You want to sell your writing online. You need to do two things, which we’ll discuss in a moment. Firstly, let’s talk about the word “sell.” It makes some writers uncomfortable. Other writers suspect there’s a trick to it— and they’ll never learn that trick. And yet other writers expect their writing to somehow magically sell itself.
Let’s look at those misconceptions one by one.
- The thought of selling makes you uncomfortable. Please get over it. If trading money for your words truly makes you uncomfortable, treat your writing as a wonderful, creative hobby. You may need to build your confidence before you can sell;
- The trick to selling your writing: no trick. Just stuff to learn and do. You can do it. It may make you uncomfortable, and it’s work. On the other hand, selling your writing can pay your mortgage, so learn how to sell. See Your Creative Business.
- Your writing will magically sell itself. I’m trying to think of one writer who was “discovered”, or who magically sold his writing without selling… nope, still thinking. Writing a book, or writing anything, and finding someone else to sell it for you? Illusion. Bestselling writers, before they were bestsellers, had to SELL their writing to editors who believed in them. And then they had to market their writing, after that. No writing sells itself.
More magical thinking: you can get others to “sell” for you. Literary agents (don’t get me started on that one) and affiliates spring to mind. However, there’s a catch, and I’m not talking about their commissions. You have to sell to them, before they’ll sell for you, and even after they’re selling, you need to keep providing material for them which will help them to sell your writing.
How to sell your writing online: two essential tips
I use a simple mantra: create, and promote. You need to create, or you won’t have goods to sell. Every trader needs goods to sell. Traders aim to buy cheap, and sell dear.
The difference between what a salable item costs the trader (to buy, and to sell) and the trader’s profit on that item is the margin. As a general rule, ten per cent is an excellent margin. Many businesses trade profitably with much smaller margins than that.
A creative business produces goods, and sells those goods. Your margin is the difference between what something costs you to produce, and what you can sell it for.
Top tip: a creative person aims to keep as many rights in his goods as he can. Ideally, all rights. So he sells copies of his goods directly to buyers, who have the right to read and view the work, but no other rights. If a creative person “sells” his goods to others to sell, he LICENSES specific rights in his goods, rather then selling his goods outright.
A creative person may also create “works done for hire” which means that he sells all the rights in whatever he creates. (Most creatives start out this way, then transition to selling copies, and licensing rights as soon as they can – they want to increase their margins.)
Tip 1. Create and offer your writing for sale.
See above. Creatives create what we sell. Creation always needs to come first, otherwise we have nothing to sell. Keep this in mind, because selling, once you become comfortable with it, can take up lots of time.
Always give yourself plenty of time for creation. Remember your margin, too. When you’re starting out your margins will be slim.
Once you’ve created something, you need to make it as EASY as possible for people to buy your writing. That’s why Amazon’s KDP is wonderful for writers. Amazon does it all for you. (Delivers your goods, takes the money.) However, Amazon doesn’t market your writing on its own: you have to help.
Which brings us to…
Tip 2. Promote.
Promotion is marketing. However, marketers will tell you that promotion is only one aspect of marketing. It’s true. However, it’s the one aspect of marketing that writers get stuck on, when there’s no need for it.
So, there you have it. To sell your writing online, you need to do two things – create the goods you want to sell, and promote them. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.
If you can get your head around selling your writing, and can clear misconceptions out of the way, you can make a great living at it. Remember, there’s no ceiling on your income – just run your creative business… creatively. 🙂
Get Help With Your Creative Business
Your Creative Business: Coaching to Turn Your Creativity into Profits does what it’s name implies. It helps you to turn your creativity into a real business. If you suspect that you don’t have a handle on how it works, you need this program.
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