This Gang is just…AWESOME!

I love it when one of my favorite author sites features me as the author of the day.  If you’re an indie (like me) or a traditionally published author then check out AwesomeGang for promotions and their features.  They’re really an incredible site devoted to promoting all authors (and most of the authors help promote other authors and give such generous advice).  It’s really amazing and here’s their website link Awesome Gang and you can find them on Facebook and Twitter and even on Pinterest!

Why is it so hard to maintain momentum?

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I go on publicity binges – posting, tracking, tweeting, creating new content, then posting, tracking, tweeting all over again.  Then I see a jump in sales and I think “Great!  It’s working!” and I work like a woman possessed on my next release or short story in between posts, tweets, tracking, etc..  All of a sudden I hit a day when it just seems like so much self-aggrandizement and frantic activity that I can’t bear to do it for another minute.

It’s in these dark hours of (mental) exhaustion that I just want to crawl onto the couch and read someone else’s work.  The one thing being an indie has taught me is that those moments of blissful peace are necessary to fuel my creativity.  It’s stressful to live with the little voice in my head “Did my scheduled posts work?  Did I put the links on that post?” and all of the other random thoughts that pop in while I’m trying to live my life.

That’s the crux of the matter:  I have a life.  I have a full-time job.  I have a family.  I have a small dog.  I have friends.  I also have a part-time job (writing) that I’m building into a business and that business reqires me to be creative and consistent.

The last time I hit that wall – the one between “I love doing this so much” and “I’m closing my Twitter account” – I decided to approach things differently.  Instead of working like a woman possessed on my next release while promoting, I broke it down into two separate tasks.  Write.  Publicize.  When I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I build my tweets and posts and save them or schedule them to post at specific times.  When I can’t form a sentence, I work on my art for advertising sales & promos – then I save them or schedule them.  Trying to do it all at once just saps my energy and creativity.  If my posts are scheduled, I can focus on my next project.  This has made me more focused as a writer and it’s enabled me to keep my online presence consistent.

When I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I curl onto the couch (with the small dog) and read someone else’s work.  Those breaks enable me to do recharge enough so I can build my business.  It’s time I carve out for me, without the pressure of constantly feeling like I must do more.  Maintaining momentum is important, but maintaining sanity is even more critical.

Marketing strategies should match your real goals as an indie author.

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I feel guilty every time I log onto Facebook.  Another author I know is constantly posting to pages – all sorts of pages – and I get notified every time it happens.  It makes me feel inefficient.  I might post a couple times a week – to a select few sites – and 90% of the time, I’m just commenting on something instead of posting about my books.  It’s the same on Twitter.  My blog posts are generally related to being an indie author because posting about my books usually doesn’t occur to me.  Obviously, the other author and I have different goals.

As an indie, not only do I write books, I have to coordinate the cover design (or do it myself), editor, formatting, and promotion of my work.  If that isn’t enough of a to-do list, I have to maintain my online presence on my blog(s), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon (including the international sites).  I’m pulled in ninety directions just to launch my book.   BOOK – as in singular product.

Yes, it would be great to launch one book and have it succeed beyond my wildest expectations – but how much better would it be to have three or four books which were earning money?   What about nine or ten?

That’s my real issue as an indie author.  Do I want to launch one book – investing all of my time and profits in that singular work (because I can advertise it all over the place for a fee), or do I keep my focus on writing my next book?  I choose option B – because my goal is to write many books.  I don’t even want to write just one series.  I want to write and market in the most efficient way possible for me.  It needs to be a way that meets my goals as an indie.

So what makes a marketing strategy effective for me?

It has to be quick.  I’m not interested in posting to fifteen sites every day because on a good day, I only have an hour or two of solid writing time.  If I’m marketing for five or ten hours a week, I have no time to write the next book.  If I had more time to market, I might…but it’s equally possible that I would just devote that time to writing more.

It has to be fun.  As an indie, I have a wonderful opportunity to create the career I want without having to conform to the conventions that make traditional work…well, work.  Feeling like I have to do something sucks all of the joy out of it and then I just avoid the task.

It has to be low-cost or even free.  At this point, I’m just not interested in spending all of my profit on marketing.   I’d much rather spend it on cover design (which might be marketing in some people’s eyes) or another service that frees me up so I can write more.  What brings in money is book sales – and I’ve noticed that the thing that boosts sales is running a promotion – free or 99 cents – and letting other people do the marketing for me.  I’m amazed every time I do a free or 99 cent promotion and find out I have more mentions on Twitter…it’s free marketing!

Indie authors need to decide what their goal is.  Mine is to spend as much time as possible writing books.  I love the process.  I love the quiet escape writing provides.  I love being able to do it around the rest of my life.  I also want to publish two books a year.  If I don’t keep that goal in mind, then I start to feel the pressure to market, market, market – and if I’m doing that, then I’m not going to meet my real goal.

As to the frequent posting of books some other authors do, I’m sure it’s fun for them and they have the time to devote to it.  The challenge for me has been to create what I want, in a way it works for me, and without comparing myself to other authors who have different objectives.  By keeping my goals in mind, I’m maintaining focus so I can achieve my aim without feeling that I should be doing something that takes me away from the thing I love doing.