Writing and selling

Many of us who like to write are also social. Chances are that if you like to write about people or write in a way that talks to people, you know people and like to be around them.

But there are those  who are not social because they haven’t tried, are shy or just like it that way. For such people, the social revolution on the internet, which, at first, had seemed to bestow a lot of power on individuals, has thrown unexpected curve balls.

It has also unleashed a lot of us newbies, used to writing, thinking and generally being socially awkward and staying a hundred miles away from anything that says selling, or promoting, or being a part of the crass realities of the marketplace [smiley face here] into social spaces.

To say the least, we are rather odd denizens of these spaces, floating about like alien matter not quite knowing what to do. And yet here we are.

Some of us are not here yet, but we will be, even if we come with reluctance, taking slow but sure steps towards the inevitable.
We will promote ourselves, and sell, sometimes rather awkwardly.
Some of us will make a direct appeal on social media “Here’s why you should buy my book.”
Others will be a little less direct “This is how I deal with it in my own book.”
Others will say “I also blogged about it.”
Yet others will fall victims to classes and courses that “teach” one how to be social on social networks. Perhaps many will find these how-to classes personality transforming experiences. If you can teach an old dog new tricks that is.

Writers and thinkers, trained to inhabit worlds that are not necessarily in tune with buying and selling have to think hard now.

Not just think in a subtle way, such as what kind of characters might people want to read about in my book but  how do I sell the book?

Should I do a buy one get one free deal for my two books or could I pull off a higher price for my novel if I also sold three short stories along with it for 99 cents as a package deal?

The reality is that the individual writer has to be an attractive package himself–good writer, good promoter, great networker and excellent marketer.

Of course, the separation of pursuits of the mind from the marketplace was always artificial. It just wasn’t  as obvious as now because someone else was doing the selling.

But even at a more basic level, how will it change our approach to creating a piece of work as separate from market considerations, at least temporarily until the meeting with publishers etc.–a place where many could afford to be so far because someone else was taking care of all that?

Ultimately, some other hierarchy will set in for sure but until then,  the writer cannot afford to be alienated from the market side of his craft in the process of writing.

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29 thoughts on “Writing and selling”

  1. Writing and marketing seems to have become much more intertwined in this digital age than it was even 15 years ago — or maybe it just takes a different shape now with today’s technology. Great post!

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  2. I wish I was better at marketing/promotion, something I’ve never had a talent for, especially when it came to myself, They are skills you need to succeed as a writer, so currently my only real goal is to have a person or two read my books and enjoy them. And, since several lists of marketing strategies suggest to sign any posts or comments on line with my web address, here it is. See? I pay attention. 🙂 http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn#

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  3. I agree with kkline922. I write because I love writing. My main point got writing is not to sell but to be read by someone. To be a better writer through writing and reading others writings.

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  4. One thing I cling to in this scary arena of marketing my work is that the most important thing (I believe) is making sure it’s good work. I can’t get discouraged by all the market know-how I don’t have and don’t want to develop; I have to focus on the writing, first–and when I know it’s good, I will trust in it to sell itself. Lots of marketing, after all, is really just writing–even if it is writing a sales pitch.

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  5. I have thought for a long time that writers are paid as much to market (probably more) than they are for writing. The fact that we get to write is really kind of a bonus.

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  6. A man mired in disadvantageous muck, looks like. Tried the social networks. Couldn’t get into them. Have a hard time finishing long works. The actual writing I enjoy immensely and the results turn out to be uneducated offspring that I happen to like but realize they are replete with shortcomings. So I’m quite certain they would not be what too many people out there would be interested in, and certainly no real publishers would be interested in, because I know the quality of my work is mostly low. But if someday I can actually write something (finish something) that I both like and feel reaches an acceptable qualitative level… yeah then I’d feel confident enough to ‘do’ something with it beyond slinging it on this wonderful platform that is a free wordpress blog. But I’m having a ball doing it this way so in a way I’m in no hurry to finish a lengthy work that will be high in quality.

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  7. I am sure that many people have a belief (subconscious or otherwise) that self promotion is vulgar. In England the view that one should not blow one’s own trumpet is deeply engrained in English culture. I find it easier to promote myself online than in face-to-face situations. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it is extremely unlikely that I will ever meet anyone of those with whom I interact over the internet making the risk of embarrassment (real or imagined) remote, while I will continue to have contact with family, friends and acquaintences in the real (as opposed to the virtual) world.

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  8. There’s a bad side to writing to the market, but there’s also a good side–closely considering the preferences of your audience. I’m finding that I’m very conscious of who my readers will be and what they like and don’t like now that I realize that I must court them like a beautiful debutante. When I attend to their wants and needs, I get the kind of feedback I love.

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  9. Great post. Perhaps one of the things (note: ONE of the things ;)) keeping me from completing my 3 unfinished manuscripts is the other 50% of the non-writing work – socialising, marketing, promoting and selling, etc. I also think it’s great that the writer needs to come out of their cave in order to do this and not hide between the covers of their books.

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  10. Spot on. I have not given up hope that someone else will do this for me. i agree w/ the person above who said she thinks that the prospect of getting into sales keeps her from finishing her writing work. Yup, me too. I do short form nonfiction, but when I get around to the book, I’ll be facing all this as well. Thanks for depressing me.

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  11. Great topic. I’m just enjoying the interaction between writers here on WordPress. I’ve gotten good feedback, and have tried to give good feedback to others. There doesn’t seem to be a “right way”, other than being yourself.

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  12. Nice post. Ultimately, I write because I love to and just blog out my work and cast it to the digital aether. But I am socially awkward, a deep seated introvert, and hate the business aspect. Probably nothing ill ever be comfortable with, which is why I keep reminding myself: write to write, not write to sell.

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  13. Knowing that I’ll have to someday deal with the social/selling aspect is what has kept me from finishing and polishing a manuscript. I have no interest in creating a persona and promoting my work. But I still want to give life to the stories in my head. It’s a dilemma, one I haven’t sorted out yet.

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  14. I’m not a good salesperson ( groan) I really just want to write, and will pay anyone whatever it takes to sell for me..( haven’t found anyone yet! )
    But you touched on the crux of the matter, and wearing all those hats isn’t always comfortable… great post as usual….

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  15. I have found that most writers are avid readers. Which is somewhat linked to exposure socially. So many ideas rattling around in heads, it is sometime easier to type then to talk. You need muster enough courAge to hit the send button. Or the post comment button. Lol

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  16. Each wall-flower shy writer out there should consider how they would gush on about the work of another to “help them out.” Try thinking of your own writing as a product, produced by another who needs help. Not as an extension of and example of yourself. What sort of promo and what sort of advice would you lend that other author? Please be heard, not affraid 🙂

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  17. Yeah… I’ve been struggling with that since I released my novel in July. There is a lot of advice out there on social media, but honestly I think a lot of it is trial and error–we have to find what works for us and what doesn’t. No one else can tell us that.

    And I am totally a “live in a cave and gnaw on bones miles from any human” type.

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  18. fascinating post. i am obsessed with this lately – how the writer needs to wear five different hats at once. the problem comes when that takes away from the creativity or makes the project itself less than it could be. it’s a balancing act for sure. great read. sm

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