Flex Your Marketing Muscle

   Posted by: Faith   in Rye Thoughts

I’ve been pretty lax at posting the last couple of days… in all honesty, I haven’t been entirely sure what to write about. I know that sounds ridiculous – how many millions of writing topics are there to choose from? – but there you have it.

So, here we are today. And today, I want to touch on marketing, because it’s relevant to me right now. “Oh noooo,” I hear you say, “Not this again… I’m so sick of hearing about writers and marketing…” I know, I know. Aren’t we all? We know we have to do it, but it doesn’t have a lot of real relevance for us until we “get the call”, so to speak. Awhile back, I posted about developing your platform before you get published, and many of you mentioned that your blog is your primary platform at this stage, while you develop your writing skills.

But what about your marketing skills? Not everyone has a natural aptitude for marketing, in the same way that 98% of writers need to continue to develop their skills, regardless of their career stage. What does that mean? It means that you can’t just expect to be able to do marketing to the best of your ability on the first go-around. And if the first go-around happens to be your first novel, well… you might end up shooting yourself in the foot, due to a simple lack of experience.

There is, however, a solution. And that’s called: practice. Yes, just like your writing practice, you can practice marketing. How? Don’t you need something to market, in order to know whether you’ve been effective or not? Yes, you do. And you don’t need to necessarily market something writing-related.

This will be my first year as the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for my region. When I signed up for it, I thought “this’ll be fun”… but as I thought about it, I realized the kind of potential the position has. As the ML, I would be responsible for getting word out about the event, for trying to recruit new people, for subtly asking for donations, and for keeping everyone informed throughout the entire month. In essence, the ML’s job leading up to November is marketing.

During October, I posted press releases on all the community bulletin boards I could find. I emailed newspapers, radio stations, and put up flyers. I recruited another individual to help put up flyers and spread word of mouth, and I sent press packages to about 15 high school English departments. I created a Twitter account for the regional NaNo group, made a website, updated the Facebook group. Then, I waited.

Participants began trickling in, but I was discouraged by the lack of interest from local media. Was I doing something wrong? I still don’t know if there was a better way to get information out, but it means I learned something — I learned what routes don’t get coverage of my event/product. I learned that instead of emailing certain people, next year I’ll have to pick up the phone. I learned where posters worked best in terms of generating participants, and where they were ignored. And November hasn’t even started yet!

This week, I received two requests for interviews. Two! Yesterday I did an interview for a local news program, which will air on Friday. Next week, I have a tentative date scheduled for another interview, for a local university news program. I now know my postings on community bulletin boards worked, and in the coming week, I’m sure I’ll find out whether television coverage works too!

I tell you all this to say: You can learn to market your product, right now. Then, by the time you’re published and your book is ready for the world, you’ll have a better idea of what works to reach people and what doesn’t. Sure, you may get a bit of direction from your publisher’s marketing department, but we all know that it’ll be mostly up to us to get the word out.

So if you can’t volunteer as a NaNoWriMo ML, what kind of position will let you flex and strengthen that marketing muscle?

How about:

  • church events
  • SPCA fundraisers
  • local newspaper subscriptions
  • community theatre promos
  • other community events
  • your kids’ school events
  • local sports teams

…etc, etc, etc. There’s really no end of positions available for marketing and promotion, and most non-profits will be falling down grateful for volunteers who want to help them promote this event or that fundraiser or even just the organization or team itself. Simply tell them that you’re looking to learn some marketing skills, and you’d like to do it with them — be up front about it, and be willing to make mistakes and learn what works and what doesn’t.

Just plunge on in, and start flexing that muscle. Don’t let it get flabby and saggy, because when the time comes for you to use it when it counts, you want a tight marketing muscle that can do the job properly, and do it well.

And here’s a little tip as well: When you try your hand at marketing, your name is “out there”. After a time, it’ll become familiar and recognizable in your community… which means that you’ll have plenty of connections to draw on once that published book is in your hands and ready to be sold. People prefer to buy things from people they know and trust… so get out there, and be that person!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 at 5:50 pm and is filed under Rye Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 comments so far


I know everyone is sick of hearing about marketing, but it is so important. Thanks for your insight on the topic.

October 29th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Thanks for a great post! (I struggle with “what to post about” too…) I like your suggestion to practice marketing in other areas. Lately, I’ve been considering taking on the publicity position for a writer’s organization I’m part of. As you say, it would be good practice for someday when I have a novel to promote… :)

October 30th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Susan – Thanks so much for stopping by!

Bonnie – Wow, a publicity position in a writer’s organization would be great practice! And you know it’s something your passionate about, which always helps when you’re trying to market something with sincerity. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog & good luck with the promos if you decide to go ahead with it!!!

October 31st, 2009 at 3:23 am

I worked in public relations in my 20s. I also helped found our Romance Writers of America chapter. I watched the romance novelists network within RWA, going to booksignings at local chapters, running for RWA office…volunteering all over the place. It really does get your name out there.

November 2nd, 2009 at 9:03 pm

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