As an author, I bet planning your social media and marketing has become one of your Major Strengths. In fact, I bet you’ve already learned how to excel at wearing ALL the hats.
If you’re just getting started on your serious writing life journey, allow me to alert you right now: you’re going to have to learn how to excel at wearing ALL the hats. At least for a little while – until your writing is wildly successful and you make heaps of coin and can
Me? I still love wearing all the hats. I’m not any good at handing them over to others. Which is probably the reason I have to keep five calendars. You might think I have children who are Very Involved or at least many important appointments with heads of state, right? Yeah, no – I’m just busy as hell. I mean, aren’t we all?
Shall I take you on a journey of my calendar collection? Oh yes, let’s please.
The Reverie Press Calendars of Greatness
• My personal calendar – This one is digital and mostly full of things I’ll forget if I don’t set my phone to annoy me with constant reminders.
• Our family calendar – Also digital. Also mostly full of things we’ll forget without constant reminders. (At least my husband is also too busy to remember things without help #blessed).
• My business calendar – This one is paper-based. I’ve never been able to keep a personal business calendar on the computer or phone. I did it for bosses over the years when I worked a nine-to-five, so I have no clue why it does not work for me. This calendar contains all the reminders, deadlines, and tasks related to my publishing business and my personal book business.
• My general editorial calendar – Also paper. This is all the social media, marketing, etc. I need to do from right now through the upcoming twelve months. It’s got my brainstorming, writing, publication, and post-publication phases all scheduled out.
• My advanced editorial calendar – Also paper. This is all the social media, marketing, etc. I need to do in the future. Usually at least through the next twelve months after my general calendar. I do, occasionally, resort to logging things into my personal digital calendar to remind me later if I need to plan out even farther in advance.
So those are the calendars I keep. By now, just days shy of the new year, my 2019 calendar is already pretty full. I don’t know everything I’ll be posting about in 2019, but I do have a really solid roadmap to guide my path.
Why would I want to do this? Well, it’s a lot like being a plotter (or at least a plantser) in the writing world. It’s not a requirement to plan ahead. Winging it is totally cool, if that’s your style. But, for me, being plan-less causes undue anxiety. I feel guaranteed to miss something important if I don’t give myself a chance to think about it in advance.
So, this post is for folks who like to plan ahead. I’ll be explaining how I schedule out my editorial calendar for the next year. If you use these tips, you can get a jump start on your own editorial calendar today! But this isn’t something you can only do in December or January. It works all year, so even if you’re reading this post later – say, in the middle of the year – you can do the same. And pro tip if you prefer a paper calendar: the academic styles usually start in July or August and will carry you through to the next year.
Also, don’t worry if you’re not a total planner-fiend who needs to carry three planners everywhere at once. Just implement the tips using your own preferred calendar system and you’ll be good to go!
Planning – An Overview
I use a daily planner for my editorial calendar because I need all that space to keep up. And I ignore the yearly/monthly/weekly spreads – they are as useless to me as my Google calendar when it comes to business.
I always start big and work my way down to bite-sized pieces. I generally kick off with the obvious things because, well, they’re obvious!
First, I list out my major deadlines, birthdays, and any holidays I celebrate. If I know of vacations or anything else already planned in my non-writing life (like visits to the dentist or pet vet appointments) I write those in, too.
I start with these biggies – especially the stuff that isn’t writing-related at all – because they ultimately impact everything else. A vacation isn’t just the days we’re on vacation. It’s the days leading up to it when we’re packing and getting our pets squared away. It’s also, sometimes, a day or two after when we’re recovering and doing laundry and getting back to normal life. Like it or not, there will always be natural disturbances around your precious writing time. Get used to it now because it doesn’t get easier.
To account for big deadlines, I try to build in a week or two of flex time. There will always be family emergencies, unexpected car repairs, necessary mental health days, possible alien invasions, etc. that might sidetrack your progress. If you give yourself some wiggle room at the beginning, it’s a hell of a lot easier to cope with the stress when it rolls in – and, believe me, it will roll in.
Planning – In Depth
Let’s get more specific now. First, with those examples above.
