Written for South Carolina Writers Association
Do yourselves a huge favor before you begin to write a single word – be clear about your goals as a writer. Every writer’s goals are different. Some don’t have any. You should.
When it comes to publishing, the best place to start is at the very end. Before you dive in to the process, consider what the main goals are for your book and for your writing life. Do you aspire to commercial success? Are you looking to supplement your speaking career or business? Maybe seeing your name in print is enough to make you happy. Determining your goals will help you map out the path you need to take in order to arrive at end results that will satisfy your expectations. Set your goals.
Before you submit your manuscript, have you thought about how to market your book? You should.
Marketing is part of your creative process as a writer. Not separate from it. Once you have your manuscript (MS) formatted correctly, technically proofed, edited, edited and yes! Edit again – you’ll want to include your marketing plan and pitch letter. When you show a publisher that you’ve thought about marketing they know you take the process seriously. It can make all the difference in the world between ending up in the slush pile, the shredder or on the ‘for consideration’ list.
It is this simple. To become a great writer:
1) Write something someone values
2) Get that something in front of that someone.
You need both good writing and good marketing to be successful.
Many writers see this as 2 steps. Not so. Let’s take a look at what makes a manuscript more likely to reach its intended target. For this, look at David Baldacci, Mary Alice Monroe or any top flight author. Hard work, talent and a dose of luck all factor into their success, but the common thread is the way their great writing aligns with the principles of great marketing.
Successful authors know their books won’t, don’t and can’t appeal to everyone. It results in appealing to no one. The same principle applies to marketing. Target, think narrowly and know your audience. Visualize them.
Once you stand for something, have written a great manuscript and know your audience, marketing will become easier and more fun. You will now submit your manuscript and your marketing plan with your readers in mind. You’ll market to them! If you think about your marketing plan as an invitation to a party – it is infinitely more enjoyable.
Marketing, like writing, works well as you create value for others. In submitting your manuscript be clear about the ways it will create and add value for the publisher and readers. When you make someone’s life significantly better, it is an experience that gets shared with others.
There’s no better marketing than that.