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)

What Will Smith can teach us about sales?

 

Opened my inbox today and found “What Will Smith can teach us about Sales?” by Shannon of the Duolit team. There is some really great information in there for those looking to create a sound financial and marketing business plan.

The method she talks about isn’t for every author. But for those of you wondering how to make a profit from what you write, the strategy she mentions can help. Good luck!

An Article About Balancing your Social Media Efforts

I’m one of those people who are out of balance in the social media forum. Maybe I’m not utilizing them very well, but then again I think it’s a nearly impossible task without repeating over and over again the same message and run the risk of being removed from our readers/followers media streams. No one likes spam and when you use the micromedia forum, that about what you have to be to stay on top.

I joined Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Facebook because I was told by other writers that these were the places to market and promote on. I had to have these accounts because it would help me succeed. I’ve since removed my accounts from all places except Facebook and Twitter, neither of which I update all that often, usually because I forget or I’m really busy with my other efforts, like writing and publishing a book.

I found this article Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Jeremiah Owyang who briefly mentions that all our efforts maybe out of balance if we only use micromedia places like overloaded Twitter to market instead of focusing our efforts on things that should be longer lasting, higher impact, and larger form content. These would be better places to focus our efforts (ie writing new books, blogging, and/or article writing) and balance it with the micromedia of our choice. And lastly he calls for a Mindset Change and a way to rebalance your social media mix. This leads me to the second article.

Why 150 Followers Is All You Really Need  isn’t the original article I found, but I like it just the same. The gist of the article talks about devoting  most of your time to creating a backlist of books, then to your blog, and lastly choose one social networking site and utilize it to the best of your ability. If that site is Twitter, then focus on following the rules of Twitterverse. If it’s Goodreads, make sure you participate in an acceptable way. Facebook the same, etc.

Spreading yourself all over the different networking sites means that you’re less effective in your message and connecting with people. The article went on to say that we can only have meaningful relationships with about 150 people, not sure how true that is, but I know from experience that having a relationship with more than 20 starts getting hard for me.

What do you think about your social media efforts?  Do you have any articles that you would like to share on social media?

The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

Some of you know that I live on a Ranch and occasionally I throw out a ranch analogy. This is going to be one of those rare occasions.I was out with my husband and kids feeding the cows on a cold and foggy morning. I now understand the mean of “thick as pea soup.” Heavy, wet, cold, and blinding. Now usually when we feed in the winter time the cows come running and occasionally fight over small piles of good hay. And from the start, we watched these three “old buggers” fight. Around and around they went, neither gaining nor losing ground, and all around them the other cows munched away on the hay. They were making quick work of those piles, while those three fought.

Cows fighting during a foggy, winter morning

I’m standing in the back of the truck, just shaking my head and wondering what they could be thinking. What benefit is it for them to fight? And it suddenly hits me. These cows remind me of marketers. You know the kind. The ones who fight and wave their product in the faces of everyone they meet. Those who throw a party every time someone gives them a good review and splatters it across the webverse as if anyone is paying attention—this does not count if this is your first review for a new book, we all understand and indulge your excitement. But there are those who state their stats and ratings every week. Those who flood our inboxes and make us cringe every time we see their names, until we eventually shy away from them as if they have the plague. There are those that give the rest of us bad name. Marketing is a fine line between sharing what you have and stalking to the people who don’t care.

The more I read about business the less I want to be involved. I’m not a pushy or competitive person, and publishing can be a competitive, cutthroat business. A writer is told not to cross-promote unless it benefits them, but I don’t agree. Creating a group of writers to help each other sale books does more good than bad. The thing about Marketing is in order for it to be successful, you need to test a few different things and see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going into a detailed list of marketing ideas. But here are a few to get you started:

•Build your Author Platform. This is your readers and fan base, your author identity, and your message –what you are about, your tone and style of writing, what you write, etc.

•Try Social Networking at places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Goodreads, etc. Post reviews of book sites but keep your interaction low. Readers are used to the marketers I mentioned above hounding them. On places like Twitter and Facebook, interact and make friends. Don’t be all about your book. Show that you are a human being.

•Blogging. Either blog for others, or blog for yourself, but only blog if you like it, otherwise you’ll hate it and people will feel it in your writing. You can always join up with other writers in a joint blog and pick a day to post. It’s been suggested by professionals that you choose three subjects upon which to blog that deal with your writing (i.e. genre, writing tips, self-publishing, marketing, etc). One suggestion was to use a blog as an announcement board, but I wouldn’t suggest it. You’d do better with a newsletter.

•Newsletters should not flood the inboxes of your readers or they will groan every time they see them. Newsletters should be sent out to your mailing list when you have a giveaway, contest, coupon, sale, or new release. It should have an opt out option too.

•Forums are not a place to promote, unless the thread specifically asks for the information you can provide. If someone asks a question about your book, answer briefly. Have the one-sentence explanation of what the book is about and link to find out more.

