SHELF LIFE: Calling Cards
Unlike movies, books aren’t advertised on TV and radio, except on rare occasions. So the responsibility for advertising my books falls on my shoulders. Although an engineering student, I studied advertising and media at college. I learned about the all-important “opportunities to view.” Essentially, for an advertisement to work, it must be seen several times before the viewer remembers the product and this excludes all the times the viewer misses the advertisement. So the ad has to be run dozens of times before it has an effect. That’s a lot of advertising dollars that I’m not willing (or able) to foot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t advertise my work and myself.
My short stories and articles are my advertisements and they work in two ways. First, these stories and articles work for me as a calling card. They remind people that I exist and I’m still doing that writing thing. If they read one of my previous books, then maybe it’s time to check out another. Second, my stories and articles operate like a “try before you buy program.” People can sample my work without laying out a penny. This is an important consideration if the reader is going to invest their money in a writer they’ve never tried before. People get to read my work and if they like it, hopefully, they’ll go out and get my books.
This isn’t to say that my primary reason for writing stories and articles is mercenary. The fact that they work as calling cards is an added benefit. I write what I write because I want to. The stories and articles flex my writing muscles. The workouts they provide keep me trim.
There’s an added benefit of writing and selling articles instead of paying for advertising, too. The magazines are paying me for my work. They are paying me to advertise my current book or next book. I couldn’t ask for more. J
Now, writing short stories and articles doesn’t work for every writer. Personally, I find it easy to write them, but I know a lot of novelists who find it impossible. But every writer needs a calling card to help promote his or her work. Mine is stories and articles. What’s yours?