Writing, Book Promotion, and Life: A Personal Decision

writing-and-knitting-needle-1169606_960_720This post is a very personal one, but also one that I think will resonate with other Indie authors.

For several months, now, I’ve been in a funk and having trouble figuring out why. I even thought of giving up writing entirely. Why? I looked at my life, how I spend my time, and realized that there seemed to be no time to do many of the things I used to enjoy, like knitting, sewing, and reading. At first I wanted to chalk it up to growing older. I don’t have the energy I used to. That depressed me.

I have always been a busy person and abhor just sitting around accomplishing nothing. Those last two words were the clue to my dilemma. I felt I was spinning my wheels and not seeing results.

After talking this over with a couple of close friends I gained a new insight. I still love writing. I still wanted to continue with the story I am working on. But I also wanted balance in my life – some time to enjoy those other things as well as spend time with my kids and grandson. So what was taking me away from those things?

It wasn’t writing. It was the time and frustration of trying to promote and market. I do not have an aptitude for technology. What is intuitive to many involves a long learning curve for me. The result is that searching for and using sites where I might make my books more visible costs me not only a great deal of time, but leaves me frustrated and feeling stupid. Yes, I can and do learn it. I do know how to follow instructions if they are clear and don’t miss any steps. But I inevitably reach a point where I find a glitch I can’t get past, or have to repeat a process several times before it works.

world-of-book-promotionTo make matters worse, my efforts seem to be in vain. It’s a crapshoot. We do not know what works, what will lead to more readers and more sales. The world of book promotion sits on moving sands. There is nothing predictable about it.

The effect on me is that the fun has gone out of writing – or so I thought. But I finally realized that is not the case. Writing is still gratifying. I enjoy meeting with my writers’ group and sharing my work with them, getting feedback, and giving mine to them. I still get a rush when I sit down and a new scene flows well. I still get excited when a character reveals a new trait that I can explore.

As well, I still love my relationships here at IU, and the ones I’ve made via Facebook – and even Twitter. I still enjoy encouraging my fellow writers and supporting them when they have a new book out.

But, I hate promoting and marketing

So … I’ve come to a decision.

I gave myself permission to give up trying to promote my books. Professional suicide? For some perhaps. But for me it actually frees me to write. And that’s what it’s supposed to be about, isn’t it? What good is promotion if I have nothing new to promote?

Does that means I will disappear under the radar? No. I will stay here at IU. I will keep in touch on social media.

But I am off the hook for promotion.

What a relief.

Now where did I put that yarn?

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

77 thoughts on “Writing, Book Promotion, and Life: A Personal Decision”

  1. I can relate to this so much, I’ve only just published my first novel using this pen name, but I was published a number of years before and I found myself burning out with the effort of trying to promote, and I can already feel myself doing so again.
    I love writing, and if it wasn’t for trying to figure out all the marketing stuff, which requires me to think in an entirely different way, and to be more sociable than I’m comfortable with, I could easily find the work/play balance I crave. Unfortunately, because I am starting my writing career over, I cannot afford to ignore marketing, much as I would love to.

    I hope you find yourself happier and more relaxed by not pushing yourself to do something you don’t like. You may even see a positive result in your writing, which would make it worthwhile.

  2. K can SO relate to all that Yvonne. I feel exactly the same. I’ve written one paragraph f the next book in 2 months – the rest of the time spent marketing and networking. Like you, I enjoy chatting with my contacts etc but I too must step back a little I think.

  3. Yvonne, you’re singing a song that we’re all singing. It’s hell trying to do the marketing. Changing a creative hat for a marketing one on a daily basis doesn’t feed the muse. I’m with you on this one.

    Perhaps stepping back will give you a chance to figure out a new approach, one that isn’t so draining. I know I need to do that as well. I haven’t marketed much lately, as I’ve been busy living life, which feeds my soul.

