I feel like I might be late to the show by rebroadcasting some great, recent advice on the business side of the writing world. Stumbling onto this article was my first introduction to Chuck Wendig… and I’m now a huge fan. He offers some great advice in his blog post: A Hot Steaming Sack Of Business Advice For Writers. (He writes an awful lot like me—or maybe just how I aspire to be—and I thoroughly enjoyed his uncouth cuppa advice). I guess the blog title has little to do with my notes today, but it’s a pretty great line from Wendig’s post.
I’d recommend you go to his site and read it for yourself (budget a little time—it’s a long article), but wanted to highlight a couple key points, which really parrot what I’ve been saying for a long while. Perhaps his best advice (at least IMO) was his thoughts on marketing:
You Are Not A Marketing Plan
Some publishers want you to be. Or they claim you should be. But you’re not. What I mean is this: I think when social media became such a big damn deal that some people inside publishing were quietly cheering — first, because it genuinely provides a new axis of access for book discovery, but second because the writer can shoulder the burden…
A publisher who pretends you’re their only marketing plan is a publisher who isn’t spending money on your book, and your book will succeed more by happenstance and luck than by any engineered effort on their part. (Also, if they’re acting like you’re their marketing plan, might I suggest billing them for marketing hours, because that’s very seriously supposed to be their job, part and parcel of the relationship you enter by signing with a publisher… It’s best to demand that they actually have some plan in place, and ask to see that plan. You can even ask before you sign the contract. And you should.
if you’re the only one drumming up those opportunities and the publisher is simply cheering you on: they’re not doing their job, because you’re doing it.
Don’t work for free. Rarely worth it. Exposure is something hikers die from, and authors can die from it, too. If you do work for free, know the concrete benefits, and be sure to control the work — as I am wont to say, if you’re going to be exposed, then goddamnit, expose yourself. Not like that. Put your pants back on.
“What you do has value, so claim value for what you do.”
I work pretty dang hard doing the things that a publisher ought to do at times… which was my expectation as an Indie author. I’m recognizing that a publisher will want to see a strong platform and so I am pursuing that—but the trick is not to devalue yourself in the process. Remember, as an Indie author you invested in this story you wrote—it’s a piece of your heart. Don’t give it away like it has no meaning or value (not saying never give your story away… I’m saying you are valuable and don’t forget your worth, however you decide to market yourself.)