Monday, March 17, 2014

Marketing Versus Publicizing

I was at the local Jot conference and I heard something that's wrong about "marketing." This bears on my earlier remarks about the business conversation between successful writer and editor.

When you're writing and hoping to make money doing so, you hear about an author's platform.

I think we make a mistake to focus exclusively on author's platform, and we make a mistake to call that "marketing."

Well, yeah, it's getting your work in front of the people with money who might spend it on your work. Those people are called a market. And you want them to know what you have for them.

But it's telling, not listening.

The writer should think of marketing as a dialog. When you speak, but not listen, it is not a dialog, it is a monologue, a speech, a sermon. Maybe you ought to do some listening.

I want you to imagine you've got all the people who buy books in a comfortable sitting room. (More likely a stadium, but please suspend disbelief for a moment.) You know that book buying people are hungry for something cool to read. They've got money and they want to exchange it for a way cool story.

Some of those people will say, "I like C. S. Lewis or I like Robert A. Heinlein," so you can get their money by simply being that guy. And after you're established as a famous author, you can get people's money by just being you regardless of what you write.

But since both of those guys are dead, and the people in this imaginary sitting room have read all their books, you want to find other things they like. You can only find out what they like by LISTENING to them.

Do those people in this virtual sitting room like sparkly metrosexual vampires? OR are they sick of them and want someone to stake the twee nitwits?

Most likely both answers are yes. Learn what folks like, and if you don't naturally grok the market, talk to someone who does. I'm not suggesting you write trash just because the public demands it. You know better than anyone what you can do a good job at, and if you're like most creatives, you have more ideas than you have time to implement them. I'm suggesting that listening will improve your target selection.

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