    Good luck with your writing. Knitting and time with your family are worthwhile pursuits. As you say, it’ll give you time to think. Time well spent. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I suppose that when it comes down to it, there are two basic types of writers: those who need success to support them (emotionally or financially or both and those who find success simply by the process of writing. I know this sounds too shallow for words but, well, they are my thoughts at the moment.
    I write because I have the time and enjoy the fashioning of language. I have two books out, one self-published and the other published by a small press. I have promoted to some extent but, really, what I always come back to is the pure pleasure (and occasional pain) of writing. As another has suggested, Yvonne, I hope you find the balance you need.

  5. I feel much the same way about promotion. When a book comes out, a lot of people say “yay, can’t wait to read it,” some nice reviews appear here and there, and then then the thing bogs down. The more it bogs down, the more time I spend trying to keep it from bogging down. That’s just plain tedious and the exact opposite of the creativity needed to write new stuff.

    So, maybe we’ll all be well known authors one hundred years from now and can smile down on the world from our celestial mountain tops.

  6. Wow! You hit the nail on the head for sure, Yvonne! This day starts NaNo, and I decided to start every day off by getting my minimum writing in before even going on line. Then I will return to writing and not return to the internet and marketing, etc. until I have 3,000 words for the day. I have also given myself permission to extend NaNo for the year.

    Ah, the joys of writing. I have worked too hard on marketing. I don’t plan on knitting, however. My wife does a pretty good job of that.

    1. What a marvelous idea. I get too sidetracked with all the available social media and doing everything an author is “supposed” to do. It doesn’t help I love marketing. Ironically, the better I get at marketing, the more ideas I have, and the more time I spend implementing them. I’m using up my writing time, and writing juju, on marketing the books I haven’t even written yet. I will try your idea and not do anything else but write until my daily goal is reached. Good luck to us.

      1. You definitely have hit a chord. I’ve been on hold for quite a while with writing and promoting. It’s a vicious circle and I agree with you, the writing part is more satisfying and I will make the time to concentrate on that.

  7. It seems quite a few of us feel the same way. I took the summer off. I did not write at all. Sometimes I felt guilty. After all, we are writers and we are supposed to be writing every day and doing promotions, writing blogs, etc., if we want to be published, right? At least I’ve heard that over and over. I felt so burnt that I sat out in my backyard and stared at nothing, or floated in my pool like a beached whale with a glass of wine. But I decided to let myself off the hook, as long as I am thinking about writing, going back to my computer at some point, or I hear the dialogue or dreaming about a scene, that’s good enough for now. I too thought that, after four books, I’d go back to painting pictures and give up writing. But, it is in my blood so I am back to a story I started years ago. Yes, it is hard work and promo is exhausting, but taken in small bites, I hope it will be all worth it in the end.

    1. “I felt so burnt that I sat out in my backyard and stared at nothing, or floated in my pool like a beached whale with a glass of wine.”

      LOL This ^^^^ Nice visual 🙂

  8. I, too, sympathise. Writers burn to write, not to market. I quit sales/marketing to write and ended up having to do as much sales/marketing as when I was paid to do it, on top of the actual creative writerly stuff. Ah, well…

    Best of luck!

  9. Promotion and results are the most frustrating part about being a writer. It’s tough when you put your stuff out into the world and the result is a deafening silence. I think ignoring the things that cause you frustration is a good solution. We all work better when you’re not frustrated.

    I’m glad you’ve found your happy place again.

  10. I’ve burned out on the marketing and general industry stuff too, so I’m polishing two manuscripts I’ve already written and looking to ghostwrite for people who are more interested in the marketing end but burned out on the writing. Just sent an outline to someone in that position and keeping my fingers crossed. Does anyone know how much to charge for that sort of thing?

  11. Oh, someone please send the Marketing Fairy to save us. There must be a magic wand somewhere that can help.
    Yvonne, that is exactly how I feel too. I love to write, and marketing and promoting take me away from that. I’m struggling with my next book at the moment as I try to juggle too many balls. Maybe, I should drop one – the marketing – and just write. What a lovely idea.
    Thanks for saying exactly the right words.

  12. Wow, Yvonne. Thanks for the reminder. It looks like we all get caught up in the social media, websites and promo sites. We all need to hit the reset button.

  13. Good for you, Yvonne! Ya gotta do what makes you happy. As for me, I doubt I’ll get to the end of my life and think, “Darn! I wish I would have done MORE PROMO.”

