Business Musings: It Begins (A Process Blog)
I have a lot of big plans for 2023. I have to revamp the business side of my writing career. That requires a lot of work from me.
I’m making this blog a process blog because it’s taking me longer than I want to get the pieces in place. But, I’m finding, that’s the way of things for me. I can imagine it, so of course, I figure I can finish it quickly.
It seems like nothing in my life is quick right now—at least that kind of quick. When I look at what I actually do, such as the latest novel I finished (Diving, not a Boss book), I realize I wrote 150,000 words in three months (about 30,000 of which I have set aside, because they don’t fit into the book. That’s 50,000 words per month or roughly 12,500 words per week during the holidays, while I was sick, while I was in school, and while I wrote this weekly blog, a month other things.
In other words, by most measures, 150,000 words in three months is fast. But it’s not as fast as I wanted it to be.
I am writing this on Monday afternoon at UNLV, just before my Spanish class (the homework for which took me 6 hours this weekend, about double what I had planned). I had spent my “free” time this weekend figuring out one new aspect of my social media and the rest looking at new themes for this website.
Why? Because my first order of business is to revamp my advertising.
Now, before I go too far here, let me clear up something. I do own a publishing company. WMG Publishing publishes all of my work. (Eventually, anyway. I do publish some things in anthologies and other venues, sometimes first.) The team there does a huge amount of advertising, usually on a budget, and always effectively. They’re refocusing their efforts because we have a new Shopify store. They’re slowly getting our 1,000 titles on the site.
Once they have a preponderance of the titles up, WMG will be taking advantage of the various tools Shopify offers to promote things.
They also do things like Book Bub ads, Facebook ads, and other in-house projects, such as their newsletter, “Every Day is A Holiday,” which offers great weekly promotions. To be frank, I’m not sure of everything they do, because they do so much.
But they need me to promote as well, and I’ve gotten lazy about it. I mean, really lazy. My newsletters are not regular. I forget to promote a new book or a new project. I haven’t changed the widgets on this site in a long time.
Some of my laziness is a habit. I was great at promotion until I wasn’t. That started in 2016 or so, as I got sicker and sicker up in Lincoln City. My ability to do anything became less and less, and so I gave up a lot of things.
What I couldn’t give up, I did by rote. That included most of my Twitter feed, and what I post here. I would try to get a newsletter out, but that only happened when I had the time to give up a writing session or two.
I had a whole bunch of things that I needed to do “real soon now.” I mentioned some of them in my year in review articles. They’re everything from investigating A.I. Audio in depth to fixing my Patreon page design to figuring out some of the new tech that will save me time once I learn it.
All of those fit into the Real Soon Now category. Add in the Vegas move, and a chance to get healthy and live a life, the pandemic, the lockdowns, the massive societal changes…and Real Soon Now kept getting moved back.
A number of things changed for me. They include a change in my writing schedule and the ability to focus again on something other than the outside world; last year’s in-depth analysis of the changes in publishing (all publishing); and the loss of Twitter. In fact, losing Twitter was the last straw, because I had to think about marketing differently than I had.
Then, on top of everything else, advertising broke. Or rather, as I said in the year in review blog about this, it felt like it broke. Because of changes in laws, changes in social media, changes in our cultural perspective, advertising didn’t work the way it used to.
And here I was, advertising—marketing—using hacks I had set up as I got sicker and sicker six years before.
I wasn’t the only one doing things by rote. Most marketers were and are. I read The Hollywood Reporter somewhat religiously, and several other media trade journals less religiously, but every single one of them had spent 2022 trying to figure out how to make advertising work in a changing world.
None of us knew or know what the next best thing is. I’m beginning to believe that it’s what I’ve always preached—building your own community, somewhat slowly. Not that our culture does anything slow anymore.
In fact, the idea that I’m doing the same thing I did six years ago makes me feel like I’ve been doing the same thing since…oh…1950 or something. Really, what I have been doing is that out of date.
To use one of terms I used in my year-end blog, my marketing had become stale. And as I wrote at the time,
Staleness in marketing is the best way to make sure no one hears the message. Yeah, yeah, you always say that is the subconscious thought. Then your product gets dismissed and the consumer moves on.
So…I’ve got a rebuild list, and then I have a “figure out new” list. I’ve started in the rebuild list.
This past weekend, I finally joined my own Twitter alternative. Spoutible started this year. It’s very similar to Twitter. I’m on there as @KristineRusch (at spoutible.com). At the time of this writing, I have 19 followers, down a little from the thousands I had on Twitter.
I have a couple of other social media sites, and one somewhat dormant account that I’ll bring up a bit. I do a lot on Facebook, but most of that uses my cats in a fictional advertising agency called Promotion Central. People like watching the cats battle their way to some semblance of an ad campaign, so I’ll keep doing that.
But it’s not new or different, and it doesn’t really address the promotion problems I’m having. I doubt Spoutible will either, or the other social media platforms.
