Another one of those articles came across my feeds the other day. You know the ones? The ones where somebody with a book or two placed with A Real Publisher decries the sad state of authorship and how being poor but published is much superior to being one of Those People? There are fewer of those articles floating about these days, but I keep running across this canard:
"Self-published authors should expect to spend only 10% of their time writing and 90% of their time marketing."
If that's what you're doing as a self-published author, you're doing it wrong.
I understand the rationale. It comes from the old school marketing people using mass market techniques on niche market segments. The impetus to do something - even something that doesn't work - can be overwhelming. It's what causes authors to abuse social media by posting "buy my book" messages six times a day to hit all the major time zones. It's what causes writers to spend time writing meaningful blog posts three times a week because they've been told that's how to get readers. It's why so very many of us think they have to be everywhere all the time or they're missing out the growth potential of each of the channels.
But here's the thing.
As content creators, we really should focus on creating content. The content we need to create is not "interesting links" or "regular blog posts" or even "quality content." We need to create new stories. Sure, they're rehashed retellings of one of the seven basic plots, but to readers, they're new stories. We breathe life into the characters and unfold plots. We take readers to worlds that fascinate or horrify or titillate - sometimes all three.
We can't do that if we're focused on marketing. We can't do that if we're spending the majority of our effort and attention chasing goals based on flawed models.
The heck of it is, the models sorta work. That's the danger in them. They work in the same way taking a pair of pinking shears to your lawn works. If you stick with it, you will eventually get your grass cut. It may take so long that you'll have to start again immediately, but it does work. Sorta. As an analogy, I think it applies to the way people approach marketing. The mass market tools work but they're not very effective and they're horribly inefficient. By focusing time and energy on using those tools, you incur an enormous opportunity cost. You wind up spending all your time marketing and never write the stories your audience wants.
All because of a misplaced focus.Image Credit: "Focus" Michael Dales CC BY-AT-NC