Wednesday, 12 September 2012

How to Sell Yourself as a Writer

All writers need to sell their work. Whether you're a one-novel-a year-person, prolific spinner of romantic novellas, or a Tolkeinesque world-creator, immersed in maps and spin-off histories,

To be successful you must SELL yourself

Put it this way - no one is going to sell anything for you. Once you've sold to friends and family (bless them), and unless you have a dynasty, the main job remains undone - to sell to strangers.

That's right, previously unknown people will need to know about and then be enthusiastic enough to buy your book. And there will need to be a lot of them; many, many people, who will hopefully give you MONEY in exchange for your efforts.

Why else are you writing? Not for yourself surely - although that holds its own peculiar attraction - but TO BE READ. So, even if you don't intend to give your stuff away (which is not such a dumb idea, at least while you build your audience), you have to learn to SELL and MARKET.

The Internet can help you

There's been a revolution in marketing and promotion. And it's being lead by social media. People no longer react to be badgered or interrupted. Instead they want to be engaged, to feel part of your project. So you have to tell them your story and interact with them.

And you don't have to wait to get involved. Even if you don't yet have a book to promote and sell, you can get started. In fact, it may be better that you haven't got that finished article yet. You can go ahead and create INTEREST. Make mistakes, try things out, different approaches to the same goal.

Which is to sell books.

Imagine the ocean is going to be the only place left to live. You'd want to get on it, wouldn't you? As the land recedes and the waves lap on the last beaches. While the cliffs crash into the sea and rivers overrun the land, whether it's on a surf board or a cruiser, you'll need to get on it in order to survive.

Not waving but drowning

You don't want to be left on the shore. To paraphrase the words of poet Stevie Smith, you don't want to be 'too far out all your life, and not waving but drowning.' You want to join the party, but you're unsure how to proceed.

Twitter, blogs and Facebook are your first friends. Then try other stuff, like Pinterest and Stumbleupon. Write an article or too, and put them on Hubpages. But first you may have to get out of thinking 'it's not for me'. What's not for you? The world has opened up. Millions of wide awake eyes. Billions of ears. All looking for a message. Your message.This is exciting. Whatever you're selling, you need to build your online identity.

And you need to start NOW.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Question to Ask Before Writing Your Book

Who am I writing this for – in other words, what is my AUDIENCE?

The question to answer before writing your book

...and 5 Possible Answers:


This is the easiest to deal with, because posterity doesn't care. In fact, posterity may never happen (although it probably won't end quite this soon).

So, no pressure, take all your life. And since you have no audience, you can experiment. Be yourself; think weird, allusive and outrageous.

P.S. Most poetry falls in this category.


Again, no pressure. Follow the instructions for Posterity above. (This may be something your psychiatrist has told you to do).

Friends and Family

Applies to memoirs, family histories and the one book we are told (often erroneously) that we all have buried inside us. There’s a bit more pressure on selling for this one, but once you have ditched 20 at £60 a copy to relatives who hope it will get them a mention in your will, you stop.

To Impress (a Girl)

You may want to substitute genders, but this is high up the personal satisfaction list. A long time ago men wrote, then dedicated lives and books to their muse (who was, sometimes, another man). The essential aim was to woo, marry or seduce the woman in question, but many have used the notion as a springboard for the imagination.

Again, this works best, but not exclusively, for poetry.


Fame etc., the BIG ONE. This is what most of us aspire to. Whether it's to make a living without having some jackass boss shouting in your ear all day, or to buy that yacht you saw once in Casino Royale, writing for money is the biggest challenge of all.

And it's the one you need to prepare for if you want to MAXIMISE your sales.

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Thanks, George