(From Randy's Ezine)
So you've got a book
coming out and the marketing director at your publisher calls you up, very
excited about your book.
You're excited too, until she tells you all
the things she wants you to do to promote your book.
Put up a web
site. Create a blog. Make a Facebook fan page and hang out there. Get active
on Google Plus. Starting tweeting. Build an e-mail list. Get on Goodreads.
Print bookmarks. Speak at libraries. Do book-signings. Run a contest and give
away a new Kindle.
And on and on.
About now, you're probably
wondering when you're supposed to find the time to do all this stuff when
you have a day job AND you're trying to write your next book.
first thing to remember is that when a marketing director gives you a laundry
list like this, she
probably knows very well that it's really just a
You don't go to a restaurant and order everything on the menu.
You order a couple of dishes and leave the rest for next time.
same token, you're going to choose one or two things on your marketing
director's menu to focus on. The rest, you're going to do badly or not at
She'll probably be very pleased if you execute even one of these
She'll probably be very displeased if you make
a half-hearted stab at every single suggestion and end up doing all of
How do you decide what to do and what to leave
Many authors seem completely unable to answer this question.
So they do whatever their instincts tell them, or they do what a friend told
them to do, or they do nothing at all.
I learned a simple principle
from my friend, marketing guru Perry Marshall. Perry likes to divide up all
the work you COULD be doing into rough categories based on how much they
* Ten dollars per hour work
* Hundred dollars per hour
* Thousand dollars per hour work
These are broad categories.
"Ten-dollar" work is anything that earns you between three and
dollars per hour.
Here's an important principle that will save
you mountains of grief: If you have all the hundred-dollar work that you
can handle, then don't do any ten-dollar work unless you absolutely have to
(or unless you love it). Instead, hire somebody to do it for
Likewise, if you have plenty of ten-dollar work, then don't take
on one-dollar tasks, unless you have to (or unless you REALLY love
Believe it or not, authors violate this principle ALL the
One big problem writers have is that they can't easily tell
the difference between ten-dollar work and
hundred-dollar work. How do you
know what your work is earning you?
Let's start with the easy things,
which are writing and speaking.
Suppose you know that you can write a
novel in 500 hours and your last advance was $5,000. These are typical
numbers early in a writing career. Then writing a novel is worth about ten
dollars per hour to you.
Later in your career, you might be earning
$50,000 per book, and now writing a novel is hundred-dollar work. Nice, if
you can get it!
Likewise, it's not hard to compute your hourly rate
for doing public speaking. Generally, you'll get paid an honorarium for
this, and you can also sell books at the back of the room. It won't take very
many speaking engagements to figure out what your actual pay rate
But what about all those other tasks you're supposed to do?
How much does hanging out on Facebook earn you? What about Twittering? Or
maintaining your blog?
It's hard to say for sure, but here you can
harness your good common-sense instincts. (Most authors are cheapskates,
so let's put that to work.) Suppose that somebody offered to do all your
Twitter work for you. How much would you be willing to pay per hour for
them to do that? A dollar an hour? Five? Ten?
I suspect that very few
authors would be willing to pay a hundred dollars per hour for somebody to
tweet for them. I doubt many authors would pay even ten dollars an hour.
I'll bet most authors wouldn't pay more than a dollar an
Whatever number you'd be willing to pay, that's probably a
decent estimate of its actual value to you.
If you've got the common sense of
an anthill, you aren't going to overpay or underpay very much.
you decide that you couldn't possibly pay more than a dollar an hour to hire
somebody to Twitter on your behalf. This means that Twittering is
probably only earning you a dollar an hour.
Now here's the simple
question: If you have an extra hour in your day, should you spend it
Twittering or writing? If writing earns you even ten dollars an hour, then
this is a no-brainer. For you, it makes more sense to write than to tweet.
One caveat: If you like to hang out on Twitter and you'd do it for
free, then there's no harm in doing so when you're not working. But call it
what it is -- entertainment, not work.
You may be thinking, "But what
about all the intangibles of marketing? Spending time on Twitter
Facebook keeps my name in the front of people's minds. It keeps me in
the conversation. That's good."
That may be true. Those pesky intangible
values may be very significant. But be honest with yourself. How
much would you be willing to pay for them? That's the best indicator of
their real value to you. If you think it would be worth paying somebody $1000
per hour to gain those intangibles, then do it yourself. If you
wouldn't pay ten cents per hour to do the job, then why in the
you do it yourself?
You can apply this same kind of thinking to just
about any marketing activity your marketing director throws at you. How
much would you pay somebody per hour to do this task in your stead?
that number is very much less than you'd earn from writing, then it probably
makes much more sense to do the writing, not the marketing. If you can
hire somebody to do the marketing for less than the rate you'd demand,
then it probably makes sense to pay them to do it.
If the number is
very much more than what you'd earn from your writing, then do the
You can use this principle to figure out how to say yes and
how to say no on just about any required task that comes your
What about optional tasks? Does the same
Yes, but there's another decision to make for
optional tasks -- the decision whether to just leave it undone. That's a
If you can find somebody to do it for less than
you're willing to pay, then hire them. Otherwise, don't worry about it
because it's just not worth it to you.
There are a zillion ways to
market your book. Your marketing director knows you can't do them all.
Make her happy and do at least one of them really well. Make yourself
happy and do only the ones that are worth it to you.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced
E-zine, with more than 29,000 readers, every month. If
want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more
valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit
your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in
How To Publish a Novel.