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Would quitting your job solve your book marketing problems?

In our daily conversations with indie authors, Toni and I often hear the same refrain:

I never have enough time.

I hear you.

I’ve struggled to free up more time for writing and promotions, too.

Struggled so much, in fact, that I made the tough choice to leave my job, give up my apartment and move back in with my parents (not every 28 year-old’s first choice).

I wanted to free up as much of my time as possible to focus on Duolit and to focus on my writing career.

But do you know what I discovered?

More time is not the secret to success as an author.

There are two things you need – no, you *must* have – to make it as an indie author.

Once I discovered them, I turned around my sales, my mailing list, my blog and more importantly, rediscovered my passion for writing.

I had to reach a very dark place before I discovered these secrets, but you don’t have to go there.

I’m going to share what I learned with you, no strings attached. This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s just a new way of thinking at Duolit and we can’t wait to share it with you.

But before I get into what I learned from taking the ultimate leap of faith in my writing career, I need to give you a very important and honest look at the low point I reached and how far I’ve come in the last month…since the point when I discovered the real secrets to stop sinking and start climbing.

I left my stable, steady, income-providing 9 to 5 job on September 21st.

My boss, clients, and co-workers could not have been more supportive of my decision. Yet even as they showered me with kind and wonderful words of encouragement, I didn’t feel the sense of happiness and relief I had expected.

I was so scared of everything that could happen – of all the ways in which my adventure could fail miserably – that I couldn’t even enjoy the moment I’d been looking forward to for every day of the six months I spent planning my exit.

Plenty of time, but no progress

Aside from a flexible 20 to 30 hours a week at Duolit, my schedule became wide open.

Go to the gym every day? Sure!

Write until 2:00 a.m.? No problem!

Spend an hour every day on Twitter? You bet!

But do you know what? I didn’t do any of those things more than once.

I continued to drift through the promotion of my first book and the writing of my second. As more time slipped away, I grew more frustrated with myself, which in turn led to even less productivity.

My doubts grew at an astounding rate, pushing me closer to questions I didn’t want to answer.

If I couldn’t hack it as an author when I had plenty of time and knowledge to make it work, was it really the right career for me at all?

And then I found the secrets to success.

There are two things every author must have in spades if they want to succeed.

Once I figured this out, I acquired both in one weekend, retooled my entire strategy, and turned my writing career around.

I’ve had three book signings in a month, grown my mailing list, increased my website traffic, and made new friends (real friends) on Twitter. Plus, my book is now being carried in four different physical locations as well.

But most importantly, I’m happy.

What’s the best part of my secrets to success?

They won’t cost you a thing.

Better yet, you can acquire both of them in just a few days (with some help of course, from your favorite mentors at Duolit).

We’re going to tell you what they are, but first, we need you to tell us something.

What’s going on with your author career right now?

Was 2012 a good year for you? What did you achieve? What set you back? We want the truth and nothing but the truth, so share it with us in the comments below.

  • 2012 was a great year for me. After several near misses with agents, I finally decided to self-pub and my book comes out 12.12.12. I’ve also got a WIP almost written. Marketing? I’ll let you know. But hey, the secret of more time would be great. Do tell :-)

    • Suz, we’ll share the secrets soon! Probably not quite before your launch though, but it will help with your post-launch promos. Good luck with the launch (great date!) and your new WIP.

  • gnomesnow

    just published book one, need to develop and follow a coherent marketing plan for that in the context of book two and three (outlining now)

    • Congrats on publishing book one! Good luck with moving ahead, let us know if you need help forming that coherent marketing plan (a very good kind of marketing plan to have, by the way!) :-)

  • Shannon

    Finally started my novel. Finally. After years of staring at the outline. It wasn’t as scary as I thought.

    • Very good! Glad it wasn’t a terrifying experience, Shannon. Keep it up and good luck!

  • I constantly feel like I’m struggling to catch up to other writers. I know I shouldn’t compare myself, but when they’re cranking out great pieces every few months while still being a parent/worker/wife/etc, it makes me feel like such a slacker! I need to balance my time so that I still write enough to eventually put out a book maybe once a year. I don’t want to go another 3 years working on a piece just because I let life get in the way! While the release of my book in May ’12 was terrific, reviews and publicity have slowed since I’ve moved my attention to the next book and I want to be able to sell more, both of the new book and my old work once people see it in the library.

