Do You Market Yourself As a Writer?

  How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?

In these days of viral marketing, self-marketing, and the seemingly 24-hour-a-day job of publicizing yourself, it’s gotten pretty confusing about what a writer’s responsibilities for marketing are. Many writers I’ve spoken to say that their publishers give them some publicity, but to have any success, they have to take their act on the road and market themselves aggressively. It’s gotten me thinking about some of the conventions of self-marketing and how relevant they are to writers.

Business cards Do you have a business card, and if so, how do you use it? I recently had business cards made up, but for the purpose of marketing this blog, not for promoting myself as a writer. If I had a book completed, though, I might consider having the book’s information on a card. Business cards are still useful for people who do a lot of in-person networking, such as going to AWP’s conference, for example, or other conferences. Do you use business cards to promote your writing?

The One-line bio The value of having a ready-to-go one-line bio continues to be very important for writers. Whenever you get something published in a print or online journal, you’re expected to produce a quick bioblurb so that readers know who you are, what you’ve previously written, and where they can learn more about your work. It’s important to have one of these handy, especially because things like Twitter profiles still use them heavily.

The elevator pitch The other old marketing tool that never seems to get old is having a ready elevator pitch. It’s useful to have a ready way to tell agents and editors what your novel or story is about and why it’s a unique project, or why you have special insight into a topic. Many writers shy away from this pitch, though, because it seems appallingly commercial to have to think about their work in terms of selling it. Just remember that the first line of your novel is about pulling readers in and grabbing their attention — and so is an elevator pitch.

What classic (or modern) self-marketing tools do you use to promote your work? What do you think we could use less of in the writing world, or more of? Should writers promote themselves, or does it conflict with their art?


  1. Blair, good post.
    I have writing-oriented business cards. They are very useful. It saves me tons of time I’d otherwise spend spelling my last name.

    Good point about the one-liner. I thought I didn’t have one, then realized I have “poetry and prose from a unique perspective,” coined by my middle son when he put up the first version of my website.

    In addition to my blog, I participate in a writing-related promotional group.

  2. mary brady says:

    Great post. Self-promotion in any business is always tricky.
    However, as a woman who, for years, only worked tax seasons, from Jan. thru April 15, I’ve had LOTS of experience in landing jobs. I also ran a full-time CPA biz for 20 years & never lacked clients.

    Here is a very odd fact: others need to hear that YOU ARE GREAT–even if YOU are the one telling them! This seems counter-intuitive, but it is appears to be the way humans work.

    The aural/written input is required; who says/writes it does not matter. The message gets imprinted in the hearer’s/reader’s brain & sticks: “Say, I’ve heard this Brady woman is terrific. Let’s hire her!” or “I’ll have her do my taxes!”

    I’ve had this work too many times for it to be a fluke.

    Thus, when I submit my written masterpieces, I will find a way to convey the same sort of message, both in cover letters & in person. If YOU display a sense of confidence in yourself & your abilities, the other side picks up on it. And, face it, there is no one else but YOU to say: “This is good work and you should read it and publish it.”

    Being confident is not boasting. It’s not vanity or false pride.
    It is a way to show the faith you have in yourself & your ability. And while you are respectful of those you address, you do not grovel before them. You are, in fact, “helping” them locate the good writing (yours) from the rest.

    I spent a miserable summer in the canneries of Modesto & passed a sign each day for a cattle ranch. Under a majestic hand painting of a bull, it said: “Breed the best & forget the rest!”

    I think I’ll adapt this for use as my one line bio:’Mary Brady,
    Writer: “Read the Best & Forget the Rest!”‘ I will, of course, maintain the majestic bull image on the card, as bull is a big factor in my writing.

    (Margaret, your business cards are a good idea. I have NO idea how to spell “Fieland,” your last name. I suppose one could always try a pen name. “Bic” is short and easy to spell.
    Hm. I may use that myself. DIBS!)

    L&K, MaryB

  3. Mary, LOL.

    To make things more difficult, my grandparents passed through London and anglicized the pronunciation. They changed it to Fie (rhymes with “fly”) land
    instead of Fie (rhymes with “free”) land.
    So anyone who thinks they know how it should be spelled, based on how I pronounce it, it pretty sure to get it wrong {grimace}. All I can say is God bless Vistaprint.

    There are good things and bad things about having a fairly unique name. The good news is when I google “Margaret Fieland” I always find myself, not someone else. The bad news is its easy for anyone to find about me on the net.

  4. mary brady says:

    Margaret!–Oh, how I empathize with you regarding the unique name problem, having one myself.

    I was ecstatic when Tom Brady became known as the quarterback for the New England Patriots. Finally, I was able to say, “Yes, the name is BRADY–just like Tom Brady of the N. E. Patriots!”

    “And, no, my name is NOTHING like the ‘Brady Bunch,’ NOTHING AT ALL. It is completely different…”

    (An older sister of mine once taught first grade in the Cabrini Projects. One little boy was so anxious to answer a question, he yelled, “Miss Bunch! Miss Bunch!” as he waved his hand in the air…

    This same sister was a missionary prior to the Cabrini gig & was sent first to Kileen, TX. It was the early 60s, so maybe Kileen was different. She was later sent to Panama where she taught kindergarten in her very limited Spanish. One day, she said to the little tyles, in Spanish, “let’s all put our heads on our desks & have a little nappy-poo.”

    She watched in horror as all the kids shrugged & crawled under their desks. It turned out that was what she’d told them to do–“Let’s all put our heads UNDER our desks & have a nappy-poo.”

    Luckily, the Panamanian revolution struck 2 months later & she returned to the States–probably to continue teaching Hottentots in Kileen, TX.)

    L&K, a different MaryB

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