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Authors Who Say “I Don’t Have Enough Time for Promotion” Are Doomed to Fail

Could you imagine having a schedule set down to the minute?

In doing research on busy folks for this post, I came across an old schedule of Dwight D. Eisenhower (former US President).

My favorite appointment was a meeting with Mr. William Hopkins, which lasted from exactly 8:14am to 8:16am. That’s some precise schedule-setting!

While none of us have a schedule as action-packed as a head of state, the grind of modern life makes our days also feel scheduled down to the minute!

Frankly, it seems there’s never enough hours in the day to get up, cook breakfast, get kids ready, head to work, come home, cook dinner and get to bed at a decent hour.

I know I’m not alone on this. By far, the biggest complaint we receive from our author friends is that they simply don’t have enough time to build their fanbase and promote their work.

The problem? Brush off these uber-important activities, and you’re doomed to fail.

Self-publishing is no longer shiny and new. Sadly, clicking ‘publish’ is no guarantee of sales and success (as many a dejected author will attest).

To sell your books, you must create demand. To create demand, you must build a fanbase.

But…doesn’t that take tiiime? It sounds so scary!

Developing a following of readers who love your work does take time, but not nearly as much as you think.

In fact, you can do it in less time than it takes to watch a rerun of Saved by the Bell. Wanna know the secret?

Before all is revealed, let’s get real.

In your mind, rewind the past 24 hours. How many times did you:

  • Surf the internet aimlessly?
  • Hang out on social media?
  • Veg out in front of the TV?
  • Goof off with friends?
  • Read, cook a four-course meal, or do anything else non-essential?

You see where this is going.

Don’t get me wrong, life’s little pleasures are important. Watching Vampire Diaries or losing yourself in a book are vital parts of life (just me on the Vampire Diaries thing, then?).

I’d never ask you to totally give those up. But, could you cut them out 4 days a week? For just 30 minutes a day?

Isn’t that time worth committing to your success as an indie author?

Look, I get that the “30 minutes/4 days” thing sounds like a cheesy Bowflex commercial, but here’s the secret: in that short amount of time you can create some serious momentum!

The Bowflex 30-Minute Fanbase-Building Secret

Sounds good, right? I’m serious with this, too. I KNOW the “30 minutes/4 days” thing works because I do it myself. When I’ve gotta get something done quickly, this is how I accomplish that task!

Before we get to the deets, check out the ground rules:

  • Limit yourself to 30 minutes. Set a timer before each session and stick to it! The time limit prevents burnout. I want you to be excited for this promotional time!
  • Ban multitasking. For this method to be effective, you must give the task at hand complete focus!
Ready to see exactly how this Bowflex thing works? Here we go!

Day 1: Set Focus

On the first day of the week, you explore possibilities and set your focus. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Minutes 1-5: Set up your workspace. Open websites/research material, read email, grab a notebook and pen, etc. Set your timer!
  • Minutes 5-15: Brainstorm. Make a list of everything you could do this week, but be specific:
    • Write a blog post about new chapter (not just write a new blog post)
    • Comment on 5 blogs (not just comment on blogs)
    • Send 5 tweets (not just send tweets…you get the idea)
    • Figure out how to use Pinterest
    • Write 2 Facebook updates
    • Respond to 10 emails
    • Email readers about short story idea
    • Add Contact page to website
  • Minutes 16-25: Set your focus. From your list, choose no more than 5 tasks you can realistically complete this week. Note: This amount varies depending on how much time takes to complete each task; just make your best estimation.
  • Minutes 26-29: Create a to-do list for tomorrow, ordered by priority.
  • Minute 30: *fistpump*

Day 2: Rock It Out!

Today, you get down to work, starting with the #1 thing on your task list. Finish it? Start on item #2!

  • Minutes 1-5: Get set up and review your to-do list. Set timer!
  • Minutes 6 -25 : Work on task(s).
  • Minutes 26-29: Create a to-do list for tomorrow, ordered by priority.
  • Minute 30: *fistpump*

Day 3: Keep on Rockin’

Focus all of your energy and finish up your tasks. You can do it!

