We all start with different decks.
Some with no cards. Some with no money. Some not even at the table. It’s not fair. There’s nothing fair about it. Maybe it will never be fair. But if you want to play, if I want to play, whatever odds I was given, them’s the odds I got.
So what will I do?!
Here’s a start. You start from the beginning and build out from there.
1. Put your unique value into words. Define your unique message, your unique contribution.
This is self-examination. I recommend a book by Alison Hill that I published as a micro-publisher, Media Ready, Media Savvy, because every writer I knew needed to take this step. It’s a workbook that asks a lot of detailed questions to reveal what’s unique about you. You will probably need to work closely with writer friends to get the full picture of yourself.
2. Study where you fit in the market.
What existing category do you fit in? Who are you like? What’s similar and what’s different about you compared with someone famous that we are already familiar with. If you like Doris Lessing, then you’ll love me. If you enjoy Ursula LeGuin than you’ll want to read me… Familiarity is a starting point.
3. Own your name.
- Get on Google or Bing. Search for your name. Find out if others have your name. “Anora McGaha” “Barbara Bos” “Kerry Holjes” “Susan Baker”
- Too many people with your name? See about adding an initial. See about adding your middle name. See about adding “writer” or “author” to the name to find a unique searchable “phrase” that you can own.
- Check www.knowem.com to see if your name is available on Twitter, Facebook, and in a domain (internet address www.yourname.com). Seeing what’s available can help you decide to go with:
- Sue Baker, Susan Baker, Susan J. Baker, Susan Jane Baker, Susan Baker Painter, Susan Baker Writer….
- Then you’re going to want to save your selected name on Twitter, Facebook Pages, and as a domain (www.yourname.com)
- If you don’t want to be technical at all… you could go with Wix or Weebly.
- If you are ambitious and are willing to learn some, but not a lot, I recommend WordPress.com, just go ahead and order your domain through there and use the wordpress.com platform on WordPress Premium. It’s more integrated, requires no handling on your part to update. $99 a year at this time, and extra for the domain.
- If you’re ambitious and willing to learn a lot more, I recommend getting a hosting site through Net Firms on the WP Essential Plan. It’s affordable. Has security and most important for someone learning, there is reliable WordPress technical support. GoDaddy says they have it, but after I created an account there I found out they didn’t have it. So Net Firms is my recommendation.
- Your name is your ticket. If you want people to be able to find you, choose a name and stick with it – exactly the same way all the time, so when people search they can find all your content. (Unless you have another reason not to – like a pen name for your erotica, for example.)
4. Even if you haven’t started writing your life’s work, you need to be building community.
- You’ll need a whole range of connections, friendships, professional associations and it won’t work to wait until after your writing is finished.
- Who is your natural community? What groups would be likely readers of your writing? Who are your people?
- You’re going to want to start building, almost like a politician, one relationship at a time, your network.
- Go too fast and you’ll lose people, they’ll feel your insincerity. Go too slow and you won’t have much room to work in when you have a book.
- Find the people who are your natural people – the ones that get you, that like and support you.
It all takes time, like growing a forest from the ground up.
Some of you will be ready from the get-go. You’re natural talkers. You’re natural promoters. You know the niche you want to be in, you naturally fit in.
Others of us will feel like snails, moving so slowly, afraid to let go of where we were in case there’s no ground to stand on with the next step.
I am reminded “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Think of all the fun. The new relationships. The learning. The excitement of getting to new ground. The pushing past fear and resistance. Just keep stepping forward as you’re able.
If we don’t keep on our journey, with whatever unfair set of cards or no cards we’re given, and push past whatever minute or gargantuan obstacle, we’ll never know what might happen.
In time, “What do you mean I have to market my writing?” starts to sound like, “What do you mean I have to make friends?” or “What do you mean I have to talk to people?” “What do you mean I have to feel my work has meaning to others?”
And those questions are easy to answer. “I can do this. I can do that. I will.”
Anora McGaha is a writer and marketing professional who has been building websites for writers, artists, therapists and small organizations since 2005. She started Women Writers, Women’s Books in 2011, and When Women Waken in 2013.
Together with Barbara Bos, Managing Editor and Partner of Women Writers, Women’s Books, they offer website, marketing and social media services to women writers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the word HELP or MARKET in the subject line and tell us what you’re looking for and what your budget is.