Writers like to let their work speak for itself. Unfortunately, even in the modern world that alone will not get people to read your writing–perhaps especially in the modern world. Readers are bombarded every day with new material, from novels and poetry to news articles and magazines. How can we make our writing stand out from the rest? Well, how does any product or service stand out? Through marketing.
Marketing spreads the word about a poetry collection or book series as well as it does for a car or smartphone. To the writer, a book is art. To the public, it’s a product. Like any other product, it must be marketed or its audience won’t grow.
If you’re published traditionally, your publisher will help you with some of the marketing. (Just remember that you still have a lot of heavy lifting to do as well.) If you’re self-published or published through a smaller press, you’ll have to take on more of the marketing yourself. In fact, you have to do it all yourself if you’re self-publishing. Some self-published writers can afford to hire someone to handle the marketing campaign, but most cannot.
Right about now you might be thinking, “I’m a writer, not a marketer!” Well, yes and no. You are a writer, but that doesn’t exclude you being a marketer.
Many writers are unintentional marketers. Do you tell people about your latest work as soon as it’s published? Give out free copies to friends and family? Then you’re already marketing.
Of course, there are more “professional” ways that writers can market their work. Let your audience read the first couple chapters of your new book for free on your website. Host a giveaway. Hold a book reading at your local library. You can even make a book trailer, if you’re so inclined.
Even the most experienced and famous writers market their own writing, whether or not they realize it. While the Boy Who Lived is still the face of the franchise, J.K. Rowling handles the bulk of marketing for her books just by staying in the public eye. The same rings true for Stephen King. Even Anne Rice and her son Christopher market their own books; after all, they regularly discuss their writing and occasionally hold giveaways. (Giveaways which my mom jumps on every chance she gets.)
Now, when your entire public life is essentially a marketing tool for your writing, you have to be careful. Everything you Tweet, post, comment on, whatever could bite you in the butt and shrink your readership. This issue has been debated in regards to J.K. Rowling recently. Conversely, you can also gain readers through advertising or posting something which alienates others. Regardless, that’s all best left for another time and another post.
You can’t assume that someone else will market your writing for you. You can’t even rely on word-of-mouth or reviews from loyal readers. Don’t shy away from marketing your work just because you aren’t a “professional” marketer or business person. As writers, we have to take control of getting our writing noticed. Otherwise, we might never be anything more than someone who put pen to paper.
Do you market your writing? How? With all the “marketing for writers” resources out there, have you found any that are helpful? Leave your thoughts and advice in the comments below.