When I set out to write I didn’t give much thought to publishing, let alone marketing. Now agents everywhere say your online marketing is an essential aspect of your professionalism as a writer. Many won’t even consider your work unless you have a significant online presence.
I can understand their point of view. After all, if the publishing house is no longer going to spend the time and money to really promote their beginning and midlist authors, who will? Certainly not your busy agent, beyond a tweet or a FB mention here and there. However, all this concern for marketing has gotten in the way of my writing. It has blocked my writing in ways I never envisioned.
It was so refreshing, then, to read Dean Wesley Smith’s take on keeping your writing first and foremost in answer to a comment on this excellent post:
There are a lot of promotions that are just a total waste of time. The best way to sell a book is write another one and then another one and make each one better. It won’t sell a lot of copies instantly as is the produce model of thinking, but over the long haul, you’ll make a ton more money and be a better writer.
I suggest most promotion be simply your web site (I am failing on this at the moment because of links, but fixing that), your publisher’s web site (we’re about to get WMG Publishing web site actually up and running), an occasional facebook post and an occasional twitter post. I don’t do either, really.
There are other things that do work a little. For trade paper books, WMG does catalogs to send to bookstores and we are making nice money that way. And sending out proofs, both electronic and paper, for major reviews of new books tends to work if your publishing house looks professional and your book looks professional.
But the rest is pretty time-wasting for most writers. They would be much better served in a five year plan to just write more work and get more readers. Let word of mouth spread the news about your great books. But again, that takes time and you can’t expect it to happen in a few months or even the first year.
I’m going to realign my social media efforts and put them back on the back burner where they belong. I can dip into Twitter 2-3 times a week, and maybe stir my FB status once or twice a week. I’m fortunate that Google+ hasn’t yet swallowed me up (and when it beckons, I’ll have to relegate it to the back burner, as well). What I can’t afford to do is get so sucked into internet surfing that I forget the main course–my writing.