Saturday, 14 July 2018

Writing and Marketing - the Dilemma

If you want people to buy your work, you need to let them know about it. And you have to balance that with how successful marketing can seem a bit vulgar sometimes.

Like the ads on TV - we don't like them but we know that deep down, TV wouldn't exist without ads. It couldn't. Nor could magazines or newspapers - or, more especially, the Internet.

(Sorry to burst your bubble on this but if you think the Net is in any way free, you're kidding yourself. For a start, how much do you pay AOL for access per month? And how exactly do Yahoo, Google and Microsoft survive as the big three - it ain't charity, Bub, I can tell you that much.)

We'd like to think, as writers, we can be quiet, reserved, indeed anonymous - and people will somehow hear about us and buy our books - by word of mouth perhaps. By luck or by other people's promotional skills. Alas those days are over - if they ever existed in the first place!

Publishers are just as concerned about marketing as they are with publishing nowadays - (often the marketing department is bigger than the acquisitions department) - and they need to know that writers have the capacity and the willingness to go out there and promote their own work. To understand that success is a competition of sorts - you just can't hide your light under a bushel any more if you want to be taken seriously by the public - or the writing industry.

Something to bear in mind when promoting yourself, perhaps.

Besides which, I've never understood why it's okay for Coca Cola and Nike to get in your face and come across as big corporate bullies - but somehow it's unseemly for writers to be anything less than demure. Unless you're Jack Canfield or Bryce Courtney of course - both writers that everyone loves now because they, like an increasing number of successful writers, refuse to compromise over the need for self publicity.

And anyway - the way I see it is that I'm not really promoting me - just my writing - which is not really me, the person, but me, the writer - two close but not entirely the same individuals - does that make sense?

I'm shy as a person, afraid of criticism and easily hurt but when I put writing proposals together or movie treatments or anything I use to 'sell' my writing - I know I can seem super confident to the point of being almost 'brash'. But that's not really me - it just helps my career. A lot.

I try to teach this aspect of writing to others - because I know it can help writers get around this problem of having to seem self confident, worldy and wise in the ever more competitive marketplace that writing has become - when all you really want to do is sit at home and write.

I think Robyn and I show that this can work. You can be both.

Like all those (apparently) insecure Hollywood actors who look good in the media but secretly crave solitude and only do all the media stuff because it's what enables them to do what they love.

It goes with the territory. Even as a writer.

To ignore the need to publicize yourself is to cut off your nose to spite your face I think. In order to make money, you need to get yourself - or at least your writing - out there, or you simply won't be able to afford to keep doing it!

It's a very modern dilemma.

Anyway, again I apologize for my apparent brashness sometimes - I'm perhaps really only trying to set a good example for you, my writer friend.

Thanks for letting me speak to you.

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy