by Sarah Hamaker, reluctant marketer
Do you consider yourself a writer? If you’re a CAN member, the answer had better be “yes!”
It might seem a little strange to start a marketing blog with a question about writing. After all, we want tips and tricks to make marketing work for us (and don’t worry—I will provide tangibles in that regard).
But before we can think about marketing ourselves and our books, we should start with making sure we know who we are. If we have a firm idea as to who we are, we will find it much easier to think about marketing in a way that makes sense for us.
Now what kind of writer are you? How you answer this question tells a lot about how you view yourself as a writer. Some of you might answer with what genre you write in, while others might reply with whether you’re a full-time or part-time writer, depending on how much time you spend on the craft.
I answer that question this way: I’m a professional freelance writer and editor, as well as an author of nonfiction books (two so far) and an aspiring author of fiction books. For me, writing is a business.
It helps to view your writing as a business and to present it as such to outsiders. Whether or not you’re “making money” on writing, if you’re seriously pursuing writing in any form, then you are a working writer. And that means devoting time to marketing is just as important as devoting time to writing.
Here are four things to consider before you market.
- Time. Consider how much time you want to devote to marketing. Start with what you think can manage per week. If your schedule permits 10 hours each week, decide if you want to do a little marketing each day or split those hours over two or three days. I generally set aside at least one day per week for a particular marketing task, and spend a little bit on the other days for more general or upkeep kind of tasks.
- Goals. What do you want to achieve with your marketing? These can be long-term or short-term goals, but they should be specific. Rather than, “I want to sell more books,” try, “I want to double my newsletter subscriber list.” Instead of, “I want to have more paid speaking engagements,” say, “I will send out at least five letters/emails a month to targeted groups offering my speaking services.” By being specific, you’ll have more attainable—and quantifiable—goals.
- Focus. We all have things that tug our attention away from marketing, especially if we don’t particularly enjoy or feel confident in our marketing efforts. But don’t fall into the habit of working on your marketing when you’re tired, distracted, or not interested. As with writing, our mood can come across in our marketing efforts as well. I’ll write a much better email to a bookstore asking for a signing when I’m engaged in the task than at the end of a long day when I’m cranky and hungry.
- Enjoyment. Marketing doesn’t have to be the least favorite or most stressful of your writing-related tasks—it can be the most fun! This is the time to let loose and come up with creative ways to sell yourself and your book. Enjoy it, embrace it, and have fun with it.