Writing, Books and Marketing

There’s a fantasy writer who has put out a series of courses on how to write, get published — the whole round of business stuff.  Her name is Holly Lisle.

I’ve found her work valuable.  (Thanks Holly!) I’ve never managed to do what I’d like with my fiction, but her advice and the stuff she’s put out there has definitely been instrumental in me being able to earn a large percentage of my living as a freelance writer.  Since many of my favorite writers got their starts as journalists, I can only hope the the rigors of producing good copy to a tight deadline will hone other skills and improve my fiction.

She mentioned in one of her Q&A emails (one you have to sign up to get and can unsubscribe from!) that she’s come under criticism for mentioning her own work as examples for stuff she’s talking about and shame on her for “advertising”.

Sure, there are times when promotion becomes irritating and probably isn’t going to get you a customer.  Joining an internet discussion board that has a social or community aspect to it only to discuss a book you just wrote might irritate people.  But I think it’s unrealistic to assume that a writer who is spending time teaching about the craft would refrain from mentioning her own work in a newsletter she writes and owns.  It’s very clear from her site that she’s interested in making money from writing and from teaching about writing.   And what in the name of God is the matter with that?

This rant comes from two places for me.  I make part of my living as a writer, and part of it as a teacher.  Developing a course, even a minor one, takes time and energy.  If you have a quick example that will prove your point about something quick to hand, that’s what you’ll use.  It would be inefficient not to.

The writer part.  There are writers who don’t promote their work.  You’ve never heard of them because… they don’t promote their work.   See, making a living as a writer isn’t just about sitting at the keyboard pounding words out in a flood of prose — though those moments do feel a bit godlike.  Which, I suspect, is why many of us do it.   It’s about research, it’s    about development.  It’s about finding someone who’ll pay you to do it, and that’s no trivial task.   Of course you’re going to mention your work!  If you don’t, you stop having work.

Have I ever been irritated by someone promoting their work?  Yep.  The poly community, ferinstance, is loaded with people who write a book, then join online communities for the basic purpose of promoting that work.  They’ve forgotten a very basic premise of networking.   You have to have an established relationship — you know, maybe made friends before that sort of informal marketing works well.  Otherwise it’s gonna backfire.

But if someone owns a site, has a mailing list for which on can sign up for, and then you do?   Yeah, it’s only reasonable to expect the person is gonna mention his work!  That’s not crass.  It’s only sensible.

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