Wednesday, 2 December 2015

IWSG: Promotional Burnout.


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It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex.

As I just released my fifth book of the year, my eighth title on shelves, it'll probably come as no surprise that my main insecurity is about marketing/promotion.

Word of advice: if you want to feel really terrible about your attempts at promotion, use trackable links so you can tell how many people haven't clicked on them... Suffice to say, after almost three years flailing around in the promotional waters, I've decided to default to a bare-minimum effort to keep my brain from leaking out my ears. It's enough to balance writing, freelancing and emails (which are a whole extra job in themselves), without adding on costly and frustrating promotion that, well, doesn't work. I have eight books coming out next year, and if I want to get any writing done at all, I'll have to cut down on marketing. It's got to the point where I'm watching the same promotional method crash and burn for the fifth time in a row and I'm wondering... why.

There's this constant anxiety that you always need to be doing something to promote. I fell into that trap. Especially when people whose judgement I (unwisely) trusted started guilt-tripping me for not trying hard enough. After I'd invested thousands of hours and god-knows-how-much money into every promotional method under the sun, most of which actually worked for other authors. My publishing journey has been a long trail of bad and costly decisions, but it makes it hard to know when to stop. Maybe if I tried this, or this, or spent yet more money on that... but it's never enough. It's like the lottery -- which I'd probably have more luck with! At this point, I have to step away.

I can't really overstate how much of a factor luck is in getting noticed. It's just the way it is. But it does mean I'll be making a few drastic changes next year -- rebranding, rearranging my release schedule according to popularity, and shelving non-commercial ideas. I wish I didn't have to, but I'm already burned out on promotion. I don't want to burn out on writing, too. I'm happier when I'm writing and not thinking about the aftermath, but I'm too damn stubborn to stop hoping the next book might be a hit. Or the next. Or the next...

17 comments:

  1. Man is it good to hear someone else say that. I feel like this is a brave post! I'll be excited to see what you do in your rebranding and rearranging next year.

    Promotion stuff threatens to make me burn out on writing all the time and is my big concern recently. How to balance the two. I'm learning how to protect the creative writer in me at all costs--and prioritizing that feels really good. Even if the idea that I should always be doing something for promotion and marketing still keeps pushing at my anxiety.

    8 releases next year! That's awesome.

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  2. Always resort to paid promotions as a last-ditch effort.

    There are small things we can do every day that don't suck us dry of energy. Or money. One of the simplest is leaving a bookmark someplace every single day.

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  3. I take breaks to avoid the burnout. I have a similar post today. You have to keep doing something different because what worked last time may not work again,

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  4. That's how you build a readership, eh? One book at at time.

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  5. I feel the same way as you. Marketing drives me bonkers. Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? What don't I know? I'd rather be writing all the time. Congrats on a great year! Five books is awesome. :)

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  6. Just keep writing and let the marketing take care of itself. The best marketing is to have lots of books for a reader to buy, so when they come across one of your books, they have plenty of other choices.

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  7. Gosh, I could have written this post myself. I'm still trying so many promo methods to see what really, actually works--sadly, so few of them do. I agree there's a good bit of luck involved...I guess we just have to keep trying!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your frustrations. I think it gets discouraging seeing the indie pub success stories sometimes. What worked for them? I wish I had an answer for you. Everything I read from authors (mainly romance community) is no same strategy woks for everyone.

    I'm amazed at your output! That's something to be proud of.

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  9. You did an awesome job producing books this year! I'm amazed. It's taking me forever to get anywhere with my writing, so you're an inspiration. I agree with your step back from promotions. I hope it works out well for you.

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  10. My IWSG was about marketing, too...and it's funny how many others I've seen on that topic today. It seems like it's a universal stressor for writers!

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  11. I haven't even (really) started promoting, and I have three books out! And a fourth next year. But I have no idea how to promote and the fear of that paralyzes me to do nothing. At least you're putting yourself out there. And I'm sure your efforts weren't in vain. It sounds like you threw a lot of pebbles out there so the ripples are a-flowing. Besides, these things take a while I hear. :)

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  12. Five books! Wow... I went nuts when I had two coming out the same year. How you managed to keep it together (minus brain leaking out of ears--I know the feeling) is inspiring. =)

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  13. Marketing never fails to make me insecure, too. (And oh, don't even get me started on links. Checking my stats for those is usually beyond depressing!) Not surprised all this has caused you to burn-out. Best of luck with all the rebranding and rearranging you plan to do!

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  14. It's difficult, because you just don't know what's going to work. And what worked before usually doesn't work the second time.

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  15. Marketing is one of those necessary evils (I really shouldn't call it that because that just sets up a bad connotation). I think it's important to try different marketing ploys to find the ones that suite you best. As you've found out, it's not the same for everyone. For me, I've found that the best kind of marketing is the kind that is actually enjoyable, the kind that doesn't feel like marketing, and is more about making connections with readers and not about the book.

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  16. Thanks very much for being honest about things. Sometimes writers feel bad when they see people crowing on FB about their book being high in the ranks and think "What am I doing wrong?" I did a lot of promo in the first year and a half my book was out (and was then accused by my agent of doing "nothing." I won't go into detail, but I eventually fired her.) Many writers write for years before one of their books or series starts picking up. All you can do is continue to write. :)

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  17. You've done amazing with getting your work out there this year. I'm not at the same point yet, but I can see that marketing would be exhausting, and would be easy to take too far. Good luck figuring everything out in the next year.

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