Would you like to sell more of your writing? To get your work published in the Christian or secular market, you must give your customers, the editors, what they need when they need it. Editors know what their readers (customers) want, and they will not accept work that does not address their readers’ needs. Writers and editors apply the Golden Rule every day, not pursuing their own interests but the interests of their readers.
Marketing, a Required Activity
Yes, keeping abreast of your customers’ needs is time consuming. You’ve probably heard that writers often spend as much as eighty percent of their time on marketing activities and only twenty percent on their writing. Most successful freelancers will tell you that, if you aren’t willing to devote serious time to marketing, you will not likely get your work published.
At a marketing workshop, I asked participants to fill in the blank: “Marketing is ______.” I thought I would get a variety of definitions, but the first answer surprised me. “Marketing is a PAIN,” she said. Perhaps, if you think of marketing as a service you provide for your readers, you can have a better attitude about it. By discovering your potential readers’ needs, you are serving them as Jesus commanded in the Golden Rule.
Once you’ve adjusted your attitude about marketing, you need a plan. Having taken a number of marketing courses for business, I apply the concept of the Marketing Mix, commonly called the “Four P’s” of marketing (product, promotion, place, and price). See a complete discussion of the concept on NetMBA (http://www.netmba.com/marketing/mix/).
A business owner or manager “mixes” the Four P’s to create a marketing plan that works for his or her market. As a writer, you need to determine what your product is, how you will promote it, how and where you will place it for the customer to access it, and how you will price it. Here’s the marketing mix I developed for myself as a beginning writer. It works for articles, devotionals, or books.
- Be sure the target publication has a need for your subject matter.
- Always, always—follow writers’ guidelines to the letter.
- Check and double-check for typographical and usage errors.
- Spend quality time on your query letters, cover letters, and e-mail communications.
- Assemble your best clips, both print and online, to send with your queries.
- Set up a Web site and post your resume and writing samples for all to see.
- Go to conferences so that you can get to know editors, agents, and other writers personally.
- Use market guides to get your work to the right place at the right time.
- Turn your work in a couple of days before the deadline.
- Your product may be free at first. Use non-paying markets to get published.
- Set up a blog and establish your expertise in a subject area.
- When you have published clips and online writing samples, it will be easier to attract attention in paying markets.
Start now by setting up four sheets of blank paper marked Product, Promotion, Place and Price. Use my general guidelines above, or develop your own.
Work the Plan
Begin work on your plan as soon as you have your general outline. You can make adjustments as you work it through. Don’t worry if you don’t completely understand everything about the individual components of the Four P’s. Keep in mind that you’re using this tool to help you identify markets that cater to readers who need the message you offer.
The Fifth P for Christian Writers
The Four P’s marketing mix concept was developed years ago, but it is still very adaptable to any type of business or service. Business students and teachers have added other P’s over the years. For the Christian writer, there’s one more P that is a necessary ingredient in your marketing mix—prayer. As you work your plan, pray for God’s guidance every step of the way so that your plan and God’s plan can work in sync.
Learn to Love Marketing
As you spend more time on marketing, you’ll learn what works for you. Your plan can be adjusted as needed, but don’t be tempted to tinker with it constantly. Whether you write for the sheer joy of disseminating the message of Jesus Christ or to make a living, your testimony will be heard only if it is published. That means you must spend as much as 80% of your time on marketing activities and apply the Golden Rule in your research. You may write less, but successful marketing will mean that you can realize your publishing dream.