  • Minutes 1-5: Get set up and review your to-do list. Set timer!
  • Minutes 6-25: Work on task(s).
  • Minutes 26-30: Reflect. Jot down a few notes/observations from the week.
  • Minute 30: *fistpump*

Day 4: Evaluate Progress

  • Minutes 1-5: Get set up and review your reflections. Set timer!
  • Minutes 6-15:Review the week. Answer the following questions:
    • Did I complete all of my chosen tasks this week? What didn’t I get to? Why?
    • Which tasks did I enjoy the most? Which were the most effective?
    • What observations do I have for next week?
    • The most positive thing that happened this week:
  • Minutes 16-25: Record stats to track your progress. Make a note of any/all of the below for an instant status update:
    • Email List Subscribers
    • Twitter Followers
    • Facebook Likes
    • Book Sales
    • Website Visits
    • Blog Comments
    • Reader Emails
  • Minutes 26-30: Pat yourself on the back and go watch Vampire Diaries (yup, just me)!

Notes, Tips and Tricks

  • The Bowflex Secret gets even better. As time goes on, you’ll become more efficient at completing tasks and better at estimating how long certain tasks take.
  • Choose tasks wisely. While I love figuring out ways to be more efficient, I don’t think it’s plausible to visit every bookstore in town or write 80 guest posts in 30 minutes a day!
  • Take notes. If you’re like me, trying to focus on one task is a guaranteed way to get an idea about something else. Always have a free notepad file, sticky note or piece of paper for sudden ideas, but don’t get distracted!

Do you need some extra fanbase-building help?

Does this sound like you?

Yeah Toni, this method sounds great, but I have no clue how to reach my reader or where to spend this limited promotional time! I’m in the dark on all of this stuff.

For all the background you need, check out Building Your Fanbase: A From-Scratch Guide for Indie Authors. You’ll learn:

  • The fanbase-growing secret weapon you ALREADY possess!
  • How to promote your book (and still have time to write).
  • The 7 keys to finding readers who go ga-ga for your book!
  • How to figure out which promotional efforts are worth your time.
  • The tips and tricks to using email, blogs, Facebook (and the rest) effectively and efficiently!

Talk Back

Are you going to try out the Bowflex method for yourself? What are your guilty pleasures? Am I the only grown adult in the world who watches Vampire Diaries (*facepalm*)? Let’s chat in the comments!


  • Mel Parish

    Thank you. This is just the post I need to get back on track with my promotion, which recently seems to have become more and more time consuming with less and less effect, partly due to a to-do list that just keeps growing and growing. I need to focus not splatter!

    • Thanks, Mel! “Focus not splatter,” I love that. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with a growing to-do list, so I hope this is a way to nail things down and get back on track :-)

  • Prudence MacLeod

    vampire Diaries? Seriously? When you could be watching Lie To Me? Really? hehehe

    • LOL — in my defense, I do watch other shows (Fringe, Homeland, etc.) when I get some extra time, but Vampire Diaries is totally my guilty pleasure :-)

    • Belinda Crawford

      I think I can top the Vampire Diaries. I have the complete first and second seasons of Sailor Moon on DVD, plus the first two movies, and I’ve watched all of them more than twice :)

  • Bette A. Stevens

    THANKS! I just set up a CONTACT PAGE on my blog. Here’s the link https://4writersandreaders.wordpress.com/contact/ You girls are fantastic. I’ve bookmarked this page, so I can reference and check off for my to-do list!

    • Woohoo! Awesome job on setting that up, Bette. I’m amazed at how many authors don’t have a simple contact page on their website — it makes a huge difference in how approachable readers perceive you to be. *high-five*

  • I love your blogs. They remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing. Bring me back into focus. Years ago I used to run a time management course about twice a year. Amazingly, my time management was better for months afterwards! It’s what we all need; a few moments to remind ourselves of what we need to do, and get rid of the bad habits.

    • HA! You’re so right, Jemima. In fact, Shannon and I have done a bit of a time management boot camp on ourselves this week. It’s amazing how much more productive you are when you’re organized and focused!

  • K8

    I’d love this idea! I’m not an author but I work as an author assistant. Maybe I can bend this method to fit my work? Hm….

