BALANCING THE PARTS OF MODERN PUBLISHING

Over the last week I have received three different letters from writers worried about the same problem. That problem is simple to describe, but very complex in nature.

How do you balance the writing with the production and promotion of your work?

That sound familiar? I bet just about every indie writer nodded to that. I am no exception, neither is Kris, or any of the other professional writers around town here or in the workshops.

This balancing act we all must do is a continuous battle. We all talk about it all the time.

And I do mean all the time.

Of course, in the old days before indie publishing, these parts were different, but yet there were always tasks that took away from the writing. If you believe in the myth that traditional publishing takes less time than indie publishing per project, I have some wonderful land in swamps in Florida ready to sell you.

Truth. Selling a book to a traditional publisher takes a ton more time and energy than it does to indie publish. especially after you sell it. Go ahead if you don’t believe me, then come back in five years or so and say I was right. I’ll be nice, I promise. (grin)

What are the parts to be balanced in the indie world?

I tend to look at all this as dividing into three parts. Writing, production, promotion.

Any of those three parts get out of a natural balance and there will be issues, both short term and long term to careers.

(Here we come to my opinion. You can agree or disagree freely, but nicely if you would like in the comments. Or write me privately.)

I believe that the balance, a natural balance, should be 80/10/10.

Eighty percent of your time goes to creating new work. Writing. (Rewriting and research are not writing. I have covered that issue over and over.)

Ten percent of your time should go to production. (This is higher in the early leaning-curve days, but once you know how to do a cover and how to contact a copyeditor, and how to layout a book and run it through Jutoh to get clean epubs, the time goes down. Including loading to all the sites in this time.)

Ten percent of your time goes to promotion. And this time should not just be the new book, but books already out. Also updating websites, social media, newsletters, and all that sort of thing. Ten percent is a lot of time for this sort of stuff.

The Problems of Focus

For those who are not writing all the time, who let their critical voice into their offices, who let what others say about their work into their offices, writing is a painful thing at times. So it is easier to focus on promotion of what you already have done.

I have seen a lot of writers in the last four years get all caught up in promotion and almost stop writing.

The one thing you really should have in your office on your wall if this is your problem is “Your Next Book Is Your Best Promotion.”

Very few people after the learning curve time get lost in production.

But wow can the focus get lost in promotion.

An Example

Warning… a little math…

Say you write about 500 words per hour on a novel.

60,000 word novel is 120 hours. Simple. (If you do it right, following Heinlein’s Rules your book is done right there.)

120 hours is 80% of 150 hours.

So you have 30 hours to divide between production and promotion.

When you get going, after the learning curve, you should be able to lay out a novel, do the covers, and get it to all sales sites in 15 hours easily. Chances are it will be more like 10 hours, letting you have an extra 5 hours for promotion side of things.

So you have 15 hours for promotion. That is a bunch of time. Wow.

The Problem of Real Life

Sounds so simple, huh? But to figure this out for yourself, you actually have to understand your real-world time. You have to keep track.

You want to spend 150 hours on a book from start through promotion. Great.

But the best you can do is scrape together 10 hours per week out of your family and job and such. So what do you do?

My opinion… 80/10/10 every week.

Every week.

Period.

Spend eight hours working each week on your new book.

Spend one hour doing some sort of production on an older book, your last book maybe that just came back from the copyeditor.

Spend one hour per week doing promotion on the book that came out a month before.

In other words, write all the time, promote all the time, do production all the time.

It doesn’t have to be on the same book, folks. Shock, I know. But most publishers, which you are a publisher, work on multiple books all the time.

What I have watched kill writers is the black/white thinking. The black/white thinking goes like this: I have to finish a book, then do the production, then do the promotion, then at some point get around to starting a new book.

They do all of it for one book at a time, so their publishing company comes to a complete standstill and then has to restart with every new project.

Bad business to start with. Killer for momentum in your writing.

If you have ten hours in a week to dedicate to your writing profession, make eight hours of it always writing. Always.

Then divide the other two hours between promotion and production of other books you have already done and have in the pipeline.

If you do that, all things sort of balance out and the writing of a new book gets a ton more fun without the pressure of promotion and production.

You are doing production on another book and promotion on yet other books.

This is a very freeing and normal business way to organize all this, folks.

Hope my opinion helped.

Keep having fun on the writing.