I log holidays for a few reasons. First, because of the time they inevitably take out of my schedule. Second, I often post about them and use them as marketing opportunities! Scheduling time ahead of the holidays for brainstorming and writing ensures I’m prepared with posts and marketing materials when those holidays come up.
Vacations and birthdays
I log vacations and birthdays because of the aforementioned time loss that often surrounds them. When I know I’ve got them coming up, I can load up my social media management platform/marketing calendar/blog with pre-scheduled posts. For my social media posts, I use Buffer. There are other (and better) ones you can use, but that’s what I started with, and I’m super-quick with it. I haven’t yet met another manager I could work with as efficiently, so I’ll be a Buffer babe until I do.
The next things I log are the major writing deadlines I already know. By listing these, I’m really planning some room to breathe around them. Much like with vacations, writing deadlines are notorious for stealing time. I’ll get so focused on finishing that draft or revision that I lose sight of everything else. Pre-scheduling for that time opens me up to focus on my writing because I’m confident everything else is handled.
Next, I include my marketing deadlines. Not only does this give me another layer of reminders (I’m not forgetful…wait, what were we talking about??) but they’re also usually great post fodder. I always learn something new from marketing my own books, and I enjoy sharing what I learn with others! If I hit any snags or come across a topic I’m curious about, I can also turn to my writing community for answers and feedback.
If you have no clue what your book marketing schedule should look like, take a peek at this article from AllFreelanceWriting.com – it’s a great breakdown of things to try. Even if you don’t do them all, any of this list should give you at least a small boost!
NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNo, conferences, workshops – these are all things I like to plan for. Again, I can pre-schedule during these events, so my focus isn’t split in too many different directions. I also usually line up my posts to talk about them! Plus, for online writing challenges like NaNo, I like to have time to get involved with fellow members of the writing community who are also taking part! So I use this as a reminder to myself to watch for those opportunities.
After all that, I start to get more granular.
Blog Posts & Newsletters
The next thing I do is fill out my schedule for blogging and newsletters. No, I don’t know my whole year of blog posts – and that’s okay! But I do know what days I post on the different sites I host. And I know I always send a newsletter out at specific intervals before a book release to reveal the book and announce its publication date. So, I at least put a placeholder on the days I expect to publish those things.
Social Media Posts
I treat these the same way, listing out at least placeholders for my regular posting schedule.
In case no one has told you this yet: consistency is critical for your readers and fans. Don’t make them guess when they might hear from you next. Make it clear you’ll be with them on a regular basis – otherwise, how will they know to get excited about your new content?
Because I do a ton of social media interaction, and I’m still handling it all on my own, I don’t fill out the whole year at once. I hit the big points – things like making sure to post a pretty bookstagram display for Valentine’s Day, for example. I usually kinda work my way back up the pyramid – if it’s big and I know I’ll post about it, I jot a note about it right then, while it’s on my mind and there’s no time crunch for completion.
Yeah, that’s the official term for anything I haven’t mentioned yet. Things like contests, when my next KDP Select term ends, if I’m running countdown deals, etc. Everything else I might want to share with my readers gets squeezed in there like orange juice in Florida.
And that’s it. After I’ve done all that, my calendar is typically pretty full and ready to go. I do add other things throughout the year as they come up, and I usually take some time at the end of each month to reevaluate where I want to take my posts for the next few months. But using those steps above gives me a huge headstart on all the important bits.
So, now it’s your turn to try out planning your editorial calendar in advance! But, before I go…
• Don’t plan to do 40 things every single day. That will not work. Your mind will be as blank as if you’ve just had an encounter with the Men In Black. If you really feel like you must be busy (trust me, I get it) schedule 5 days per week of content work. That leaves you with one day to make up if you get behind and another to relax and catch your breath. If you batch schedule (preparing many posts in one day, rather than throughout the week or month), set a day to handle it – but make sure you’re willing to flex that day around everything else for sanity’s sake.
• Stay mindful of the fact that things will change. They always do. I write my plans in pencil and keep a huge Staedtler vinyl eraser on hand at all times. It can be annoying to re-plan. But there’s also something liberating about being willing to shake it all up on the fly.
So, writer friend, it’s over to you! How do you plan your social media and marketing? Comment below or reach out to share your tips and tricks. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, cheers and happy writing!