Selling Your Skills (writing skills, that is – nothing illegal)

If you’re a writer, Authors Publish is a helpful resource. If you “like” their Facebook page, subscribe to their free magazine, or just poke around on their website when the mood suits you, you’ll find writing advice and reviews of publishing companies, among other things related to writing and publishing.

One of my favorite articles I’ve found through the Authors Publish Facebook page is a list of three ways to promote your writing by Emily Harstone. It begins with a quote by John Green: “Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

This is exactly why marketing can be so difficult for writers, myself included. We tend to not be the kinds of people who enjoy putting ourselves out there.

But self-marketing is necessary, especially now in the digital age. Publishers are not likely to spend much money (if any at all) on marketing a new author, so they need to know they’re signing a writer who can build their own reader fanbase.

Harstone’s first two suggestions for writers to market themselves is via a blog and a Facebook page. I’ve got those two down! (Well, at least I’ve got them. And I’m determined to do better about posting frequently.)

The third is to have a business card. This is an idea I’ve toyed with in the past, but haven’t gotten around to actually following through with yet. That’s about to change!

I went to a writer’s convention last summer and met a few authors who were passing out business cards and – drum roll, please – bookmarks. What a genius idea for a writer to have a “business card” that is actually a bookmark! It’s functional, and therefore less likely to be thrown away. It ensures that the writer’s info is going out to someone who does in fact enjoy reading, and it keeps the writer fresh in the reader’s mind.

However, one particular author (who shall remain nameless) should have thought his through a bit more. One side of this author’s bookmark includes a synopsis of the book and how to purchase it, while the other side gives a short bio on the author. Here’s the synopsis:

“When a research scientist is found dead at the Lab, the head of security begins to investigate. Dr. [character name] of [fictional company name] has many secrets that could jeopardize his relationship with government benefactors he desperately needs.”

Is Dr. [character name] the dead research scientist? If so, why does it matter if his relationship with government benefactors is jeopardized? He’s dead. I don’t think he cares much about the state of his relationships.

Or is the character the head of security? If this is the case, why is he a “Dr”?

Could the “secrets” possibly be even a little more intriguing?

Could the desperation possibly be even a little more specific?

Basically, this synopsis is just too vague and confusing to be interesting.

Here’s the author bio:

“[Author] has been writing stories since he was thirteen years old. He grew up, watching television…”

I’m going to stop my critique right here, because this is where I decided that I truly did not care one bit to find this author online and read his work.

Why do people seem to think punctuation is unimportant? I mean, when I see a misplaced comma in a text message, it’s a pet peeve. But when I see it on a bookmark that is supposed to be convincing me that someone is a good writer? No. There’s no reason this should not have been caught and fixed before all those bookmarks were printed out.

That comma should not be there. As it is, the fragment “he grew up” should be able to stand alone as its own sentence. And I think it’s safe to say that we all know that this person grew up, as he includes a photo of himself in which he has graying hair.

The moral of my story is this: proofread! You are selling your writing skills, so you’d better be certain your writing skills are at their best on any marketing material you produce.

That said, can you spot any errors on my bookmark? Please let me know now, before I print a whole bunch of them!

author bio on the front of my bookmark/business card
author bio & web addresses on the front of my bookmark/business card
"Finding 'Ohana" excerpt on the back of my bookmark/business card
excerpt from the first chapter of Finding ‘Ohana on the back of my bookmark/business card

2 thoughts on “Selling Your Skills (writing skills, that is – nothing illegal)

  1. Sierra,
    Your novel on HI looks interesting! Doesn’t everyone like the behind-the-scenes view?

    I see a couple of errors on your bookmark. You need a comma after Nevada, to set it off with Reno.

    Is it a break-in novel, a break-out novel or a debut novel?

    I find “…, when a short story of hers …” stilted. I know you are working with spacing parameters, but I would say, “when one of her short stories…”

    • Thank you! I’m so glad I decided to post my bookmark before printing them. It’s always great to get a fresh eye to look at something before all’s said and done!

      I’m still trying to get Finding ‘Ohana published, so I’m not sure yet if it’ll be my debut novel. Still building interest. 😉

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