Blogging, Social Networking, Answering Emails – Hey, when do I get the time to write?

Are you blogging? How often? Once a week, 3 times a week, every day?

Are you on social media? What ones? Are you posting every hour? Once a day? Are you talking about about what you ate for lunch? Or a link to your latest book?

How about answering emails? Are you answering them, or ignoring them? Do you read through all the email you get from newsletters and blog subscriptions or do you find yourself deleting them?

Now that you’ve answered some of those questions and I’m sure asked some of your own, here’s another: When do you get the time to write? Are you writing regularly?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d bet money that most of you are busy people with a day job or two, family, kids, and/or other commitments to take up your valuable time–like food, friends, and sleep. So fitting writing and book marketing into an already full schedule isn’t so easy. But it can be done. I’m going to share with you one way to help you.

The 80/20 Rule

First, I want to mention the 80/20 rule. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s basically 80% of your time should be on Marketing and 20% writing and other business related work. I’ve also heard some people say that the 80% is all business related work  that is not writing including marketing and the 20% is writing only.

Now some of the writing/publishing gurus tell you that you have to do this to succeed as an author, if you read authors like Dean Wesley Smith you’ll find his approach is very different. I’m going to suggest that you spend 80% of your time writing new fiction for your backlist, 10% of your time researching and book setup such as editing, rewriting, and setting it up for publishing, and 10% of your time on business related work like marketing, blogging, and emails. Before anyone protests, yes, it’s a slower process to making money, but if you aren’t writing, editing, and publishing new work then social media and blogging are doing you no good.

Hey, this is Ruth here. Stephannie’s letting me add my two cents to the post, so here it is. The important thing to remember is that you want to build a solid foundation.  Once you build a fanbase (even a small one), you want to get more books to that fanbase.  Why will someone keep coming to your site if you don’t have something new coming soon?  While it’s good to reach new readers, you shouldn’t neglect offering something new to your current ones.  

People get so hung up on authors who made it big like Amanda Hocking, but what they don’t remember is that she had a backlist already out there when she went into the social networking part of her career as a writer.  She didn’t just write one book and keep marketing it.  There are some authors who hit it big on one book, but if they can’t get the next one out there, then how will they satisfy their current fanbase?   Will you sell like Amanda Hocking if you have a backlist and social network like crazy?  The odds are against you.  We’re not promising that.  I have a little over 40 books total published, and I’m nowhere near making Amanda Hocking sales.  But I do know I wouldn’t have gotten to where I did if I never wrote the next book.  Plus, I started writing because I loved creating stories.  Little writing and all social media would ruin my joy.

This leads us to the second point…

Don’t Neglect your Writing

Writing is the most important aspect of business, your book is the life blood of your career. It should be your main focus. It’s why I suggest focusing 80% of the time you have on writing.

Now I’m not the most productive writer or as self-disciplined as I would like to be. I love researching and reading stuff on the Internet. I’ve also gotten in the habit of opening my emails in the morning when I start the day. Once I finished checking emails, reading blogs and newsletters, sending or answering requests for guest posts and book reviews, answering emails and comments, writing a (daily?) blog post, leaving a meaningful comments on blogs, interacting on my favorite social networks, updating my website, etc., I’d lost a valuable chunk of time from my day. And lets face it, if we aren’t writing that book or the next book after that, then all the marketing and promoting we do on social networking and blogs won’t help.

My word count goal for the last few months has been about 300 words throughout an 8 hour day. Horrible, I know. I decided I needed a change this and recently downloaded a productivity app I’d heard of called Cold Turkey. This app doesn’t allow you to access certain sites and you can add your time wasting websites to it. I highly suggest it and I get nothing from if you download it.

Since I like to write in the mornings, each night after I finish working on business for the day, I set the app up for the next day. I can still access research sites I need, but everything else is closed to me. Which means I get more writing done in a day. I’ve been averaging about 800-1000 words in a 4 hour day. I’m hoping for more when I get into the groove of things.

Ruth: What I started to do is limit the days I’ll respond to blog, Facebook, and Twitter comments.  I take 3-4 days a week to answer them.   I’ll do it less often if I’m especially busy.  I’m not as active on Facebook or Twitter as I used to be in terms of interacting with people, but I do link up blog posts to those places.  Linking blog posts can help you social network with no extra effort on your part.  That’s why I like to set up my Twitter and Facebook accounts to WordPress to link automatically on those sites.  I hit publish or schedule to publish, and WordPress does the work for me.  I also link my blog posts (from my author blog) to Goodreads.  I will share a blog post I’ve done for a deleted scene or inspiration for the book or sample scene to Pinterest.  These are time savers for me.  I love those share buttons at the bottom of the blogs.

I also love those share buttons and suggest that everyone who writes blogs and have websites install them on their website and leads into my last point.

Don’t Neglect your Author Platform

Please don’t neglect your author platforms to carve out more writing time, that’s not the point I was trying to make above. Your author platform is very important, not as important as the next book, but a close second. Why? Because your website, Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites, and blogs are your way of telling the world, both readers and fans, that you are writing a book. It’s a way to get them excited about what you are publishing and it’s counterproductive to do a disappearing act to write. It can set back your marketing efforts.

What I am suggesting is plan you platform activities carefully. I’ll use my efforts as an example.

