How Book Marketing Rejuvenated My Writing Spirit
Marketing. It’s the ugliest, dirtiest word an author can probably think of. It’s something most of us avoid with every possible effort— even me, a degreed marketer — and yet it’s something we can’t live without.
There is a point to my bringing up this very sore subject, but I have to backtrack a bit first. When I released my latest book in December, I spent most of my days plugging forward, trying to market the release, trying to find traction, and trying to get noticed. Yeah, that other ugly word known as “discoverability”. Then I got bogged down with the holidays, the New Year, and other real life situations that sucked the momentum and the motivation out of me. After I released that book late last year, I used all of those circumstances as excuses not to start writing my next story. I told myself that I’d start writing after the craziness subsided. After I felt more settled. After I could catch my breath. But with every excuse I found not to write there was another excuse right on its heels, fueling my non-momentum.
And yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before, just like you. “The only way to write is to sit down and write.” Well, um, that’s kinda hard to do when your focus is pulled in way too many directions (including a day job and a family). And it’s even harder when you realize that the phrase “the only way to write is to sit down and write” is, at times, a bunch of bull.
There is this thing called giving yourself a break. More than that, there is this thing called sanity, and often the only way to find it is to pull back, full force, and let your mind and body and emotions heal from whatever’s taken you away from your writing.
So now let’s fast-forward to February (when I’m actually writing this blog). When I finally accepted that giving myself time off was Okay (yes, with a capital ‘O’), I allowed myself the luxury of not thinking about any particular storyline. I had one started already. A few chapters, in fact. But it wasn’t wooing me or wowing me. So I let my mind wander and one day, on the train home from work in New York City, an idea struck like a thunderbolt. I swore I had the Next Best Story Idea. I wrote it down feverishly (all 150 words of it) and then wrote some more the next day (another 600 words), and then…pfft. The idea fizzled. I just couldn’t get going again. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t do it. So I started making more excuses. Sensing a pattern here? I knew something was wrong, but yet I refused (refused!) to allow myself feel guilty over it. So I quietly stuck the new story idea away with some others sitting on my flash drive, forgave myself for the slip, and settled back into the “I’m not motivated and I’m not going to write” mindset.
That lasted another week until I happened on an author marketing blog, where something magical happened. I started reading about tactics to engage readers. How to make book marketing fun again. How to share your excitement with others. Oh, the ideas weren’t anything new, but the blogger was a cheerleader. He had ideas, he shared his ups and downs with his audience (with compete honesty), and he was willing to share what he learned. And the more I read his blog, the more excited I became over possibilities. My possibilities.
That very night the writing ideas sparked to life in my head. The stagnant story sitting on my flash drive, the latest love of my life that I was ready to divorce, came back to my creative front door and I accepted it with open arms. And I started writing again.
Maybe I just needed to use a different part of my brain. Maybe I really did need a mental and emotional break. Maybe it was something else that I’ll never quite figure out. Whatever the case, an energetic blog about book marketing turned out to be the impetus I needed to get my writing butt in gear and I’m all charged up now for the next book. More than that, I’ve got a new focus on my own marketing plan that was, dare I admit, gathering way too much dust in my saved files just like my started-and-stopped storylines.
The moral of the story here? It’s okay to not write every day. It’s okay to take breaks (even long ones, if you really need it). It’s okay to not feel guilty over the hiatus, because sometimes a sanity-pause is in order. And it’s okay to let yourself go and be free from worrying about it. But most importantly? Know that in some way you will eventually find your way back to writing. You’ll find that passion again. And in the process, you just may learn something new about you, and your next book, along the way.
Terri looks for any opportunity to make stuff up. She thinks anything that can’t so easily be explained is worth an extra look and often makes a great story. She loves red wine, scotch, sunrises, Ancient Egypt, the beach—and a host of other stuff that would take too much real estate to talk about. The youngest of five children, Terri lives with her husband and son on Long Island. And, in her next life, if she hasn’t moved on to somewhere else, she wants to be an astronomer. Terri’s fascinated with the night skies almost as much as she’s fascinated with ancient Egypt.
Terri is a member of member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and you can read about her at http://terriponce.com/.