I remember being so overwhelmed when I was working on my first published novel. Trying to learn how to structure it, create the right characters, and set up the world. Then I was also trying to learn all the marketing things I needed to do when this book was published. Plus, worrying about if it will all work because I only had one book out.
Oh did I mention I was working full-time and was trying to navigate life as a new mom?
So naturally, I was seeking out ways to balance my marketing and my writing. But the advice I was finding wasn’t geared toward new authors like me. What may work for a full-time author who has no day job or outside commitments doesn’t help a full-time working mom like me. Needless to say, I learned a lot of things the hard way.
But the good news is, you don’t have to!
I learned a lot about managing my writing and marketing time. And that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you right now.
How Can a New Writer Manage Writing and Marketing Their Books?
The thing that you guys have to remember at this stage of your career is your writing takes precedent over everything.
Your book is the most important thing that you should be focusing on right now –getting it written, edited, and polished. At the end of the day, there’s no better way to market yourself than writing the next book. And for you, especially if it’s your first one, there will be nothing to market if the book isn’t done right?
When I was writing my first book, I focused on nothing but the book. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote the first three in like a year and a half. The only time I even thought about marketing was when I was letting the novel rest in between edits.
So how can you find more time to write, especially if you’re still working, have kids, or going to school?
Do a Time Audit
Sit down and just document your day. The time you get up, how long it takes you to get dressed, and what time you leave out for the day, breaks at work, — all of that. Then take a look at your day and figure out where you can fit writing in those pockets of free time.
Back then I had an hour lunch break and then about three hours in the evenings during the week. My daughter was an awesome sleeper so I could count on her to go to bed on time! Those three hours a day were my writing times. I didn’t write on weekends because between play dates and visits with my family, getting words in was a little tricky.
The key is to do what works for you.
Give Yourself a Deadline
Working as a digital marketer where I always have deadlines for written pieces helped me stay disciplined with my writing. Deadlines help you train your muse instead of having to wait for inspiration to hit.
As you progress in your writing career, whether you go indie or with a publisher, you will have all kinds of deadlines because your livelihood depends on you getting that book out. Doing this now will help you stick to those writing sessions you found in your time audit and hitting your word counts.
How can you figure out a writing deadline for your novel?
- Take the average amount of words you write in writing sessions
- Figure out about how many words you want your novel to be. For my YA fantasy novels, I shoot for 80K.
- Divide the total number of words for your novel by how many words you write during a writing session. That’s how many days it will take you to write your novel.
- Now break out your calendar and look at the days you’re scheduled to write. Go out to the number of days it will take you to finish that novel. Then for sanity’s sake, give yourself like a one to two-day buffer because you know, life happens!
Whether you have five hours a day to write or one hour every other day, when you’re hitting those deadlines, you’re disciplining yourself to get those words out and finish that novel.
We talked a lot about writing, where does all the marketing fit into all of this?
At this stage of the game, your marketing focus is all about growing your community. Let’s not worry about selling books, doing social media ads, or getting reviews. There’s time for that when you get closer to your book launch.
There are some marketing things that you can do that necessarily won’t take up too much of your time.
Email is something that once it’s set up, it runs on its own. Aside from sending out a newsletter at least once a month, you can set up email sequences that run on their own. When someone downloads your free chapter or short story, you can automatically send them into an automated sequence where they get to know you and your work. This can be running behind the scenes while you’re writing that book.
Grow Your Tribe on Social Media
Social media is great for growing your community. Now you don’t want to spend all your time on it but you can pick a platform that your ideal reader hangs out on and just stick with that. Participate in bookstagram challenges, engage in writer groups, or share your writing journey on the live video platform for your choice. Since you don’t have anything to sell, it makes it easier to genuinely connect with those people who will become your readers!
Things can get really stressful real fast when you’re a new author trying to make a business out of your storytelling. The key here is to remember that finishing that book trumps everything. While there are some marketing things you can do, make sure it doesn’t take away from that precious creative time.
What about you? What’s your biggest struggle with managing your time as a writer?