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Promote yourself!

As you can tell I suck at blogging. I used to blog all the time... once upon a time. Now thinking of blogging makes me want to run screaming! There are so many other things I want to do.

But I am told I need to do more to promote my books. Honestly, doing a ton of social media stuff makes me want to bang my head against a wall. And then I came across this awesome blogpost, and I wanted to share it with ya'll who feel overwhelmed like I do. So here it is.

This is a letter written in answer to my friend Elizabeth Mueller by the author, Elana Johnson, someone I greatly admire:

Hey there! Okay, I can tell from your email that you're suffering. I see a lot of red flags here. There's an easy way to get your life back into balance (well, easy for someone on the outside). Stop everything you're doing in publishing and take a step back. Maybe two or three. Right now. Stop everything and gain some distance. Take two days, or three, or seven. Then come read the rest of this email. Seriously. Don't you dare read the rest of this until you've gained distance. You haven't been tweeting, right? No facebooking. No blogging (or reading blogs!) or writing or editing or promoting or ANYTHING. Stop EVERYTHING related to publishing and re-establish your real life, with your real spouse and your real children and the real sisters you visit teach. If you can't do that, there is a huge, monumental problem that I'm not sure anything I say will fix. That's an internal problem you'll need to figure out how to take care of. Because you should be able to step away from EVERYTHING (emails too!) and be a real, live person, mother, wife, friend. Okay. Do you have distance? This is the first time you've checked email in a few days? (I can check your online activity you know... *wink*)

We can proceed. I have been in your position, wanting to promote, promote, promote, do what I can, do more, more, more, etc. Here's what I've learned, and what I do to make sure my publishing life doesn't get more attention than my children, spouse, day job, co-workers, grocery shopping, making dinner, etc. What I've Learned: 1. There's very little an author can do on their own. Publishers make best-sellers. 2. There's very little an author can do on their own. Price point plays a big role in sales. 3. I have ZERO CONTROL over #1 and #2, therefore, I don't have time to waste worrying about sales, price point, or promotion. 4. Promotion can become a full-time job. Which leaves no time for writing. And that is simply not okay with me. What I Do To Maintain Balance: 1. Take every Sunday off. I don't tweet or Facebook or blog or read blogs or even open my computer to work on my draft. Nothing. I go to church, I read conference talks, I make dinner, I spend time with my family, I read, I play too many video games, I watch movies. No writing stuff invited. I even skip email for the whole day. Try this. It will change your life. 2. Accept what you are and what your book is. This is SO MUCH HARDER than it sounds. But as soon as I accepted that my book is not a bestseller, that it was likely not going to be on shelves in bookstores anymore (fall titles have taken the summer title shelf space. I'm not even in my local B&N anymore, where I signed straight for over 2 hours), and that my book hasn't been and is not nominated for any awards, I have been SO MUCH HAPPIER.

I can't even tell you how much happier I've been from realizing this. I blogged about it in December, and it was very freeing. So I am midlist. A midlist author with a midlist book. Nothing more. Nothing less. 3. Get off the Internet. It is so damaging to you to hear the good news of other authors when you don't have any. This sounds petty and mean-spirited, but I swear it's not. I'm happy for them, I really am. I just don't want to spiral into the "Why not me?" or the "I must suck" depths. I have neither time nor chocolate for that. So I get on twitter rarely, and I usually only tweet back to whoever's tweeted me. I get on FB once a day, and I go through my list and like things quickly. Then I post one thing on my personal OR fanpage (not both), and then get off. I sometimes go back and check the comments, but more often than not, I don't even do that. Social networking, done. I'm still blogging, but only 3 days a week, and I haven't read another blog in oh, 4 months. (I am planning to get more involved in the blogosphere again soon, but slowly, with only 10 blogs/day.) You really have to get off the Internet.

4. Instead of the hours I use to spend on the Internet or the hours I used to spend preparing promotions, I now use those hours to write. Because the best way to sell the books you have out is to publish more books. Better books. I spend my time studying the craft. Reading to improve myself. And writing. I spend SO MUCH MORE TIME writing now than I have in over 2 years. (I'm blogging about this on Thursday!) Watch this video. It has some swearing, so be warned, but it is perfect. Final advice: Stop everything you're doing and gain distance. And then when you come back, come back to the right things: writing. You need to find the joy of writing again. It's not the joy of PUBLISHING. It's the joy of writing. When you do that, you'll be able to get off the computer and go visiting teaching. You'll be able to feel grateful for what the Lord has blessed you with. You'll be able to be the kind of wife and mother and sister and friend you were before.

Sales are nothing. The joy is in the WRITING. Hope this helps!

Why, yes, Elana. It does! Thank you so much for such wonderful advice!

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