On The Need To Assess Self-Promotional Time

You're An Idiot, Starscream

Originally, this was going to be a sarcastic, writer meta-fiction post, but I found that it was a little more snarky/mean than I wanted it to be — so instead a short cautionary word of caution on self-promotion. Namely, how can you tell if it’s worth it? If you’re doing too much? Not enough?

Self-promotion stops being effective when it cuts into your ability to earn money.

Note that I did not say “write” or “deliver projects on time.” I said “money” — and for a reason. Self-promotion has a cost benefit to it that only YOU can assess. If you think about writing as a career and not just as a hobby you pick up on every second Saturday of the month — the money you make is the reason why you write. Only you can assess what your satisfactory write/get paid balance is, but I can tell you that self-promotion can be a huge time sink — especially if you’re replacing the time you spend on writing with administrivia and publicity. That, my dear Readers, is what a publicist/agent/business manager does.

People work in full-time careers as publicists and marketers earning money to promote a person, company, or product. You, on the other hand, aren’t getting paid directly to self-promote.

Yes, I know that you could Tweet about your book and get a sale off of it. I’m saying “direct pay” as in a “salary” for marketing full-time here. This last statement was also meant as a reality check. The hours you’re devoting to this means you’re effectively working as your own unpaid publicity intern in addition to everything else you’re doing.

Self-promotion won’t replace words on a blank page.

While I feel the modern-era (e.g. slogs like me whose career hasn’t yet taken off) writer now has to wear more hats, self-promotion should complement your work and not supplant it. Remember, there’s really no limit on what you can do for self-promotion.

I feel (strongly so) that everything you’re doing must come back to planning and what you want to get out of your efforts. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a bookstore to do a reading or sit online on Reddit waiting for people to ask you questions: whatever you do has to bolster your bottom line, so don’t be afraid to be analytic about it.

Because at the end of the day, you need something to promote: novella, short story, game, novel, etc. Otherwise, why sell yourself as a writer if you don’t plan on writing?

    Mood: Focused
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Max, Max Pepsi MAX to the MAX!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Ask me again when I’m not feeling guilty.
    In My Ears: My Whiny UK-ish Boy Band itunes playlist
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: Spiderman the new one.
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “The Dig” The Lovecraft eZine Issue No. 19



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

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