Before I jump in and start sharing my thoughts on the various topics I listed two weeks ago, I thought I should talk about what it means to sell yourself. In my past career in fashion this was a term I heard used a lot in motivational speeches my employers sent me to. Most of the time I rolled my eyes thinking this is such a waste, but then finally towards the end of my buying career I heard a speaker I related to. His name . . . Ron Martin.
Ron was one of the few speakers who really understood what he was trying to teach our sales team. He did not just talk a bunch of hype to get them excited about selling whatever product the company was selling. No, he taught our sales force how to sell and why it is important to not only sell the product, but yourself and the company as well. Many of the tips I heard Ron talking about can not be applied to a writer trying to sell their work, but some of them can be or can be changed a bit to help you get your foot through the publishing door. These I have sprinkled throughout each topic we will be covering over the next few Sundays.
It is understood, that the first thing you will need is a marketable manuscript. Next, my suggests are to help you make your own journey toward publication a bit easier. However, none of the tips, suggestions, or steps given are a guarantee for success. You will have to adopt them to your own situations, genre of writing, and style. But my hope is after these discussions, you will be closer to getting yourself published or your writing platform closer to more book sales; if you are already published.
So just what is "selling yourself"? Getting out there and talking about yourself, your work, and anything else that has to do with your manuscript. Because of obstacles and high rewards, many people become pro-active using 'high pressure' in their approach. I am sure you have all met at least one high-pressure salesperson in your lifetime. They do not take no for an answer and they follow you around like a hawk while you shop. This is not the best way to sell anything. Including yourself, but you should be eager to talk about yourself and your work. Finding the balance is key when selling.
Let's ask ourselves a question, "What is the definition of selling?" Now think about this for a moment, and then write your definition on a piece of paper. Look at it and analyze your words. This is important because your personal definition of selling creates your behavior and attitude towards the action. The most common definition that people give to selling is "Convincing people to buy something." Others might say, "Talking people into buying something."
The dictionary definition according to Webster is "To transfer property in return for money or something else of value." For a writer this would be your talent, skill, and knowledge in this business. How you see yourself as a writer determines how well you will do in presenting your work to a publisher. Therefore, you must see yourself not only as a professional writer, but also as a salesperson and expert in the subject you have written about.
Look at the first word in your definition of selling. Is it a taking word or a giving word? If your goal is to take a publisher’s/people’s money and to become a best-seller, you will not be as successful as someone whose goal is to give something.
To sell is to give. Those who give . . . get in return most of the time. Giving a service and/or information is what salesperson do. I know because I was one of them long ago. Selling is giving the customer sufficient information so they can make an intelligent buying decision, be it a yes or no. This means as a writer we need to be talking about our credentials in a non-arrogant way and sharing what our work is about.
Those who set goals to share information will succeed. You can always give information without hurting your writing business and that my friends is what marketing is all about. Sharing information with the customers builds trust, loyalty and many times a sale. It's human nature. If you trust the salesperson, you trust what he or she sells, and vice versa. Think about why you pick certain publishers to submit your work to. It does not matter if it is a book publisher or a magazine publisher; the reasons are usually the same. You have always liked books from them or you have been getting their magazine for however long. As a customer, you have trust in what they publish. You feel they only publish good material, etc.
This same trust is what you need to build, not only with your readers, but with the publisher, editor, and/or agent as well. So how do you go about doing this? Let us first go back to what I said before about needing a marketable manuscript. Speaking as an editor, I would say a fiction manuscript that stands out from among a host of very good manuscripts, will be by virtue of its lively writing style, sharply created characters, and involving plot. For nonfiction, the elements would make an editor respond positively because of the different or interesting way the information was presented. The article would be engaging as well. It would also have an appropriate subject for its audience and supported bibliographical references, showing the writer knows the subject or did their best to learn everything before writing.
My last comment about selling yourself is this . . . make sure you stay up to date with what is going on in the world around you and in your writing genre. I know many writers who lock themselves away and do not follow the world around them while working on a manuscript. In my opinion, this can hurt your chances on becoming published. Now please note that just because a popular book or magazine has everyone talking does not mean in the next two to four years everyone will still want to read this same subject matter. But you can get an idea of where the reading market is turning by the types of events currently happening. Reading, publishing and library trade magazines will give you reference to what publishers are looking for and what they are not. I also strongly suggest you keep a file of newspaper or other articles that apply or could apply to the business of writing. This can later give you much needed subject matter or places to contact to help promote your work. Finally, you will want to spend time with your target audience. Knowing whom you write for will make you not only a better writer, but also better at marketing and relating to those who will hopefully buy your work and help build your fan base.
To learn more about VS Grenier visit her website at http://vsgrenier.com or her blog The Writing Mama.