Why do I advise authors (and other writers) to market their work and services? Why not advise them to sell or to advertise?
From a business perspective, marketing is a holistic approach that starts with product or service development and ends after the sale of the product or service. This is exactly the kind of holistic approach writers need to maximize their success.
If writers just sell their work, it starts with them producing a work without any influence from the market. They just write off the top of their heads with no thought for who might read their work or what editors might publish it. If writers just advertise their services, they just throw up a website or send out a mass of e-mails describing their services without any influence from the market. They just tell people what they do with no thought for what potential clients might need.
If this sounds like a bad business practice, then you’re right. Yet so many writers do it. A lot of writers believe that if they consider the market for their work or for their services, then they’re selling out. Or they believe that, if they just follow the market, they’ll end up writing things they have no interest in. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Effective marketing takes a different approach.
Effective marketing relies first on understanding yourself:
- What are you good at?
- What do you enjoy?
- What skills and knowledge do you bring to the market?
- What skills and knowledge can you develop?
- What advantages do you have?
- What disadvantages must you overcome?
Then, effective marketing requires you understand the market:
- Relative to what you offer, what is selling?
- What else might sell if you approached it differently?
- What do editors who buy the type of articles, books, stories, novels and poems you offer expect from you and your work?
- What do clients who buy the services you offer expect from you and your work?
- What do readers who read what you write expect from you and your work?
- Can you meet their expectations?
- Can you offer them something even better?
Next, you must consider how you can reach the markets that are available:
- What do you need to do to get the attention of editors/clients/readers who buy what you have to offer?
- Are you prepared to do that?
- What can you do instead?
- What else can you do to reach them?
When you are producing your work, whether it’s a product or a piece of marketing, ask yourself:
- Is this really what they want?
- Is it what they need?
- What value am I offering?
- Am I making that value clear?
When you are approaching editors, readers, and clients, ask yourself:
- Is my message getting through?
- What parts of my message are getting through?
- What can I change to make my communication clearer?
- What can I add to make my communication more effective?
When you are distributing your work, ask yourself:
- Am I reaching the right people?
- Am I reaching them the right way?
- What can I do to make it easier for editors/readers/clients to find my work?
Finally, after you have delivered your work, ask yourself:
- Are they satisfied?
- What went wrong?
- What went right?
- How can I make it better next time?
- Did I enjoy this?
- Do I want to do more of it?
- Is there a market for more work like this?
The crux of marketing is finding the confluence between your strengths and the market’s needs. You don’t need to sell-out. You need to build satisfying relationships. You can still produce the art you love. You simply keep the reader in mind throughout the process.