Friday, July 27, 2012

A Star is Born

In Hollywood’s golden days, stars could be discovered working in malt shops and diners. Even today, would-be actors work in eating establishments around Hollywood, hoping that an agent or casting director will see them and give them an audition. Oh, were it that easy for writers.

Unfortunately, you, as a writer, won’t be given a break on your good looks. Most beginning writers think it’s only their writing that counts. What they don’t know is that they need to promote themselves as writers and creative thinkers.

As a one-person business operation, you need to keep yourself out front in all public endeavors which can further the cause of your business. You must consider all presentations of yourself as exploratory—the beginnings of friendships and working relationships that you plan to extend. Networking is the key to good promotion, but it’s only one part. Precede interchanges with new contacts by promoting your basic qualities as a writer. With every promotional effort you send out, try to imprint those qualities, strikingly and memorably, in the minds of the people you deal with.

In order to successfully promote yourself as a writer, you have to be constantly alert to new opportunities which may appear at the most unusual moments. If possible, notice how professional writers promote themselves—what do they do, what to they say—and try to emulate them. Notice how they’ve acquired a forceful, effective, yet graceful way of putting their message across. What you may discover is that promoting yourself may require you to be more aggressive, forceful, and, yes, even somewhat daring.

You must project those three qualities in an attractive manner to insure success. Professional promotion isn't bullying. It’s effective persuasion. If an editor likes you as well as the work you do, he or she is far more likely to use you a second time. It's as simple as that.

Someone once said, "Doing business without advertising is like winking at someone in the dark. You know what you're doing, but nobody else does." As a freelancer, it's all too easy to spend your time winking in the dark. But whether you live and work in a city apartment or in a suburban house, the time will come when you need to toot your own horn. When it does, you need to be prepared.

To begin, start saving clippings of your work from the beginning. As your work improves, so will your clippings. Replace those first ones with better ones from better publications. Along with them, compose a resume listing all the places where you’ve been published. Update this periodically, replacing lower market publications with higher market ones. If you’ve done other types of writing for other clients, list the positions you've held, the kind of work you've done them, the dates, and any other pertinent information that describes your writing abilities.

Along with your resume, you’ll need to prepare a biographical sketch. This can be as short as a few sentences or as long as several paragraphs describing who you are and your accomplishments.. The shorter one you’ll need to send along with any articles, stories, or books you sell. The longer one can be used for your social networking pages on Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Create a folder in your computer titled “Promotion” in which you can save files of your resume, bio, and such. Occasionally, you’ll need to create different versions, perhaps for different subjects you write about. Save these with appropriate names so that you can easily find them when needed. To make updating your promotional material easier, create a file in which you list information on your jobs as you do them—titles of writing pieces with publication name and date, place, date and title of lectures or workshops you’ve presented, etc. When it comes time to update your bio, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.

No comments: