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Published Article
by Patricia Fry

Writing And Promotion Go Hand In Hand

In order to become a successful writer or author, marketing and promotion are essential. Yet, countless new writers and hopeful authors try to reach their publishing goals without paying their dues. And then they wonder why they aren’t getting any work, why they can’t find a publisher or why their self-published book isn’t selling.

Folks, if you don't want the hassle of promoting your articles and stories to magazine and online editors day in and day out, then you're not going to have much luck establishing a freelance writing business. If you can’t stand the thought of marketing your book manuscript to agents and publishers, you won’t get very far in this industry. And if you don’t want to become an aggressive (or at least, assertive) marketer once you’re a published author, you might as well give up on the idea of publishing altogether.

Marketing and promotion are integral aspects of publishing. You are not the only one out there who wants to write and be read. You aren’t alone in your desire to share your literary works or to make a difference through your writing. As you've read often in this blog, in the magazines and newsletters you are (hopefully) reading and the lectures you attend, there’s a lot of competition in all branches of publishing. And, once you are published, it's an enormous task to find and interest readers.

There are more writers and authors emerging every day and statistics show that readership is down. So what’s the answer for those of you who want to break in as a freelance writer or published author? What must you do in order to make it? What do you need above all? Writing skill, creative and/or useful ideas, the ability to organize your thoughts effectively, certainly. But you must also be prepared and willing to promote yourself and your work.

A weak, after-thought of a query letter addressed to Oprah’s magazine or Reader’s Digest featuring your article idea won't cut it. Research the idea to make sure it hasn’t been done and that this is, indeed, a viable article. Pitch that idea with gusto and confidence, briefly explain why you believe your article will fly and back it up with facts. Reveal why you are the person to write this piece. In other words, sell it.

A casual, error-riddled, boring, incomplete query letter or book proposal will not hold a publisher's or agent's interest. You must convince him or her that this book is a great idea and how you could help them make some money. That’s what a publisher is interested in—money—not so much your writing accomplishments, not particularly your large vocabulary, not your empty promises, but his bottom line.

As a writer seeking publication, you must also become a salesperson. Many of you really dislike that term and the concept, don’t you? All you want to do is write. Publication is a way of validating your writing abilities and justifying the time you spend writing. For some, it is also a potential means of support. And all of this is okay. But, as with most other things in life, there are trade-offs—one must be willing to get out there and sell, market, promote him/herself and his/her work.

If you don’t have the stomach for selling and self-promotion, then publishing may not be the right career direction for you. Publishing can no longer be considered a hobby. It’s a huge and serious business and you must be well-informed, well-prepared and well aware of what to expect before entering into it.


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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