The answer to that question seems to depend on how much experience the author has. The newbie author who's just published his or her first book tends to want to spend most of the time on "marketing", whatever that activity really means. They want to market the heck out of their one book in the hopes that it becomes the next indie bestseller. I know I used to think that way. The only thing that kept me from spending all of my time marketing was that I didn't know what I was supposed to do!
More experienced writers will tell you something different. They will go as far as to say that you shouldn't spend any time marketing at all. They advise that you just keep writing and cranking out new books.
Here are two quotes from Joe Konrath's blog on the subject:
- From "Konrath's Resolutions For Writers" - I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.
- From "Joe Answers Your Questions" - If you've already done the Four Important Things (written a great book, gotten a great cover, have a great book description, and priced it reasonably) there's really not much else to do, other than wait for luck to strike.
Similarly, another author who I follow, Dean Wesley Smith, advocates spending your time writing and publishing, not marketing.
Personally, I'm starting to see the wisdom of authors like Konrath and Smith. Sure, there are stories of marketing efforts leading to big sales, but there are also stories of books that become wildly popular without marketing. Hugh Howey admitted that he didn't market Wool, and he now has a lucrative publishing contract for the series!
So, am I saying that you should stop marketing completely and turn off your blog and your Facebook and Twitter accounts? No. But as for me, I'm not going to worry about marketing through those venues. I plan to keep updating this blog and posting on Twitter. I even started a Facebook page recently. But my main reason for maintaining those sites is not to promote my books. I write this blog because it's another avenue for me to write and express my thoughts on things, talk about books I've read, and what's going on with my writing. More and more of my Twitter usage has been geared to connecting with other authors and readers. I enjoy interacting with them and won't give that up. I doubt that my blog or Twitter feed or Facebook page generate many sales if any. That's not the main reason I have them.
The bottom line is, I will probably spend some time on what people call marketing, but I'll focus more of my precious free time on writing my next book. If my books do one day wind up selling beyond my wildest dreams (yeah, right), it'll because I've written a bunch of good books, not because I've marketed the heck out of them.