My Writer To-Do List

What to do? What to do? A writer’s work is never done. Add being a woman on top of that, there is no end.

Recently I read that a writer should spend 80% of her time on book promotion and 20% on writing. I disagree with this whole heartedly, but have to admit there is a correlation between how much promotion an author does to sales.

My writer to do list has

[interrupted by real life… 30 minutes later continued]

My writer to do list has these things on it:
• Write
• Blog
• Promo
• Review
• Read
• Revise
• Study
• Relate

Write needs no further explanation really, though it’s probably in actuality the most complicated thing on the list. A writer must write. More on this as we go through the list. When I say “write” I mean on my books or projects which I hope to at some point get paid for, so that I can continue to eat and pay the electric bill which is necessary to power up my laptop.

Blog- I should write articles, like this one, for my blog. I don’t have to, but I should. It helps with a few of the other things on this list like Promo and Relate, which will be explained momentarily. It also is another example of writing, though not one I get directly paid to do.

Promo– There are books on how to promote and market your books, but I’ll try to sum it up in a few sentences. By promote I mean to market my professional writing either online, in local media outlets, at conferences, in person at book signings and so on. This is the 80% of your time that some recommend you use. You could easily spend 100% on this. It can be addictive. It can become an obsession. You could probably get an honorary PhD in marketing in this thing alone once you master it. It is involved with the Blog mentioned above as well and the Relate that is yet to come. My book launch is in March 2013, seven months away. I’m already working on my marketing strategy. I have a few paid promotions scheduled for it and am mapping out my blog tour, my conference attendances and some local venues at which to appear to promote my book. That doesn’t even take into consideration the promotions my publisher will line up for me and expect me to work on.

Review- Reviews sell books. In order for some of my writing colleagues to review my book when it comes out, it is a courtesy for me to review theirs. I’m helping them do promo by reviewing their book and hoping they will do the same for me. Reviewing takes time because you have to…

Read– I should be reading my colleagues’ work to help with Reviews above, but also to see how they tackle some of the issues I may have with my writing. What kind of dialogue tags do they use? What word do they use other than “was”? And so on.

Study– Study the craft of writing. On top of the reading for the reviews I’m working on, I have stacks of books on how to write books on my nightstand, desk, end tables and every working surface in my house. How to write, how to have strong characters, how to end writers block, how to plot. The books are endless.

And last is Relate. Relate is based on relationship marketing and making myself accessible as a writer to readers and promotions people and other writers. Like with reviews, if I want someone to review my book, I should definitely offer to do one for them. If I want people to comment on my blog posts, then I should definitely being perusing their blogs and leaving comments. If I want people to promote me on their website, I should form a relationship with them and offer mine to them. But it’s more than just quid pro quo, Clarice. It’s about forming a relationship with readers as well. A reader may have a question or post a nice review (here’s hoping), so responding to questions and comments will make them feel more engaged than if I acted like a diva or a cold fish and ignored them. Maybe they’ll be more likely to buy my next book if we exchanged a few emails after they won a giveaway or came to my book signing.

Several of these things overlap, as you can see. But if I were to spend only one hour on each a day, I’ve put in an eight hour work day. Really I don’t need to spend an hour a day on my blog, but I probably should spend more than that on actual project writing. I could easily spend an hour on promo a day, even now, seven months away from launch day. Reading? Easily. Reviewing, probably not as much, but close to it. Studying, easily. Relating, easily.

An eight-hour work day, while most authors have a separate day job, including me.

Plus most authors have a family [see interruption in blog post above]. There is laundry to do and dinners to make. Dogs to walk and feed. Kids and spouses to spend time with. Houses to clean, appointments to attend. Work-outs I should do. And on and on.

How any book ever gets written in the first place is beyond me.

The next time you see an author, give her a hug. Or at the very least, like her book on Amazon. 😉

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