Most writers seem to hate marketing, selling, or publicity. The idea of getting the word out about their work seems kind of—well, rude. Are you one of those writers? You’re in good company if you are, but you need to learn some new stuff about how to think about marketing—that is IF you want to be an author who people actually read. Do you want other people to read your book?
The other day someone told me that I shouldn’t advertise so much, that it was off-putting. I understand all too well that sentiment. Just like many of you, I learned, “Don’t toot your own horn, certainly don’t talk about yourself too much or too often. And don’t tell me I should buy anything!!”
Didn’t most of us grow up with rules against telling others that we have something they might need, that we have created something we’d like them to know about. I know that I did. When I was young, my grandmother used to say, “You think you’re something don’t you? Well, you’re nothing. Don’t get so high and mighty.”
It’s possible that I was being an irritating teenager when she said that, but there were many other comments that told me that my voice, my desires, my thoughts of expansion, or self-esteem were “too much,” shameful, and selfish. And that has happened to a lot of people, and it leaves its mark.
Writers suffer from a great deal of this ailment. They whisper, they find it hard to speak out, to write their truths, to claim their space, particularly women. When you become a writer, you have to learn how to break long years of conditioning to be silent, or if not silent, to be cautious about taking up space, or being too pushy, or obvious or demanding. Of course we need to be aware of our effect on others, but some of these early teachings serve us badly. We learn not to say what we know, we learn to hide our lights. It takes a long time—too long—to claim our wisdom, to know what we know and be willing, even eager, to share it. It gets in the way of our writing, and once we write, it gets in the way of putting our work into the world where it can do some good.
I’ve declared 2012 The Year of the Memoir, which means I’m dedicated to support and encourage creating—and selling—your memoir. This happens in stages.
- Arrange your life so you write your memoir. Keep writing, don’t let the inner and outer critics discourage you.
- Find your voice, write your truths. Sit down and write regularly.
- While you are writing, you need to imagine your audience, those whose lives you want to affect by your work. You are not journaling privately, you are writing a book!
- Writing a book, a longer work, a memoir means you want others to read what you have to say and you need to have positive affirmations and visualizations about how powerfully your words will affect others!
- Imagining your audience means that you will write scenes, you will bring the reader into the world you create on the page. You will start to see your story with the eyes of an observer, which guides your narration and perspective in your memoir.
- Finish the first draft, then start working on another draft or two. Have someone mentor you through several stages of your book. You will be thinking about your reader, your audience even more now, and wondering how you can reach that audience.
- Marketing is taking that idea further—that there is an audience who needs your book, people who are eager to read it.
- Marketing means getting the messages out there that will INVITE your readers to you. You need to make it easy for them to find you.
We writers need to learn new ways to think about marketing—that it is a way of giving to others, not taking from them. We are offering our readers a way to see the world through fresh eyes, to learn something new, to be entertained, to see life in a new way by reading our work. We will inspire others to write, to create, to bring their own vision to fruition.
Think of your writing, your book, and your marketing as a gift.
Join us at the National Association of Memoir Writers to listen to Lynn Serafinn talk about the Gift of Marketing. Her spiritual, holistic and inspiring way to see marketing can turn your mind around and make you see it through new eyes!
In what ways have you been reluctant to share your work–for money?
What were the childhood messages you got about selling, marketing, and publicity?
You have hit the nail on the head. Why is it that I feel so squeamish about promoting my two books. I know that one of them, It’s an Ill Wind, Indeed… has an important message; I’ve been told that over and over – that it is a gift. It maps my hard fought journey through grief after the tragic loss of both my husband and young son through a fire in our home. It is the candid story of the reclamation of the lives of me and my four teenaged children. It is easily related to by anyone struggling with bereavement, but may also be instructive to friend and counselors, as well.
Yet that niggling “Don’t toot your own horn,” asking someone to buy your book even though you know that you know what you know and it is worth sharing and worth more than the amount you’re asking for it, causes that reluctant feeling. Guess I need to write affirmations!!!
Thank you Linda Joy for putting these words, the words that mist around in my head, into print.
With my soon to be published book, Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe, I not only wonder about marketing but if I should even think about marketing. After all, “who do I think I am”?
To hear you say that our stories are a gift to the world is such a novel way of thinking compared to our culture teaching of modesty. Thank you for saying these words in a hundred different ways. Please keep saying them, we need to hear them.
Warm regards, Dawn