The Society of Authors has provided some excellent online talks during the pandemic. I actually signed up for Show Me the Money – and forgot to attend. However, I’ve watched it in the last week and it has given me some food for thought. The only snag about watching it retrospectively is that you can’t get to see what was in the chat box.
Candy Gourlay, a children’s writer and fellow SCBWI member, chaired a panel with Shoo Rayner and Steve Antony, author illustrators. They discussed side hustles that we writers can do to supplement our income and some marketing strategies.
A lot of what they spoke about was very familiar. Rounding off the topic they concluded that in order to earn a living from writing you have to write according to what the market wants rather than just have the wonderful idea that you think everybody should read. And you need to make that visible. You have to change your mind-set.
Now, I’ve always told my creative writing students that once the writing is done you have to switch personality from being the introspective writer beavering away in their garret to taking on the mores of car salesman and marketing aggressively. My own routine reflects this: mornings are for my own writing. Then once I’ve tackled CafeLit and my 300 or so emails, I spend the rest of the day marketing, my own and other people’s work, –often until about 9.30 p.m.
I guess I’ve been fortunate in working for eleven years in a day job that recognised me as a writer and though there was some pressure about being excellent - not sure whether I achieved that though they never sacked me – but there wasn’t so much commercial pressure. In fact niche was appreciated. CafeLit and the Creative Café Project came out of that job. I also wrote the first of my Schellberg books as the result of a sabbatical.
We value niche in what we publish. We never put pressure on people to market but always appreciate any what you do.
However, marketing needn’t be seen as the enemy. Learn to enjoy it. Find the strategies that work best that are also palatable to you and replicate those. That is the philosophy behind the book tweaks published every month.
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