Broadly speaking, there are two types of marketing. And strangely enough, two types of writing. Perhaps they are related. Let’s see.
The first type is called ‘pull marketing’ (or ‘pull writing’). In marketing terms, this is when the writer uses the majority of his or her time to pull readers to the work through branding. In writing terms, this is the work itself acting as a vacuum or series of constructed vacuums acting to draw the reader into the story and guide his or her progress through to an effective emotional ending.
The other type is ‘push marketing’ (or ‘push writing’) in which the writer simply pushes a message out there through marketing efforts, always in search of the next sale, and in writing terms just pumps out words and stories and hopes for the best.
Which type you use will determine whether or not you are always going to be stuck in a loop, hunting for attention, or knowing you will always have a steady stream of readers. So it’s worth looking at each type in a little more detail.
You’re a writer; you need readers. So you go after them. Perhaps you join a networking group where you can interact with other writers on a regular basis (hoping that some of them are readers) in the hope that once they come to know you, sales of your book will follow. You might also pump out ads about your work on Facebook or Google or Amazon, or any other of those well-known channels which will ‘of course’ put you in front of millions of possible readers.
You might also blog all over the place and try to educate the public about your work in case they ever feel like reading one of your books. Perhaps you hold events, go to book fairs, set up stalls at local markets, and so on. All these efforts are directed toward getting your book in front of the right people — and they all take a lot of effort. Writers who spend energy on push marketing do so instead of pull marketing. They have to: their time is limited and pull marketing takes time.
Think of a fishing trawler, trawling the ocean again and again for fish. You might catch some; many you will throw away as not the sort you needed. And the expenditure of effort can be all-consuming.
How is this mirrored in writing terms?
You’re a writer; you need readers. So you pump out writing and submit to every publication that breathes or even twitches. You just churn out story after story after story and hope that enough exposure will put you in front of millions of possible readers. Your writing might be good, it might be bad, it might be simply mediocre — that’s not something you’re overly concerned about. As far as push writing is concerned, Volume is king.
Again, as with push marketing, writers who spend energy on push writing do so instead of pull writing, for the same reason — time is limited, and pull writing, as we will see, takes time. Push writing and marketing are desperate to catch readers by throwing as wide as possible a net over as large as possible an area.
In pull marketing your focus turns predominantly inward. Pull marketing becomes pull writing. You spend time mastering the craft of writing, developing real reader value and emotional credibility rather than searching for the next reader. It’s a much longer game and requires discipline and persistence. But it’s virtually guaranteed to get results, if done properly.
You have to analyse your own work, find out what you do best, and focus on that. Then, instead of just writing story after story, you craft your work around the things that you have mastered. That might be plot structure, dialogue, use of images, style of writing — it might be any element of fiction or any combination of elements. It’s what makes your writing particularly and peculiarly yours, and yet also, through its use of the techniques of the master authors, particularly and peculiarly appealing to the right sort of reader. Your emphasis is on building a reputation that pulls readers to you in a relatively short amount of time.
Laser-focus is needed: you need to develop skills, work on reputation and build value. You are constructing a cathedral: it takes a long time and careful work, but you are laying the foundations of something beautiful that will last for years. The more effort you put into building this foundation, the faster and stronger your success will be forever after.
I’m pretty sure that you would want to be a ‘pull marketeer’ and ‘pull writer’ rather than using the push technique. But today’s marketplace encourages you to be ‘pushy’ and can dazzle you with the supposed rewards of using hype and effort to get readers. It takes courage and skill to go down the ‘pull’ route.
But that’s the path down which I’d like you to follow me.