Marketing: Accepting Your Role as Salesperson

© 2009 Emily M. Akin

“Writing is an art. Publishing is a business.” These words jumped out at me in a workshop given recently byLawrence Wilson, pastor and former editorial director at Wesleyan Publishing House. This simple statement encapsulates the aspiring writer’s problem with getting published.

Writers see themselves as artists, resisting the idea of putting a dollar value on their writing. Perhaps you write because you are passionate about a particular subject or about writing itself. Once you begin the quest for publication, though, you have entered the realm of business. For any business to be successful, somebody must sell something to someone. In my experience, writers abhor the whole idea of “selling themselves.” You, the writer aspiring to publication, must sell your work to publishers who, in turn, sell their publications to the end user (reader).

Does the idea of selling your work conjure up images of door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen or network marketing gurus? You’re not alone. Intrusive and manipulative sales techniques have given sales a bad name for most people. I think that’s why some prefer to call it “marketing” rather than “selling.” The term “marketing” suggests that you put your work out for people to see in hopes that someone will see it, like it, and buy it—like at a flea market.

Flea market vendors don’t sell much unless they offer quality products that shoppers want. They must know the market, the customer demographics. They must also interact with the shoppers to convince them to buy the product (selling). As a writer, you submit your work to publishers, making sure that you have followed the guidelines. Your customer, the publisher, states the demographics and preferences of his customers (readers), along with the technical requirements of the documents they are willing to consider. Still, you may need to “sell” the editor on your work. Extra-mile features will entice the editor to buy your work instead of someone else’s with identical specifications. For example, include sidebars and pull-quotes will make your article more attractive. For book proposals, mention an established speaking ministry or other platform for selling your books

If you believe in the quality and value of your product, selling it is an honorable pursuit. You won’t sell to every customer, but you won’t get your work published unless you try.

Emily M. Akin is a freelance writer, blogger, editor, and marketing consultant. She holds bachelor’s degrees in music and communications and a Master of Business Administration degree. Her work has appeared in numerous Christian periodicals including The Upper Room, The Secret Place, HomeLife, The Lookout, Vista, and Mature Years. She is a regular contributor to Hometown Magazine of the Ken-Tenn Area. Link to her blogs from her Web site at


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