Writing’s just a part of it

sell1Once upon a time, a writer’s job was just about done when the letter came that said “We’ve accepted your manuscript.” Sure, she knew there would  be a few signings, interviews, and programs, but they didn’t amount to much.

It’s no longer true. Today publishers expect their writers to carry a heavy load of promotion. I knew that when I wrote my first book for Reedy Press back in 2010. When my books came out,  I gave speech after speech, did signing after  signing, and one interview after another. That’s continued up to today. Regular readers of this blog are aware of how frequently I go out to sell my books. It doesn’t really stop, really. This web site is part of the process of getting the word out.

I found on how big this expectation is today when I attended a class about marketing. The instructor, who is an agent, basically said a writer should expect to spend two hours on her internet “platform” (blog or web site) for every hour spent writing. Agents or editors don’t care about how good a writer might be if he doesn’t have that platform. I wondered how a platform-less Emily Dickinson might do in that environment.

sell2I wondered again when I saw a closed Facebook page set up by my publisher to help its writers promote their work. One author suggests developing a PowerPoint presentation and contact local libraries for permission to make talks with the presentations. I learned on the page that now is the time to contact libraries, historical societies, and civic organizations to line up spring dates for speeches.  In the page, we were told the author of 100 Things to Do in Seattle Before You Die had much success selling her books in bulk to hotel concierge services and real estate agents.

They’re all great ideas, and I’ll use them as much as I can. But they take time that I’d rather spend writing. Frankly, those who get into the business because  they like to write are in for  a disappointment. You spend more time than you’d like selling. That’s the way it is for writers in 2015. You write after you do everything else.


Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: