One of the complaints I hear most often from authors, both new and experienced, is that book marketing is overwhelming. If you’re feeling this way, you have plenty of good company who would commiserate with you. The problem with overwhelm, and I speak from experience here, is it can be paralyzing. And that can make these challenges even harder to overcome.
Following are my favorite ways to get out of overwhelm and boost productivity.
Get Clear on Your Marketing Plans
When you’re wading through a mile of marketing ideas and telling yourself you need to DO IT ALL NOW, it’s no wonder you feel overwhelmed. The key is to break it down into bite sized pieces, and then prioritize.
For me, writing out my plan always helps. Seeing it in writing puts it in perspective and gives me a place to flesh out my ideas. You can create a spreadsheet or document or download our free template: The Book Marketing Action Plan.
Start by capturing all your ideas in one place. Once you have your list, rank them in order of priority. For example, if you’re just starting out, getting a website designed would be a top priority. If you’re promoting a book that’s been out for a few months, your priority might be to get booked on more podcasts or increase the number of reviews on Amazon.
Once you have some order to the chaos, you can begin checking items off your list and enjoy the satisfaction of making progress.
Focus on the Strategies Most Likely to Succeed
Not every marketing tactic is right for every author. For example, promoting a book about how to travel during retirement wouldn’t make sense on TikTok because the audience is so young there, but it would likely find an audience on Facebook. If you’re not sure which strategies will work best for you, you can hire a book marketing consultant and help you craft a plan. If you’re a member of the Nonfiction Authors Association, you could post your questions in the private Facebook group or ask them during the Monthly Author Brainstorm Exchange meeting on Zoom. There are lots of ways to determine what strategies will most likely work best for you.
Be Mindful of Trends
Have you ever read a blog post or heard about a hot new site or social media network or tool that authors “must have now”? And then dropped everything to figure out how to hop on board the trendy bus?
With new social media trends and platforms popping up all the time, along with various sites and services and technologies, you might find yourself hopping on the bus too soon and then regretting that decision when said tool or site loses all its luster or disappears entirely. Remember when we were all interested in MySpace? And how it quickly became irrelevant once Facebook entered the scene?
Consider this a warning that trends come and go. And just because you hear about some great new hashtag or site or tool, it doesn’t mean you need to drop everything and try it out. It also doesn’t mean that the strategy will work for you or your book.
I keep a list on my desk that I call “Simmer.” This is where I jot down ideas, tools, and things I hear about that I want to investigate when I have some extra time. I highly recommend doing the same because some ideas are meant to simmer for a bit and it’s wise to see if the tool or site is still around six months or a year from now.
Stay Out of the Rabbit Hole
There are so many rabbit holes we can get stuck in today. It might be that you get on Instagram in the morning and the next thing you know an hour has disappeared, yet you have no idea how that happened. Or you might decide to Google vegetarian pasta recipes, and end up reading countless reviews for recipes on five or more websites, wasting another hour.
I get stuck in the rabbit hole, too. Especially when I want to research a topic or product or recipe. Another one that gets me every time is when I go looking for new stock images to purchase for our blog. Those image sites can suck me in for hours.
Instead of losing all sense of time, I set a timer. No more than 15 minutes to find an image or two. And if you’re burning too much time on social media or other time-wasting activities, becoming conscious of it is a good start. Then you can self-impose some time limits. When we reclaim wasted time, we have more time to put to good use.
Block Out Time Each Week
One of my best strategies for productivity is to schedule work time on my calendar like it’s an important date. I know how hard it is to make time for marketing tasks, but you can batch them together. For example, you could block out two hours once a week to write blog posts and send out podcast pitches. Two hours of effort each week will add up—I promise!
If you’ve heard me speak or read any of my advice on marketing, one of the top suggestions I have for authors is to hire some help. Bestselling authors don’t do it all themselves! And most also have day jobs.
A Virtual Author’s Assistant is an administrative professional that you can hire on a contract basis to assist you with tasks (especially the tasks you’ve been procrastinating over). An assistant can help with podcast research, social media posts, blog posting, sending out pitches, researching speaking opportunities, and much more. Their rates can range from $15 to $50+ per hour, depending on experience level. And they are typically retained by the hour. So, for example, you could hire someone for just five hours per month to help you keep your momentum moving forward.
You can find a directory of Virtual Author’s Assistants on our site here. Assistants and other freelance professionals can also be found on Upwork.com.
Be Kind to Yourself
Speaking as a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser, I must implore you to PLEASE be kind to yourself. We tend to be hardest on ourselves yet forget to stop and focus on what we have accomplished. So instead of ruminating on all that you haven’t done or need to do, take stock of your accomplishments. In fact, I encourage you to do this each week. Write them down, look at them, and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
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