To Market, To Market

by Ellen Leventhal

I am old. OK, maybe not “one foot in the grave” old, but older than many of the writers out there. What does that have to do with writing? Not a lot. But what does that have to do with marketing? A whole lot.

When we were very young, girls of my generation were subliminally taught to be modest, not to toot our own horn, and never bring attention to ourselves. I don’t ever remember anyone actually telling me that, but the message was there. As I grew into my twenties, I embraced the feminist movement and fought hard for equal rights and opportunities. I read Ms. Magazine and marched for causes important to women. But still, girls of my generation were given what could be called mixed messages. On one hand, we were told, Believe in yourself! You can do anything! But on the other hand we were reprimanded with Don’t call attention to yourself. It’s not nice.

As writers, we can quietly go along doing what we do without a lot of fanfare. But the world of marketing is different. In order to sell books and be called for presentations, people have to know who we are and what we do. Not an easy task. How do we deal with platforms and marketing plans without calling attention to ourselves? We can’t, and we shouldn’t. Sorry old messages from my past, in order to do what I do, I’ve got to call at least some attention to myself. Navigating the choppy waters of marketing, I am learning to balance. Messages from my past and the current message I want for myself have begun to merge. To market well, I don’t think you need to scream your name, post fifteen times a day on Facebook, and push people down at book fairs. Marketing well begins with being proud of what you’ve done and not being afraid to tell the world about it. Balance. That’s still hard for me, but I’m learning. I am so far from really understanding what I’m doing in this scary new world of marketing, but I do know one thing, and my mother would be proud. It can all be accomplished while still being nice.

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6 thoughts on “To Market, To Market

  1. Yep! To me, it’s not as much a confidence issue as it is learning to balance marketing with everything else, while still being the person you want to be. There is a difference between letting people know about a product you’re proud of and bombarding people with “Pick me! I’m good!” I think it’s a challenge we all deal with. Balance in marketing and balance in life….both sometimes elusive, but both achievable!

  2. I had a marketing job that involved phone sales and I hated that. I am still somewhat sensitive to “people don’t like me” because I am strying to sell something. You, Ellen, are a supremely talented marketer and writer!

  3. It is difficult for many of us to market our books…because, in a nutshell, we often see it as selling ourselves…and that makes us uncomfortable. Thanks so much, Ellen, for your candid thoughts. You are right…we don’t (or shouldn’t) want to stand on the street corner, imploring people to buy our books…but just how do we ‘get the word out’ and let our target market know this wonderful book is available? Having a platform is a key element…and building one definitely takes time. I don’t know if you have seen this article by Jane Friedman, but it give a clear and simple explanation that might help: http://janefriedman.com/2012/03/13/author-platform-definition/
    Love this site…honest words from some smart writers!

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