Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where does all the time go?

Sometimes, just sometimes, I regret the publishing of my books. It's like this. I like writing for its own sake. I know I am no great literary artist. I don't aspire to that, but I do love writing and I very much enjoy the letters, emails and comments of appreciation I receive when people have read and enjoyed my books. The best ones are the unsolicited emails from people I don't know who write to me out of the blue. One such was a mail I received from a woman in the US who'd read the Skipper's Child. She told me her grandfather had been a Dutch skipper and she'd loved his stories about life on the waterways. For her, reading my book brought them all to life. I was very touched and her interest was the best reward I could have.

All the same, when you publish a book these days, you have to balance the writing with the marketing and this is something I'm finding difficult. I never know how exactly to strike the right note or how much to do. I'm just not comfortable with all this self-promotion. The funny thing is I like doing it for others but not for myself. But worse than that is the time it takes away from just writing. I've calculated that I spend around two hours a day on social media in an attempt to increase my 'author profile'. That's quite a lot to spend on Facebook, Twitter and blogging (I do the rounds on a daily basis), but in fact, it seems to be little compared with what others manage to do. The point is, though, I'd rather spend that time writing something new - like my new book, for instance. I've barely touched it in the last three weeks which depresses me. Then there's also the hours it takes to look for possible venues and businesses willing to give me space for talks and book discussion. This time issue is further exacerbated because I have a very busy job so time to spare is limited and precious. I won't go into details but there are many more demands than just the contact hours of teaching when you work on limited term contracts for delivering tailor made courses.

I've been thinking about all this in particular as my publishers, Sunpenny Publishing, have just asked all their authors to complete a kind of survey on what they do and what they can still do to improve their profiles. I understand the need for this and do my best to participate and work at it. All the same, I think longingly of the days when I just wrote for fun and didn't worry too much about promotion and sales. I miss that. Do any of you miss it too?

This is another thing I'd like to spend much more time doing:

Well, to finish this slightly plaintiff post (sorry),  can I suggest that if you are interested in dipping into my books about life in Africa, life on the water and life on a smallholding in rural England, you can visit my author pages on or and read some extracts they have made available.

You can also reach the individual books through my sidebar here.


  1. O how I agree with you - I suppose it's one of the delights of self-publishing, you do as much or as little marketing as you want! But the hours that can be lost, chit-chatting, when what you really want to do is read and write (or sit in your lovely boat and enjoy the water!)

    I'm lucky - I have a pension which gives me enough to live on, so don't depend on my writing for an income. But I still feel the pressure to spend hours putting myself out there - and while some of it is fun, and you come across some great people, much of it can be utterly mind-numbing and leave you with no energy for what you really want to do!

  2. Agreed, though unlike you two, I actually enjoy marketing, and promo - probably because I used to run my own small business where I had to do it.2 Hours, Val? Gosh, I spend for more than that. Though I recall the Great Talli Roland saying when I started out, she took 2 years to get fully established and her books well known, then she could kick back a bit more.Like you, I also enjoy supporting others, but again, you have to get to know them. I've read loads of blogs about this and everyone says the same thing: it's hard to find the balance. So we are not alone!! XX

  3. I write for fun Val and I don't think I could go down the road of trying to get a book out there.We all know how many books are trying to get people to read them,it's so competative. Sometimes I wish I hadn't started my book blog because I now get sent so many books to review that I feel I'm no longer reading for pleasure or books of my choosing,although on saying that I have read some good ones lately. In fact I downloaded yours last night.
    I do sometimes get fed up on twitter when authors tweet their books again and again and again but I do know it's one of the ways to get noticed.
    You should have done a book tour around all the blogs there's a girl with a blog organises it all for you and doesn't charge very much,it's called Fiction Adddiction tours,it gets you "out there"

  4. Thank you all for this sympathy and also the encouragement. Jo, I'm trying to build some kind of independence for when I retire as I don't have a pension here. I arrived in this country when I was too old to start one, and my SA pension was worth peanuts. Still, I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the cost in time and energy!

    Carol, you are amazing the way you work at the social media. Even if I had more time to do it, I'm not sure if I'd want to. It can take over from all the other things that I want and need to do.

    Anne, thank you first! And second, I'll look into that blog tour. Maybe that's something I can do that will improve my spread, so to speak! I really appreciate that!

  5. PS Anne, I also understand your feelings about the repeated tweets about books and I sympathise about your book blog. Again, I think there's a balance to be found. It has to be done, I know that. Figures prove that tweeting works with consistent efforts. But it doesn't appeal to everyone, and some people get quite irritated by it, so it needs to be mixed with other contributions. That's why I love blogging. It's more in-depth and personal.

  6. Hi Val,I've had a few people on my twitter feed who really do tweet constantly about their work and don't really speak about anything else and I have unfollowed a few. I tweet my blogs so I don't mean never tweet,some even scheduele tweets all through the night.I think the tour is what you need Sharon who does it is on twitter at @shazjera her twitter profile will take you to her website.

  7. Bless you, Anne, and thanks a million again! That's really kind of you to give me Sharon's details. By the way, I so know the type of tweeter you mean too! I've unfollowed a couple who only did that. There was one who seemed to send out tweets the whole day at five second intervals. I've heard you can pay people to do it for you too. I do wonder if doing it SO much really works though…maybe it has a subliminal effect..haha. You get conditioned into buying their books even if it annoys you..:-D I'll get in touch with Sharon in a bit.

  8. I first dipped my toe into the Twitter water in order to promote myself but I now rarely do that. For me Twitter is a place to chat with friends who I never knew before I ventured into this strange Virtual World. I realise that, as you say, the publishers are pushing you to promote yourself more and more but I do think that too much promotion has an adverse effect, like Anne says, I also unfollow people who only promote their latest book.

    I too am in a better position than some, having my teacher's pension and not needing to earn a living from writing. I don't know what the answer is but I only know that I enjoy our chat and friendship and for me this has now become the most important part of the Virtual World.

  9. Ros, I like Twitter most for the contact it gives me with bloggers. I really love blogging as I can take a bit of time and read all the comments without worrying that I'm missing the next part of the chat…I'm always late on Twitter :-) I'm so glad to have 'met' you, Anne, Ros, Carol, Chris and Christina, and for that, I can thank Twitter, but it's on the blogs that I really feel comfortable and a bit more on FB too. Twitter is so quick, I can't keep up with it..haha. I rarely have time to 'chat' as I'm always off to a class or something, so this is my favourite virtual world. Thank you so much for visiting me here! I love your blog. As for Twitter, I do that for my publishers first and foremost, but also to make the first contacts :-)

  10. Hi Val .. I hear you .. and how one balances life I don't know - and the lack of pennies is not too helpful.

    Good luck though - the more you learn the more it helps .. and who knows where books lead us.

    I do hope you can find a reasonable happy medium ... and just relaxing is an essential ..

    Cheers Hilary

  11. Not enjoying self promotion is your Britishness coming through. I have a twitter account but don't really use it and Facebook is only to keep up with what my kids are doing, but then I don't have a book to publicise xxx


Apologies for switching on comment moderation, but this is to make sure everyone can comment without jumping through captcha hoops!

However, anonymous comments will not be published, so please would you sign your name. Even if you leave a nice, relevant comment, I won't publish it without a name.