  14. I so agree, Yvonne. It’s two completely different jobs, using different skill sets, and can cause a love-hate relationship with your (our) writing. So glad you realized you still love to write.

  15. Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for your personal and touching story. It is a conundrum we all endure, to follow our heart and write or drive ourselves as if it we are a business concerned only with the bottom line. We all need to find our Zen for there is a time and place for everything under the sun, including friends, family, writing and book promoting. I discovered last year that my word search book series started selling themselves and have plateaued so I now need to do very little selective email marketing around holidays and enjoy most of my of my time writing and creating my short stories and word search books.

    Best wishes
    Joe

  16. Good for you, Yvonne! Sounds like an excellent decision. I’ve never been one to chase the latest marketing idea, so I hear you on that. I do what I do–promote on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and locally, but that’s about it. I run my own promos and broadcast from my blog and web page, but I don’t subscribe to the many (sometimes temporary) services we all hear about all the time. It’s just not worth it to me, timewise and moneywise. And I’m perfectly happy with my results. Good for you for recognizing your strengths and going with them. The rest will take care of themselves.

  17. Lovely to read this post, I’ve been feeling the same way since my first book sank like a stone. I’ve just put out a collection of character-linked short stories, and I’ve decided that all the marketing etc. was just making me miserable; I’m not the kind of person who’s good at it. But I do love writing, and working on other people’s writing, so I’ve decided I’ll stick to that in future. It’s a great weight off my shoulders. Again, thank you for this post. Good on you, I’m with you all the way.

  18. I think you nailed it here Tvonne. “What good is promotion if I have nothing new to promote?”

    Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking and feeling.

    Cheers to more balance.

  19. Thanks, Yvonne, for writing the “post in my heart. I had to make the same decision this year, and for many of the same reasons. For a while, I felt guilty…until I watched my dear friend die from cancer this past May and sat at my ailing, elderly mother’s bedside. Yep. Kind of put everything in perspective. I still love writing, but I want to do more than stop to smell the roses. I want to dance in a field of wildflowers and sing “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” I want to enjoy the rest of my life and the people I love most. And I gave myself permission to do that.

    Wishing you the best!

  20. Thanks for singing my song, Yvonne! Just yesterday I said I wouldn’t be writing a sequel because the writing wasn’t holding me back, but rather the difficulty with marketing being so demanding and taking me away from everything I love. I too am a visual artist, pianist, and used to sew and do other things. I’ve lost track of some of my friends. Just no time now, what with all the tech stuff to learn, and watching webinars and attending seminars. Some days I resent the overwhelm and just say “bleh” when I open my computer. I’m on strike at times! I also haven’t replenished my stockpile of books—all sold out!—but will now concentrate more on giving talks and selling from the back of the room. Thanks for your refreshing post.

    1. Hmmm, I think we have enough for a choir, here. I sing soprano. Will you accompany me? 🙂
      Even though I am an introvert I find I can do readings and manage the occasional talk or workshop. And, like you, that is where I sell books.

  21. Thanks for saying aloud what many of us are feeling. I started writing because I enjoyed it, not because I wanted a career as a writer, but sometimes with all the marketing and networking, it feels like that’s what it’s turned into. Your post is a reminder that it’s okay for writing to be a hobby we enjoy, not something we’re forced to do, and that it’s okay to not let marketing take over all our time.

  22. I’m the odd duck at this party. I wrote a novel (it’s okay, I can do better) but I didn’t find that driving force that made me want to write another one (maybe someday). When I went to promote it, I really couldn’t find what I wanted – so I started a book-marketing website. And there I found my niche. I love it! I wake up every morning thinking: How can I make this better? How can I help authors sell more books? How can I make the process easier for authors? And the holy grail: How can I make book marketing effective and FUN?

    I used to design textbook interiors. The cover was someone else’s job – different skill set. I think writing and marketing are like that, both needed for a book, but perhaps best done by specialists.

    I’m sure other book promo sites would agree: You hate marketing, we like it. Let’s work together.

    ‘Not keen on “Marketing Fairy” (can I get “Elf” instead?) but I’ll step up. Tell me what would make your marketing side happy, I’ll work toward making that happen.