    • Oh, I think you could totally bend it to work for you. Just adapt the tasks to fit your role as an assistant :-)

    • K8

      Yup. I’m also a student but I think I can use this method for a lot of things, like my own blog (https://froze8.blogspot.com/) Love schedules :)

  • This is so timely for me. With a book out just before Thanksgiving, I’m deep in the promotion quagmire. Some days I think I’m sinking in it. I’m pretty good about limiting it to 30 minutes – but I have zero idea what is actually working!

  • What a great post. I was just complaining to another blogger that I can’t find time to even write a weekly blog. The steps you have laid out look doable without being overwhelming. I’m definitely going to try this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Belinda Crawford

    I started using this method today. Being a gadget geek, I couldn’t resist finding a great timer app, which breaks each 30-minute ‘day’ into its component tasks, and am currently planning an awesome spreadsheet for tracking stats. Thanks guys.

  • This thirty minute limit you’re mentioning sounds great to me. So far I always end up being ‘on it’ for several hours (including some WordPress building) and this is obviously not very healthy in the long run. I’m going to print this post and hang it somewhere. Hey, if there’s still space to put a paper against the wall I still have room for some more, I guess. I appreciate your bottom line: stick to the rules. (I’ve already purchased “Building Your Fanbase” so that’s helping!)

  • I definitely struggle with trying to figure out what to do in 30 minutes, particularly to get the best effects, so seeing how you mapped out this “Bowflex method” was really helpful. I will have to try it for myself! I also really like the way you compared it to an exercise routine, since you don’t have to hit the gym for hours at a time to get results – you just have to stick with a routine, and track your progress to see what’s working. The evaluation part is definitely key to finding out what works better and why. Thanks again, ladies!

  • Dena Warfield

    I’m on it. Since I put my first book in Kindle I’ve been learning about and setting up my marketing. I have a schedule, but your ideas are much more specific and I will adopt your ideas. I recently purchased “Building Your Fanbase” which is next on my reading and doing list. Thank you for all your help.

  • YES I can find 30 minutes a day. Somewhere. This is great. I keep running from all the things I know I should be doing because I Don’t Have The Time but breaking them down – I shouldn’t have needed to be told that. Thank you!

  • Brilliant!

  • Thanks so much for this post. Like so many indie authors (who also have day jobs, and families, and houses that need cleaning and grass to be cut and so on…) time is an extremely precious commodity. I find that I really have only 30 minutes to devote to some promo tasks; however, I’m finding that one task is becoming increasingly time consuming. That task is book review requests. Sure, it takes only minutes to craft a good request. But it is taking longer to actually find book bloggers who review books specific to my genre. I wish I had this list of thousands of bloggers that blog about books in my target market (inspirational romance.) But I truly believe that promotion can be done in 30 minutes. Heck! I’m typing 1500 words in 45 minutes to an hour daily for WIPs. Again. Thanks for the post. I will definitely share.

  • Liz Carmichael

    Perfect! I’m sure thirty minutes a day is doable. Going to get that timer app – knowing I have thirty minutes only to do something will help me stay focussed on the job at hand, and if it builds my fan base – fan-blooming-tastic 😉

  • Prudence MacLeod

    This is awesome. I will do it; I must. Thanks guys, you rock!

  • Ellie Stevenson

    Very impressed with this – am starting this morning! Thirty minutes sounds doable – the challenge will be not getting caught up in the tasks and going over time..

  • MsMahler

    I lack energy more than time, but I’m going to give this a try and see what happens. At the very least, following a step-by-step to-do list will make it easier.

  • Danielle L. Davis

    I’m going to print this out and do it. Thank you!

  • JamesFriesen

    Thanks! Those are some great tips for authors – I already do some of them, but I need to implement some other ones.

    I know many of us don’t feel comfortable self-promoting – especially when you see the “Buy My Book” Spammers on Facebook and Twitter, so that may factor into it too.

  • I couldn’t have come across this at a more perfect time and intend to start implementing your strategy this afternoon (assuming I can find time between playing Bloons Tower Defense 5, and watching reruns of Doctor Who on Netflix). Thanks so much!

  • OlgaNM

    Thanks for the good advice. I’ve been trying to limit my time in social media and promoting but not written down a plan to follow. Setting up limits sounds great. I used to watch the Vampire Diaries but I missed quite a few chapters by traveling. Must try and catch up…