Promoting Your Writing
Naturally the most lucrative way to promote your writing is through publishing companies. Publishers have departments entirely devoted to marketing. Therefore, if you can get a publisher interested in your work, working with a publishing company is probably the most effective way to promote your writing.
Today's market for writing is highly competitive. First, you have a limited number of people who actually read that make up your market. Of those, they all have tastes of what they like to read, decreasing your potential audience still more. Add to that your competition. Should J-Lo decide to write a piece on the same subject as you, guess which piece the publisher is going to publish, and which author a literary agent is most likely to want to represent?
Given all that, the situation is still not hopeless. New authors are published all the time. Therefore it is worth exploring the world of literary agents and commercial publishers before moving on to other means.
The Writers Market , by Robert Brewer, and the Guide to Literary Agents , by Chuck Sambuchino, published by Writers Digest Books are very good resources for contact information by which to solicit publishers or literary agents. Because there are so many places to publish and/or get representation, guides like these are essential for the beginner. They help the writer select publishers or literary agents that deal with the type of writing that any given writer produces, rather than wasting time submitting cover letters and writing to entities that will simply not be interested because they do not handle that particular kind of work.
Each of these books contains great advice for writers of all genres, including how to write an effective cover letter, how to format work for submission, whether or not to submit to multiple publishers simultaneously, and what to charge for various kinds of writing. These books provide excellent starting points for promoting your work. They are updated annually to provide you with current information, so that hopefully you are not submitting to publishers who are out of business.
In addition to the Writers Market and the Guide to Literary Agents, Writers Digest Books publishes separate guides for many genres including poetry and fiction.
Ready for Publication
Before you submit work to a publisher or literary agent, make sure it is completely ready to publish. In my own experience and as I have been told by other writers, the days when a publisher sends back work for revision are gone. Book editors do not edit books, they approve or disapprove them, and usually the only correspondence a writer can expect is a rejection slip or an acceptance letter with terms.
Before you submit work, you should:
- Check spelling, grammar and word usage
- Get feedback from trusted readers
- Make all final changes until work is completely finished
- Make sure the submission is within the publisher's guidelines in every way
Formerly known as "vanity publishers," publishers that publish books for a fee enable writers to produce a product that they can thereafter self-promote. Another way to self-publish is by publishing an e-book that people can download from the Internet.
Self-publishing is a viable option for those writers with book-length works to market.
Promoting Your Work
Whether you are picked up by a publishing house or a magazine or are publishing your own work, promoting your writing is the same as promoting any other business.
- Don't be shy. Tell every single person you know about your work and how they can buy it.
- Seek out opportunities to read your work publicly. For example, if you write children's stories, get with your local bookstore owner and create an event in which you read a few of your stories to local kids. If you are a poet, go to open mic night. If you write non-fiction, try to get on a talk show. Everywhere you go, talk about your work and let people know how they can buy it.
- Seek out opportunities to speak publicly on topics related to your work. Get yourself introduced as, "Joe Sumgai, author of... "
- Publish a web site promoting your work. Put a link to your site in every single email you send out. Post links to your promotional site on your blogs and blog on topics related to your work. Find blogs on a topic related to your work and reference your work in comments. Write articles on HubPages on subjects related to your work and post links to your promotional site on your profile and in your hubs.
- Submit articles related to your work to e-zines and magazines where you can get a by line: "by Jane Smith, author of... "
To successfully promote anything requires that you be focused on promoting it. To promote your writing, keep it always on the front burner and always look for ways to bring it up on conversation or otherwise put it before your potential readership. They can't read it if they don't find out about it, can they?
Personally I enjoy publishing work right here. A few hundred people a day look at my stuff, and eventually someday I'll probably make a couple of bucks at it. Mission accomplished!