These are slow times in my marketing and writing, as I work through editing a manuscript and feel less than inspired to think of ways to publicize my work on social media or to set up new deals or promotions. Both inwardly (creatively) and outwardly (outreach to readers), I’m in a down cycle.
Editing always tends to slow things down for me; it’s an important and ultimately gratifying slog, but a slog all the same. The better I get at editing, the longer it takes, and the better the end result. I have another book waiting for its first round of edits as I push through the fourth round on my next release, so it’s just as well that I’m not deep in another new project, distracting myself from the tasks at hand.
As someone who doesn’t really enjoy or thrive on social media, I’m not especially good at marketing even in my most ambitious moments. The easiest step and best return is to purchase ads on Facebook or BookBub, but it’s still a small ROI and funds I don’t feel particularly excited about investing right now. Like anything else, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. And I’ve never been great at putting much into social channels — my lack of motivation rather than the internet’s lack of opportunities.
Of course there’s always the option to hire other people to market for me, but again, that’s an investment of my income that I’d rather spend on other needs right now.
These are the kinds of arguments I have with myself when I lie awake at four in the morning and think about all the ways I’m lacking and falling short. Like many of us, at any given time, I “should” be doing better at one of several things, according to my doubter/ego/inner judge. Often a few piled on top of each other. I’m not editing fast enough, I should be putting more effort into promotions, I haven’t tweeted in weeks…
The solution, of course, is NOT more self-judgment in the arid dark hours before dawn, or judgment in general, but the opposite: getting over it and moving on with my work. Time is too short and precious to waste it in worrying about all that I’m not doing, or not doing well enough.
So it’s a slow time, that’s really OK. I can help myself by making editing my single focus, purposefully (not out of procrastination or self-consciousness) setting aside all marketing for now, and looking ahead to an advertising campaign of the new book when it’s ready to publish this spring. This will allow me the mental space to edit with optimism about the end result (publication), and lets me off the hook in terms of promotions, knowing it’s easier to create posts about a new release as well as to justify spending money on boosting posts and placing ads.
Every passion project has parts that we love and rejoice in right alongside the parts that slow us down, or that we’re not as great at as we’d like to be. Hitting those walls, after recovering from the impact and rubbing our bruised egos, can be an opportunity to remember why it’s worth pushing through — and that it’s OK to give ourselves a break when we come up against our own judgment, fears and failures.
Writing is a process and an experience, not an outcome. It challenges, inspires and teaches me with every milestone, every success, every paragraph, every post — and yes, even every slow, sloggish day.