Marketing yourself as a writer

 2 May 2012

Promoting yourself is crucial for a successful a career as a freelance writer. Three established writers each give a piece of advice on how to market yourself.

1. Have an online presence

Keith Gray

"Marketing myself as a writer is quite difficult, because it's not often that the writer themselves becomes famous.

"When I'm in schools kids are asking: 'Can I Google you? Can I find you on the internet?'"

"It's the book that becomes famous. So many people remember the book rather than the writer's name.

"The way I try to overcome this is by visiting schools, youth clubs and reading groups in libraries, and talking to the kids. Not just about my books, but about reading and books in general.

"And maybe doing creative writing workshops with them, hoping that my name sticks in their head next time they're in the bookshop or the library looking for a book.

"It's almost a priority for someone that writes for children and teenagers to get themselves a website to have a web presence. So often when I'm in schools kids are asking 'Can I Google you? Can I find you on the Internet?'

"I've found it's such a great way to communicate with the readers. People will get in touch and let me know if they liked the book – or whether they didn't like the book!

"It's such an easy way for a reader to communicate with the writer and I've had so much more response to the books thanks to the website."

2. Gain relevant experience

Donald Smith

"Before you think of marketing yourself the key thing would be to collect as much experience as you can. Beginning with anybody and everybody who you can con into listening to you.

"Gradually you get a sense of what is it that interests you in storytelling. Where is it that your skills lie? How it relates to other creative activities that you'd be engaged in: writing or drama or community arts, animators.

"Only then do you start to say, 'this is what I can do and these are the areas I'd like to work in' and promote yourself through those."

3. Have the words at your fingertips

Elspeth Murray

"I think setting up my website was an important way of putting my poems together and allowing people to find out about what I do.

"Be ready to come up with something that's relevant to an occasion."

"Also, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be useful to writers in a range of ways – inspiration, research, encouragement ... not to mention distraction.

"While it can be handy to use social media to raise the profile of events or publications, people can find it off-putting if you’re using it primarily as a marketing tool.

"I think the trick is to see social media as an engaging, creative medium and as a way of listening to your current and potential readers and giving them something that’s unique to you. 

"Having poems at your fingertips and being ready to come up with something that's relevant to an occasion.

"Memorising poems I've found has been an excellent thing to do."

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