“The evolution of the writer is that not only will they have to be skilled storytellers, they’ll need to be skilled at multimedia, they’ll have to be savvy marketers, they’re going to need to do all these things,” Simon Lipskar of Writers House literary agency told the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Shutting off my creative brain to put on my former business banker hat, I would concur.
This is tough. As a MFA student and writer of literary fiction and nonfiction, this business of writing comes up a lot.
It is a debate, this balancing of the creative and logical minds. In order to create something great, you must tune off everything else and focus on your creative work. Sure.
Just keep this in mind: no one wants to be bombarded with your marketing after you’ve completed your creative work and are now trying too hard to play catch-up marketing. Desperation? No. Focused Marketing? Yes.
Marketing oneself as a writer is an art of doing business that the writer must learn. Plain and simple. You can’t run from it.
Traditional or self-published writer. Doesn’t matter. You can’t run.
So where do you start?
With digital Marketing.
You can start by thinking of the three forms of digital media marketing:
- Visual Digital Marketing
- The Written Word
- The Audio-Visual
Let’s start by giving two examples for each form.
Visual Digital Marketing.
Think of pinning as a picture narrative. If you’re developing a unique character, working with a unique genre or setting, writing about a specific topic, you could start by pinning that, thus educating your readers.
Elizabeth Gilbert, for instance, has a fabulous Pinboard that shadows her book settings.
I like to think of Instagram as a picture diary. If handled poorly though, this site could be off-putting to your readers or potential readers because of its self-serving focus.
One suggestion could be creating a picture diary of your writing life, writing town, etc. I’m not on Instagram yet, but I’ve considered it for creating a picture diary of my book’s setting–the picturesque views.
The Written Word.
Surely, this is where you could thrive, thinking of blogs as exposition in the narrative sense.
A brief personal narrative, is how I would think of it. Or a how-to format.
Either way, think of what literary reviews look for when you submit: narrative that shows and tells, has underlying themes, explains something important.
The point-driven narrative.
Your email newsletter could be an extension of your blog posts, delivered directly to your followers’ email boxes. It could be exclusive information that only your subscribers use.
I’ll be going back to email newsletters shortly, but in the past I’ve used MailChimp for my start-up business club.
How will they work for you?
Think audio-book apps and how they make you feel. Your smart phone in hand, earplugs to your ears, head back on a headrest, a professional reader in your ear enunciating each word carefully, pronouncing dialects in scenes, setting the mood of the story with voice inflections. You’re transported to the story’s setting.
If done properly, podcasts could evoke the same feeling.
Your podcast could be an entertaining and educational discussion like the ones you see on Slate’s Gabfest, covering literary and cultural discussions. Example: this one with great audio and a spunky discussion about Kanye West’s new album.
Your podcast could also be a how-to production. Like this feed featuring quick and dirty writing grammar tips from Grammar Girl.
For writers, videos could be a way to interact with the public after being in solitude for so long.
With video, you could choose from one of three options :
- Stick to videotaping live performances or readings only. Your live performance could be your smaller version of a Ted Talk (like this one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) that you have someone tape from a phone or flip video, while you speak to a small group about your book or the subject of your book. Or something like this: Melanie Benjamin’s interview about her book, The Autobiography Mrs. Tom Thumb.
- Book trailers. See this book trailer from Book Riot TV.
- Personal videotaping from home. Talk about something you’ve uncovered, some current events that could be of interest to your audience.