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Marketing for artists and writers: Hate selling? Fine. Do it anyway.

Lots of artists think marketing and selling are bad words. I’m not saying all of us have that view, but it is a prevalent opinion in whichever storytelling industry you choose.

The logic goes something like this:

If I create something from my heart, then it needs to sell (or not sell) on its own.

Or:

“My stories are for me.”

Or:

“I love creating. I hate selling.”

And you know what? All of that is a valid way of seeing the world! The only problem is that it leaves so much up to fate that you may as well call Chance your agent and give her a 15% cut.

The fact is that selling/marketing/promoting/advertising/placing-your-heart-on-a-platter-for-the-world-to-eat is not easy. It’s tough work to make people care about your work. So (the thinking goes) if you try to sell, and you don’t sell, then isn’t that a double failure? Your work isn’t good enough! AND you couldn’t find people who would even give it a chance.

But breaking through the fear and diving into the world of marketing/selling your work requires one simple nugget of knowledge.

Selling is an expectations game.

If you know what to expect, then fear gets kneecapped. As it should be.

So let’s take a look at two prisms through which you can ponder marketing. Doing so could make the whole process palatable to the point of tasty.

Know Your Fears

With tools like Facebook Insights and hashtagify, it’s easy enough to pinpoint who your target audience is and where they are. It’s like one of those simple games that are easy to learn and complex to master. But it is not tough to start. Really. And starting is half the battle for many of us!

When you get a good sense of who you want to sell your work to, set your sales expectations based on your experience. Don’t set them based on fear (too low) or dreams (too high). How much have you sold in the past? That’s a perfectly reasonable place to start. If you’ve sold nothing, then take a low-ball guess.

For those of us who are afraid of selling our work, we can only fail if we don’t take the time to understand how much we expect to sell. If you take a good look at yourself and at your potential market and you’re honest all-around then you cannot fail.

And more importantly, you won’t be too afraid to start because you’ve done your homework.

But everything I’ve said could fall crumble in the heat of reality if you lack…

Patience

When we put something out there for the world to love or hate, it has a long, long life. So much of our mindset is still stuck in the old publishing/distribution/shelf-space world. But with sites like Amazon, Comixology and Deviant, there’s no telling when something will start to sell. It may sell out of the gate. It may start selling in 3 years.

With this in mind, set a short-term sales goal (one year) for your “product” and then do a long term goal (next 5 years).

As sales come in, adjust a little bit here and there. Stick to the tools, services and social networks that you like and perfect your use of them to spawn sales. Don’t get distracted by every tool and site that pops up promising to make selling easier.

The Don’t Rules

Don’t check sales every day.

Don’t spend more than an hour per day on marketing and networking.

Don’t make social networking more than 30 minutes of that marketing/networking time.

What do you do to prepare for the sale? Join us on Facebook and let us know your thoughts.

-Ben Zackheim