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Seven kinds of author-marketers

Writers lie somewhere between these caricatures when it comes to our attitude to marketing

I’ve worked in education all my life so since I left work I’ve gone on a steep learning curve as far as marketing is concerned. It seems to me that there are common approaches to marketing among the writing community. I’ve created seven writers as caricatures below just for fun – the reality will be much more messy of course. My point is that real writers lie somewhere between these caricatures when it comes to our attitude to marketing, and that we can learn from one of the other approaches, even if we don’t adopt it fully.

“writers lie somewhere between these caricatures when it comes to our attitude to marketing, and we can learn from one of the other approaches”

Writer 1: “Marketing is a product of the capitalist machinery that keeps us in competition with one another. My writing is all about resisting the dominant power structures, not supporting them. Money should be abolished. Can you get the drinks in, I’m a bit short?”

Writer 2: “I don’t need to do marketing. I’ve got an income that pays the bills. If people want to buy my books that’s fab. I tell my friends about my work on social media but I’m a bit suspicious of it to be honest. I do readings of course, but other than that marketing isn’t my thing. Someone else markets my books, a lovely woman at the publishing house. Well, on my last book I paid a freelancer to do my marketing for me. I wouldn’t really know where to start.”

Writer 3: “I work for a writing organisation, and I teach Creative Writing workshops too. The fact that I write and publish enabled me to get this position, so I make the bulk of my money through writing – but indirectly. I guess I ‘sell’ my writing skills to my employer but I don’t usually think of it like that. I like to think of it as a take on a master / apprentice model. The ‘master craftsman’ earns their living from sharing their skills with beginners, and therefore – to a certain extent – from marketing them to beginners.”

Writer 4: “I’m a freelance writer, meaning I earn my money from writing, all kinds of writing. In fact, I see writing as a job first and foremost. I do copy-writing mainly – that’s the bulk of my income – and I have to have a firm grasp of marketing for that. I do a column for a well-known magazine, and I’ve also written a novel and I’m working on a screenplay. I don’t see those as any different really – how else are people going to hear about my work if I don’t put stuff out there?”

“How else are people going to hear about my work if I don’t put stuff out there?”

Writer 5: “Marketing strategy has a big role in my life these days. I have an author business. In other words, I’m self-employed and I run a business writing and promoting self-published books. I’ve been called an authorpreneur and a Kindlepreneur though I prefer ‘independent author’. A couple of my friends are hybrid authors – meaning they’ve been published by the trad press as well as being independent. Self-publishing is a viable business model nowadays. Marketing is a key part of my business strategy as it would be with any small business.”

Writer 6: “I run a business and I needed to produce a book as part of my job, to promote myself as an expert in my field. We sell it at the back of the room at speaking events. I have a lot of experience of marketing already. The book is now a key part of our marketing strategy, in fact. It’s in service of something bigger – our brand and our values. It gives us kudos.”

“I’m a teacher and a writer, although my days are so full I don’t get much time for my own work.”

Writer 7: “I’m a teacher and a writer, although my days are so full I don’t get much time for my own work. I used to teach the Creative Writing A Level until it was cut, but now I run a Creative Writing group – mainly for A Level English students who are interested. Producing a book – from beginning to end – is a learning process. I want my students to understand how it works. Also, we wanted to share students’ work in an anthology, show off what they do!  Although selling and marketing the book are part of the process, they are only one aspect of what I want the students to learn. We usually sell plenty of copies to family and friends at the launch.”

Now the approach I’ve been learning about over the last year is number 5, and although it’s not necessary to adopt it wholesale, I think every writer wanting to sell their work should know about it. It’s been really eye-opening. I’m going to write a few blog posts about marketing to share what I’ve learnt.

I’ve also interviewed 10 writers, asking each of them 10 questions about marketing, and will post the results up here.

By the way, if you want more information about book marketing, you can infer plenty of tacit knowledge from this post on Book Bub.

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