Weighing the Value of Promotion vs. Writing

Dan Blank’s post last week about defining success has combined with some other things in my life right now to get me asking myself that very question. One of the things that’s been a challenge the past several weeks has been finding a way to balance writing with platform building and social media. Roz Morris had a really great post on the topic this weekend where she pointed out that publishing in order to build a platform was backward. The book doesn’t build the platform — the platform builds the audience for the book.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like trying to keep up on everything to promote my writing has left me with very little room to actually write. Now, some of that is a function of schedule changes at work that I’m still adjusting to. But for me, it’s also a sign I needed to step back and think about a) what I’m trying to accomplish with my first book and b) what I’m trying to accomplish with the Exeter series in general.

Thrown Out is never — in and of itself — going to be a best-seller. It’s an odd niche (short-story collection) and it doesn’t fit into any other genre because the common thread among the stories is the setting and characters, not the genre. If it reaches best-seller status, it will be because it’s backlist for novels in the series that are easier to categorize and promote.

Recognizing that is liberating in a lot of ways. The way for me to get more people to read Thrown Out is to write and publish the next book in the series, the first novel. It will be easier to find because it fits into a genre that does well in ebooks, and as people find it and like it, they will be more likely to hunt down my other books.

That, in turn, allows for more of a focus on what’s important — writing the other books and short stories in the series. I also now have a better focus for what’s important in terms of additional blogging and other writing projects. After all this introspection, I have a better way to set priorities.

As a writer, it means my Exeter books won’t come out as quickly. But I think they’re going to be better books. I also hope they’ll find more of an audience because of cross-pollination with my other projects. We’ll see. Everything in the world of indie publishing is an experiment these days, and this is just one more of them.

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