Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom - Setting Priorities

The following blog originally appeared at The Romance Studio on January 8, 2010.

Welcome to the new year! I hope you're having a good one so far. I'm excited to be blogging monthly at The Romance Studio. I'll be posting the second Friday of just about every month this year. It's part of my resolution to manage my time better - I was really struggling to keep up my own individual blog and I couldn't talk anyone into forming a group blog. Then I remembered that I'd done a few guest blogs at The Romance Studio and enjoyed it, so I decided to join the cast of regular visitors here. Posting once a month at such a high-profile blog seemed like a better use of my time than trying to post every week at my own humble blog.

Why am I telling you all this? Because there's going to be a theme to my monthly posts. I'm hoping my blog posts will give aspiring writers (and curious readers) some insight into things to remember as you strive to get published.

When I first started attended romance writer conferences about three or four years ago, I was bombarded with experts telling me how much I needed a MySpace page. I dutifully ran out and set up a MySpace page, and although I do strive to keep it updated - let's face it, how much buzz do you hear about MySpace these days? Next I heard about how I couldn't possibly sell books without setting up my own blog. Done. But next I had to spend a lot of time coming up with topics for the blog. Or lining up guest writers for the blog. Or uploading photos to the blog. You get the idea. And now everyone's talking about Twitter and how I absolutely must Tweet. Not being a canary, I've decided to hold off on tweeting, thanks very much ;-)

The problem with jumping on every promotional bandwagon is that there will still only be 24 hours in your day. And you will still have to edit that first book, still do interviews and guest blogs, still hold on to your day job (unless you magically hit the concept of the decade and make a fortune), still clean the house and get the kids off to the school - oh, and write a new book!

Shortly after I signed a contract for my first novel, Thirty-Nine Again, I hired a wonderful designer to set up my website. She gave me some very sage advice: an up-to-date website is your second-most promotional tool. What's the most important, I asked? Your own writing.

Write first, then worry about all the promotional stuff. Because if you don't have a new manuscript ready when that first book comes out, you'll discover you have very little time to write while you're learning all the ropes of self-promotion.

Publicity and advertising are essential, of course. A good strategy is to schedule one day a week for promotional activities. Try to plan all your blogging, interviewing, and website updates for that day, and focus on actual creative writing the rest of the week. The more limited your time for fiction writing, the more important it is to put the writing first and worry about self-promotion second.

So that's this month's Pearl of Wisdom: Make writing your priority.

Now stop reading and get to work!

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