Since it’s Simplify Your Life week, I thought this post would be appropriate. But I also wanted to write something that wasn’t your cliché type of post, because there are enough fabulous simplify tips out there. But there’s nothing, in my view, geared to the author, the many tasks we do, and the book promotion challenges we face. I’m an author, I have seventeen books out and I also run a book marketing company, so I need to simplify, or I’ll simply drown in endless to -do’s that never get done and projects that are still on the “I should have started this a week ago” list.
Simplifying for authors is different, in my view. Because most of us have day jobs and for us, simplifying isn’t just about keeping things simple, it’s also about preventing that bottleneck when too many things hit at once. Or a cluttered marketing effort that isn’t serving our book promotion goals. And while on the surface, some of these points may not seem to make sense to you right now, trust me when I say that in the long run, they’ll help you tremendously.
Having coached hundreds of authors over the years and having had as many book promotion campaigns that I’ve worked on, I can say that there are several big things that get in an author’s way, confuse the path they are on, and end up preventing their success. So while we’re focused on simplifying here, it’s also about putting in better systems and strategies to help you reach all of your book promotion goals. Let’s get started:
- Stop trying to do it all yourself. I know that maybe seems cliché, and maybe not at all related to simplifying your life. But the truth is that so many of us get caught in this vicious loop of trying to do everything yourself. Maybe you’re stubborn, maybe you don’t have the money to pay someone else to do it for you. But if you don’t find a way to outsource more, you’ll never get ahead.
- Plan Ahead. I can’t tell you how much time is wasted on authors twisting in the wind, trying to figure out what they’ll do next for their book promotion. Plan ahead is a big deal and will save you a ton of time and brainpower.For example, with it now being August, Christmas is right around the corner. Planning for a holiday book boost isn’t difficult, but surprisingly many authors push it off till the last minute. For example, how many eBook promos do you have planned around the holidays? Can you pre-plan your social media posts, or maybe even just start creating them? There’s no quicker way to simplify than to plan out your book promotion.We have a handy planner guide that’s free, and you can get it here. Also, I have a book out about getting more sales for Christmas, and you can find it on Amazon here.
- Battle Email Overload. It’s easy to write this, but maybe not so easy to do. You’ve tried it, right? All of the tips that the pros recommend such as: don’t check email in the morning, or do email in blocks of time. And while these are still valid ideas, there’s still one problem: there’s just a lot of email.A few years ago I started using a program called SaneBox, which essentially lets me create files for specific topics such as a Newsletter only file, where all the book promotion newsletters you subscribe to get automatically dumped into. I have files for projects, team members, newsletters, and more. There’s also a cool way you can set reminders to yourself to do stuff. So if you get an email that requires action down the road, and you don’t have time to address it now, you can have the system send it to you at a future date as a reminder. I do this a lot with BookBub submissions, for example. If I don’t get one, I have the system resend the email to my on a specific date. And it’s super easy to do. I literally couldn’t be without this system anymore. While I still get a lot of email, it auto files everything so I’m not staring at a mess, whenever I open my inbox.
- Get into a Project Planning System. If you have multiple books and projects going on, spend a few dollars investing in a simple, easy, project planning system. We use Basecamp which lets you assign tasks, set reminders, and create projects so you know what’s being done.I also use this for contractors I hire, such as web design people, etc. and invite them into a project so we both have a clear understanding of deliverables and dates.
- Keep Track of Everything, Without Actually Keeping It. You know how it goes, you find a blog post, or an article that piques your interest and you think: “Oh I need to do this!’ and, if you’re like me, you probably keep it in your inbox as a reminder. We all know that using your email inbox as a reminder can only lead to overwhelm, right? Instead consider investing in Evernote, which lets you copy webpages, online articles, and even scan stuff in it.I use Evernote for both business and personal, scanning in recipes for the holidays (when I do tons of cooking) or household stuff, book promotion ideas, book-related classes I want to take, etc. It’s an easy way to keep everything together, in one place, so you can refer to it whenever you need some new book marketing ideas!
