Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On marketing

On one of my writing message boards, we've been discussing the benefits of having a blog. I was one of those who said it was a way to get the word out about your work, marketing your writing. Someone responded that they thought that was what the publisher's marketing department is for. That comment prompted me to write the following, which I thought was worth repeating here:

>>So you don't see a need to go do book signings, to promote your book online, to do interviews, etc? I've read articles by authors who did this (one author took himself on the road and did book signings in a tri-state area and watched his sales shoot up) and increased their sales a good bit. Sorry I can't quote the source for that story at the moment - I've been reading so many books and magazines on writing that I can't recall the source at the moment.

I know from my art career that I am the only one who cares enough about my art to promote it properly. Galleries don't. I think the publishing world won't be much different. Some amount of money will be set aside to promote your book (IF YOU'RE LUCKY, or so I've read recently), but publishers will promote it for a certain amount of time and that's all. To get the maximum effect, you have to get your feet wet in the marketing pond too.

I've been doing marketing for my art for over ten years now and it's a lot of work, yup, it is. But the results are truly worthwhile. No gallery ever promoted me the way I promote myself, and I have ALWAYS had better sales on my own than I ever did through a gallery (and my art is good - it's not a question of quality).

One art form resembles another in that what we're producing is NOT NECESSARY TO LIFE - it's a luxury to read fiction, just as it's a luxury to buy and live with art. Fiction and art both enhance our lives, but many people live without both. So in order to sell our work, we need to create interest in it, so we do interviews, book signings, send out press releases, make personal appearances, etc., many of which we arrange ourselves.

If you haven't read articles on such topics, I recommend Writer's Digest magazine to you for starters. If STEPHEN KING, after a lifetime of success so his name is known by anyone who's been paying any attention at all the last few decades, is promoting his books via a website - which he is - rather than just using his website to entertain his readers as JK Rowling does with hers, there's a good reason to do some of your own promotion.

Marketing is a creative activity, if you look at it right. Yikes, I can't believe I'm having this SAME conversation with another group of creative people. Some artists are so artsy-fartsy they think it "prostitutes" their art to try to sell it! (I'd deadly serious here.) And then they wonder why their work doesn't sell. DUH! Sorry, I just don't "get" creating art for art's sake - my house can't hold all the bronzes I've created already. I sell them to be able to afford to create MORE because I love to sculpt! (I also sell them because it's a kick to sell things I've made!) The more I sell, the more I advertise, the better people know my name and the more often they will recognize my work from a distance. (I've been in my booth at shows and heard someone from across the building say, "Oh, that looks like a Sappington!" when referring to my bronzes. And what do you know? It IS a Sappington! LOL!)

If we're going to be successful, it won't be just the publisher's marketing department that made us so, unless you have such a remarkable book as a "Harry Potter" - and even that became such a monster hit because people got on the internet and spread the word about what a cool book JKR had written. (I've read that in numerous articles about JKR's success story. And that's how I found out about Harry myself, from online friends raving about the books.)

I'll stop ranting now. . .but I believe if we don't participate in marketing our work, whatever it is, we're shortchanging ourselves.


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