I’ve been writing for publication for more years than I like to think about. More than 25, though I really can’t figure out where the time has gone. For everything that’s gotten easier in this business in that time, something else has gotten harder. I think marketing has done both.
When I started, my electric typewriter, a hardbound (and old) volume of The Writer’s Market, and a creative writing class comprised my bag of tricks. I joined RWA as soon as I figured out romantic fiction was what I wanted to write and was a charter member of the now-defunct Northeast Indiana Romance Authors. I learned to talk a fairly good game there in the first few years, as I read every word of RWR, Writer’s Digest, and RT. In 1998, I sold my first book, went to two conferences, including RWA, and.
Yes, I ended that sentence correctly, because that’s what I did—I, along with what I was sure was a burgeoning career, came to a dead stop. The publisher of my first book didn’t want my second, and I didn’t know where to go from there. Even with an agent, which I was sometimes and wasn’t others, I couldn’t sell anything.
Eventually I did sell again, to a small publisher whose owner cheated, lied, and stole. She absconded with whatever funds anyone had coming. I got my rights back, sold to another small publisher, whose owner became ill and died. I got my rights back—do you sense a pattern here?
It ended, finally, that downward spiral. For now.
And that’s the scary part, that for now.
I wanted to write something knowledgeable and encouraging about marketing, about choosing your path as a writer and then keeping it straight and true, but the truth is that I’m not sure of the right things to do. I’ve spent most of the day on this post and have come up with this.
· What’s right for me may not be right for you. I can’t seem to get interested in indie-pubbing, even my book that I have the rights to. I say it’s because I’m lazy, but there’s more to it than that. I’m good at writing, but I suck at the business part, the editing part, the picking-out-a-cover part. Many, many writers are making great names for themselves as indie authors, not to mention lots of money.
· What’s right today won’t be right tomorrow. That Writer’s Market was wonderful in the 1990s. I used it until the covers flopped around madly on it. There were other books I used, too—The Romance Writer's Pink Pages was one. It’s still on my shelf, but I haven’t opened it in years.
· Don’t burn bridges. I don’t care if an editor or an agent or another author pissed you off, don’t talk them down to others in the business. You may have been right, but it’s definitely a case of discretion being the better part of valor.
· Listen! It’s not that you don’t know as much as the next person and more than many, but they might know different things than you. They might have promotion ideas you can use or be best friends with a publisher you know would like your story. Pay attention.
· Be nice. Be helpful. Be there. Social media is a giant time suck (it’s also lots of fun, though I haven’t yet figured out what’s so fun about it), but people will remember your name after while. Especially if you’re nice. Helpful. There.
What about you? What marketing tips would you like to share?