Is the road to a successful writing career really paved with six tweets a day?

I’m an author.

But I’m also a single person who owns her home and works a demanding full-time job that has nothing to do with writing fiction.

All effort I put toward writing and the activities associated with it has to be done in my “spare” time. Those would be the hours that are not devoted to commuting to work, working the day job, house cleaning, cooking meals and eating them, exercising, paying bills and other financial activities, grocery shopping and keeping appointments of all kinds, and having to drive to those places, plus dealing with household disasters, illness and whatever else makes up a life. I haven’t mentioned socializing, because there’s precious little of that. The same goes for sleep.

A rough estimate of “spare” hours remaining after subtracting time for those aforementioned activities a little over 30 hours per week — even though I have no pets, nor a spouse, nor kids.

In the days of yore, before the internet, email and social media, I had enough time to turn out a decent-sized chapter in a weekend.

That is how I was able to write two novels.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve dreamed of being a published author. Now I am. I published a novel (Rings of Passage) in August 2013, and have another novel (Dangerous Reflections) scheduled for publication on Jan. 27, 2015.

But I can’t live on the income from writing — not by a long shot. There’s only one paycheck coming into my house that’s paying the mortgage and buying groceries, and that’s from my day job.

And I can’t sit down and write one chapter per weekend. Not anymore.

These days, I have to tend to social media by tweeting, posting, blogging, maintaining my website, soliciting for reviews, sending out emails, maintaining contact with my publicist, book designer and editor, and “engaging my public.” That’s on top of doing all the formatting of my print and ebooks, creating business cards and bookmarks, and a thousand other things that have very little to do with craft, plot or doing the research necessary to write a novel.

Of the 30 hours of “spare” time left to me, most of it ends up as electronic blood, sweat and fear burning down the information superhighway at the speed of hype, which I know will just as quickly become forgotten by the intended audience. When my next spare hour rolls around in the schedule, I’m expected to produce the next round.

Admittedly, I am not all that good at promotion. Like many authors, I’m introverted, and “selling” myself does not feel comfortable. On top of that, there is just not enough time to do it all, or do it well, no matter how hard I try.

Some nights, I fall into bed exhausted from all the trying, knowing that in six hours I have to get up and go to the job that puts bread on the table.

And yet, according to the experts out there, my books will never find an audience unless I put at least two, three or six times more effort into these promotional activities. I must build relationships with fans, make three engaging posts per day to Facebook, tweet at least six times a day hitting all time zones, build circles on Google+, and post reviews to Goodreads and Amazon of other authors’ books in the hopes that they will review mine.

So far, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what must be done, and evidently has been done by successful authors who don’t have the constraints that I do, and loads of time to offer advice.

I can’t believe I am the only author trying to climb this Mt. Everest of expectations while holding down a full-time job and maintaining a house, with a deficit of energy, time or even a rope, to pull me up the mountain.

I’m chasing my dream as best I can. I’m not whining. But I’m also not writing. I’m not enjoying that flow I was once able to achieve when I sat at the computer with a blank slate of weekend hours before me, waiting to be filled with mystery, romance and the love of what I was doing.

I wonder, will writing ever be fun again? I miss that.

13 thoughts on “Is the road to a successful writing career really paved with six tweets a day?

    • Laurence, thanks. I have found a lot of support on BooksGoSocial, and many other writers with the same issues. It’s a great place to go for advice, how-to knowledge and commiseration. I only wish I could participate more. All the best to you in 2015, too. πŸ™‚

  1. You are not the only one trying to climb that Mt Everest with the anchor of a “day job” and other responsibilities that, frankly, cannot be ignored. Not by a long shot. Yeah, the social media marketing angle is a *huge* time sink. It takes me a good part of a day to write a meaningful blog post, so it’s always a question whether that time was well spent or not. The writing is fun, but at an average of maybe 1500 words per week on my WIP, it’s not happening fast.

    On the other hand, that same social media has introduced me to a very supportive community of writers who actively encourage my writing, so it’s hard to assess a value for that. My writing is better for their input, and perhaps more importantly, because others are enjoying my work, I am motivated to continue and not just give it all up as a waste of time (a temptation I’ve had once or twice).

    Still, though, if it’s a choice of working the social media or working on the next novel, my money would be on the next novel. That’s where you’ll recapture the fun, mystery, and romance.

    Keep going. And thank you, too, for verbalizing what many of us no doubt are thinking and feeling. It helps (me) to know I’m not the only one.

    • Lace, I totally agree about blog posts. I can’t seem to keep them short and pithy, like everyone recommends. I’ve tried to write one every week, and it eats all my time. I can’t do it. Working on my novel is down to nil. I’m hoping I have more time once the second book is published, but I’m told it only gets busier afterward. Plus, I’ve been given new job responsibilities at work for the new year, and that’s going to be a brain drain. Sometimes I really do just want to give up and get some rest. The moments of exhaustion are beginning to outweigh the moments of optimism. Thanks for your support. πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Karla,

    I’d like to offer my thanks also, I feel exactly the same.

    By way of, I hope, some advice, do you use a social media management tool at all? I signed up for Hootsuite a few months ago, and it’s proved to be a fabulously efficient way of scheduling my tweets, days in advance in some cases, so I complete a spreadsheet once a week or a fortnight, which takes roughly an hour or so, then all my posts (6 per day) are done. I can then concentrate on doing something else. Like, you know, WRITING.

    I think it’s also important to note something else when you have a day job. My job is very stressful a lot of the time. When I come home after 12 hours, I need a certain amount of ‘chilling time’ to quieten my mind and enable me to write. It can’t be done when I have a racing heart and I’m feeling anxious. So, I have started to use meditation as a tool for that. Doesn’t take long, maybe ten minutes is all, but the productivity afterwards is way better than without. It also helps me deal with my stress much better, so all good.

    Hang in there. I would dearly love to earn enough to ditch my day job too, but in the absence of a millionaire boyfriend, it’s just not viable!

    Let’s make 2015 a year of prolific churning out of writing.

    All the best!

    Kitty
    x

    • Kitty, my job is stressful too. It’s hard to get “work” stuff out of my mind and make progress on the writing front. Meditation would help, I’m sure, but it’s one more thing I’d have to fit into my after-work hours. I’ve tried Tweet Deck and scheduled the tweets. And my messages all seem so “canned” that I get disgusted with myself. I can’t keep it up. The whole idea of engaging people is appealing, but just thinking about it is exhausting. If I *was* a full-time writer, it would be fun. Right now, it’s really not.

  3. You have a fan here in the antipodes, Karla. I understand what you are saying. I also think that you are following your dream – not many people really get to do that – really… Some of us don’t have the courage. Or the drive. You should be proud of yourself. Others are πŸ™‚

  4. I share your pain… however I have been doing a bit of work with a friend who runs Marketing4Writers and through her I have learned that a tweet or a Facebook post to page should serve one of 4 purposes… Inform, Inspire, Interact or Entertain. With clever use of scheduling you can pre-plan your tweets/posts – basically set them up for an entire week – say on a Sunday. Of course you can always extemporise during the week as things come up, but it takes the pain out feeling that you HAVE to tweet and post 6 times a day. Just an idea.

  5. Yes writing use to be fun ha ha. I am currently promoting my book as well and its been a challenge. Keep it up though. I always look at it this way. I wrote a novel which a lot of people don’t do. That in itself is a milestone.

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