How do I balance marketing and writing?

November 13, 2012 | Written by Chip MacGregor

Someone asked, “What is a realistic schedule for writing that second book while promoting the first book?”

This will be unique to each author, since each person writes at his or her own pace. But if a novelist takes seven or eight months to create a novel, that means she will need to block out time in her schedule to market the releasing book as she creates the next one. It can be tough — do you spend all your time marketing the first book? Do you spend it writing the second book? Where’s the balance? This is why I encourage every writer to create a writing calendar, where you can map out which projects you’re working on for the next year or two — whether it’s writing, editing, marketing, or just taking time away to reflect on the next book.

Generally speaking, most authors find they simply must help market their releasing book right around the time of release — so build that into your calendar. I realize you didn’t get into this business to be a full-time marketer, but you don’t want to let the book release and do nothing. So build in some marketing time, if not in your regular week, at least some focused time during the release season.

By the way, here’s one piece of advice I’m famous for sharing: Good is always better than fast. Your publisher will want books fast, since he is in the business of selling as many books as possible. So he might push you to write a new book every four months — and will almost certainly encourage you to create a new book every six months, so you have one releasing each selling season. But if you require eight months to craft a good novel, then agreeing to the six-month plan is career suicide. You’ll either miss all your deadlines (and sour the relationship with your publisher) or release bad books (and sour your relationship with your readers). Don’t take the bait. Focus on doing good books, not fast books, and you’ll be happier. I’ve known plenty of authors who were unhappy they rushed a book, but I don’t know that I’ve ever met an author who was unhappy because she took her time and created a great book. Good is always better than fast.

Posted in Career, The Business of Writing

  • Becky Doughty

    Good is always better than fast. Good is always better than fast. Good is always better than fast. I’m reminding myself of this while I wait. And write. And write and wait some more.

    This also applies to offers of representation and/or publishing offers. Don’t just take the first agent or pub offer you get. Make sure it’s a good agent/pub offer, not just the fastest one.


    • chipmacgregor

      Yeah, I agree with that, Becky. Decisions I’ve raced into tend to be the ones I regret. (“You should BUY those leather pants, Chip! They’ll look great on you!”)

      • Becky Doughty

        Must have been a needy writer who preferred leather over plaid and was trying to butter you up. Stick with the skirt – it works. That’s my sage advice….Although, I hear that the Hunger Games craze has inspired a whole new world of Steampunk leather jumpsuits. Hm.

        • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

          Ahahaha!! That was spoken like a true Braveheart!!

  • Karen Morris

    I love the idea of a writing calendar. Seeing your schedule in print can help us turn “someday” into a specific day. And even if you have no deadlines imposed by your publisher/editor right now, it never hurts to get in that mindset early on…so it isn’t a shock to your system when you do get that call.

    • chipmacgregor

      Yes — I started using a writing calendar when I was making my living as a freelance writer years ago, Karen. It keeps you on track. Glad you like the idea.

  • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

    “Good is always better than fast”. I wonder if Lance’s people are saying the same thing.

    I heard another phrase a year or 25 ago, “good is the enemy of best”. I’m not aiming for good, I’m aiming for “knock your socks off”.

    I’m not going to balk marketing at because I want MY name out there. But I’ll never bend to having my name on a mug. Unless my kids made it.

    PS-my crit partners sent me here…nice digs, Chip.

    • chipmacgregor

      Thanks, Jennifer. And no, Lance long ago disagreed with me, thinking “fast is better than good.” Which might be true for a while, or when relatives are showing up unannounced and you want the kids to pick up their toys, or you’re being asked to eat liver. But rarely in life is “fast” better than “good.”

  • Connie Almony

    Great advice.

    • chipmacgregor

      Appreciate that, Connie.

  • Amy Simpson

    Great advice here, Chip! Very helpful.

    • chipmacgregor

      Glad you like it, Amy. How’s the writing coming?

  • Meghan Carver

    Excellent advice. Thanks!

  • Jennifer M Zeiger

    Awesome idea of a writing calendar. I’ve heard of writing goals with deadline dates but the calendar idea seems a step farther. Thanks.

    • chipmacgregor

      Yeah, a writing calendar (which you can tie to a writing budget, in order to see how much your writing will pay you) is a practical step to take, Jennifer. Glad you like the idea.

  • Mart Ramirez

    Great post, Chip!

    • chipmacgregor

      Thanks, Mart.

  • Peter DeHaan

    Thanks for the insight. I’ll keep this in mind — when I get to that point!

    • chipmacgregor

      You’re already at the point of needing to write and market, Peter!

      • Peter DeHaan

        Yeah, you’re right. (I am beginning to do that.) Thanks for the reminder.

  • Kathy Harris

    Good stuff, Chip. Thanks!

  • Soul Supply

    Thanks for this post Chip.

    Not sure about your automotive knowledge but good is better than fast is exactly illustrated by the Toyota Tarago. In the early ’80s the auto market was scrambling for people movers as they currently scramble for SUVs with the demise of the front bench seat in a sedan.

    Mitsubishi hurriedly placed some windows, splashed some poor carpet across the floor and inserted most basic seats in their courier van, the L300 – it was an immediate sales success until three years later when Toyota released the Tarago, which was a dedicated people mover, with a long lead time and not a tarted up commercial vehicle. The L300 struggled for sales for the next decade until it finally failed in the marketplace and Tarago still tops its segment today.

    Keep up the great work,

    • chipmacgregor

      Ha! Thanks for that, Soul Supply. You see? Good is better than fast.

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