In the workshop, I’ll show how to organize your thinking about marketing based on the Marketing Mix approach, or as it’s sometimes called, the Four P’s of Marketing.
The Four P’s are Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. This model originated with Neil Borden in the 1960s, and it’s proved to be a useful model ever since. The concept is taught in basic marketing courses and is used by businesses everywhere. This is the first of a series of posts applying the Four P’s to marketing for writers. The first item of business, your product.
Product: The key is quality
For writers, the first step in developing your marketing plan is to define your product and make sure it’s a quality product. Identify your specialty. Then, compare your product to competitors’ products. Yes, you will have competition. When selling your articles, books, or editing services, you will compete with other writers for customers. A piece of writing has product features that publishers (and the agents who serve them) expect to see in work they buy. While there are many sub-categories, the publishers look for content relevant to their target market, writing that needs little editing (style), and writers who adhere to their stated guidelines (professionalism).
Look to Writers Market or the Christian Writer’s Market Guide (2015 edition to be published in March), to be sure you are submitting your work to a publisher that wants your type of work. If you don’t have the market guides, sometimes you can find writers’ guidelines by searching online. Of course, you must know the name of the publisher. In the Christian market, you must consider theology also. The various denominations have very different views of doctrinal issues, especially if your work is nonfiction.
Different markets use different style guides. If you write or edit for magazines, you need to know Associated Press style. Book writers and editors should be thoroughly familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style. There are preferred dictionaries for the different markets, too.
Book publishers (for authors of books or short stories that will be included in books, fiction or nonfiction):
- The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, published in 2010), online subscription available.
- Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, C 2003), also online. The dictionary search is free, and premium services include access to the unabridged dictionary and Encylopedia Britannica.
- The Associated Press Stylebook, updated every year. Online subscription for $25/year.
- Webster’s New World College Dictionary (5th edition, 2014)
Some Christian publishers (books or articles):
Academic writing may require the use of one of the following guides:
- A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate A. Turabian.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
If this list is not familiar to you, now’s the time to check out these resources. Choose the ones that are used for the genre you have chosen as your product. Always check to see if the edition you’re buying is the latest one. Writers who want to be published cannot rely on their knowledge of English from high school or college. You stand a better chance of selling your work if you know and conform to the style guides the publishers use.
Every publisher has established guidelines instructing you how to submit your work. Some publishers only take submissions through agents. Agents often have their own guidelines for submissions from prospective clients. Here’s an example. Regardless of whether you’re selling direct or through an agent, nothing screams “amateur” like a submission that does not adhere to guidelines. If you won’t take the time and effort to submit your work in the requested format, you’re telling the publisher or agent that you might have a problem following directions. You are selling your writing, but you are also selling yourself as a professional. Always, always, always…adhere to the guidelines.
Readers, is there another aspect of product quality that you’ve encountered? Share your thoughts in the comments.