Jacquelyn Smith

Finding Your Own Way: Writing, Self-Promotion, and Balance

Balance can be an elusive bitch. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been trying to track that sucker down. Lately though, I’ve been realizing that I’ve always thought of it as a state where you try to pursue all your interests equally, which might explain a few things.


The problem is, some of those interests are always going to weigh more than others. Things like family and your health don’t have the same importance as catching up on your email, but we often treat them as if they do. (Which is pretty messed up when you think about it.)


Obviously, we all weigh the different aspects of our life differently, so it’s not as if there is any kind of one-size-fits-all solution that can tell us what percentage of our time to devote to each pursuit. I’ve agonized for a while now over how much time I should spend on self-promotion/networking versus writing. I know I’m not alone. After some intense soul searching, here were the answers I came up with:


Self-Promotion/Social Networking


Some people are awesome at marketing and networking. They love it and it shows. I am not one of these people. If you’ve read my other posts, you probably know that I’m an introvert. I like to write blog posts and interact with friends on Twitter when I’m feeling sociable, but that’s pretty much it. I don’t even sign in to my personal Facebook profile that often.


This makes it harder for me to use social media to promote my books. I don’t want to be one of those people who just post tweet after tweet about their own products (which is not what I mean about being awesome at self-promotion and networking, by the way). I find that kind of strategy just turns your posts into noise. Sure, you may get some hits, but there will also be a lot of people, like me, who will just tune you out.


I’ve tried forcing myself to spend more time doing the social networking thing, but it’s a challenge for me. I have no problem tweeting staggered updates about new blog posts, book news, or whatever promotion I’m running. I feel like those are things that add value. But I never want to feel like I’m bombarding people with constant tweets that do everything but scream, “BUY MY BOOK!”


I don’t think all self-promotion is evil. In addition to tasteful and informative tweets and posts, I do really like some of the more passive marketing methods. Goodreads giveaways are a great way to create buzz, and pricing one of your ebooks as free is also a good lead-in for getting readers to purchase your other titles. I’m also thinking about doing a targeted ad campaign on Goodreads at some point. I feel like these methods are comfortable for me. Since I’m offering something of value for nothing, I don’t feel like I’m being pushy. Win-win.




Since my networking and self-promotion strategy is fairly passive, I need to look at other options to get my name out there. When I got the numbers for my February sales this year, I really had an ‘aha’ moment.


For most of last year, I only had a few short stories available in ebook form. Then I published my first novel, Soul Seeker, back in October, which gave me my highest month of sales. When Light Chasers (the prequel to Soul Seeker) released in February, my overall sales for that month were more than double October’s sales. Plus, my sales have remained elevated in the months since.


Now, I’m not talking about huge numbers here, but there is definitely a correlation. Publishing a second novel in the same series did far more for my sales than any self-promotion or networking I did.





So now I can’t help but think all that running around, trying to force myself to self-promote and network was time that could have been better spent writing. I just got caught up in the idea of what I ‘should’ be doing, instead of focusing on what is most effective for me.


And it’s not as if I decided to become a self-published author so I could spend all my time promoting and networking anyway. I’ve always wanted to be a writer first, but I guess I lost sight of that with the whole ‘going indie’ thing. When you’re self-published, you really have to take charge of everything yourself. The business side can really eat up a lot of your time and energy if you let it.


So what’s the bottom line here? Well, for me, writing clearly outweighs networking and self-promotion. That’s not to say I’m going to go off into seclusion and become a hermit (although I’m pretty close to it sometimes). Instead, I’ve given myself permission to relax about Twitter, blogging, etc. Writing is now my main focus.


In related news, I seem to be getting a lot more writing done since I made this decision. I’m trucking along through the first draft of the latest book in the Lasniniar series, Storm Rider. I’ve even added a little widget to the sidebar here to show my progress. If all goes as planned, I should be done by mid-June. So, look out balance; I’m coming for you.


(For some weird reason, I’m suddenly reminded of Pellinore from The Once and Future King. He was always carrying around those fewmets from the Questing Beast and showing them off to everyone while trying to track her down.)



What does your balance look like? If you’re a writer, do you spend more time on writing or self-promotion?

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2 thoughts on “Finding Your Own Way: Writing, Self-Promotion, and Balance

  1. James Garcia Jr

    First of all, great opening sentence for a blog post…evah! I’m still giggling about it!
    Secondly, you are really speaking to me here. I can see how easily what you’ve just shared must be true. I think I was really beginning to lean that way myself before now, and you may very well have just given me the shove that I needed. I guess I’m just hoping to find other ways to stay connected with all of my pals as I back away a little bit.
    Thanks for sharing, Jacqui.


    1. Jacquelyn

      Thanks, Jimmy!

      I know what I’m saying can seem counter-intuitive at first. I’ve spent a long time feeling like I NEED to run around doing a whole bunch of social network promoting to convince myself I’m doing what needs to be done to be successful. Taking the more laid-back approach and just building or maintaining authentic relationships with friends or fans feels much more natural to me. People you have really formed a connection with should understand if you’re not around as much. (Plus, they should be happy that you’re getting more writing out as a result.)

      It’s like that Dr. Seuss quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” 😉

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