Six Weeks To Sustained Self-Promotion
Want more money? Then memorize this phrase: "Writers promote."
Think you don't have time to organize a marketing plan for yourself, your books, your website? Try this six-week plan to a sustained program of self-promotion and you, too, will find new friends who will help you, editors who approach you, and readers who will follow you throughout your writing career.
Week One: Focus on online message boards and lists. Yahoo, MSN, Topica and Smartgroups all have online discussion lists that you can search by topic. Sign up, read past messages, then decide whether you'll stay with the list or move on. Some lists have nothing but spam messages; others are packed with information. Register with message boards that focus on writing. Do the same with these as you did the lists. Choose at least five to participate in. Choose two days a week, at a minimum, on which you will send messages to the lists. Be aware than many of the same writers will be on more than one list so don't just write a canned message and send it to all. Show that you've read previous messages - answer a question, ask a question, share a valuable link. Once in a while you can mention a favorable review or a "Hurray, I got the assignment" message.
Week Two: Keep up your week one efforts. Study local newspapers, both daily and weekly. Investigate any magazines published for local readers. Keep a running list of local media contacts. Some of the things you should note: who is writing about food, what type of stories are turned into juicy features, what kinds of announcements run in the business section, how many food articles are syndicated from another source? This list of media contacts will save you time when you have an article you want to write or you are seeking an article to be written about you, your business or your book.
Week Three: Weeks one and two plus a trip to an office supply store. Buy some great paper - matte, two-sided coated paper, color or white. Write a brochure for yourself. Don't feel it's appropriate for what you are writing about? Then design a business card and print it up. Or ask a graphic designer to create a unique look for your business card. I was at a business fair, manning the table for my employer at the time (a college), and I realized that I could have networked my own writing business if I'd only had a business card to hand over to the advertising and web design businesses. Get some business cards.
Week Four: This is the week when you take your writing business on the road. Go to the local Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours event. Chat with people, and hand over a brochure or business card when you meet someone who can hire you, or who can connect you with a publisher or editor. Keep posting on those message boards and lists; have fun with them.
Week Five: Write a press release about your recent success. Did you publish an article, finish a workshop, win an award, or open for business? Write your press release in third person as if you are writing an article. Send it to someone - your discussion list buddies for a critique, a local weekly that runs news releases unedited to fill in the news holes, post it on your website (don't have a website ? that's what you can do on week seven). Need help? Visit prwire.com for advice on writing press releases.
Week Six: Two tasks this week: This is the week you make contact with three new editors. Call the local food editor or features editor and take him or her out to lunch. Email a magazine editor with an article pitch. Contact an online newsletter editor and see if you can trade ad space for an article you'd love to write for him. Your second task is to subscribe to online newsletters for writers - www.writesuccess.com, and www.fundsforwriters.com are only two that consistently provide essential information for writers.
Throughout these weeks, you should also be writing, researching markets for publication, and submitting your work. Keep up with the list discussions. A great one for information and markets is email@example.com .
Keep up the good work - network with writers online and potential clients and editors in person to sell yourself and your writing.
About the Author: Pamela White is publisher of Food Writing, an online ezine for writers and food lovers. Visit her at http://www.food-writing.com . Her popular 6-week class is now a self-study ebook "Make Money as a Food Writer." She also teaches a new, expanded 8-week online food writing class.