Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Discovering Yourself as a Writer (4)

April 30, 2008 Leave a comment

This is the fourth and final segment of SWOT  — threats. 

Threats can stem from anywhere.  Threats materialize from environmental conditions, competitors, friends and family, and self. If you can identify threats upfront, most times you will be able to develop strategies to mitigate the threat or turn it around to your advantage.  However, even being proactive, sometimes you cannot see the threat until it is upon you. 

In part I I identified my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and below is the content I considered threats to my writing efforts.

Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence

Obviously, my threats are my own habits.  Did you wonder where I was the last three days?  As much as I hate to admit it, II suffered from a lack of focus.  My energies were too dispersed.  I did, however, start my short story, but stalled out  because of a minor self-confidence issue. 

I could itinerate my excuses. They haven’t changed in 20 years. I decided not to pontificate about my excuses because they are just plain boring.  You, no doubt, know what I am referring to…the millions of little interruptions that steal away our time and skew our attention from the work we know we should be doing.  So, I wrote what I did during the day and asked the question: How does this task get me one step closer to achieving my goal?  Sadly, very little that I accomplished that day got me any closer to my goal. 

Okay, bottom line is that I am a self saboteur.  I should know better.  I’m on auto pilot. I just did it without thinking. I have to work on changing these behaviors, if I am ever going to write. 

And I look at next week’s busy calendar.  I see one writing activity compared to 10 other must do tasks.  This is a beginning, but I know that I have to step up my game, if I am going to move forward.


Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (3)

April 26, 2008 Leave a comment

In case you are just joining us, I’m in the midst of of a four part series in discovering who you are as a writer.  We are using SWOT to identify our strengths, weaknesses,opportunities, and threats.  While this exercise is ridiculously simple, it can be challenging because it forces you to look at yourself honestly.  After we compile all this information, it will help develp a game plan for any writing project.  Today we are discussing opportunities. I have been using my life to fill in the blanks, because I am transitioning into a writing career. 

I love opportunities…but one has to realize that most times opportunities don’t just come to you.  While it may seem like you are doing nothing to attract opportunities, you actually are.  However, when you want opportunities to show up in a particular area of your life — such as writing, you need to figure out how you are going to make it happen.

Most often, people can draw something from past experience, friends or skills to create writing opportunities.  A friend’s family runs a local magazine that features book and movie reviews.  While this isn’t directly in the ball park of novel writing, it may provide a stepping stone when the editor asks for clips.  You will also get a glimpse of the writing world.   Writing a couple of articles gives you credibility.  It looks good in the proposal.  It looks as if you are serious about writing…and of course, you are.

In my SWOT analysis, here’s what’s in the Opportunity box.

Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool

What I need to do is keep up with the email lists, stay active and make sure I connect with people that I may share things in common. I also need to work on other avenues to develop activities because this is not going to be enough to establish a good contact base for marketing endeavors (meaning the novels yet to be written).

My immediate action plan? I need to get folders set up for each of these areas of opportunity. When I have an idea to expand and broaden the area, I make notes to remind me what stage I am on the development. Always put down what you did and what you are going to do with a date. When your life becomes overwhelming and/or old age besets your memory, this will help you not squander time looking for stuff or redoing tasks already done.

One last note: If you stay at your computer and write without mingling and establishing relationships, you are closing your door to potential opportunities. It sounds regimented, but if you are the passionate type that prefers to stick your nose to the grindstone until the project is over, you will probably need more balance to keep your sanity. It will also keep the low and high peaks of any career at a minimum. To do that means to change your behaviors slightly. If you do a daily calendar, you can map out when you should write, do admin work, network, and relax. You need to nourish your whole self, not just the creative part.

My plan for tomorrow is to not blog my threats (last segment of the series) until I start my short story.

Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (1)

April 22, 2008 Leave a comment

In my last post, I invited everyone to join me as I begin the journey of crafting my writing talent into a business.  I discussed the definition of SWOT in fleshing out my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  We are going to take this information now and see how this information is useful.

STRENGTHS:  Strengths are always easy to work with because they are what we do best.  It is easy to be enthused, proud of your talents.  When you list your strengths in regard to your writing, you will see the talent you have that you have not tapped into yet.  Use those abilities to augment your chances of achievement.  For example: For years I have known that these were my strengths, but I never looked at them as a whole and think…hmmm…if I were counseling someone, what do all these strengths add up to?  What career am I going to be successful based on the list below?

In my case, I see it as a slam dunk.  These traits scream some kind of technical or business writer.  And what does my blog gravitate toward?  The business, more formal side of writing.  

