Marketing Training and the Writer
One of the things Dawn Phillips talked about yesterday was her role as both illustrator and businesswoman. She’s well equipped and trained for the two roles. And she hasn’t shied away from using her marketing background to create a flourishing illustration business as well as freelancing in other areas.
All of which brings up an excellent question. In today’s publishing world, should the average writer sign up for a few marketing courses at the local community college or university? Would it help in this game to have some clue going in as to how to market ourselves and our work in the most professional manner possible?
What kind of training do you have for marketing your work? Did you opt for the trial and error method of getting pieces accepted at various publications or book publishers? Did you lurk in dark corners of the web hoping to overhear a few publishers talking about what they were going to need for the next printing season? Did you use the dartboard method of finding just the right agent to represent you?
Or did you have a plan of action, implemented without hesitation that could get you an accurate market for that little piece you did on the latest trends in electronic communications devices–a market that would jump at the chance to drop-kick that piece to the cover slot?
When I decided to write, no one said anything about self-promotion and marketing. I was months into this new world before I began picking up on the nuances of what I was hearing from more experienced writers and what I was really reading in the writing journals. A tremor of fear moved down my spine to leave my knees weak at the impending prospect of what would be necessary for me to actually make it in this business. Facing the terror of knowing that I might be too slow on the up-take to make will do bad things to people.
Then I had to take a closer look at the problem and decide if my training in advertising/ commercials would work as well here as back then, so many years ago. I had to take stock of just how much I was willing to put myself out in front of the public in order to gather a core group of followers who might just read something I’d written and be honest enough to tell me when it stank or when I’d come up with something rather good.
Visions of school appearances flashed across my inner eye, followed quickly by mental lists of those places I knew I could get to without too much difficulty, placed where they already knew something about me and might let me drop by to talk to students or library patrons.
Let’s see? Just how many places have I lived in my life where there are still people who know me, remember me, and know that I can produce a quality product. If I’m in that area, can I pull off three appearances while there rather than just one? And can I make that pay, either as a guest speaker or as a promoter of my own writing? That question looms behind all those types of decisions.
Maximizing the potential of any location’s available market is a big portion of the whole point of going somewhere for a talk, isn’t it. I mean, you’re already there to do one talk. Will doing two/three others in the same area cost that much more? Can I do two talks in one day, perhaps? West Elementary in the morning, have lunch with the kids, and do East Elementary in the afternoon in their library. It’s possible and doable.
The scheduling might become as tricky as a department store buyer’s delivery timetable, but I can do that. I have practice in other areas to cover the slack.
Maybe all this marketing comes down to how much the writer really wants to interact with the public, take responsibility for his/her own PR, and how willing he/she is to traveling at their own expense and trouble.
I don’t have a book deal yet, so the situation/problem of marketing like that is a moot one for me at the moment. But many I know do have this very scenario running through their heads off and on all week, every week. Some are more successful at it than others.
The one thing I’ve noticed is that the really successful ones are the ones who love to create their stories and articles, but who also thrive on the diligence used on the business side of the career path. That seems to be the real key to things. They have to remove resentment from the current necessity equation and learn to accept and master being a supply sergeant over a writing career.
I’m only a Private in this writing army at the moment. I’m on my way to Corporal. I plan on making Sergeant by Jan. 1, 2011. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it. I’m lucky, though. I have lots of friends to help with tips along the way.
So, what rank are you? Are you a marketing supply sergeant yet? Have you stalled in the promotions line? Are you sending yourself back for more training, too? Just curious.
I hope everyone has had a marvelous week and are looking forward to having another coming up. On Tuesday, I’ll have an interview with Angelia Almos, children’s writer and screenwriter. I hope everyone will stop by and give her a listen. She will have lots to say, I’m sure.
Take care, all, and God bless.