Marketing vs Writing. The continuing battle.

You’ve probably heard the same percentages thrown around that I have: Authors need to devote 50% of their time to marketing. Or more. I believed this for the longest time and pushed myself to do more author visits, come up with creative ways to get the word out, spend time and money on giveaways and such.

The end result was that I felt miserable and burned out. In fact, I was so burned out that I took a hiatus from school visits—something I used to love to do—because I was tired of doing them.

Need/Should vs. Want

As I get older, my attitude has become: do more of what you want to do, less of what feels like an obligation. And that includes marketing. Yes, I want to make money with my books, but that has become a distant second to writing what truly moves me, what I want to give to readers. I talked about this in my March 5 post, “Enjoy the Writing Process.” Monetary and other success is fleeting; it’s the experience of putting something worthwhile on the page that creates a lasting effect on me—and hopefully my readers at some point.


Two weeks ago in a class I was teaching, one of the writers shared something she’d heard: WIBBOW–Would I Be Better Off Writing? This nifty little acronym has been credited to different folks and I salute them all. It’s a great question to pose when we are faced with an ancillary writing activity—usually the business of writing. This could be marketing, PR, research, social media, etc.

When I first heard this, I thought—wouldn’t the answer always be yes? But then I started thinking about how much I enjoy doing some of the “marketing” things because they don’t feel like marketing to me: writing blog posts, connecting with folks on Facebook and Twitter, and planning a book giveaway on GoodReads, imagining the winners who will receive my book and enjoy it.


I now start with a new question: Am I cranky?

Am I cranky because I’m not writing? If the answer is yes, everything else goes out the window. It means I need to get back to writing ASAP!

If the answer to the cranky question is no, then I look at whatever I’m doing or about to do that’s ancillary to writing and continue with these questions:

  • Is what I’m doing feeding my career in a way that I enjoy?
  • Is it making me a better writer (class, workshop, etc)?
  • Is it increasing my contacts and network pool in a way that is fun and not burdensome?
  • Is it inspiring and motivating me to work harder at my career and/or craft? (this could be a speech I heard, a craft book I read, etc)

Do you have any measures you use to determine how much time you spend marketing and how you choose to spend that time? I’d love to hear!