The Writer’s Craft

As a novelist attempting to carve out a public profile and establish my books as must-buys with readers I write both fiction (my novels and short stories) and non-fiction.KIB3

What sort of non-fiction? This kind. Blog posts, ezine articles, Facebook updates, twitterings and copy for promotional graphics to share on sites such as Pinterest.

I consider my fiction to be the product I’m aiming to sell, and my non-fiction to be a key element in reaching customers.

Both are part of the writer’s craft. A carpenter might have the luxury of outsourcing her marketing and promotional efforts. I don’t. Because writers’ tools are words, we don’t get to pick and choose which words customers judge us by. So every word we use must serve a purpose.

This is a high standard and one which tired, over-busy brains can’t always sustain, but there are ways of building our own safety nets and this is where talk about marketing strategies, social media strategies, audience identification, discoverability, etc explode.

For a long time this sort of talk baffled me. I was in Las Vegas mode: Write the book and they will come [please, there is no double entendre intended. I don’t write erotica ;) ]

But the truth is all these strategies prop up an author’s day to day activities, especially when she is super-busy and distracted. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they’re part of the writing craft – the next step after we’ve mastered how to tell a story and wrestled our grammar under control.

Because when you boil down the strategies, here’s what I think we have:

  • Who is your customer? Who reads your books?
  • What is your promise to them? What do they expect when they read your books?
  • How do you communicate your promise? This may be what is called ‘author brand’. It’s more than words.
  • How are your customers changing? Neither your readers, your books nor your strategy can stay the same.
  • How are you changing? You and your books do evolve – check that you’re evolving with your readers and/or clearly signalling to new ones.

If you can answer all of these questions, then your fiction and non-fiction will mesh in a coherent message (or author brand) and this is the heart of the writer’s craft: to tell a satisfying story. You are telling the story of YOU — and your books, of course.

8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Craft”

  1. Oh, you’re so right, Jenny. If only it were easy! But I guess practice makes easier, if not perfect. Hope so, anyway! ;)

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