Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Writing with Intention: How Understanding Why You Write Can Help You Sell
I spoke on the telephone recently with a potential client who has written a nonfiction guide to help parents recognize the signs of late speech development in their children. Besides being articulate and able to clearly describe the book’s contents and its audience, this author was particularly succinct about what she was looking for in the way of publicity. “I want to reach as many parents, teachers, and pediatric health professionals as I can about how to recognize the signs of speech and language development issues in children,” she said. “I also would like to cast as wide a net as possible via the media, so that parents and pediatric associations know about the information in my book and how it can help them.”
This particular client’s clarity about her goals is similar to having a corporate mission statement, which many companies use to provide vision and direction to their employees. When a company has a clearly written statement, employees can use it to tune in to upper management’s expectations and determine how they fit with the corporate mission. They can more easily grasp the company’s purpose and who its customers are, as well as develop a better sense of how to serve those customers.
Likewise, having a clear sense of the purpose your book serves and what you’d like to do with it can be very helpful to you (and the marketing professionals you might hire) when it’s time to promote your work.
In New Age circles, pundits call this sense of clarity and direction working with intention. When we work with intention, i.e., when we’re clear about why we’ve written something and understand its value to others, not only does the work flow more easily, but we are much more likely to be able to correctly describe and promote it.
The intention behind a written work can take many forms. Some authors intend to write books that are instructive or informational. Others write to entertain.
Some write because they feel compelled to do so, or because a certain storyline keeps playing over and over in their heads and they want to capture it in written form.
Some write to heal, as is often the case with memoir. Those who keep diaries or journals may do so as a means of knowing themselves better.
Many authors write because they love language or because they like playing with ideas. Others use writing as a way to develop a community connection, through meetings with other writers and the readers of their work.
Some write to document family history for future generations, while others do it purely for pleasure, as a way to pass blocks of time.
But no matter what the reason, it helps to know why you’re writing, so that when the writing is done – be it a novel, a short story, a nonfiction guidebook, a memoir, or a collection of poems – you’ll better understand it’s purpose and intended audience. This understanding makes it much easier to pinpoint what you need to do to explain that purpose and reach your audience which, in turn, will help you make decisions about how you’re going to promote your work.
So, before beginning your marketing efforts, ask yourself, “Why did I create this piece? What is its purpose? Who is my book written for, and how will it help those who read it?” Write down your answers; they’ll help you understand your original intention and determine what you need to do now to sell it.
Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her at email@example.com, or visit her at www.paulamargulies.com, on Twitter at @PaulaMargulies, or on Facebook at Paula Margulies Communications.