In almost any industry that is creative or geared towards entertainment, you’re going to find that self-promotion is the name of the game. Let’s face it; a lot of people out there would like to have a job that allows them to work from home, set their own hours, and create something unique every day of their lives. Sounds like a dream job…right up until the part where you have to make a living doing it. This is where the self-promotion comes in. Almost nobody is going to want to pay you to do a job that a million people would kill for unless you meet certain qualifications and give them a reason that you can do it better than anyone else. So if you want to pay the rent, you’re going to have to get really good at hawking one thing and one thing only: yourself. And here are a few techniques you might want to try.
- Be unique. Oh, yes…we are all unique, we are all individuals. And yet, many of us allow ourselves to be lumped into categories like “children’s books” or “mystery novels” or worse yet, “screenwriting” (shiver). In order to get the attention of someone who might actually want to give you money, you’re going to have to stand out from the crowd. So you’d better figure out what you do best and how you can use it to your advantage (or more importantly, the advantage of a publisher). Remember, there will be plenty of time to expand your repertoire when you’re famous (if only).
- Be nice. There nothing worse than a pretentious twit who thinks he’s just written the definitive novel of a generation (sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not going to be you). Don’t be afraid to ingratiate yourself a bit (just keep it legal) and send thank you notes to keep your name fresh in a client’s mind (it’s a lost art, but you’re a writer; you’ll figure it out).
- Create a brand image. In every business, what you’re really selling is a brand. It just so happens that the brand in question is you. So when you’re self-promoting, don’t try a new image on for size every week. A solid knowledge of what you’re about, the type of material you’re offering, why it’s better than the competition, and why it will sell is going to get you farther than some half-baked, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants demo tailored for each outfit. Eventually your brand will appeal to someone.
- Take the job. You will no doubt be forced into the world of freelance writing, because frankly, that’s where the money is (especially if you have some talent and fast fingers). This means you will have to write stuff you’d rather not. But guess what? Someone has to pay the bills! So take paying jobs where you can, get some experience under your belt, and work on your novel on the side.
- Effect change. This goes along with taking the job. Versatility is an excellent skill to have as a writer and it will allow you to take a range of work that other writers have to turn down. In other words, be prepared to work outside your comfort zone and to do rewrites. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t be married to your work.” This means you should see your writing for what it is: a work in progress. And remember, until you’re famous, the customer is always right.
Sarah Danielson writes for a website that specializes in audiobooks where you can find audio book reviews and read the latest industry news.