Writer or Salesperson?

Couple recent experiences drove home the notion that successful writing these days isn’t so much due to good prose as slick promotion. A recent Writing Conference standard “Ten-Minute Pitch” where you get a hasty sit-down with a real ‘literary agent’ had a friend discussing not her books/stories but her online presence. Then, a local seminar by an indie author was all about full-time marketing and not an ounce about craft.

No more ‘Can you write?” but “Do you FacebookPintrestTumblrTweetBlogGoodreadsAmazonPromoBlogTour?”

I know as much effort and creativity go into marketing a product as the making the product, (maybe more) and I get that advertising/promotion is important, but it feels like shill and gush have priority over plot and character. Save recommendations from friends, family, known-authors, my trust factor for ads and 5-Star reviews is waaaay down lately. Is it just me getting grumpy in my dotage, or is there some validity in this assessment?

I’ll end with today’s serendipitous post from Seth Godin “Marketing Good”

Marketing good is the McMansion that looks good at an open house but isn’t particularly well built or designed for actual living.

Marketing good is the catalog of gimcracks and doodads that entices the casual shopper but sells stuff that ends up in a closet.

Marketing good is the cover of a magazine decreed by the number crunchers in the newsstand sales group, not the editors and the readers they care about.

Marketing good is sensational or edgy or somehow catchy, but is a service that never gets renewed.

As you’ve guessed, marketing good isn’t actually marketing good, not any more. It’s just junk.

Second and third order recommendations and word of mouth and the way we talk about the things that are “good good” is the new marketing.

Your initial response rate, newsstand sales or first episode ratings are a measure of old-fashioned marketing prowess. Now, we care an awful lot more about just plain good. Or perhaps, if you really want to make an impact, great.

4 Comments on “Writer or Salesperson?

  1. I agree with your sentiments. I’ve noticed a HUGE shift toward promotion, and a HUGE shift away from quality as of late. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many people self-publishing now that you have to use gimmicks to get to the top of the pile and raise your flag, or if it’s because people are too investigate something to see if it has any quality that they are relying solely on what ‘shocks’ or ‘awes’ them. I’m having to walk a careful line not to sell my gimmicks, and sell instead my writing and let the quality speak for itself – but it’s getting harder to do so.

  2. That’s it exactly – ‘it’s getting harder to do so.’

    I don’t know if that’s objectively true, but it sure the hell feels like it.

  3. I enjoyed your post and agree. I try to remind myself that the reason I write isn’t to sell, but because I enjoy writing. Of course, that’s not how I make my living so it’s easy for me to ignore marketing and have fun with it. Someday if I want to publish, I guess I’ll have to change my tune.

    • I hear you. I confess the desire for $$ is tangled up in there, but I have to ask myself “Would I still write if I knew I’d never be famous/sell movie rights/appear on the NYT Bestseller list?” Is the story that strong that it demands to come out?

      And perhaps I’m a bit snitty at other ‘writers’ cashing in on polishing turds, then calling it ‘success’.

      Speaking of writing… I’ve got a deadline. Thanks for stopping by. Take Care.

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