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5 Steps for Restarting Your Book Marketing Efforts After a Break

“Break’s over.” – Jed Bartlet, The West Wing

Photo: araza123 | FlickrLife loves to throw curveballs.

As soon as you’re feeling good about how things are moving — WHAM! — something comes along to knock you back.

If you’re part of our mailing list, you’ve read about the personal curveballs Shannon and I were thrown this summer, but I’m sure you’ve experienced similar situations, too.

A change in seasons (“Summer’s here — I’m going outside!”), big life events (“I’m having a baby!”) and just the simple ebb and flow of life all affect our priorities, habits and schedules.

At some point in your writing career, building your fanbase will be the farthest thing from your mind.

When you first waver off track, it might just be for a few days. But then, a week goes by…then a month, and before you know it, it feels harder and harder to get back into marketing your work and easier and easier to extend the break.

Eventually, you realize that you need to get back to promoting your work.

But where do you start?

Falling behind is terrifying. You’re afraid that you’ve done irreparable damage to your writing career by taking a break.

I mean, what if you have to start from — gulp — scratch?!

How to Get Back on Track After Taking a Fanbase-Building Break

First off, simply take a deep breath.

Even if you’ve been out of the game for a few months (or longer!) you won’t have to start promoting your work from scratch, unless you want a clean slate. Regardless of how dire it feels, the fans you’ve gained and the progress you’ve made won’t be negated by the time off.

I don’t want to mislead you — it takes effort to get the ball rolling again, but it won’t be as much as you think.

Are you ready to get started? Put on some relaxing music and let’s work through the five steps for getting back on the book marketing bandwagon!

1. Cut yourself some slack

Many writers I know (myself included) have terribly guilty consciences. Heck, I can still feel bad over mistakes I made as a kid!

But, one thing I’ve realized about guilt over the years is that it doesn’t do anything to help you move forward.

So, the first step for getting back on track is to forgive yourself for veering off in the first place. Taking a break does not make you a bad, bad author who doesn’t care about her career — it just makes you human!

Take a (-nother) deep breath and remember: the passed time is what it is; you’ve done nothing wrong.

2. Assess the situation

Now that you’ve taken care of the guilt, let’s figure out where you left off the last time you were working on promotion. It’s the best way to decide how to move forward. As a start, ask yourself:

  • Do I have a website? If so, where?
  • Do I have a blog? If so, where?
  • Which social networks am I a part of?
  • What was the last promotion/promotional activity I was working on? What were the results?
  • Who are my readers? How was I trying to reach them?
  • Who were my biggest fans and/or author allies? How do I get in touch with them?

Spending a few moments on the survey serves two purposes:

  1. Reminds you of the progress you’ve made in the past
  2. Puts you back into the self-promotion mindset

Basically, it gives you all the information you need to start moving forward and making new plans!

3. Focus on promotions you enjoy

While falling off the wagon can happen to even the most enthusiastic author, it happens more often to those who dread promotion or are only using certain promotional tools because they feel like they have to.

I officially give you permission to stop this madness!

Shannon and I are both huge proponents of book marketing your way. When the responsibility’s all on your shoulders, you get to decide which methods you want to use. Why? Because, if using Twitter triggers head-bashing tendencies, you will start finding reasons not to log in.

Remember: much to many authors’ chagrin, there is no one true path to publishing and promotional success. Some authors couldn’t imagine their success without Facebook, but others (who are doing just as well) have never even used the service.

Blaze your own trail and only partake in the promotional avenues you feel comfortable with and enjoy. You’ll be happier (and more successful) in the end!

4. Take small steps

After a break, you’ll feel tempted to make up for lost time by taking on a bunch of new marketing projects at one time, but don’t do it! If you do, that initial, enthusiastic push will fizzle into burnout, and that’s what we want to avoid this time, right?

Instead, focus on one promotional project at a time and break that task down into smaller steps. In this vein, we’re starting a new blog series with a monthly project for you to tackle, but you can easily do this yourself with any of your marketing ideas.

As an added bonus, breaking down a single idea into smaller steps will allow you to accomplish each one more quickly — and what feels better than quickly checking things off your to-do list?

