Friday, January 25, 2013

But I'm a writer, not a marketer!

I think anyone who writes has, at one time or another, imagined themselves sitting in a quiet cabin in the middle of the woods with nothing but copious amounts of coffee (or tea if that's your thing) and their words. We pictured the amazing prose we could produce in our perfect solitude and the large bank roll that would magically flow into our savings account when the world caught its first glimpse of our brilliance.


Bang! That was the sound of that bubble popping.

The truth is, most of us live in the real world where other things demand our time and attention. Things like jobs, family, sleeping and in today's world, marketing. That's right, unless you're a huge name (like King or Rowling) today's writer has to do more than just write printed gold. 

Authors Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry announced on their blog a few months ago that they have decided to stop writing. In their post, they stated that they are no longer willing to do the non-writing things that are required of authors today.

While this is absolutely their own choice, I find it a bit head in the sand. The world of publishing is changing. This isn't anything new and it isn't limited to publishing. When I first got started in marketing, I spent much of my time working on various publicity campaigns and analyzing  results. It was lovely. By the time I left my desk job a year ago, I found myself spending a large portion of my day working with IT staff to fine tune our internal structure and creating budgets and cash flow sheets. I still enjoyed my work, but it wasn't the same as it was years before. And there were certainly days I wished I could push aside all my other tasks and spend hours crafting the perfect message for a new campaign.

But I couldn't. The world I operated in changed, and it wasn't going back. My only option was to adapt.

As writers, it doesn't matter if we like the idea of creating a platform and marketing our work. This is the new reality. We can either adapt or quit.

Publishers aren't evil because they expect authors to take a heavier role in marketing. They themselves are only adapting to a changing world. Rather than complain and resist this change, I suggest we embrace it.

Consider this an opportunity to learn more about the business side of publishing. Does it mean you won't have as many hours in the day to dedicate to writing your next masterpiece? Yep, sure does. But unless you're content to write books no one reads, you don't have a choice. 


  1. Exactly! Marketing is part of writing. A very necessary part.

  2. Wow, the Grant/DeBerry post was sad. It's true that a writer should focus on writing. And also true that the market has changed so that the author has to do some marketing. There ARE other options than quitting though if you hate marketing. Hire an intern, get an agent, barter with a friend who does PR. Get creative!

  3. I just wrote a whole piece on my blog complaining about this (, but you are so right. I'm new at this, and I never imagined how complex the whole social networking thing would turn out to be. It takes a lot of work, and it's not like we're getting paid for it! But you know what we are doing? We're bringing joy to those who find it in our writing, and that is completely worth it.

  4. The Grant-DeBerry post is depressing but true. I hate the marketing/social-networking aspect of writing. I bet 90% of people trying to create platforms wouldn't be doing it if they had a choice. I think Grant and DeBerry will have less stressful and more rewarding lives when they don't have to do things they don't believe in. If any agent or publisher ever suggests I write erotica in order to get published, I'll be out, too.

  5. I have dreams of being a best seller and so much determination it's been called insane a time or two, so I'm willing to do the marketing. Do I like it? Depends on what you call marketing. I love blogging and commenting. I'm not fond of twitter. But there has been more than one day when I've thought it would be so nice to write what I want to write, not worry what anyone thinks about it, not have to beg someone to rep it or publish it on my own and attempt to market it. So I don't blame these writers for quitting. But as for publishers expecting writers to do more marketing, I have mixed feelings. If you're going to own my work for X number of years, why shouldn't you promote it? And expecting writers to do some marketing is probably fair, but how much? Some publishing houses aren't even using marketing/PR people to help the writer make a plan anymore. Most people don't mind marketing their own work, but not all writers have the knowledge base to do that. I do think publishers need to do their part.

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  7. My marketing skills could use improvement.

  8. Arghh... Sara, I'm sorry, but I tried to put a proper post up here, but I ran too long I think- almost 900 words.

    We're both on G+; so I'll put it on my blog. If you think it's OK, and needs to be truncated, so be it. You sure raised some food for thought.



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