    • Liz, I totally know how you feel. My book was released in Aug 2011 & I was aiming to release my second December 2012…& that’s not gonna happen. Though I’m working on it, I get sidetracked with life, like many others do, & feel somewhat defeated at times when my author friends pump out 2-3 books a year. Not to mention I quit my government job in August so that I could write full time. Sooo…..Duolit, please share the secret! =)

    • Phette, don’t worry we will share the secrets soon, I promise!! It is definitely easy to feel defeated, but it’s worth the work to keep yourself motivated and moving ahead. Quitting your job and going full time with this is scary, but you can’t let that keep you from working hard and moving forward! :-)

    • shereen rayle

      I am definitely in the same boat, Liz. I have a gull-time job and market what I can, but between blogging and working on other writing projects, including a book, I am starting to get a bit frustrated and making sales is tough. I feel like everyone knows what they’re doing except me.

    • I promise that’s not the case, Shereen! I mean, if I’m any example — here I am offering advice through Duolit for two years and I still learn new things and just recently feel like I got my career on track, so everyone has their struggles. Hang in there and I promise we can teach you how to make some sales and give you confidence so you don’t feel that way anymore! :-)

    • Hey Liz — it’s soooo tempting to compare yourself to other authors isn’t it? And sometimes I think it can be a motivator, if you take the “if they can do it, I can do it” approach, but it can also bring you down.

      Just the fact that you recognize you can’t let life get in the way of your career’s progress is the first major step to doing something about it. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult, but it’s still doable! I know our secrets will help you knock out your goals for your current book and your next one — stay tuned for more! :-)

      I also just have to say how much I love the responses you’ve gotten from others here — it really warms my heart to see our Duolit peeps being such a supportive family. You guys are awesome!

  • I published a very-easily written short story. Foolishly thought my next undertaking would be as easy. Ha ha! It’s been four months and I’ve only completed the first draft of seven chapters. It’s been like pulling teeth. But I’m determined to cross the finish line. I need to find some consistency with my efforts.

    • Congrats on the short story, Delora! That second effort seems to be the hardest — I think I’ve heard musicians say that, too. The second album is always tougher than the first. Glad to hear you’ve got the determination to finish though, that’s great! Keep it up and you’ll go far. :-)

  • Coincidentally, I left my job on October 18. So that I could focus on my writing – ha! (And I’m also a single parent, so there’s that.) But I’ve found that more time does not equal focus. I’ve been doing a lot with building my author platform via Dan Blank’s class, which has been great, but I’m barely writing, and that’s not great.

    • Dan is a great teacher Tanya, that’s a great step ahead for your marketing, but I know it’s hard to give up writing time for promo stuff. Focus is definitely key to putting the pieces together, stick around for more on our secrets and you might find some help with that… :-)

  • I’m perpetually in editing mode. Still struggling to get my memoir to the beta readers and editor.

    • Oh man, I know that’s so frustrating Valerie. But it’s best to get everything just right! I’m sure you’ll feel it was all worth it when the book is launched. Good luck and keep pushing ahead!

    • From my conversations with the people that I’ve worked with, I think the editing stage always takes three times longer than most writers expected it would. Not that that information will make it go faster, but, you know, at least you’re not alone! :)

  • My decision to stop searching for agents and publishers was probably the best kick-start I could have given myself. This year I made the choice to go indy, and I’m amazed at the doors that have opened up and all the great people I’ve met both online and in person. I’m also amazed at how much writing I’m getting done these days. I’ve put out three books in 2012, have at least three more planned for 2013, finished another novel and started on one more. My ultimate goal of course is to quit my day job and write full-time. Who doesn’t dream of that?? Right now that doesn’t look very likely, but I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was a year ago at this time when I was waiting around to hear back from sluggish agents!

    • Congrats on taking control of your career and going indie, Will! Sounds like it was a great decision for you, that’s awesome. If you can get six books on the market in two years and promote the heck out of them, I think you could definitely find full-time author success. I think you’ve actually mastered one of our secrets, but the other one could still help…more to come soon! :-)

  • I’m in the same boat! This year I made writing my full time work and published two books right away. Now I’ve spent nearly three months “working” with very little progress. Instead I spend hours staring at the same page on the screen or flipping from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest to my WIP and back again. Ugh!

    • I feel your pain Heather! It can be the most frustrating thing in the entire world. It really starts to eat away at your confidence and your passion for the craft, right? It’s a long road, but I know it’s worth it and from the strides I’ve made recently I have a renewed spirit for going forward. I want to help us all move forward and make a decent living out of something we love! Stick around for the big reveal, I know it will help you like it helped me.

  • Carol Carroll

    The year for me was good in general. I wrote the novel I had in mind and got it self-published. That was a goal I’m very pleased to have reached. I’ve been trying to promote and market that book since October. I would definately like to see better sales.

    • Congrats on your achievements this year Carol! I think we can help you improve your sales with our secrets and background knowledge — stick around and we’ll move forward together!

  • Katharina Gerlach

    The secret it BIC — but in chair.

    I’ve been writing close to 400,000 words this year and will start publishing 5 novels in 2 languages in January. Next, I’ll do the rest of your how-to-find-your-readers course and will grow my list. If you’re positive about what you need to do and just do it, sucess will follow.

    • Haha I love that Katharina! Butt In Chair could definitely be a key to success, we might have to add that one end. You have a great, positive outlook — keep it up, good luck and let us know what we can do to help!

  • Chris Leach

    In September 2011 I set a goal of one year to complete my business how-to book “IntelliMentoring for IT Professionals”. On November 30th it published on Amazon. My biggest set back was getting it properly translated to an eBook format. I have learnt heaps along the way and had loads of fun!

    • Great job reaching your goals, Chris! There is definitely a learning curve, but if you have fun and you take away new things from your lessons, you’ll be very successful. Good luck with promotions for your book!

  • The writing is mostly going fine, two new book releases this month. Sales, not so much, but when I Get into promo, it’s frustrating and the writing stops. Time is limited, but focusing on the writing while organizing promo and all the other things in life, well…..not great. Yep, staying focused, that,s a big problem, keeping everything going at once.

    • Glenys, I ran into the same roadblock — once I stalled out on promoting my first book, I lost interest in writing a second (what’s the point if no one’s going to buy, right?). But there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel and I think our secrets will help you get the ball rolling again with your writing and promo work!

  • Writing career? Writing: going well. Career: not so good.

    2012 was a decent year for me. Released my second novel and a couple short stories. Setbacks in 2012: continued obscurity. The lack of money for doing any sort of quality marketing helps fuel said obscurity, so all I can do is continue to write. 2013 looks to be fairly productive, though I fear that I’ve pigeonholed myself with the demographic my stories target. Don’t know of many middle-graders and tweeners that have access to a credit card to purchase my ebooks online. We’ll see…

    • Great job on releasing your second novel JP! I know it can be hard to take steps forward with your marketing if you don’t have a budget to work with, but there are some things with minimal financial investment that can help. As far as your target market, have you thought about trying to target the parents or teachers of middle-graders? I think a lot of parents want their kids to read and if they find an author they think their kids would like they would be enthusiastic about it — just a thought! Keep plugging ahead :-)

  • Congrats Arnie! Great title — good luck with the launch!

  • songdove

    2012 was an exciting year as I finished my 4th rough draft of my series and got it published via Createspace in August. While I’d begun an author page and been promoting it to friends on facebook, doing a focus group for feedback, etc, my setback had been not getting enough advance word out before my desired launch date in September. At least from what everyone tells me, that is really the only thing that I can see I did wrong. Sales have been a dissapointment, but I chalk it up to the ramping up I feel I am doing now instead of before launch. I’m preparing for a second blog tour ahead of Christmas, just need 6 more bloggers to come on board and then my “12 Days of” Christmas story-telling tour featuring fictional excerpts from my series will begin on the 13th. So things are slow, but hopefully will pick up in the new year. I intend to arrange a book-signing event at Chapters.ca’s local location in the new year as well.

    • Those are great promotional ides — the 12 days story-telling tour and the book-signing event. You are definitely on track, you have to keep pushing ahead and tailoring your marketing plan with each new lesson you learn, right? Our secrets will help you with that, so stay tuned for more! :-)

  • Congrats Andrew! I bet you’re right, 12/12/12 will be a popular day for book launches, weddings and all that stuff. Good luck with your launch!

