In a world of blogs, tweets, website comments, and Facebook status updates, everyone is a writer. That is, they are in the sense that they are communicating through the written word. But you're a writer: you know what a gerund is, and you would never mistake "it's" with "its." Of course, the proliferation of social media has only served to flood the market with content producers. If you want to make it as a writer, you will have to separate yourself from the crowd so your work can be appreciated. Here are 12 marketing skills to help you become the next Hemingway.
The ability to…
…make friends with Twitter.
As a good writer, you already have the ability to write concise, interesting, and funny prose. That's all Twitter is. It should be a breeze for you to build a following of people that includes literary agents and book editors that can assist you in getting the word out about your work, or offer you a deal if you don't have one. Don't use this as a chance to hit them over the head with your book; just demonstrate what a good writer you are and they will want to read it on their own.
Recommending Twitter is really just a way of saying you need to be able to network. As aspiring author Julie Cantrell found, there are accomplished writers out there who are happy to give you advice on marketing your work. Email them, Facebook them, or add them on LinkedIn, just don't be too pushy or stalker-ish.
…create your own .com.
You could go the blog route, but you'll look far more professional with your own website. Pick up a copy of Teach Yourself Dreamweaver and download a free, fully-functional trial version of the software from Adobe. Consider making large chunks of your writing available for free on your site, and don't give in to the temptation to sell ads.
Giving your work away may not seem like a great marketing strategy, but even the pros do it, because it works. And for an unknown like you, it might just be the best way to get your work in front of people. E-publishing is one way to get your material into a professional, digital format that can be downloaded. Learn how to use Adobe Acrobat or similar software to have your work listed on the Kindle Library, for free or for royalties, if you prefer.
…maximize web traffic.
There is an entire field of professionals who work at optimizing companies' and individuals' web traffic. Since you don't have a personal SEO employee, you'll need to learn how to maximize your visibility on search engines by using clear and accurate keywords in your site title, description, and body. The way to move to the top of the search list is to have lots of other sites linking to your page, so you'll have to submit your stuff to various sites that deal with your topic and encourage them to link their readers to you.
…speak in public.
Traditional media outlets like radio and TV are turning more and more towards the new class of internet writers and bloggers. If a major TV show or radio program comes calling wanting to interview you, you'll need to be prepared to be beamed into millions of homes around the world. Do your homework and watch how other authors and writers handle different interviewers.
Don't wait for the TV cameras to come to you. Pick up an inexpensive camcorder or just use your laptop webcam. Shoot an introductory video of yourself for your site and your latest book project, or upload a highlight reel to YouTube of key points in your work. You don't have to be Steven Spielberg, just keep it simple. Don't zoom in and out, don't use any lame screen wipes, and don't sound like you're reading from a script.
…know the industry.
Even after they get a book deal, many authors are surprised to find the majority of the marketing depends on them. Know going in what kind of writing sells and can be marketed and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run. Keep up with what's hot by reading Writer's Market or Script.
Establishing yourself and your writing as a brand involves knowing what your core strength is. It's the one thing you know more about or write better than anyone else. Take Perez Hilton: he turned a love of celebrities and gossip into a website with millions of views each month. His name/pseudonym is now synonymous with the subject. Find what you're passionate about and become laser-focused on that subject, and eventually you'll be branded as a respected authority.
…make a media kit.
Microsoft Publisher is all you need to make a professional press kit to send out to agents or publishing houses. Include in your materials the market research you've done to show how the writing can be profitable, and include the best bits of material from the work. You'll have to find the right balance between providing enough pertinent info and overwhelming the audience with data.
If you really want to make a living by writing, you're going to have to make it your top priority. Don't be too busy to turn anything down: an interview for a blog or a neighborhood weekly, a "local authors" day at a small bookstore, or a speaking engagement across the country. It make not sound like a skill to be available, but being upbeat and on your game at all times requires work, plain and simple.
Financially-speaking, the most important aspect of marketing is knowing how to sell your products. With all this attention you've drawn to your website, you have to know how to operate a digital store. Paypal is the industry standard for accepting payments, but you'll also need to make arrangements to accept the major credit cards. To protect your customers, you'll have to know how to use https.