Sunday, June 5, 2016

Marketing Yourself, Your Major Product

This past month I started looking around for a new horse partner. I always think it will be fun and it always turns out to be disappointing, frustrating, and so often a waste of time. I do my homework by researching the prospective horses first, examine video, and ask all the right questions. Still, things often turn out to be not what they seem or what they have been represented to be. Has this ever happened to you?

It makes me think, on a smaller scale, of looking for my next, great read. A search for a story that will take me away, suck me into the characters, make me feel something. So often I am drawn in by the cover, convinced by the book jacket blurb, and anxious to find fulfillment in the pages. Only to be disappointed. These days, I give a story a couple chapters before quitting. Then, the book sits cast aside until I can return it to the library or donate it to the local media sale.

What is it that makes a person pick a horse or choose a book? It is different for everyone, of course, depending on what they are looking for, but overall there are some basic marketing strategies. As writers, we are always encouraged to create our brand and develop a writer platform. You may be thinking of slick advertising costing lots of money, the hiring of a publicist, the oodles of dollars for eye-popping graphics and swag... Yes, that's great if you can do it, but I'm talking about something on a more basic level: professionalism. Taking yourself seriously as a writer.

Back to my horse shopping example: what do I think when I pull into a well-maintained barn with safe fences, thickly bedded stalls, and swept aisle way? I think this is someone who cares about their horses. I'm set up to have a good opinion of the horse, surmising that they will be well conditioned and trained. When I arrive at the farm, I expect the representative to have the horse ready to view--to be in and clean. They should then ask what I want to see and patiently answer my questions. In other words, the seller should be proud of the horse for sale and deal with prospect buyers in a professional manner. I'm dismayed to say that I've arrived for an appointment to find the seller absent or late and the horse out in a field covered with dirt. Some sellers have acted as if they did not have the time of day for me and were busy doing any number of other things instead of attending to the sale transaction.  How does that subconsciously affect my opinion of the horse? I hope to see through everything to the truth, but we as human beings can be easily influenced.

What impression does that convey, even if the horse is fantastic? What impression do you convey as a writer, even if your story is fantastic, if you don't put out the best product you can (if self-published) or otherwise don't behave in a professional manner as a writer?  You are really the product, after all. Your writing, your ideas, your imagination, your style--your brand.

I'm very interested in hearing other opinions on these thoughts and ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely the way we portray ourselves is important! If a writer is conversing with me via email and there is a lot of short hand / incorrectly spelt words, poor grammar, etc, then I am disappointed! This is the same in any books that I read.
    Professionals need to take the time to read and read again, to edit and get at least one other pair of eyes over their work before publishing it!