Go behind the scenes as I write my next novel Learn MoreGo behind the scenes

“Be an active member of the writing community”

I asked ten more writers ten questions about their relationship with marketing

I had the pleasure of interviewing a prize-winning author Cath Barton by email recently when I asked her the ten marketing questions I’ve been putting to various writers over the last couple of years. I ‘met’ Cath virtually on Twitter where we’re both part of the online writing community, but our paths have yet to cross in person. Cath Barton is a prolific writer of short stories and flash fiction, and an aficionado of novella form. Cath Barton’s second novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, will be published by Louise Walters Books in September 2020, and she has also recently completed a short story collection, The Garden of Earthly Delights. You can find out more about her and read her blog on her website.

Cath Barton Author Picture

Photo credit: Toril Brancher

Can you tell us a bit about you and your work? What are you working on at the moment?

I won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017 for my novella The Plankton Collector, subsequently published by New Welsh Review in 2018. Since then I’ve written a second novella, and a book of short stories inspired by the work of the artist Hieronymus Bosch.

I have another novella and two novels started, but I tend to let shorter projects take precedence at the moment – short stories and flash fiction for competitions and literary journal submissions. This year I have entered a story for the BBC National Short Story Award for example.

How do you approach marketing your work, on a practical level? For instance, do you schedule it for a particular day of the week, or use a different desk, or make time for it every afternoon?

I don’t specifically schedule marketing separately from my creative writing – I suppose I take opportunities as they arise.

Some creative people treat marketing as if it’s creation’s evil twin. Is there a way of making friends with it?

For me it’s an essential part of the mix, and I’m quite comfortable with the need to promote my work and myself as a writer. I tend to describe myself as a shameless self-publicist. But I think that part and parcel of it is being an active member of the writing community in its widest sense and supporting other writers. My experience of the writing community on Twitter, in particular, is a very positive one.

Do you think about marketing before, during, or after writing, or is it ongoing?

When I’m engaging in the writing of a story I’m not thinking about how I’m going to promote or market it. That comes after the creative work.

How do you tend to market your work?

I’m lucky enough to have publishers who help with the marketing of my books, but I actively search out my own marketing opportunities. Last year I took part in several writing festivals and I’m keen to do more of that.

I have my own website and post regularly; I’m an avid user of Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook.

Would you spend a substantial amount of time on a piece even if you knew you wouldn’t or couldn’t publish and sell it?

I always hope for publication of my work, but I never expect to make money from it – if I do that’s a welcome bonus.

Do you use any of these for marketing purposes: school visits, workshops, readings, video book trailers, seeking press coverage?

Workshops, yes; readings, yes; seeking press coverage, yes.

I once heard someone dismiss a career in book marketing by saying ‘he might as well go and sell fridges’ – is selling books really the same as selling fridges?

A career in book marketing is a far cry from the work which most writers do to promote their work; the career marketing person is in it to make money, and it’s a moot point whether or not they would make more from selling fridges.

There’s a lot of marketing jargon around, such as ‘find your niche’, ‘create a sales funnel’, ‘engage with your audience’, ‘create a platform’ – do beginning writers need to engage with it from the start? Has that changed since you started writing?

I don’t think any writer ‘needs’ to engage with marketing; it depends how high you want your profile to be as a writer. If you want to attract the attention of agents you definitely need to do it, but if you simply write for the love of writing, marketing is an optional extra.

Any examples of book marketing you think worked really well?

I can’t say what works more than anything else. I think that publicity is a cumulative thing.

Cath’s blog and website can be found at: https://cathbarton.com/ She’s on Twitter here: @CathBarton1 and her Facebook author page is here: @CathBartonauthor

Click here to read all of the interviews in the series

Published writer? Want to be interviewed about marketing? Click here to get in touch

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.