Last week I paid $40 for a ninety minute class called Marketing For Writers. I’ve paid more and less for similar courses before. Despite my contention that the industry of squeezing money from poor writers is bigger than the companion industry of writing and selling actual books, I did come out of class with some “take aways”, as was phrased by the paid facilitator. Here are a few take aways I’ll spoil you with for free:
The world isn’t going to come to you, Unknown Writer. You have to go to them.
You are the best advocate for your work. You understand your work and care more about it than anybody else ever will.
Make a list of what you’re skilled at besides writing, e.g. my inventory – pubic speaking, writing book reviews/op-eds/social commentary, interviewing people, knowledge of theater and music, schmoozing, people organization and event planning.
Now, where are opportunities in my section of the universe to exercise my skills and introduce myself/my name to potential readers. Are there skills in which I require more training or exposure?
Start small. Identify local opportunities to support your local writer/reader community, e.g. schools, libraries, colleges, book clubs, churches, podcasts, conferences, association. Small efforts add up and payoff over time.
Become confident talking about yourself and your writing. Write a 30 second elevator pitch and memorize it.
Design your author specific resume and hand out with your business cards, or bookmarks, or pens what whatever collateral. Don’t be afraid to pitch your ideas to local power brokers. 9 times out of 10 the answer will be no, 10 out of 10 if you never ask.
Have many irons in the fire. You never know what opportunity will be the one to propel your writing career.
I want to reflect for a moment on this “have many irons in the fire” guidance. It invokes a condition of anxiety I’ve continually struggled with before and after becoming a fulltime writer. For those who don’t know me personally – I am one lucky sonofabitch. Five years ago when my career in green investments dried up, my gay husband, who is a well-paid physician asked me if I wanted to quit earning money and write. At his insistence? Okay. I could advise you, Fellow Writer, to just marry well and don’t get pregnant. The fact is even I wrestle daily with the clock. I have no job, yet I find all the hours I need each day to beat myself severely for time-mismanagement, distractions, procrastination, and undocumented acts of sloth.
If you’re a writer with a regular job, kids, a house to keep together and you still find time to produce without implementing every insidious method of procrastination, share with me your magic formula. I could never get serious about writing when I was working fulltime on trying to stay afloat in different professional ocean. The marketing class guy said he has three kids and he writes every morning from 4 to 6am. Maybe that’s commitment to craft, but fuck that write? Still, how else are you going to make the time to get anything individually creative done? If we want what writing we can pull off to be read by anybody, according to Teach, we’re going to have to find the time to hand our writer’s resume off to every local Rabbi or Rotary Club secretary.
This guy teaching the class had a lot of super advice for building your personal brand and your author platform, but you can’t even pay somebody to give you 26 hours in a day. Here’s my advice, Dear Writer, for you to take away from this blog post: sit your ass in a chair and write.
Work on your novel, your play, your poetry with the conviction of mind that the only person who’s ever going to be lucky enough to read your bullshit is you. Write for writing sake, then revise, revise, revise. Dedicate what time you have to creating perfection without any concern for who will read you. Is anybody reading this fucking blog post, for example? No. But, I am writing something, anything today, and I believe it will come back to me in some positive way I can’t imagine. Once you’ve written something good, you may make a bubble-tea date with your alderman or neighborhood book yenta. Have many irons in the fire, but make sure your work is always in the hottest spot all day long.
 I once took a class with a professional writing coach who called such of paid-for revelations revealed as Ah, hah moments. “Any AH, HAH’s?” she would ask the class at the end of a session.
 The instructor said c.v. I’ve titled my writer resume “Scriptor Vitae.”