5. Build in breaks

This time around, get ahead of the game by building mini-breaks into your promotional life. You’ll not only keep up your enthusiasm for promotion, but you’ll also become a pro at restarting things after a few days or a week off. Then, when real life strikes, you’ll know exactly how to bounce back!

If taking time off doesn’t make you feel comfortable, instead focus on moving at a pace that is maintainable for you.

As an example, if you realistically have 5 hours a week to devote to promotion, don’t try to schedule in 10 hours of work. Or, if you have more motivation during certain weeks, accomplish more during that week and plan for a more relaxed schedule the following week.

Very few of us work at this whole book marketing “thing” full-time. The more flexible you are with planning your time and accomplishing your goals, the happier (and more productive!) you’ll be.

Talk Back

Have you ever taken a break from building your fanbase? How did you bounce back? What advice would you give to others who find themselves in the same situation? Let’s chat in the comments!

Looking for some ideas to jumpstart your marketing efforts?  Check out our FREE Weekend Book Marketing MakeoverIf it’s more  in-depth help you’re after, take our Mailing List Magic Workshop this (or any!) weekend. You set the workshop schedule that works for you, so it fits right in to the “chillaxed” view of promotions we take in this post. Plus, you can use the coupon code NEWBIE for a $25 discount! 

  • Prudence MacLeod

    All great advice, guys, and exactly what I needed to hear. Keep the good stuff coming. Love and hugs to you both. :)

    • Thank you, Prudence! It’s always great to hear from you :-)

  • Kim Hornsby- Author

    I didn’t take a summer break from marketing but kind of wish I had. The summer is not the time to get readers’ attentions. I’m going to build in breaks now, though. Thanks Ladies.

    • You’re welcome, Kim. :-) For certain genres, I think the buildup *to* summer is a great time to connect with readers (think “beach reads” and the like), but the summer itself seems to be kind of dead. Kind of makes sense when many folks are offline and doing other things. But when the cooler weather comes and readers are cooped up inside? Perfect opportunity!

    • Michele

      I released my first indie book in June. Maybe that is why it hasn’t done very well? I didn’t even think about people not reading as much in the summer.

  • MPax

    Yes, for doing what you like and are comfortable with. I’m going to build in more breaks and break plans down into more manageable chunks.

    • Sounds like a great plan, MPax! The more routine you can get with marketing, the easier it fits into a busy life. It can become just one more thing you do on a regular basis, like going to the grocery store or cleaning the bathroom (although, ick, hopefully it’s more fun than that!)

  • Anyone using a traditional publisher to self-publish? Also has anyone who self-published the first time gotten different ISBN codes for iBook versus Kindle versions? Find me on statisticalideas.blogspot.com since I don’t know if I will get a response to something on here.

    • Hi Salil! By using a traditional publisher to self-publish, do you mean that you’re getting your work printed on your own or are you publishing with a traditional publisher who only offers publishing services (and no marketing support, for example?

      As for the ISBN question, I do know of a few authors who purchased separate ISBNs for different eBook versions. If you’re purchasing them through myidentifiers.com, it’s much more cost-effective to buy a 10-ISBN block, so that makes it easy to create separate ISBNs for different versions. We also have a video about ISBNs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VCuSQ-74AI Hope that helps!

  • Elke Feuer

    Great advice! I love the one about taking a break. I recently took a break (2 weeks) to finish my wip and was pleasantly surprised to find people were still visiting my site and buying my book. I feel recharged and ready to get back into things!

    • Sometimes that recharge time is just what you need, isn’t it, Elke? I’m glad your readers stuck by you and I know you’ll be able to jump back in without missing a beat. Rock on!

  • Alice Alech

    This is so inspiring, great timing. Again you girls have got it just right.

    • Aww, I glad we could inspire, Alice. Best wishes for getting back into the book marketing groove!

  • Annie Adams

    Numbers 4 and 5, are so helpful. My downfall is always taking on too many projects when I get inspired, or after a break. Then, I get so stressed out because I can’t get them all done. Thanks for the reminder about small, achievable goals. This is so timely!!!

    • Thank you, Annie :-) I totally understand that temptation to take on multiple projects — it’s usually when you’re feeling super-motivated to get things done, right? But as soon as overwhelm sets and you start to stress out… *poof*, there goes that motivation! I’m interested to see how breaking things up into small projects works for you — good luck.