Written by Carissa Magras
Published: June 10, 2019 | Last Updated: June 17, 2019
The reason authors spend an average of 20 hours per week on marketing activities is because they’re not seeing good ROI anywhere.
JJ, a good friend and former client, used to spend 10-20 hours a week blogging, working on her website, pitching guest posts, prepping for speaking events, and sending out email newsletters to her stunted list of a few hundred subscribers that grew at a snail’s pace – all while working as a Librarian, raising three kids, and struggling to finish her second book.
Marketing for authors can be a brutal Catch-22.
You’re spending all this time marketing so you can sell your books… until you can’t spend any time writing books because you’re spending it all on marketing!
I call this the “Author’s Abyss”. And it is exactly where JJ was when we began working together: overwhelmed, frustrated, and about ready to give up her writing career altogether because marketing migraines had sucked the purpose and passion out of her writing.
The reason the Author’s Abyss exists isn’t because authors stink at marketing…
The Author’s Abyss exists because of one thing: Content Creation.
The majority of online marketers have built their mansion of success on the foundation of content creation: blog posts, podcasts, email newsletters, youtube channels, social media posts, you name it. The only way their business continues to run is by them showing up every day and every week with something new to say.
Content isn’t a bad thing on the rare occasion when the information is actually helpful. But after a few years – and especially after a decade – these experts start to struggle to keep the train of consistent content going.
Any and every marketing tactic is shared and declared “the must-do thing” for the sake of a new post – at the expense of what is best for the person listening or reading.
Not only does this incessant need to create content serve their paychecks more than their people, but it also sets an example that says, “You, too, must constantly create new content in order to be successful!”
And, so, being the diligent, hardworking, high-achieving student that you are, you go off and with the best of intentions start a blog, email newsletter, podcast, video channel, and every social media platform you can think of. You create an elaborate content calendar and for the first week you stick with it.
But then life happens, and you fall off the content bandwagon, having to apologize to your audience for the silence, promising to do better this next time around – chronically burdened by the guilt of growing conflict between maintaining your sanity and serving your audience.
Content Creation is a lot like washing dishes by hand. You have to physically be there, at the sink, washing the dishes, every single day… and you can’t stop for anything because if you do, it will all pile up and you’ll have a disgusting, stinky pile of mess to deal with. It isn’t efficient. It isn’t effective. And it creates a lot of stress and resentment when you have to do it in order to achieve your goals.
Real marketing isn’t the same as glorified busy work that only feels productive.
The truth is content creation is not the same as sales. Just like “doing activities that feel like marketing” isn’t the same as actual marketing (i.e. more and more of your ideal people finding out you exist on a regular basis, so they can eat up what you have to offer and become lifelong fans).
Doing the dishes by hand might make you feel like you’ve been productive around the house, but is it actually necessary when there’s this wonderful thing called an “Automatic Dishwasher” that is available for you to use? (and actually does a MUCH better job at cleaning and disinfecting than we can do by ourselves manually!)
Producing more content isn’t the answer.
Here’s what I can promise you: you’re already doing enough.
In your gut, you already know that the solution isn’t “more marketing” or “more followers” or “more giveaways.” The solution isn’t more complexity — it’s something much simpler.
The secret to building a “club” of raving fans who buy all your books, come to your events, and share your work with the world isn’t doing more.
In fact, the authors in my community who are seeing off-the-charts success are doing less than ever.
But they’re tapping into a timeless buying pattern that makes it unbelievably easy for people to find their websites, fall in love with their work, and buy everything they create (forever).