  23. I hear ya, Yvonne. I’m horrible at marketing *anything*, and while I make occasional stabs at it, I’m not consistent and therefore not as effective as I could be. But then again, I don’t find it fun. I’d rather write. Or knit. 🙂

  24. Good for you! I stopped promoting 2 years ago to concentrate on completing a series from start to finish before publishing it. If by chance someone does enjoy one of my stories, I want to have more to offer. What you’re doing makes perfect sense to me. -hugs-

    1. Thank you. It feels good to be able to have this under the light of day. I wasn’t sure about it, initially, but it seems to be a common thread. Maybe more of us can stop spinning our wheels and enjoy writing more again. Good luck with the series.

  25. I’ve been pursuing a variety of interests, too. One thing I’ve done regarding writing is that I’ve focused recently on writing short stories set in the Stone Dragon universe. A short story is not as big a commitment as a novel.

    Best wishes to you!

  26. Wonderful post, Yvonne, and thanks for sharing your decision and how you got there. “I still love writing. I still wanted to continue with the story I am working on. But I also wanted balance in my life – some time to enjoy those other things as well as spend time with my kids and grandson.” It isn’t burn-out over writing (isn’t that great?) but burn-out over trying to find something that will work, consistently, in the sandpit of marketing. It’s freeing to analyze what’s truly important for your wellbeing and let go of the thing that brings you down. Life’s too short. Narrow it down to what you actually enjoy doing, and do that. There’s an analogy someone came up with about recognizing what’s important. A businessman (not trying to be sexist; just trying to paraphrase this as I heard it) is on a plane that’s about to crash. On the way down, does he think about the meeting he’s going to miss, the reports he prepared for it, whether his ideas will be accepted by the company? No. He thinks about his family – his wife, his kids (and let’s add, grandchildren.) I know you’re feeling so much more free and light-hearted. Congrats!

  27. I know exactly how you feel Yvonne. I’ve decided in 2016, that writing is my number one priority. Whether I reap $’s or not isn’t vital any longer. I’m writing for the joy of writing. The promotion and marketing isn’t crucial any longer. So welcome to the club. You’re in good company.

  28. Yvonne, at age 86, I’m a bit frustrated trying to change my manuscript into a book; find a good editor to review it, plus, plus. I’m not sure I’ll make it to the marketing stage. But let me say this: I think the writing game is the best game I ever played. Creativity and exercising are great therapies for a longer life. To all who replied to this blog, I say, keep your fingers dancing in tune with your imagination—enjoy.

    1. Thanks, Jim. Don’t let a bit of frustration stop you from reaching that coveted goal. The satisfaction of seeing your work completed is amazing. You still don’t have to promote it.
      Yes, it’s a great game.

  29. Thank you for sharing, Yvonne. I actually came to the same conclusion, after the same dilemmas, a couple of years ago. I believe we are at the stage in life where ‘everything’ we do should be enjoyable and fun; and if it’s not fun anymore… well then I’m just not going to do it.

    1. I agree. We have earned the privilege of choosing what we want to do and doing it. Except for the poor unfortunates who still need to put food on the table. But promoting our writing isn’t likely to make a big dent in that anyway.

  30. Sooo true. What a chord you struck with me. It’s not that I actually dislike the marketing – I’m okay with it, and I enjoy speaking at cons and libraries – when they want me. But it’s that some–lots–of it is such an ego bash. You go to a bookstore to sign books and soon feel like you’re begging people to buy your book, like you’re flogging snake-oil or something. It’s got so I can barely write, even though I’m miserable when I don’t write. Sigh. And I feel like I am neglecting not only my other hobbies, but my friends and family, too. Where has all the fun gone?
    Like you, I’ve decided to go back to writing, and only do the marketing things I truly enjoy. And in between, start sewing my next quilt!
    And hey, I live in Waterloo, near the university. Are you still in town?

    1. Hi Jane. I live in Stratford – only a 45 minute drive away. Let’s meet over coffee some time soon.
      I’m glad you found your balance back, too. Without it nothing makes much sense.

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