Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Marketing Savvy and The Modern Writer

By today's special guest, Susan Mitchell

“Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.” Nicholas Sparks

What type of author do you aspire to be? Ultimately you are the author of your own writing career. It is a big responsibility. It is also an amazing opportunity.

As a writer and publicist I’ve encountered many writers, agents, editors, publishers and book sellers at a variety writer’s conferences and events over the past decade. One topic that comes up frequently is the changing face of publishing. With new technologies and buying climates, it has never been more important for writers to be aware of the business end of the industry.

With more opportunities, there is more responsibility put on the writer. Fewer authors are being “published” in the old school sense. Once upon a time publishing included a huge print run, PR effort and marketing plan, advertising budget with placement, in store promotion as well as an expense covered book tour.

These days more authors are “printed” in a much smaller run. You’ll still get a professional edit, cover, distribution and some review copies, but the bulk of the promotion falls on you, the author. It can still be a great path if you are willing to do some work and don’t get complacent. In fact, this can be an experience that will help you grow your marketing savvy and shine.

It can seem daunting. Finding time to write is hard enough. But this is your writing career, and you must give it the same attention to detail as any other job. More and more avenues are open to modern writers to showcase their work than ever before. Before you dive into the ocean of opportunities, here are some ideas to help you stay afloat.

Write well. Write what you love. You must be the champion of your own work. Draft a manuscript you are proud of and willing to fight for with everything you’ve got. Publishing trends will come and go, but good writing will always survive.

When you find your niche, be it a style or genre, stick to it. Writing a series, connected books, or work with a common thread will help you build your brand as an author. This is one of the first steps to crafting a strategic career plan for yourself and your work. Plus, many agents and editors like to work with writers that have more than one project to offer. Some of the best marketing advice for any writer is to always be working on their next manuscript.

Dedicate time each week to the business of writing. Writers should be readers. Read a variety of books, fiction, non-fiction and writing and publishing magazines. This brings us to the subject of the internet. There are so many free resources online for writers. Take advantage of them, but beware of the time suck that can happen when surfing.

Author websites and blogs are a great tool, and many agents and editors expect their clients to have an online presence. That said, after crafting a great website or blog, you must maintain it. Weekly. Make it part of your schedule. In order to get more traffic you have to engage, so pick your focus and stick to it.

Remember, you write the story of your career. Choose your words wisely. Your success story is waiting to be told.

Coming soon from Susan...
September: Write Your Own Marketing Action Plan

October: Big Ideas, Small Budget - DIY Marketing Tips for Writers

Susan Mitchell has a degree in English from Northern Arizona University. Her work has appeared in literary magazines including George and Mertie’s Place, Poetry Motel and Wordwrights. She writes and produces local television commercials, promotions and programs. She has written and produced projects for TLC, regional ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates. She is a frequent speaker at writer’s conferences and enjoys helping writers grow their marketing arsenal. Susan is currently completing work on a darkly humorous horror series.


F.T. Bradley said...

What a great post!

I'm already looking forward to Sept. and Oct. posts...

Margaret Yang said...

One of the most balanced, reasonable posts on this topic I've seen. Sharing this!

Sue said...

Thanks ladies! I enjoying writing the series and I'm thrilled to share it.

j.a. kazimer said...

Love ya, Sue. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insight and advice.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Susan!