Category Menu

Marketing Your Writing: The Chicken or the Egg?

Morguefile image: http://mrg.bz/gpRJWa

If you live anywhere near Memphis, TN, please consider attending Mid-South Christian Writers Conference in Collierville on March 7th. I’ll be teaching a marketing workshop. Check out the other offerings on the website.


What comes first? The writing or the marketing? Many writers, especially those new to publishing, think they need to get their books or articles written. Only when the projects are complete do they begin to wonder about marketing. Like a farmer with extra chickens, they start looking for a place to sell their work.

Selling your writing is not exactly like selling chickens, but there are some parallels.  Bear with me! You may be trying to sell chickens when your readers would prefer the eggs. Of course, to get the eggs, you have to raise the chickens, gather the eggs, and package them for transport before you can sell them to your customers. To sell your writing, you need to know the answer to three questions.

Who needs your information?

In other words, “Who is your customer?” Have you already written a book on home-schooling? Do you have an idea for an article or series of articles on Internet safety? Get your market guide and look for publishers who cater to readers interested in your topic. Be specific. “Home-schooling mothers” is a specific target. “All adults” is not. If you have a group of devotions written, you can tweak them for a specific age group like grandparents or teens.

How will you package it?

Book or articles? Most beginning writers think they must write a book. But, I’ve heard editors say that most “first” books would be better presented as a series of articles. If you are an unpublished writer, it’s not likely that you will land a book contract. If you are truly motivated to get your work published, you’ll be willing to package your message in a format that sells. More people will read your work if it is published in a magazine. Devotional magazines and Sunday School papers are good starting places. You might find a devotional magazine at your church that is open to freelance submissions. The Christian Writers Market Guide contains information on such publications and where to find writers’ guidelines. Unfortunately, the 2015 edition is in limbo for now. The 2014 edition is the most recent. Your final decision on packaging your message will depend on the specifics in the publisher’s guidelines.

Who will publish it?

Make a list of potential publishers based on the guidelines you’ve collected. Most publications have websites where you can download the guidelines or find out how to get them. For example, the guidelines for The Secret Place devotional magazine are found online here. Some magazines require query letters. Book publishers usually want a written proposal rather than your book manuscript. Here’s an earlier Blog4Writers post containing general information on how to write query letters and book proposals (and a wealth of other information on writing and publishing).

Send it in!

Whether you’ve decided to try to sell your chicken (book) or you’ve opted to re-work your material and sell the eggs (articles), the next step is—start submitting!

Market Guides:

On Blog4Writers:

Other Online Resources:

 

Marketing Your Writing: The Chicken or the Egg?

What comes first? The writing or the marketing? Many writers, especially those new to publishing, think in terms of getting their books or articles written. Only when their projects are complete do they begin to wonder about marketing. Like a farmer with extra chickens, they start looking for a place to sell their work.

Selling your writing is not exactly like selling chickens, but there are some parallels Bear with me! You may be trying to sell chickens when you should be cultivating the chickens so that you can sell the eggs instead.

Who needs your information?

Have you already written a book on home-schooling? Or maybe you have an idea for an article or series of articles on Internet safety. Get your market guide (see below*) and look for publishers who cater to readers interested in your topic. Try not to be too general in identifying your reader. For example, don’t say, “Targeting all adults.” Be more specific. “Home-schooling mothers” would be a more specific target. If you have a group of devotions, you might need to tweak them for a specific age group like grandparents or teens. The approach would be entirely different depending on which group you choose.

How will you package it?

Most beginning writers think they must write a book. However, I’ve heard a number of editors say that most “first” books would be better presented as a series of articles. If you have never had any work published, you will be waging an uphill battle to get a book contract with a royalty publisher. You could publish your book yourself, but that is expensive, and you’ll have to handle the selling of your book.

If you are motivated to get your work published, the most effective way to do that is with articles and short pieces. More people will read your work if it is published in a magazine. For Christian writers, devotional magazines and Sunday School papers are good starting places. Look around your church. You might find a devotional magazine that is open to freelance submissions. Or, there might be a Sunday School paper that is used regularly in your church. Sally Stuart’s market guide contains information on such publications and where to find writers’ guidelines (see below). Your final decision on how to package your message will depend on the specifics in the publisher’s guidelines.

Who will publish it?

Make a list of potential publishers based on the guidelines you’ve collected. Most publications have Web sites where you can download the guidelines or find out how to get them. For example, the guidelines for The Secret Place devotional magazine are found online here. Some magazines require query letters. Book publishers usually want a written proposal rather than your book manuscript. Go to my Wired to Write blog for a post containing general information on how to write query letters and book proposals (and a wealth of other information on writing and publishing).

Whether you’ve decided to try to sell your chicken (book) or you’ve opted to re-work your material and sell the eggs (articles), the next step is: start submitting! Be prepared for rejection. A writer I met at conference said she had an acceptance rate of 40%. That means that, out of every 10 submissions, only four were accepted. If your work is rejected, send it to someone else. Send it to the same publication in a few months. It could be that your timing was the only reason it was rejected. If you persist in submitting, you will be published.

Resources:

*Market Guides:

·Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide

·Writers’ Market Online: http://www.writersmarket.com/

(Print editions of both books may be available at your public library.)

*Other Online Resources:

·www.wired2write.wordpress.com

·http://www.right-writing.com/

·http://www.marketingforwriters.com/

·http://www.absolutewrite.com/

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes