The other day a friend of mine said my writing was just a hobby. Granted, we’d been drinking, and she thought she was being witty. Still, it hurt. The next day, after I’d recovered from my hangover, I calmed down a bit. I also realized that the average person has no idea what a writer does. At least not a self-published author like myself. This is perhaps what they think I do:
First, let me clarify that writing (and all the stuff that goes with it that I’ll detail below) is my full-time job. Now, don’t go thinking I make tons of money from my writing or anything like that. No, I’m in a very fortunate position that I don’t need to pay the bills with my writing. Huge relief on that one! So, what does a self-published writer like myself do all day?
Coming in at first place is writing. (Duh) Although you’d probably be surprised to hear that working on my current manuscript takes up only a few hours a day. My goal is to write one chapter (approximately 1700 words) a day at least four times a week. Why not five? Because, life, that’s why.
But, Dena, what do you do with the other five hours left in a work day? *Snorts* If only I could keep my work days down to 8 hours. What a dream! On top of writing my novel every day, I also write three blogs a week. A blog can take anywhere from an hour to a full-day to write. And don’t get me started on all the blogs I start to write and realize are total shite after an hour or so. *Sigh* I also try to interact with other bloggers by reading and sharing blog posts. This can turn into a rabbit hole real quick.
That’s it for writing stuff. Unfortunately, I can’t just write books and expect people to buy them. Oh no, there are way too many books out there. The competition is fierce! So, it’s up to me to create an author brand. How to do that? Mostly via social media. I spend at least an hour every day on twitter interacting with readers, writers, bloggers, etc. I also spend quite a bit of time going through articles to find stuff to share with my followers. Instagram is less time-intensive. I try to post a picture every day. This is not always easy to do if I’m holed up working and editing all day. Several times a day I’ll scroll through my feed to like and comment on other posts. Finally, there’s Facebook. I’ve nearly given up on Facebook as a writer. Every time I turn around, they’re making it more and more difficult to reach followers. Ugh! I now post once a week and try to always include a picture. This leads to the best results – for now.
But that’s not all! I also need to market my books. Pffff… is it not time for the day to be over yet? Um, no, sorry Dena. What’s involved in marketing my books? There are a variety of ways I market my books from guest posts to interviews to advertisements (think Facebook, Amazon and Bookbub) to a monthly newsletter to running a sale and advertising the sale to various email services. Of course, for every marketing campaign, I need to create eye-catching graphics and catchy ad copy. And then there are the hours and hours of researching marketing techniques and listening to podcasts to get new ideas. Have I mentioned the rabbit hole?
Because I think I can do it all, I also try to help other indie authors by reading and reviewing their novels. I spend at least a few hours every week reading novels for other authors. Trust me, when you promise an author to read a book, it suddenly feels a whole lot like work and not recreation.
That’s nearly it. This year I added attending writer’s conferences and courses to my load. I get a lot of energy from these events. It also helps to get out of my day-to-day routine for a while, even if going to a huge conference by yourself is scary!
There’s a heck a lot more to being a writer than writing a book. Bummer but true.