Misadventures in Marketing, Part 2

Misadventures in Marketing, Part 2

It’s been a bit more than a week (cough, cough, two months) but here are some more results from my author marketing survey. A quick recap – the survey grew out of my own misadventures as a newly published author. I thought I might have learned some things about what to do and what not to do, but I also thought I’d call on the wisdom of the collective author brain. This next part of the survey focuses on what many have expressed concern about – the way marketing impacts on the capacity to write.

How much time do you spend marketing? (By author type)

The labels here represent a slider where authors positioned a tab between 1-100.

  • Mostly writing = 75% or more of their time spent on writing
  • Some writing = 50-74% of time spent on writing
  • Some marketing = 26-49% of the time writing
  • Mostly marketing = 25% of the time or less spent on writing.

Note, the 100% on the chart represents respondents, not time!

The average time spent writing was 45% – that is, across all respondents, the average time spent marketing was 55%.

How much time do you spend marketing? (By publisher type)

All up, according to chart 1 emerging writers get more time to write (red and blue bars) than anyone else. Mid-list authors get the least, so they appear to be the ones most likely to get caught up in marketing misadventures.

Chart 2 shows that there’s not a lot of difference for those who self-publish or are with a small press. Both spend between 50-60% of their time marketing. For those with an international publisher the picture is quite different. Sixty percent say they get to spend most of their time writing.

The push for social media

The biggest development for new authors in the last ten years, from what I can see, is the push for them to have a social media profile, and to be actively promoting their books and their ‘author brand’. This is a big shift from the days of big publishing companies doing the marketing work for you. I frequently hear that this requirement applies to ALL authors too, not just those who self-publish or are with a small press. Even the big publishers expect authors to do a lot of their own marketing.

So marketing is increasingly outsourced to the author. There are some fundamental problems with this, such as that many authors are VERY unsuited to marketing (see my post on The Introvert Paradox). Also, the marketing profession itself recognises that only about 10% of marketing will be effective.

So what do authors think of this push? Personally, I hate it. As with many authors, I have a family and a life, as well as a job that pays the bill. Which means I barely get enough time to write my fiction. Add to that the expectation that you will do significant amounts of marketing, and something has to give. Usually the writing.

Anyway, the results are pretty clear – between a quarter and a third of authors hate marketing. Many do it because they have to and some feel fairly neutral about it. Very few enjoy it or love it. So authors are now in the position of having to do something they don’t enjoy, that takes away from their time to write. At the same time, they’re expected to churn out books faster and faster. The question (which I am not going to answer here) is what impact does this have on the lives of authors, and on the quality of the books published?

In my final post about misadventures in marketing, I will reveal which marketing approaches authors find most effective, and their tips and hints about marketing.


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