The One Big Secret Of Marketing Your Writing

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There’s a big secret to marketing your writing. It’s a secret that many writers never learn. They don’t discover it on their own, and professional writers rarely bother to share it.

Here’s the BIG SECRET: YOU NEED TO PURSUE AND WOO YOUR MARKETS UNTIL THEY BUY FROM YOU. That is, you need to make more than one contact with a market — you need to make many, many, many contacts, until that particular market buys from you.

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It makes sense. You have to make relationships in all other areas of your life, so why should marketing your writing be any different?

It will take many contacts for an editor to buy from you. If you give up too soon, you’re letting yourself down.

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Why does it take many contacts? Because editors are busy, and because they’re also human. Discovering new writers in the mass of proposals and queries they receive every day comes last on an editor’s long To Do list.

Let’s say that you send an article proposal to Painters Monthly Magazine. (This is a fictitious magazine.)

The magazine’s complete editorial staff consists of just an editor and a deputy editor. Most of the editorial content is written by contributing editors and freelancers. This motley group is responsible for a 160-page magazine each month. Deadlines are on the 15th of each month, when the magazine has to be at the printer’s.

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The editor works late most nights. His wife is threatening to leave him, because he’s gone from seven in the morning until ten at night. The editor spends most of his time cajoling, threatening and encouraging his contributors to keep their promises and send material when they say they will. He spends the rest of the time worrying about the budget, and scheming with the advertising manager to create deals with advertisers so that the magazine’s editorial pages won’t be cut back.

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The editor receives a stack of mail every day, both postal mail and email, including anywhere from 20 to 50 article proposals a day. Every day.

The editor’s job isn’t to read mail, much less proposals. It’s to get a magazine out the door each month. He doesn’t have an assistant. How much time do you think he spends reading the proposals?

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That’s right: as little time as possible.

You’ve got maybe two seconds to hook his interest if it’s an email proposal, maybe five seconds if it’s a paper proposal.

Please don’t let this news depress you! It’s not depressing news at all. It’s reality.

The reality is that you’re trying to sell a product to someone who wants your product, who desperately needs your product, who couldn’t survive without your product, BUT — that person is busy. Not only is that person busy, he/ she’s also soured on proposals. (Why? Because most are not right for his publication, but he has to wade through them all anyway, and the whole process adds to the stress in his life.)

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Therefore, when you send any editor a proposal, please don’t assume that because there was no response, it means that you’re a lousy writer. It simply means that the editor is/ was/ and will be forever busy. Maybe your proposal is still on his desk, buried under a yard-high stack of paper. Maybe he deleted your message without reading.

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However, no matter how busy the editor is, Proposal 1 will make him/ her vaguely aware of your name. If you never bother to send the editor another query, you’re forgotten. Whether you get a response to your first query or not, send another query within three to four weeks. I’ve heard of some writers sending a query every week, but this is excessive. Once a month is fine. Proposals 2, 3, 4? How long should you keep sending proposals? You keep sending them until the editor buys from you, or until you decide that you don’t want to be published at that publication.

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Because they’re not familiar with publishing realities, new writers, and some selling writers who’ve never figured out how the process works, let themselves down. It’s a simple truth: anyone can become a selling, professional writer if they approach selling their work in a professional manner. This means pursuing and wooing editors until they buy from you.

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