I finally finished the Art of War for Writers the other day, and since it’s been so influential on this site for such a long time, I thought I owed it at least a bit of a nod. I really enjoyed it; in fact, if anything, it’s almost too dense, as trying to keep in mind all of its teachings is a difficult affair at best. It’s probably something that I’ll need to revisit every now and then, to see how my own perception of some of the wisdom contained within. I thought about going back to review some of what I’d written about the book on this site, but it was way too much to sift through. Even if you’re a writer who rarely reads books about writing, I’d say it’s worth a purchase.
I’m moving on now to a book about self-publishing, which I’m sure will arise from time to time. It’s already given me the inspiration to create a (semi) daily marketing plan of how to reach out and become a little more ingrained into the writing and reading communities.
Which brings me to the real topic of today’s blog, which occurred to me as I was brushing my teeth this morning – funny how and where inspiration strikes. Once upon a time, the idea of putting together a novel seemed nebulous and intimidating. So I evolved a process to go at the goal with smaller, incremental goals. Then it became the act of putting together a coherent novel. So I refined that process and broke things down into even smaller steps. Now I’m at a stage where I have a pretty decent process that works for me and keeps me writing five to six days a week at around 10,000 words a week.
Bringing us back to the ever-tense tooth-brushing, I know this is where things get real. As I was brushing I was thinking about marketing the novel and my “brand” itself and how I had kind of gone about it in a haphazard way. Oh, sure, the website has given me a platform and presence of sorts, but I need to expand it. That’s when it occurred to me to use the same concept that I used for evolving my fiction writing: break it down step-by-step. Make it into smaller goals.
So I pondered…how do I do that? Writing I know. Writing I get. For me, it seems easy enough to look at how a story or an essay is composed, break it down into its component parts, and examine how I could apply those parts to my own process. I think Stephen King said something once about how examining a plot is like taking a look at a fellow mechanic’s work under the hood, and that analogy works a lot for me. I can look at that and just sort of get what they’ve done.
But marketing…well, that’s another beast. It’s not that I don’t think I’m capable. I’m pretty sure I am, but I’m not a natural at it. It’s something that I’m going to actively have to work at learning, and I’m only just starting to get that. With that in mind, where to start on marketing myself?
The answer, I think, is in approaching marketing like my writing. One of my most faithful tools is the weekly word count. I’ve noticed my skill level jumping appreciably week-over-week as I hover around that word count. So why not apply the concept to marketing? Set daily (or cumulative weekly) goals that aren’t too rigid or interfere with my writing, and try to hit those targets as best as I can. It has the benefit of being consistent, keeping my brand from being forgotten, and also of being fairly non-intrusive on my writing life.
So I set up some simple goals today, and will see how well I can live up to them – and if they are, in fact, effective. After that, it’s a matter of tweaking them, just as I have with my writing process.
There’s probably a lesson about life itself to be learned there, trying what works and throwing out what doesn’t, breaking larger goals down into smaller ones and then being adaptable to changes when they come, making the process of achieving just about anything a living, breathing organism.
But that might just be an extrapolation that’s out of this site’s scope. Just an idea. Who can say if it’s something to be expanded upon?
And since it’s Friday, the song which I’m referencing in the title…