OK, so we’re well into 2019. We made it! Yay! Pat on the back. Cheers. The whole bit. We’re awesome. And with a new year came new resolutions, right?
Like, maybe, throw some more time on marketing vs writing?
Or, alongside writing?
Maybeee sticking to a schedule?
This is all non-judgmental, trust me.
I’m the first to admit that I CANNOT, for the life of me, stick to a schedule. And marketing? Might as well shoot me now 🙁
I’d rather fight dragons and live in the wilderness than tackle that monster.
Not because I can’t…but, let’s face it, writing is TONS more fun! 🙂
With that in mind, I’m going to share with you a few tips showing you can, in fact, sneak marketing into your writing schedule, and have a life…
So, basically, you can have your cake, and eat it too.
Are you ready for this? Keep reading!
Disclaimer: I’m no expert in marketing, I speak only from experience. And I am in no way, shape or form being paid to advertise the businesses that will be listed below. These happen to be those I’ve most had success with, and the ones I found easiest to incorporate into an already crazy-busy schedule, at no cost to myself.
The importance of a routine
Time for a little hard truth.
Whether you’ve been at this a long time or a short time, you might have heard it before: if you don’t schedule time in your daily life to write, it’s not going to happen.
Truth is, stuff intervenes.
Our daily jobs.
Friends needing help.
We’ve all been there.
And then we take the time to sit down and block out time for writing.
Well, the hard truth?
You have to do the same for marketing.
Unless you live and breathe for marketing (which, sadly, I don’t!) the truth is that if you don’t schedule marketing in your week, same like you do for your writing, it ain’t gonna happen.
Life’s too busy, and free time is much more fun being spent on writing than marketing.
And a book, no matter how good, is not going to get the recognition it deserves unless you put it in the hands of readers.
With the huge competition out there, this is becoming harder and harder to do.
So, stop avoiding it.
MAKE marketing a part of your writing schedule.
Once you have it integrated into your weekly routine, it’ll become just another thing to tick off that to do list, and you’ll feel better for it—and see results with your books getting more notice, too!
How to find time for your book marketing
There are many ways you can schedule your routine.
Personally, I use an app.
And, to my shame, I’d be lost without it!
I’ve been using it for a year now, and it’s called Alarmed—this is for iPhones—I’m not too sure if they have the same for Android devices.
But, realistically, you can throw a reminder app on any phone/desktop/etc.
Or if you prefer paper, write yourself to-do lists. Pen it in your calendar. Whatever works!
For me, since I’m always on the move, the app works.
And when I’m at work and about to take lunch, it conveniently buzzes with a reminder that I’m supposed to spend 30 minutes writing a scene, or scheduling a promo, or creating banners for a banner.
So I take that time, do what I’m supposed to, mark it as ‘done’, and I feel all the better for it!
It’s a tiny bit that I incorporate into my schedule in a way that doesn’t intervene with what I already love doing: writing!
Note: While it’s important to schedule a routine, be careful that you don’t overexert yourself. I made the mistake last year, when I penned in marketing every day of the week, weekends included :/
I didn’t last past week two.
So this year, when I went over my goals, I was realistic with myself.
Marketing every week, while I’m working on six new books? Never going to happen.
Marketing for three days out of the week, every two weeks? That was a compromise I could work with.
And we’re past Month two of the year, and it’s working so far!
Social media and vampirism
I’ll use my earlier mention of not overexerting yourself to draw attention to another hard truth, one many of us may not be ready to face yet: social media is a vampire, and it can (and does) suck the life out of us.
You may not notice it when you’re spending your day scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
You may not even notice it when you’re up half the night on Pinterest, pinning stuff to your boards.
And you may not even notice that all it takes is a moment of inattention from your coworker/partner/friend, and your fingers itch to scroll through those sites once more, if only out of boredom.
But there will come a time that you will notice this.
And by then, it may be too late.
You’ll be feeling sad or helpless for no reason.
Or maybe like you’re not enough.
Or like your life isn’t glamorous enough, or you don’t have all the opportunities all your friends/followers do.
That is when you REALLY need to take a break and step away.
Delete the apps off your phone if you have to, because all this will do is sap into your mental ability, destroy any willpower, and eventually drive you to seeing everything through a pretty bad filter.
The problem is, we’re told as authors that in order to get out there, to be known, we have to have all these social media accounts.
And post on them constantly.
And always answer everything.
We live in a world ruled by the internet, to the point where we don’t realise how much it sucks the life out of us.
I never realised it better than in the year I went without internet. The bottom line is that my husband and I cut our home internet, then returned our iPhones to the store and bought prepaid phones with only the ability to talk and text.
Shocking, I know!
Many of our friends didn’t understand why we did that.
Many couldn’t get over the fact we -gasp- didn’t have Netflix!
And even more of them preferred to think we chose this because of money issues, rather than a choice made for our own health. Our decision had nothing to do with money whatsoever.
After that year, once we got new iPhones and made the joint decision to re-install our internet, my husband and I had developed new habits. Healthy habits, one might say.
We spent more time talking than binging Netflix.
We spent less time on social media…
And even now, years later, we’ve managed to maintain a balance.
But it hasn’t been easy!
That sensation of wanting to scroll through my phone is in me 24/7.
Yet, I fight it off.
And because I know how bad social media gets, yet am aware I need it to promote my brand, I cheat—in a way that’s not unhealthy, for me.
How to avoid the social media vampire
I use Hootsuite to schedule all my Twitter/Facebook posts.
