Over the course of my life (and no, I’m really not that old), I’ve been a property manager of 3 apartment complexes and a variety of rental houses; I’ve given birth to and raised 5 children and an assortment of strays; I’ve taught JR and SR high school, then turned into the principal. If that wasn’t enough, I graduated to teaching college while finishing a graduate degree in psychology and criminology. Somehow after all that, I wound up corralling the PR for more authors than I can count. I’ve invested in time management books and Daytimer systems. None can tell me how to squeeze a few more minutes out of every hour. And we don’t even want to talk about multi-tasking really, do we?
Once upon a time, when my life was somewhat slower, I wrote a book, then another, and then a few more. Since Angel Killer just came out this week, someone asked me when did I ever find the time? I said “fifteen years ago”! Talk about delayed gratification.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I remember, vaguely, reading a book many years ago entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. I knew at the time that while I didn’t understand everything he set forth there, I was reading something that would make a difference in my life if I’d pay attention. I’m one of those people that things come fairly easy to (pardon my lack of grammar). I was smart enough in school that I could coast through most classes without a lot of effort, and could usually accomplish quite a bit more than some.
It wasn’t until many years later when I found myself having to examine the use of my time. When I first started trying to exercise better habits, it was easy. Turn off the TV. Don’t go shopping. I could usually find random blocks of time that could be better spent. But once I’d done that, it became more difficult to plan when I needed more time. There wasn’t as much excess that could easily be trimmed away. Now I’d reached the place where the Covey book began to matter more. Being able to determine the difference between the “urgent but not important” and the “important but not urgent”. I had fallen prey like so many others in our fast paced society to letting the “urgent” dictate my time investment.
Writers all know the meaning of the word “deadline.” I spent a few years as a freelance journalist before I moved into book promotion. That word could provoke nightmares, assuming I was able to fall asleep. Since I still had toddlers in the house at that time, my best writing usually happened at night. Novelists have their own deadlines. Writing, editing, proofing. Some are dictated by agents and publishers, others are self-propelled.
Often I’m hired by authors who are reasonably new in the field, although they tend to stay with me even after they’re not so new, for which I’m grateful. I think it’s because there are so many details to building a career as an author that time management is critical. If an author is active online, he or she could easily become frightened by all the tips, suggestions, rules etc. You’ve got to admit, it’s quite a smorgasbord. But just like I tell my clients, there’s no “one size fits all” promotional campaign that will work the same for everyone.
When I take on a new client, the first thing I examine is their internet presence. I look. I Google their name. I check out their website, FB page, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, blog, whatever I can find. Honestly, I usually find enough in those areas to keep them busy making changes for a few weeks. But wait – that’s not URGENT! Sales are URGENT! Press releases are URGENT.
But what I have in mind is the different comments I’ve gotten from journalists, both print and broadcast, who got promo from me and immediately went to see what else they could find about that author. Unfortunately sometimes it’s discouraging. Usually because the author thought they were good enough and wanted to move on to more urgent matters.
What do I call URGENT?
Getting a good photo. Seriously.
Making sure you have all the right elements on your website and that you put something fresh on your home page AT LEAST once a month. No kidding.
Get active in some form of social media, but take the time to learn to do it right. Click on anyone’s Facebook page or Twitter page and see the last 5 – 10 comments they made. You should be able to tell right away if they’re always talking about their books or if they actually engage with others. Guess which one you want to do?
Prepare a 12-month marketing plan. Don’t just write that as a header on a blank page, actually plan your marketing efforts for the next 12 months. You want to be busy? Don’t read submission guidelines – just send books. You want to do business? Do your research. Find out which reviewers review books like yours and what their submission guidelines are. Set up book signings if you’re inclined to do so. You can scramble and see what store will have you at the last possible moment (urgent) OR you can plan ahead and start making those contacts about 16 weeks ahead (important but not urgent). Starting to catch on?
Honestly, it’s not rocket science. And I know you can’t believe everything you read out there. So if you have a question ask. If you don’t know who to ask, ask me. You don’t have to hire me to ask me a question.
Oops. Time’s up. Let’s do business instead of being too busy.