Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Post: Shelli Johannes-Wells from Market My Words

I asked Shelli from the fabulous blog, Market My Words, if she'd do a guest blog here today.  She has done so many wonderful posts about marketing your work, regardless of whether you're pre or post-published.  I was curious if her marketing background helped her get to where she is today: a few novels under her belt, and also represented by the awesome Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group.  Thankfully, she agreed to do a guest post on the subject.  So let's see what she has to say!

I am curious about how your knowledge of marketing has helped you on your road to publication.
I think my marketing background makes me more sensitive to the business side of publishing. In the end it is a business and books have to sell. I find it quite easy to pitch books and actually have to come up with my pitch before I can start writing the book. I think this helps me stick to a core story. I also think my marketing helped me to create great queries that got the attention of agents/editors. But at the end of the day – no matter how good your idea sounds - the writing has to be there. Going forward, my marketing background will definitely help me promote books once I am published.

I also think my background gave me a topic to focus my blog on. A way I could help other writers – no matter what stage of writing they were in. I like to give back. I kinda feel like I don’t deserve anything unless I give back first. So I was happy to find this niche that people responded to in a positive way.

Did it help in any way as you were learning the craft of writing?
My marketing didn’t help me learn the craft of writing. It helped me pitch my ideas and hone in on marketable ideas. But not to actually improve my writing. It does give me a good sense of what is marketable and what isn’t. But craft is craft. I know that no matter how good the writing or how original the idea – if the book can’t or doesn’t sell books, it doesn’t matter.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you think would have helped you more early on?
I would have learned more about the publishing business earlier. Joined scbwi earlier. Subscribed to Publishers Marketplace earlier. I kinda jumped in with writing and querying before I really understood how it all works. So I think I wasted some time in the beginning.

How do new writers start building a platform?
There is no right way. I think writing is #1. But when you’re not writing, think about what kind of author you want to be and how you want to present yourself. Don’t be afraid to test the waters whether it be with blogs, twitter, FB or something else. But don’t do it all! And never put marketing in front of your writing. Just be sure to think about it as an important part of the publication journey.

Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, Shelli!! 


Marcia said...

It's refreshing to hear "Don't put marketing ahead of your writing." This is the second time in a short while I've heard it said, and I'm relieved. I think in recent years writers have gotten so anxious about marketing that they've let it crowd out writing, sowed their entire advance into promo, and such things. Our best marketing effort is another great book. Most of the rest is word of mouth.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Thanks Tabitha - wow I sound smart :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yay! I can never learn enough good stuff from Shelli! Your wisdom is invaluable to ALL of us. :-)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Shelli. I love your blog. It's always full of great advice. I love how you say not to try to do all the marketing and to focus on the writing. You're right. It comes first.

cleemckenzie said...

Learning is what it's all about. Thanks for the wisdom. Thank goodness it's never too late to learn.

Christina Farley said...

Writing is #1 but I love all of Shelli's advice. Thanks for sharing!

Sherrie Petersen said...

I think we'd all like to believe that writing is just this creative endeavor. It's good to remember the business side as well. Coming up with marketable ideas is never easy.

HelloWriters said...

The branding advice is top notch! Thank you!