I use the Later app for Instagram, and Pinterest lets me schedule posts without a hitch.
Then I use Alarmed (or whatever reminder app) to remind myself to sign on at specific times during the day to respond to comments/mentions/likes, etc.
And I always keep the amount of time I’m on to a limited time (generally, nothing over an hour, and no more than three times a day).
Sure, I’ll be online sometimes in the middle of the night cause I’m writing and want to take a break.
But, overall? Scheduling the posts has removed the ‘need’ to be on social media 24/7.
Plus, there’s another upside to scheduling posts.
Facebook (and I’m sure the other social media sites, too!) shows you insights on your audience, like when they’re most engaged with your posts.
You can schedule your posts so they go live precisely at those busy times, and reach the widest audience possible.
Note: If this is impossible for you to do, for whatever reason, try to at least limit your time on social media, especially before going to sleep!
If nothing else, put a stopper on your phone, so that when you go over a certain amount of hours spent during the day on social media, it stops those apps from working.
Apple calls it regulating screen time.
Me? I call it peace of mind.
And more writing time!
Because by scheduling the posts, and only having to go online a few times a day, it leaves me free to do what I do best: writing.
And yet, none of my hard effort in building my brand/engaging with my audience is lost.
Giveaways + mailing lists = more writing time
Don’t make the mistake I did and ignore the importance of giveaways and mailing lists when it comes to promoting your work.
For the longest time, I thought I knew better and that these were a waste of time.
I cannot encourage you enough to set up giveaways and mailing lists!
They’re your bread and butter: they will keep your readers returning to you, time and time again!
How to create your mailing list
I use MailChimp for managing my mailing list.
And I have my website as well as my social media (where possible) linked to them.
The most important thing about mailing lists?
You can’t just accept subscribers at face value.
Sure, they signed up and gave you their email address. But the real test comes if you can keep them engaged.
To that effect, I set up a ‘welcome package’ that shoots out to any new subscriber.
MailChimp is great at making the process automated, and my three emails shoot out at different intervals.
If a subscriber is still on my mailing list after they’ve received all three emails, and I see they’ve opened and engaged with the content at least a bit, then I keep them and mark them as ‘active’.
If they’ve opened but not clicked, they’re a ‘maybe’, and if they haven’t even opened the email, they’re ‘inactive’.
You can set up your own system, and MailChimp has tons of tools available!
But, you ask, how do I get the subscribers? Which brings me to my next point: giveaways.
How to set up your book giveaways
The general consensus is, the easiest way to get subscribers to your mailing is to offer them something free in return.
And I’m not going to dispute that.
However, if you’re like me, you’ll have a hard time wanting to give an entire book away for free!
Which is why I love my next tool I’ll be talking about: MyBookCave.
MyBookCave is something I recently stumbled upon.
If you’re a reader, you can sign up and get books for free.
Nothing new here, there are tons of similar sites online.
BUT where MyBookCave differs, is in the services it offers authors.
Yes, you can do paid promos with them, same like with other sites like BookRaid.
However, you can also take advantage of their ‘magnet author services’, which are free. In short, by creating a magnet with MyBookCave, it lets you (in their own words):
Easily distribute review ebooks, give free ebooks as a reward to current readers, and allows you to attract new fans by offering a free book in exchange for readers signing up for your newsletter. Options include multiple links to track promotional efforts, download limits, and CSV subscriber lists. Set up in minutes and then sit back as we guide your readers step-by-step through the process of loading your book onto the device of their choice, leaving you more time to write!
And boy, do they deliver! Here’s a sample of what a magnet looks like, once you’ve added it to your account in MyBookCave.
Once a reader subscribes, they get an email actually walking them through how to add an epub/mobi on their device (not everyone is tech savvy!), and you get their email info directly uploaded into your MailChimp account (or other mailing system account you have).
You can create a magnet like I did, just to give out samples of your work in exchange for newsletter signups.
Or you can participate in a Magnet Promo with MyBookCave—for free!
Once you sign up for a free account with them, they send your weekly emails letting you know what promos are happening.
I call them promos, but they’re in fact giveaways hosted by other authors; multi-author giveaways, if you will.
If your book matches what the promo is about, all these other authors will be promoting the event—and your book!—just as you’ll be promoting theirs.
To give you an idea on whether this works, I signed up in January and was involved in one massive promo, and another one that hasn’t quite finished.
I’ve gone from 40-ish members on my mailing list, to 253!
In only a month.
This may not sound like much to those of you who have thousands of subscribers, but to me, that’s 253 active subscribers that didn’t unsubscribe after receiving my welcome package, and who are now interested in my upcoming releases. That’s direct sales!
And that, folks, is why mailing lists are super important.
Note: The major benefit of these giveaways and mailing lists? Once I put in the time to set them up, it freed up SO much more of my schedule!
That’s an aspect of my marketing strategy that I no longer have to actively worry about, because it’s working without me doing much!
And the subscribers come in daily, which will help when I have my next book release.
More time for writing, and potential new customers?
Yes, that’s what I’d call a win!
Whatever you choose—if anything—to incorporate from my advice above, just keep in mind that yes, writing is important.
And yes, your mental health is even more so.
Neither has to suffer just for you to get some marketing done.
And while it may sound downright overwhelming, if you find little tricks here and there, you’ll end up realising what I did: at the end of the day, it’s about building yet another facet of my author’s life into my schedule, and finding the tools to cope with it.