It’s here! You’re finally holding your finished book in your hands. You got past the blank screen, endured countless drafts and frustrations, even survived editor feedback and the exhausting process of typesetting and corrections. No doubt, when you wake up tomorrow your inbox will be filled with orders and begging you for the next one already.
I’ll admit, there might be a little hyperbole here, but it can be enormously disheartening to realise that finishing writing your book is only the beginning. This is a condition I call ‘author fatigue.’
Author fatigue was something I encountered after I finished my picture book, Moth. In my usual day to day illustration work, when I finish a piece of design I hand it over to the client and they handle the rest. At The CopyPress I deal with the other end of the process, assisting with the marketing of other people’s books.
But in the case of my own book, where I was responsible not only for the content of the book but also the marketing, I found myself in a challenging position. When you’ve spent months or years working on a project you become very close to it. By the time I had finished writing, illustrating, designing and overseeing the printing of my book, I was a bit over it. I was ready to move onto the next project and was by no means keen to spend the same amount of time again working on my marketing.
The same feeling hit me recently when I finished a month-long marathon of a project, creating 31 pieces of finished artwork during October. By the end, I was exhausted and had little energy left for selling my work.
So this got me thinking. How can we, as authors and creatives, preempt this feeling and start the marketing and sales process with a hiss and a roar? Here are some ideas I’ve come up with:
Have a timeline
Having a plan can really help you to pace yourself through the whole process. This includes knowing your release date and working back to how long printing and production will take. Find out how long the book will be with an editor, what the timeline is for design and when you expect to be able to finish the book by. Always include some buffer time, as some things will inevitably take longer than you anticipate.
Start marketing early
Marketing can begin before you even start writing your book. It helps to have a cover design to share, but even without it, you can start sharing the premise of your book and its intended release date to build hype.
Share your process
Sharing what you’re doing as you’re doing it can be very compelling. If done well, this has the dual advantage of building interest in your book and keeping you accountable to an audience. The best places to do this are generally online, such as through social media or a blog, but you can also share with people you know in real life. It doesn’t hurt to have some supporters cheering you on.
Factor in some break time
You’re reading this article, so you now know that author fatigue is a thing. This means you can plan for it. If possible, allow some extra time between finishing your manuscript and releasing your book. This may help you to look at it with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.
Have another project lined up
This might seem counter-intuitive, as you could get distracted by the new project and neglect your marketing of the last one. However, it can also be a useful thing, both mentally and as a promotional tool. If writing is your passion, keeping that alive is super important, especially if marketing isn’t your forte. If your book does well, you’re probably going to be asked when the next book is coming, so having something else lined up is helpful.
Be creative with your marketing
Marketing doesn’t have to be boring! If you can create innovative and exciting ways to interact with your audience, it won’t even seem like work. I was recently part of a self-publishing event where James Russell (author of the Dragon Brothers books) was speaking. He talked about the release of his first book and how he hid giant dragon’s eggs in secret locations around Auckland and sent his readers on a treasure hunt. That’s definitely not boring!
I don’t think there’s an absolute cure for author fatigue, but there are ways to manage it. Have you experienced author fatigue? What are your ways of dealing with it?