I’m back in the land of the living again, after 8 days in Hollywood for the Writers of the Future gala, home for three days, then back out to Lincoln City for an 8-day long craft workshop, I’m catching up on mail, and getting used to a new ‘normal’.
During ‘gala week’, I posted on this blog about what it was like to experience the WOTF writers workshop and gala event. Well, part of that workshop involved a tremendous presentation from cool dude and marketing expert Peter Wacks about how to market your work. And Peter challenged us (all 24 winning writers and illustrators) to help ourselves gain discoverability of our work. And even as he acknowledged that we would likely find these efforts a bit uncomfortable (at first), he reminded us that if we wanted to make a living at our craft (and we assured him we did), no one would know about our wonderful, award-winning talents unless we learned to market ourselves.
He spoke to us about VELOCITY versus SALES. Velocity being the speed of sales, as opposed to the number of sales. And while we all knew that the number of sales is what we need to make a living, it’s the velocity that makes you hot.
And we all want to be hot.
In this case, we were discussing the Writers of the Future #31 anthology, but the principle applies to any work. Once you have completed your work (be it art or writing), you need a marketing plan–a way to inform people that you have new work available.
For example, if you are indie published, the temptation may be to make your novel available as soon as possible (a few days after you get your cover designed). But the number of potential readers you’ll reach with a Publishers Weekly review can generate sales far beyond anything you could possibly do on your own. And a Publisher’s Weekly review requires an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) to be submitted at least four months prior to publication. Okay, so you decide to submit your ARC to PW and wait four months.
But wait! Those four months would be wasted if you didn’t also work on setting up your novel for pre-order, sending out more ARCs to critics and friends for honest reviews, lining up book signings with your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, filing press releases, arranging blog tours, and maybe a Twitter or Facebook giveaway or two. There’s more, but as Peter told us, this activity (before the book launch) builds up demand, such that when the book is released, there is already a handful (or more) of honest reviews about your work, which can attract new readers, and (even on a small scale) raise your visibility, drive more word-of-mouth, which can build into velocity. And and velocity drives momentum–and sales, far beyond selling your greatest masterpiece to just your sister.
Something to think about. Writers of the Future Volume 31