  • Hmm, my issue has been guilt over spending my time writing. I left my 9 to 5 over two years ago and have been doing well as a freelancer/solopreneur. My struggle has been feeling guilty when I spend any significant portion of the day writing fiction instead of focusing on the work that is actually keeping me fed and sheltered. I know that’s silly since what I want is to eventually have fiction writing be what pays the bills. I did finish a short story collection that’s with an editor now and I’m on the second draft of a novel. Still, I could have been so much further along. There were many days spent staring at the computer, wanting to write, but being torn over all the other things I “should” be doing with that time. I’m working on putting together a better plan and support system for 2013.

    • I’ve struggled with that balance, too, Yoneco. It was really hard at first to figure out if I should be hard-nosed about my work schedule and leave my writing for off hours or go with the urge to write when it struck me, even if it meant pushing work aside. As with all things, I think you have to find a balance somewhere in the middle. If I get the urge to work on my book while I’m doing Duolit stuff, I let myself take a thirty minute break to jot down ideas (so I don’t inevitably forget them) and then get back to work. I found that if I was feeling guilty about putting off work to write that I couldn’t fully focus on it anyway. I think you’re on the right track coming up with a new plan to accomplish both things — and hopefully our secrets will help you along with that! :-)

  • pixie06

    2012 has been good for me. I forced myself to stop doubting, start writing, stop editing and keep writing! My problem has always been finishing what I start and I managed to finish a couple of flash fiction stories. Hoping to get more words down in 2013.

    • I like that a lot “stop doubting, start writing, stop editing and keep writing!” — we need to put that on a T-shirt or something! :-) Great attitude and great accomplishments. I’m sure you’ll keep pushing ahead in 2013 and we will be here to help every step of the way!

  • Jay

    I’ve just published my first ebook on amazon called Spawned Secrets and am in the process of completing a paperback on CreateSpace. It’s been interesting and challenging so far, and the next thing I need to get my head around is marketing – plenty of tips out there, many of which contradict each other and there’s this little thing called algorithms that the major online publishers use and tweak constantly – these appear to confuse matter further and cause much ruffling of feathers. Ah, the olden days, when paperbacks were paper and publishers did all that front-end stuff for you. Love your site by the way and I read your newsletter updates with interest and appreciation. Thanks, Jay

    • Thanks Jay! It can be a really confusing world, but there’s success to be had for those who can figure out the right path — and you’re in luck, we’re awesome tour guides! :-) Glad you’ve found us and our amazing community of indies — it’s a wealth of knowledge I know you’ll benefit from!

  • Preeti

    2012 has been chaotic, as has the rest of my writing career. I learned to use Twitter, though I don’t use it as much as I could, and I’ve been planning to purchase a domain and start a blog once my first draft of the current novel is complete. Add to that a pregnancy and a busy job, and I haven’t had much time to finish any one of the open projects on my desk.

    • Oh my gosh Preeti, you’ve had a busy year! You should celebrate the accomplishments you have made and be proud of your progress. Every step is valuable because it brings you closer to your ultimate goal, right? Our promo secrets will definitely help, I can’t wait to share them!

  • ERWriter

    I’ve put out 3 short Kindle books in the 2nd half of the year and hope to have the 4th one on Amazon before Xmas.

    • Short stories are a really great way to build your audience! You’re on the right track and our promotion secrets will definitely help. :-) Stay tuned and we’ll share the keys.

  • ERWriter

    Forgot to say I need your promotion secrets too!

  • I feel like I have found a presence, It is small but I have my niche. Sales are trickling in from people that read my other books from freebies. We all know they don’t read many of our freebies but it is the only way I can account for this trickle. I have lots of apprehension about KDP Select. I think I will try five days free on Smashwords and see what happens Then maybe put it in KDPSelect. It is the only non fic and the only one that has not cycled through KDPSelect yet. It also has the worst ranking. I am back to working on my fifth fiction, so we will see if that increases my footprint. I am satisfied with my progress cuz I HATE promo, but would of course like a wider presence and more sales.

