In that case, decide
what you’re willing to give up. Sleep? Exercise? TV shows? We’re all
given the same amount of time in the day. You decide and control how
you spend that time. (For advice on getting more stuff done, visit Zen

5. Do you have discipline? This blog is no stranger to the words
“persistence,” “passion,” even “chance.” These can all be essential for every writer. But the most boring secret of best-selling writers I know is discipline. Discipline to put in the time it takes, and
discipline not to get sucked into time-wasting activities. (Discipline
means checking e-mail at predetermined times each day and keeping it a focused
activity. Same with Facebook, Twitter, and other online media.) Being
able to focus on a task to the exclusion of all else is fast becoming a
rare trait.

Finally, for me, there is an intangible element here of work as play.
Authentic author marketing and promotion, the kind that builds on your
strengths, should be a labor of love. (See here.)

Your audience/readers shouldn’t feel like you are “working” when you
are interacting and communicating with them. They should feel like
you’re at play.

That’s what you’re shooting for. Or that’s what I shoot for.

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5 thoughts on “5 Questions for Those Who Don't Have Time to Market/Promote

  1. banana_the_poet/Michele Brenton

    I’m a lazy person who sometimes loves to write silly poetry and sometimes ‘serious’ poetry. Even more than that I love to share my work. It is probably a deep seated psychological problem – but I’m enjoying it and I think so are the people I share with.

    The idea of it being ‘work’ came a very long time after I’d been blogging and making a nuisance of myself to my fellow Twitterers with my constant pushing of my latest poems.

    I still find it very hard to think of any of it as work because I have so much fun. Just as well really as in my limited grasp of reality I equate work with pay – and I have precious little expectation of ever getting any monetary gain from writing and sharing poetry.

    I have a new book coming out soon – I won’t mention it here because I’m not sure it is appropriate – which I am producing because a few people said they would like to be able to share my poetry with people who don’t have access to the internet, or would like to read my poetry to other people, and asked me to get on and publish something.

    I have no chance of ever getting my poetry published in a literary magazine because I have no patience. As soon as a poem is written I have to publish it online and find out what people think about it. My poems often evolve on my blogs as they go up and then I edit over and over online when I spot an improvement to make.

    I’m going to shut up now. I think I had a point to make – I think it boiled down to me having a HUGE amount of fun with my poetry and Twitter and the Poetry Asides section of this website with Robert Brewer that frankly if I never ‘make it’ I won’t mind – none of the things I do to promote my ‘work’ are sacrifices, they are my indulgent enjoyments and if I ever ‘succeeded’ it would simply be a massive extra gift and make me laugh my socks off at the sheer unlikeliness of it.

  2. Anittah

    I suspect Michener was inspired by the Buddhists.

    This is on my desk wall, in fact. It’s a [Japanese] Zen Buddhist saying:

    "The real master in the art of living makes little distinction between his art and his leisure. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both."

  3. Anne

    This is the first blog I’ve read in more than a month. Why? I’m a freelance writer who has made her living "from the pen" for more than 20 years. Yes, I’ve been slow to accept this social media stuff. I even write non-fiction articles about social media, and I still don’t "get it." Yes, I have discipline and am willing to make sacrifices for my writing. When I am a guest lecturer, I tell freelance newbies that "the actual task of writing will consume only about 25% of your time. If you can do better than that, my hat’s off to you." You still haven’t convinced me to do more than "dabble" in social media – when I have the time.

  4. Charlotte

    Wow, this really hit home for me. Especially liked #3–if I’m not going to spread the message about me, who else do I expect to? I used to say this to my children all the time–if Mom isn’t going to stand up for you, who else will?

    I’m now heading off to do a few tweets….


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