|Strategies for Marketing the Writer
I've written for magazines with "strategic" in the title
and I always view it as a meaningful word. A strategy is
the way in which a good portion of your resources will be
deployed. Whether you are talking about a writing career
or building a power plant, it's about making decisions;
crucial decisions that will either bring you success or
stall you on your path.
One element of this is the gathering of resource. Another
is the psychological strategy of anticipating rejection,
as well as learning the arts of negotiating.
As I write this I'm staring at the big, blue 2004 Writer's
Market book that is in my little inner circle of writing
resource books up on my desk. Yellow post-it notes are
sticking out of it. It gives me a sense of security in a
way but do I use it right? I am only using it right if I make preparation
to use the information I find in the book.
I like to make charts and print them out. These charts can
be simple line drawings that are able to hold pieces of
information such as the name of a magazine, its current
editor, ideas to approach the editor with, queries sent,
answers back and so on.
* * * * *
I recommend separating out the functions of marketing and
writing. They are completely different activities; they are
oil and water and mixed with bad results. The best thing
to do is to experiment a bit and try out different schemes
and go with the one that works for you.
Will you split the day up into these functions? The week?
The month? A lot depends on how you are approaching the
writing career. If it is a full-time, bread-winning career
then it's likely you'll be marketing much of the time.
If you are working on a novel and not dependent on it as a
source of income, then the marketing can come at gentler intervals.
One thing is certain: you need to market consistently and incorporate the
marketing idea into every public display of your work, whether it is a website,
a blog, a portfolio, a pamphlet, or a business card. Marketing is not only
advertising and getting the word out, it is presenting the type of persona
you want the public to grasp and remember about you. If you have an assistant
you need to teach them that they are part of marketing and to represent you
The Marketing Writer
One thing a writer is never prepared for is the depth
of specialization that makes up the market. Most writers
come from a humanities background where the "holistic"
is more valuable than the "fragmented."
But, there's no way around it. The fact that there are a dozen
different woodworking magazines tells you all you need to know.
The market is sliced and diced to increase the visibility of
advertisers and make more profits for publishers.
You can approach this fact by developing two or three areas of interest and then
moving those interests through a plethora of ideas and slants. One subject, such as
horticulture, can be divided into a multiple number of writing ideas that cross
dozens of platforms and markets.
Go to any publication and assign it a one or two-sentence description. That should
take into consideration the theme of the magazine and its audience. Then you freewheel a series
of thoughts about how the subject, horticulture, can be slanted into the publication. It doesn't work
for every market but it works more than you'd think. The slant for a garden publication would
be different than from a retirement publication.
Types of publication
It's very useful to know the differences between writing for
a consumer magazine and writing for a trade magazine. In the
consumer field the writer has to continually search for
markets. The consumer magazine editor is besieged with
queries and stories. The writer has to develop a decent
strategy to churn ideas and get those ideas into the hands
of editors who can turn them into assignments.
for a trade magazine is in a different sort of universe. The
editor will usually assign the article to writers she trusts
or has worked with before. So, the strategy in writing for
trades is to find a few publications that you can write many
articles for. Each has their good and bad points.
And you can work it both ways. The market is there to use! If, for instance,
your expertise is on horticulture you can turn to trade magazines and develop
ideas about how climate change is impacting the industry. Since the trade publication
is read by people in the business you could develop an interesting article with
expert opinion woven into the text. You could take that same theme and use one
part of the article in a piece for a consumer publication. For instance, a celebrity
loves her garden and you write something about her engagement with it and her concern
that climate change will severely impact the industry.
It's been told to me from one who knows that the best way
to develop a marketing strategy is to go to a writer's
conference and connect with a published writer. Try to
corner a writer whose career path is like the one you
want to travel on. Even a few tips will be invaluable. You want to find out how he
or she approached the market when first starting out. Different writers will have
Of course, the digital world can reverse the relation between market and writer.
Editors use social communities like Linked-In to find freelance writers.
They also go to writer blogs or websites and check up on the talent.
I will offer one tip I've learned from Sunoasis.com. Buy
keywords from Google or Overture and drive traffic to a page
that has your writings or resume/clips on it. Make sure those
keywords are going to attract the people you want seeing your
If you have a book use Google Print. I haven't tried it but
I have used their AdWords with some success.
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Marketing is the most demanding thing a writer is expected
to do. It's even difficult to write about. No matter how
much one studies it or tries it he is flattened by a steel wall.
"I don't want my energy going there!" This is the cry of the
writer reeling back from the impact. After all, if the writing is good and
helpful shouldn't it simply be sucked up into the vast bowels of the
publishing world? With, of course, a nice check mailed to you or wired into
Every writer I know wants to simply hand the writing in
like an assignment and have others do it up. And do it up
just right so it gains fame and prestige.
If you are hired on the staff of
a magazine you have already marketed yourself to the editor
and he's bought your talents. But those talents belong to
the magazine. If you want to own your talents then you
need to learn to market.
You could almost say that you own your talents
the moment you learn to take responsibility for them.
* * * * *
Marketing is a hard nut to crack but crack it once and
it begins to make sense. Whenever I get a question from
someone in college asking about writing careers I always tell
them, spend your precious time learning about the marketplace
and how to manuever in it.
A Few Tips On Book Marketing:
One of the best things you can do is compile lists of
publications, on or off-line, that review books.
Alice Orr suggests making "faux galleys" of your book,
since the real galley's are too expensive to use. "Make
your own by setting up two reduced manuscript pages on long,
legal-sized paper." She also recommends sending an SASE
with the faux galley and be persistent.
Another excellent idea is to write for those publications
always hungry for easy copy, such as weekly newspapers.
Write an article on the subject of your book with a few
salient tips and send it off.
Find catalogs that sell books or products fit to your
subject matter and get their submission guidelines.
Much of what is known as POD publishing can be looked at as
marketing. The internet is quite good at finding an audience
or ascertaining if an audience exists at all. And have a
good deal of patience while looking for an audience. A cheaply
produced print-on-demand book can be used to show publishers
your talents. It can be used to get speaking engagements.
An old journalism professor of mine wrote a book and was
featured on a talk radio program. He was told by the host to mention the
book by name rather than as "the book," or "my book."
Radio audiences tune-in and tune-out at intervals.
He had a poor impression of talk radio. "A lot of nuts
But then, even the nuts will buy books.
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Written by David Eide, Sunoasis.com
If you have any questions about careers in freelance writing
don't hesitate to ask!
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