    • Sounds like things are going very well, Virginia! That’s a great idea to test things out on Smashwords before you jump into KDP Select. Did you have a chance to read over my recent blog post about KDP? It’s definitely helpful for new authors, but if you’ve got four books out there and the foundation of a good fanbase, you might be able to build sales without it. I know promo isn’t any author’s favorite part of the process, but it’s necessary it can be fun. If you’re here in the Duolit community I’m sure you’ve started to see some ways to make that possible, right? :-) Stay tuned for the secrets, those will help too!

  • I left full-time employment in June (due to illness rather than faith in my writing!) but things have moved slowly. I finished my first manuscript in September and following good feedback from my beta readers I put it away for 2 months while I started work on a first draft of book 2. In that time I have written through to the end of Act 2 and taken a bunch of courses in how to use twitter etc. I re-read the manuscript planning on doing some final tweaks – but have decided it needs a bit more work to ramp up the conflict and firm up the plot. So now I am editing book 1 (including structural editing), half-heartedly thinking about promotion, and working on book 2 when I need a break from editing lols. Sadly I spend far too long gazing at the screen not sure what to do rather than working to a plan. Chronic fatigue is an extra problem for me to manage – but I am sure I could be managing better than I am. It’s great to read everyone’s comments :)

    • Oh my goodness, you’re a multitasking queen, Kim! You’re making progress, which is fantastic, but I think our secrets will definitely help you get on track to jump ahead in 2013. It is more difficult when you have health issues holding you back, but I know you can do it! Hang in there and keep pushing ahead. :-)

  • I admire your courage. Great community here as well!

    • Thanks Gunnar, it is a wonderful community — glad you’re a part of it, too. :-)

  • Man! You’re such the tease! :) You had me. I was ready for the secrets.
    Okay, I’m going to guess… #1. Fantastic, upbeat attitude and #2. A plan.
    2012 has been one of my worst years in my history due to a great personal loss. However, I’m ready to hit 2013 with a both things I mention above. In 2012, I am managing to finish up the edits of my current manuscript and have decided to plunge into the self-publishing waters (did the big cover reveal on my blog yesterday). I am looking forward to publishing my debut novel in early 2013, the first in a YA series.

    • Very good guesses, Heather! You’re definitely hitting the target, but not quite the bullseye :-) Congrats on your cover reveal and accomplishments in 2012. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, but having a rough 2012 means there’s nowhere for 2013 to go but up, right? Hang in there and I promise we will make good on our promise and reveal the secrets very soon!

  • olsengroup

    I entered 3 short story writing contests and working on 4th. I’ve stalled on my novel. I’ve also stalled on a non fiction how to book. So I’m looking to refocus and make 2013 the breakthrough year I want. Also I was ‘asked to retire’ so the company could ‘grow’. and moved to another state. Plenty of time, not near enough to show for it!

    • Wow, it’s been a busy year! Sorry to hear about your retirement, but at least you have plenty of time to get going on both of your full-length books. In the meantime, short stories are a great way to grow your fanbase and hone your craft, so you’re definitely on the right track! Our secrets will help you make 2013 the breakthrough year, I know it! :-)

  • Shannon,

    Time is definitely at a premium for me and something I never seem to have enough of. Ive made good progress with my writing schedule this year, but I’ve been lagging on making a plan. Definitely will focus on that in the weeks to come and I’m interested to hear your ‘secrets’.

    • I wish one of our secrets was a recipe for magically creating more time, so we wouldn’t feel stressed by a lack of time, right? But it’s something that will help us make the most of the time that we DO have, so that’s pretty close to the same thing! We will help you make a plan J.L., you can do it!

  • Lisa V. Proulx

    Hi, I have four eBooks on Amazon and one paperback (2004) however nothing is really happening. I only work part-time yet it’s hard for me to stay focused when things aren’t moving as quickly as I would like them to. I have another book coming out soon (working on cover now) and a close friend of mine, who is a successful erotic romance writer, is helping me put together a professional looking website. I have a large following on FaceBook and Twitter and plan on making 2013 the year I become a full time writer. This is my goal and I am trying hard to make it happen. I need to hear your secrets too and will follow them to the letter! Thanks for a great site! :)

    • I love your goal for 2013 Lisa! You can do it! Our secrets will definitely help, especially since you’ve already done so much. That’s great that you had a friend to help with your website and have already been building your Facebook and Twitter fanbase — you’re laying the groundwork and moving in the right direction, hopefully our secrets will put you over the top!