I know there are more ideas, but this post would go on forever than. I just want to say that this is the place in your Writer’s Business Plan to explore new marketing ideas and when you plan to execute those plans. What marketing technique do you want to try? How do you want to gauge it’s helpfulness to you? Do you want to have a giveaway? A contest? A sale? Post a short story on your website? Go wild with ideas and then pick a few to try.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Creating a Writer’s Budget Plan

When I first asked my tax preparer in 2009 what things were considered tax-deductible for a writer, she suggested keeping a list of everything I bought related to my writing business. I didn’t realize until this year how helpful that could be in creating a budget for my writing.

All I had to do was look over my list of expenses for the previous year, break it down into four different categories (office supplies, set-up expenses, book creation expenses, and marketing expenses), figure out what other expenses I was going to incur, add up the cost, and I had an idea of how much I would need to run my business.

Now if you are like me, you can’t afford to be spending thousands of dollars a year, and you might be limited by just how much you can spend. My limit was about $500 this year. It’s doable but not suggestible. I only managed because of editorial services I provided at the beginning of the year. (Not offering any longer due to lack of focus with kids yelling in the background. I might pick it up again once the kids go to school, who knows.)

But back to creating a budget for your business plan. Start with stating how much you have to spend, and then look at your list and figure out what cannot be ignored. Belatedly I realize I could have done without the ISBN’s that I bought this year (I should have waited a year or two) and focused on other aspects of my set-up expenses. There are others that would disagree. It all depends on your business goals. Below is a break-down of all the categories I use.

Office supplies include:

•Paper: notebooks, loose leaf paper, printer paper, notepads, journals index cards, sticky notes, etc

•White boards, cork boards

•toner, pens, pencils, markers, dry erase markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.

•mail: envelopes, stamps, boxes, etc

•book keeping system, computer programs

•Internet, phone

Setup expenses include:

•Business license (check your local regulations for business setup)

•copyright and registration

•trade name registration and trade marking your business name

•Doing Business As bank account

•Setting up a LLC or Corporation

•seller’s permit

•ISBNs, EAN Bookland Code, SAN

Book creation expenses include:

•editing

•cover art

•setup fees with printer

•typesetting or interior layout

•ebook formatting

•DIY book creation

Marketing expenses include:

•domain name and hosting

•copies of books your books you buy

•ads

I love comments, so if you have anything to add, please comment below. If you have any questions, please ask.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

So You Want to Create a Writer’s Business Plan {Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan}

When I first decided to self-publish in 2009, I started to research my new path. I probably researched it to death. But it did give me unique view of indie authorship. It also left me with a lot of questions.

There are literally thousands of websites on writing and publishing, but there is a lack of practical knowledge to the business side of writing. What little I was able to gather were from websites and books for freelance writers and editors. They stress that writing is a business and a business needs a plan. Now I’ve created business plans before and they are usually detailed and drawn-out documents, which you don’t need. But there are parts of a business plan that I think every writer needs.

•Title Page

I don’t about you and what your desk looks like, but mine turns into a mass of papers and notebooks—Looks almost like a tornado tore through that part of my house and contained it all to my desk. That’s why I’m going to suggest a Title Page to identify what the document is and maybe a three-ring binder or folder to put you writing business plans in.

This page should have a title, something simple like My Writing Business Plan for 2011. There can be a subtitle, like Career Goals for my Publishing/ Novel/ Freelance/ Editorial/ Screenplay/ Short Story Writing. And your name or business name.

•Table of Contents

This is for a quick reference if your plan gets a little long or you use big font. I have a tendency to do both and I’m to impatient to want to look through the numerous pages for what I want.

•Description or Summary of Business

This is your Business Bio and not something you really need but I like for two reasons. This is where I write down what my business is—I write romance and erotic romance with mythological twists—and my overall goals—I want to make enough money to write full-time. This is also where you can remind yourself why you started this journey when you get down—You see, since I was a little peanut I always want to write….

This is also where I put my author bio(s). I have three so it’s nice to be able to see them at a glance.

•Financial Plan

Every business should have a budget and if you are working like me on a shoestring and a prayer to the writing gods and muses for their aid, you don’t have a lot of money to spare. For the most part you can figure out what you can expect to spend. I’ll talk more about this in The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget. Is anyone interested in a post about Financial Statements?

•Production Schedule and Writing Goals

I’m going to break this one into two different posts. Because this has to do with setting writing goals as well as production goals. Those posts will be:  The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule and The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals.

•Marketing and Promoting Plan

This is your marketing and promotional plans for the year. Your goals for the year and your purposed deadlines for writing, revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing your work, as well as promoting and marketing that work. Since I also talk about goals here, The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals applies here too. But this has more to do with The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan.

Now that you have an idea of what I’ll be posting about, let the fun begin. Hey! I see that. Stop rolling your eyes at me.

I love hearing from readers and hope you comment or share this post with others who might find it helpful. If you have any questions or comments feel free to share them.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals