Personal Marketing for Artists |

Personal Marketing for Artists

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As writers in a “brave new world” of publishing, we face many challenges. Our literary predecessors could get away with simply writing a good book. That was true regardless of genre whether you were Ernest Hemingway or Dan Brown. But the facts are it’s not enough to write a good or even great story. It’s not enough to think of an engaging storyline or to develop characters our readers can fall in love with or relate to. It’s no longer sufficient to merely write tight, clean prose, to demonstrate mastery of our craft.

To the writer who’s just written their first “publishable” book, the road to publication can be arduous and often seemingly impossible to travel. For years, having a first novel published in a “non-traditional” manner (self publishing, print on demand, etc.) could present a major roadblock as an author tried to increase their readership and their standing in the literary community. Simply put, it was looked down upon, and the people that did it were obviously desperate hacks with no chance of ever achieving commercial success.

Today that’s not necessarily the case. While traditional publishing is still the optimum route, writers are selling books and building readerships without having to rely on print publishers with marketing departments. The Internet generation – which as vast- has ushered in a new age, and we as writers and artists stand to greatly benefit. Look around you. Many of the students and mentors at Seton Hill have launched and established successful careers through avenues like e-publishing. Whatever stigma this type of publishing once held, it’s become extinct.

As a burgeoning writer myself, and as someone who’s spent a good bit of my academic and professional life working in local media and promoting arts activities, one truism I’ve found to be particularly apt is that what we as artists are selling is not just our work. No, our most successful brand, and the one we need to work hardest at developing is our NAME. So, essentially, the product we need to move is OURSELVES.

If it sounds a little like prostitution, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. We’re little more than common strumpets. We lay bare, in many cases, our very SOULS on pieces of parchment and then we let every Tom, Dick and Sally with an interest put their grubby hands all over us. Whether we sanitize and call it a book sale or not, the relationship between writer and reader is not all that different than between a prostitute and her (or his, it’s a progressive age) client.

Last term in class, we had to put together a lesson plan and the professor strongly suggested that we take the opportunity to do a lesson plan for our teaching module. It didn’t take me long to decide what material I wanted to present, it was as plain as day and as obvious as “write what you know.” I chose as my theme “Personal Marketing: Thinking Globally & Locally.” Personal marketing is something I’ve explored myself for as long as I can remember. There’s an old saying of “If you got it, flaunt it” and I’ve never really shied away from doing so (when I’ve thought I had it). Therefore, personal marketing has always seemed rather elementary to me and what’s kept it interesting is the myriad ways in which it’s changed, no, rather, EVOLVED, and how we now have opportunities to market ourselves that would have been dismissed as pipe dreams not all that long ago.

Today, I’d like to talk a little about what some of those opportunities, and how we as writers can take advantage of both global and local marketing solutions, many of which cost nothing and require only that we’re willing to invest enough time.

GLOBAL: Personal web site, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, etc.

LOCAL: Local media including but not limited to newspapers, magazines and radio stations.

If we have time, I’d also like to take a few moments to discuss ways in which writers and artists are TRAILBLAZING new routes for the rest of us to travel on the road to publication, and to brainstorm other new ideas that may prove fruitful for one or all of us as we move forward.

ETA: This content was originally prepared in June 2011 as part of my teaching module.

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