  • Honestly I just decided this week (while out on medical leave) to pick my writing back up again. Most of my novels and screenplays are still in my head and or in the outline phase, but I believe the fact that I’ve made the decision to even start again has made 2012 very successful for me. I’ve started the She, Me, Her Blog (shemeherblog.wordpress.com) to chronicle this journey, and I just feel like I have my second wind. And that alone is success for me. Can only get better.

    • Larishia that is SO great to hear! Glad you’ve decided to pick up your writing projects again and I *love* the name of your blog! Pace yourself so you don’t burn out and you can make the most of that second wind! :-) You are very right, it can only (keep) getting better!

  • SJ Hailey

    After reading the previous comments, I am not alone.
    I originally started writing in 2007. After 18 months of rejections through standard publishing plus many complication in life. I gave up.
    This year I rediscovered my fire (no kindle jokes!) Got my first novel out and rewrote it. Felt great.
    Published 5th September. To date ‘The 5th Amulet’ has had over 2200 downloads on kindle in November. Already 45000 words (November mad writing session) on my next novel.
    I have 2 duolit books to read during Christmas to help get the right track for my next book launch. I have discovered so much, thanks to The Dynamic Duolit.

    • Aw, thanks Simon! The Dynamic Duolit is definitely going to be our superhero alias someday :-)

      Glad things went well with the 5th Amulet and I know with our help your next launch will be an even bigger success!! Good luck with your writing, too! :-)

  • Jennifer L. Oliver

    I quit my full-time job December 2011 (for health reasons) and decided to use the time to focus on writing. It’s been a slow road. I did self-publish a short prelude to the novel I’m working on called THE UNNAMED. Just the experience of creating the cover, formatting, uploading, etc has taught me so much. But lately I feel I haven’t been even half as productive as I was when I worked full-time. I am feeling exactly the way you described yourself above. Am I really suited for this career? Am I just kidding myself thinking I can do this? I don’t want to quit; I want to push through this overwhelming frustration but I just don’t know how. I could really use your secret tips right now. :)

    • They will come very soon, Jennifer! That was a great idea to test the waters with a prelude to your novel — it’s a tool for you to use to get readers while you’re working on the novel and a way to go through the publishing process like you said, so you can get a feel for it before the full novel is ready to go. It’s so, so tough to push through the tough parts — the self-doubt, the frustration, the questions — but it’s so worth it on the other side. The secrets will come soon and they will help, but you’re still on the right track with what you’ve already accomplished! :-)

  • I’m in the middle of CreateSpace for a book of short stories. I paid for the interior before reading how to do it, and the cover design which someone suggested. I started a new blog and have got 2 followers. 2013 I expect to be living in the outback so won’t be able to print out my school textbooks. I’m offering them as freebie e-books.

    • Wow, living in the outback? That sounds like an incredible experience. Glad you’re off to a good start with your publication and blog. That’s a good foundation to have and I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about on your blog when you return from the outback! :-)

  • K8

    So what are the secrets?

    • They’re coming soon! :-) I know we’re being a tease, but we’ll make the big reveal soon, I promise!

    • K8

      Okay :)

  • Ke-Yana Drake

    I’ve had a book launch, a book signing event, I’ve been in the local newspaper and a regional newspaper, my first book which I published Feb this year has sold about 80 copies, though, a majority of them have been here in NZ and not internationally like I wanted. So, things are happening, but my health keeps getting in the way of consistent marketing work. But I’m working on it, I’m sure there’s a way through if I just keep at it.

    • Hey Ke-Yana! Congrats on all your accomplishments this year, that’s really impressive, I hope you’ve celebrated accordingly because that’s something to be proud of. We all have room to improve and grow, I know you’ll keep rocketing head in 2013 no matter what! :-)

  • Maery Rose

    Every year, it’s the same plan – this will be the year I finish and publish a book. I start out well and then fizzle. I do work full time and have very little time to devote to writing but as people are saying that have tried it, full time writing may not be the answer.