- Keep Learning New Stuff. Maybe this seems counter-intuitive, because how can learning help you simplify? Because we spend a whole lot of time just trying to figure stuff out, and it’s wasted time. Yes, it’s fun to learn new things, but it’s a better use of your time to have someone guide you, to teach you so you spend more time doing the right things, and less time doing the wrong things and learning the hard way.
- Go to Writers Conferences. I know, I know, I’m talking about simplifying and yet telling you to go to a writer’s conferences. But trust me on this: it’s a great way to help you cut through the clutter. If it’s a good event, with great classes and awesome networking, you’ll not only get connected to other authors who are fighting the same battle as you are, but you’re potentially learning new stuff (which was addressed in the previous bullet point). All of this can really help you to weed out what’s working, what’s not and realign your book promotion efforts to something that’s a bit more palatable. The other element of this is that a lot of times authors spend a good deal of their valuable book marketing time just trying to figure out what to do. That’s part of what learning and networking will help you avoid.
- Stay on Top of Your Market. I know I’ve put a lot of things in here that may not seem to be saving you time on the surface, but trust me when I saw that you’ll spend a lot of time doing book promotion stuff that’s no longer working if you don’t stay in touch with your industry. Newsletters and blogs can be a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on. I can recommend Jane Friedman’s newsletter, both the free one and the paid one. The paid newsletter is worth the investment. We get it and recommend it all the time.
- Stop Comparing Your First Chapter to Someone’s Fifteenth. There’s no quicker way to become frustrated, and want to give up, than comparing yourself to other authors and their successes (or perceived successes). It steals a lot of your time and book promotion bandwidth if you do this. It’s also not a great way to stay focused on the important work you need to do. Remember that other authors may be doing something different, or maybe they had a mailing list of 50K and a two year promotional plan, and maybe they already have four or five other books they’re promoting. The more books you have out there (in the same genre) the easier it is (theoretically) to promote your books. So stop the comparison. It’s nice to aspire to be like: insert your favorite author – but it’s not a good use of your time. And if we’re talking simplifying here, which we are, you need to be a better steward of your time.
- Stop Doing Stuff That’s Not Working. This is a personal favorite of mine, and a quick way to cut down some serious time clutter. Book promotion tasks are not always created equal, and some of them work better than others. So why do we keep doing the book marketing tasks that aren’t working? Largely out of habit, secondarily because maybe we know someone who is doing these book promotion pieces and having great success with them. So it should work for us, too right? Well, not exactly. Some book marketing ideas work well for some authors, and don’t work at all for others. It really depends on your book, your genre, your budget, and maybe also your platform. I see this a lot with Facebook ads, which tend to be the go-to for all things book promotion. They’re easy, and everyone is on Facebook, right? So they’ll work well, I mean in theory anyway. But they often don’t. A variety of factors, too many to go into in this blog post, can either make or break your Facebook ads campaign. And that’s just one example of things that seem to be great ideas on the surface, but don’t execute well in terms of book promotion.
- Get Rid of Social Media Sites That Aren’t Working. Social media is another area you can really cut back on, because when it comes to these social sites, more is not better, sometimes it’s just more. Go where your market is and ignore the rest. If your market is business-related, then LinkedIn is probably a good place for you to be. If you have a cooking topic, or something else visual like a children’s book – maybe consider Instagram as a way to drive more interest.The point being, not all of your social sites are leveraging you the kinds of connections you want. If you aren’t sure which social sites are right for you, start by taking our social media quiz, you can get that here. Punting things that don’t work, is as important to your book promotion and doing things that do work. And all the time you spend on sites that aren’t bringing you to a new audience, is time you can better spend somewhere else.
Book promotion isn’t always easy, but it’s often made harder by a lack of planning, doing things that aren’t working, and not using some handy shortcuts (like Sanebox) to help you get more done. Authors often complain that they really want to be writing and I get that, but in order to keep writing you need to start selling books. At the same time, it doesn’t take a lot of book promotion muscle to start moving the needle, but it does take some strategic pieces, and simplifying the process, to help you move through the work more efficiently and still keep writing!