After I finish my writing for the day, I check my emails, reading through and answer those that need to be answered. Those from fans, people wanting to guest post, answering comments on my blog and other blogs, and answering questions from authors who need book cover designs done. I wait for Saturday to read through blog posts and newsletters. Since I find social media distracting, I wait for the blog muse hit and spend a day writing blog posts and tweets. I don’t schedule them ahead of time because I like to read through them one last time before they go live. I spend about 10 minutes in the late morning and evening on Twitter (posting tweets, retweeting, talking to people, etc), about 10 minutes on Facebook (updating my status and talking to others), and about 30 minutes rereading and publishing blog posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Once a month I like to update my website, though since me website and blog are one, every time I post I’m updating it too. LOL

I’m hijacking this post again. I’m not as organized as Stephannie on this one.  I love her idea, though.  It might be helpful to have a timer nearby.  Ten minutes on Twitter, Facebook, or another social network site is easy and doable.  The problem comes in when you get sucked into looking at pictures or reading articles that look interesting (this is where I end up spending a lot of time that takes away from my writing).  If there’s an interesting article off Twitter (a lot of good ones come from there, esp. ones that help authors), I suggest marking them as “to read” when you schedule time to do it.  (And this is all stuff I am going to mark down to do since my approach has been lacking in this area.  :D)

25 Comments

  1. I can do this! I’ve been frustrated at wanting to spend most of my time writing but feeling I had to do so much marketing! You’ve shown me that it’s a matter of being more organized.

    1. Yippee!

      I get frustrated when I can’t write too. 😀 And I hate that feeling that you’re not doing enough marketing when you seem to be doing it all day. LOL Organization helps a lot in getting things done. Best way to do it is decided what your priorities are and do them first. Then work through the rest of the list.

  2. M T McGuire says:

    This is great stuff, these articles are really useful. Much of this stuff chimes in with the conclusions I’ve come to myself – that I’ve published two books of a trilogy and there’s no point in doing an all out marketing drive until it’s finished, I think that is the secret. That we’re writers and we shouldn’t forget to write. 😉

    Cheers

    MTM

    1. They say the difference between a writer and an author is that a writer is writing and an author has written a story. Writing is what makes a writer a writer and why if we need to be writing. Marketing is still a big part of the process for those who want to make writing their business and should not be neglected, however, it can be done on a smaller scale. The growth rate of books sold and followers, etc. will be slower, but it usually moves steadily upward.

  3. I agree that the 80% should be the writing, not the marketing. If you don’t have books to sell, what good is the marketing going to do? If you have one book that sells well, and you feel like the marketing helped, that’s great…but how long can you ride on the success of one book? Eventually, the people you have marketed to have read that book, your sales will drop, and then you don’t have another book to start the sales rolling again. We have to market, but writing HAS to be first.

    1. So very true. Marketing does nothing for you if you have no product to sell, but I’d also say that making friends through your online efforts before you have something to sell can help you get noticed so when you publish that story you have people ready to buy it. But then you need to get that next product out for your fans to buy or they’ll drift away. So while marketing is an important part of the business, writing the next book is more important.

  4. This article is so useful. I think I’m going to need to start setting a timer when I’m on Twitter as it’s just so easy to get sucked in and waste half an hour (or an hour — eek!). Learning to manage my time efficiently is proving to be my biggest challenge!

    1. Twitter is easy to get sucked into and a timer should help. I use my cell phone alarms to keep me on task. 😀

  5. Tiana Bodine says:

    Thank you so much for the link to Cold Turkey — I’ve been looking for something like that for a long time. I freelance during the day and switch gears to fiction in the evening, and I waste *so* much time on social media.

    1. It’s so easy to waste time on social networks 😀 I hope the app works for you. I found that I had to add to the sites it blocked me from. 😀

  6. futureme50 says:

    Great post which I found via The Book Designer. Social Media can be such a huge time suck but it is also so valuable – both from learning from other writers and networking – and it’s fun. I have learned pretty much everything I know about indie publishing from other writers and I’m truly grateful for their generosity and sharing. Finding the discipline to time limit certain things so there is sufficient time for writing can be a real challenge!

    1. I love The Book Designers blog! 😀

      I’m not for social media myself but I also know it’s value. I’ve always believed that it’s best to get your writing done first (either a time limit or a word/page count) then do the social media so that if you do get sucked into the social media vacuum the writing is done and out of the way..

  7. PopularSoda says:

    That very strange 80 marketing/20 writing rule seems to have been invented by Ewan Morrison and I haven’t seen any other self-publishers endorse it. I broke down the 80/20 rule in my own blog post here: http://popularsoda.com/2012/07/31/what-the-guardian-and-ewan-morrison-got-wrong-about-ebooks/

    I’m glad I found this blog; I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it.

    1. Thanks for the link to your article. I know I’ve heard the rule repeated in various ways, sometimes to publishing/business as a whole and other times in specific aspects of publishing/business. I’ve always thought that people should use their strengths and work on their weakness in any area, but also balance their efforts. Marketing and promoting only help if your going to publish a book or have a book out, yet if you don’t work on the next book too, then the efforts for the first book only get you so far. Writing that next book is just as important as marketing the last ones.

  8. Barb says:

    Here’s the thing I’m embarrassed to share: for a long, long time, I didn’t have the courage to drop some of the marketing. As soon as I stopped posting twice a week, my blog numbers dropped. It was hard to watch the stats fall and not be addicted to kicking them higher, but I’m not enjoying the WHOLE process more.

    1. It is hard to watch the sites drop. I know mine bounce from low to high daily. But since I implemented my writing and marketing strategy. I’ve been happier. Although most days I have to remind myself to market too. LOL

  9. When you set out to launch a business, any business, you need to set your priorities. Set a certain routine. One good quote I have read:
    A single hour a day, steadily given to the study of some interesting subject, brings unexpected accumulations of knowledge.”
    –William Ellery Channing

  10. I really need to do this! I’ve spent so long promoting my new release this month, I haven’t begun work on the sequel at all. I really need to prioritise that. Thanks for the wake up call.

    1. You’re welcome. It can be hard to stick to a schedule, but once you make it and work with it the benefits are great. 😀

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