Yet my goal is fiction —to write a novel.  180 degrees opposite of my skill set.  In further analyzing this information, it is obvious that the technical, more formal writing is my sweet spot.  Like the comedian who wants to be a dramatic actor, or the basketball player who wants to play football, human beings want to be what they are not naturally.  I think it is the thrill of the challenge and the adrenalin rush of achievement that drives us. 

And so, tomorrow I will examine my weaknesses and figure out how I can take action to be more efficient and take back some of those squandered hours and write.

Please feel free to share or comment.  Or jump in with a question.

Writing ability
Good foundation in research
Computer literate
Good imagination
Marketing skills
Small business management knowledge
Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming 
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence

Five Step Process to Assess and Plan Your Writing Career

April 19, 2008 Leave a comment

You probably are wondering why I can’t get my act together and here I am giving advice.  Good question.


My career experience has been an integration of sales, marketing, writing, teaching, and observation.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve listened to financial experts help launch small businesses; I’ve watched webinars on everything from self assessment and motivation to learning how to target the people you want as clients; and   I’ve read numerous books on management, record keeping, controls, tax help, etc.


Intellectually I know what has to be done to succeed.  Emotionally, I always put my family first and there’s the rub.  I’m like the carpenter whose home has lots of trim work left to do because the carpenter is too busy fixing other people’s houses.


Follow me, and we will work through the SWOT chart together.


Step #1:  Determine the weaknesses in your ability as a writer.

Step #2:  What part of the writing process do you like the best?  What are you particularly good at?

Step #3:  Check out the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) chart below.  This is not my invention.  Businesses have been using this for years. 

Step #4:  Copy this chart and fill in the boxes with your assessment.

Step #5:  Put an X  by those items that you do not like doing.  Okay, as a business person, a person who writes for compensation, your success lies in how much you know about yourself and what is your game plan in dealing with weaknesses and threats and exploiting your strengths and opportunities.  Are you planning to learn how to do the task?  Or is it worthwhile to pay a professional to manage that end for you? 

 Sample SWOT Analysis 


Dramatic storytelling

Bigger than life characters

Good determination

Great ideas and vision



No marketing plan


Writing dialogue

No filing system

No writing support group

Need better computer and office space



Great researcher

A people person

Know people in publishing industry




Lack of self-esteem

Lack of time

Unable to say NO to family requests

Lack of organization


Your next step is putting this information together.  This will help you get a handle on areas of needed improvement and the foundation for your marketing plan. 


The chart above is a sample.  In the next week, I will develop my SWOT analysis  See how this is eventually incorporated into a marketing plan. (This is the groundwork for your proposals to literary agents and publishing houses.)

What is Your Unique Value Position

April 10, 2008 Leave a comment

You are the reader.  You are in a book store with a $20 bill.  Of course, whatever book you select, you want it to be compelling.  You want the best novel, let’s say, in the horror genre.  You want the writer to carry you into his/her world and make chills go up your spine.  You don’t want to settle because the one thing you love is page turning stories. 

How does the position writer himself to the reader to communicate that his novel is the best, worthy of the reader’s $20 and time?

One way for the writer to make the connection is to create a unique value position or UVP.  Very simply, UVP is communicating what you do best —- communicating your value.

If you have ever watched a someone sell a product to a stranger, he will give the 30 second elevator pitch.  This is one sentence that tells who you are, what you are selling or what you are about.  The pithy sentence should hook the stranger into asking for more details, thus making a connection and the start of a relationship.  If a salesperson can’t say it in 30-seconds, he may lose the stranger’s interest.

Writing a good elevator pitch is similar to writing a UVP; both are harder than you think.  Before a writer starts writing his novel, he needs to think about the following elements and wrap it into a tight sentence or two. 

1. Identification your target market.
2.What the reader will get out of your novel
3. A brief description of your novel (s).
4.  Why your book is unique in the marketplace or what is the perceived value.

Here are a couple of examples:

Stephen King: Master writer whose dreams keep us up all night.

Amy Tan: Asian novelist swept up in the  generational differences in the Asian culture.

Benefits of writing a UVP

1.  It identifies your unique position as a writer and how you may be different from other writers.
2.  This helps readers understand what you are about and thereby establishing a fan base.
3.   It helps you craft a series of novels in a particular genre…
4.   It establishes your goal, your focal point, so whatever UVP you write, you must have  passion to sustain you.
5.  If you want to make writing your career, one that pays, all your writing efforts should be centered around your UVP.  This will jumpstart your career direction and you will be surprised that identifying who you are and what you intend to write will bring you amazing success much sooner than had you not finished a UVP.  This is creating your own brand (we’ll discuss this later).

If you are a professional, your readers will expect you to deliver the same genre and writing quality in every book you publish.  Writing a good UVP will make it happen.

Write a unique value position and send it here or email them to me.  With your permission we can review them.