Gone are the days when I could just dream of writing full time and being published. I am published. The reality is never quite what you expect, no matter how many people you know who has published. Self publishing does not work for me (though I still have one out there) because of my weakness: marketing!
While growing up, I had this dream of writing by a lake (and painting for fun but that wasn't my job, writing was) while the children played off the docks and swam or fished. Notice no man around... *giggles* hmmm Maybe the beginning of another story... No internet worries, just writing and being published. Well, the reality is far different. For one, the advent of commonly used internet. Gone are the days of sending off paper manuscripts to agents (unless you have one who still requests them lol) and then leaving it in their hands. Emails fly, blogs need to be written, twitter, Facebook, tumbler, etc.
*groans* It's so not my dream.
Despite what many have said, you don't have to be a mastermind marketer and do everything yourself. It's like trying to edit yourself. No matter how good you are, you are likely missing something, or there are things you are doing wrong that you have no clue about. Right now, I exchange blogs with people, (and another thing I've not kept up on. Will be doing better!), have some promotion through my publishers, but it's still mostly left to me. I'm not good at this stuff. I'm in the process of setting up an exchange with someone. I give her a painting she dearly wants, and in return, she updates and keeps my website updated. I'm hoping this addition will help free up some worry time that I can turn to writing time again. I'm a prolific writer, yet editing (as an editor) and all the entrapments that go with having a book published have sucked all my time. It's hard to pull yourself out of that vortex and find balance, but it is on my list of things I want to accomplish this year) and will be doing it with a new company, but that is for another post).
That being said, I do think that, in this day and age, unless you are Laurel K Hamilton or the like, it is NECESSARY, not optional, to have Facebook author page (not a personal one—that is optional lol or you may have to have one, but you don't have to keep it current.) that is kept update and in which you engage with your readers, Twitter, a website, and preferably, another form with which to reach readers and for them to reach you—tumbler, google plus, what have you. Readers expect, no demand, more time and information about their authors.
So how to find balance? On top of being a writer, editor, and painter, I am also a mother of five (and a grandmother!!!) with age ranges from 23 down to 5. They all have health issues (as do I), I can't NOT market, or NOT write, or NOT edit, so painting suffered. I've discovered that when my painting suffered, I suffered. The stresses became too much. Something has to give. So I came up with the idea of bartering for my work. My paintings aren't cheap, so I'm not trying to sucker anyone. I'm looking at what services are worth, what my paintings are worth, and trying to find an equilibrium for all involved.
There are a lucky few who are as gifted at marketing as they are writing, and I think they look down on us that are not with a little snoot dripping. It is necessary to do marketing, but don't beat yourself up about it if you are not the be all and end all of advertising executives. We all have our talents; the trick is finding what works for you.
As a painter, I'm good with composition and color and design, but I suck at coding! I shouldn't have to spend a gazillion dollars and hours learning coding just to put up a website, unless of course it fascinates me and I enjoy it. I'd much rather spend those hours perfecting my craft and taking classes related to my chosen field.
This is all a pet peeve of mine that has eaten at me for awhile. It is unfair to expect everyone to be perfect at everything, and that applies to writers. There are things you need to do so that readers get a glimpse of you, and get to know you, but so much can be hired out. And sometimes it's expensive, but like for my serial starter, The Shot: The Traincoach of Death series, I spent 30 bucks for a cover reveal with Lady Amber Reviews. She rocked it! I was exposed to many new readers, and gained a few die hard fans from it. Even if I only made 2 new fans, well, if they buy the back list, and continue to buy the series, then I've more than made my money from it. Because people talk! So find the little thing you can start doing, and expand as money allows, so that your free time can be spent living the dream rather than beating yourself up about not being perfect on everything.
And that applies to all walks of life. Hire what you can afford to hire, so you can concentrate on what's important to you—like playing in the park with the kids.
That's how I find my balance.