Which brings me to the website. I’m currently looking at themes and working with WMG on choosing one that will be (much) easier to read than my current site. I’m also looking for a design that will allow me to do all kinds of promotion easily.
So it’s taking time. I’m using a friend’s method: I’m only putting in a half an hour per day on it on non-school days. If that’s research, so be it. Or shopping for themes, so be it. But that will give me a lot of time that I haven’t been spending in years past on setting up proper promotion—and repairing everything that has fallen apart or gotten old and stale.
Maybe by then, I’ll have some other ways to market my books (and other products) to readers. One criteria I have is that the promotion must be something I enjoy.
I find writing the little reports from Promotion Central to be a great deal of fun. I’m always snapping photos of the cats now, with an eye to “how can I use this”?
I want the design of the website to be quick and intuitive as well as visually interesting, so that will probably take longer than I planned.
And I need to explore some other options, which I will report on as soon as I get the chance.
I had hoped that this little post would have more meat to it, telling you all to do this or do that. But right now, I’m feeling around in the dark. I suspect you are as well.
I’ll do some updates, but you’ll also see changes here, especially as the weeks go on. I’ll also be posting about my research, particularly if I find anything interesting.
Feel free to add thoughts in the comments, since we’re all fishing around in the dark right now.
Since a month or so ago, I promised I would do some blog-related promotion at the end of each blog, I’m going to add a book here. I wrote Writing With Chronic Illness when I was in Lincoln City. The book includes tips for working through such things as brain fog, learning how to be kind to yourself when you can’t do anything, and much more.
And here’s the weekly reminder:
This blog is reader supported.
If you feel like supporting the blog on an on-going basis, then please head to my Patreon page.
If you liked this post, and want to show your one-time appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you go that route, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you.
Which I am going to say right now. Thank you!
Click paypal.me/kristinekathrynrusch to go to PayPal.
“Business Musings: I,” copyright © 2023 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image or Promotion Central the top of the blog copyright © 2023 by Kristine K. Rusch.
Just read “The Nameless Dead” in the March 2023 Asimov’s. Very well done.
Thanks so much for this Kris. I’ve been feeling much the same way what with all the life rolls that have come my way since 2016. I feel like this year I am coming up for air and have plans to revamp website, ads and social media presence (currently VERRY low.) Good luck with your planning and implementation. I’ll be watching you closely as I stumble into this decade–finally! So glad to hear you are doing so well physically.
I’ve been behind on a lot of things, particularly the advertising game, over the last few years due to raising small children. Just when I started taking stock of things in the last couple of months and trying to get myself organized, it seemed like everything blew up and changed.
The whole ad thing is borderline depressing. Marketing isn’t exactly my strong suit anyway, and I would much rather be writing new stories than tweaking ads and pouring a bunch of money I don’t have yet into ads on Facebook or Amazon. I refuse to do TikTok (and even if there weren’t really good reasons for that, I just don’t have the disposable time to put the kind of effort into it that I see from other authors on 20BookTo50K , for example).
What I am doing is working on overhauling my website and updating it, and I’m being more committed and regular about sending out newsletters and posting to my website. Trying to figure out how to balance everything with writing.
One thing I am excited about trying is Ream. (https://reamstories.com) Over the last few months I’ve been researching Patreon and building toward starting my own subscription. Emilia Rose gave a talk about Patreon at 20Books in November and that led to me learning about the subscription platform she and her husband and Michael Evans are launching this year.
It looks like Ream will give authors a much more user-friendly/reader-friendly way to build subscription communities. Apart from the fact that they’ll be easier for readers to use than Patreon, all financial information belongs to the author via a Stripe account. If an author decides to leave Ream, all of their subscriber information goes with them. A potential downside is that authors will be responsible for remitting sales tax/VAT where applicable. Still…it seems like a good tradeoff.
If you decide to use Instagram, your kitty pictures are a natural.
I discovered to my shock that I *like* Instagram. Otherwise, I avoid social media like the plague it is.
Does our Instagram account sell books?
I doubt it.
But it does give us a different way to reach people.
It’s great advantage is that — IF YOU PROPERLY HASHTAG — it’s very searchable and it remains searchable.
That is to say, I sometimes get a hit on a post I made a year ago.
Good, cute images (like your kitties being cute) are perfect for Instagram.
Add your 30 hashtags so people can find you; hashtags that are correct for the post.
Will it sell books?
Don’t do follow-trains. You’ll get followers but they don’t mean it.
Let the list grow organically by offering content regularly that showcases you, your books, and your cats and then see what happens. Some authors are very successful.
Instagram lets you advertise upcoming books, do cover reveals, announce appearances, and provide your writing schedule. It’s nothing you can’t do elsewhere via other methods but it’s another tool in the tool box.
Great idea, Teresa. Thank you.
There is an AI book recommendation engine here – https://readow.ai/ – it looks like it has potential for book discovery. One use for writers might be to see if your own books are searchable and visible enough to be picked up within its system.
It is all well and good to check and learn if there is a problem – it’s another issue to find a way to reduce the discoverability problem for apps and bookshops alike. Still working on that.