• Colleen Sheehan

Author, you’re lying to yourself.

Updated: Jun 10, 2021


I know what you’re thinking: God, I hate marketing.


I hate the sound of the word. I hate the way the letters fit together. I despise the way the word feels in my mouth! 🤢


I used to completely agree. As an artist and writer with a background in sales for my day job, marketing was gross. Ugh. 🤮


I just want to be an artist, dammit! I don’t want to sell anymore.


Well silly me. And if you feel that way, silly you, too, because authors are some of the best minds fit for the job.


Why? Because you’re already doing it.


Marketing is just storytelling. Stories your audience connects with. Stories that feel made for them because they’re so hecking relatable. 🤝 Marketing is opening yourself up and sharing experiences you and your audience both hold together.


I’m reading an excellent book by Peter Mendelsund called What We See When We Read. In it, he explores what happens in the readers’ mind when they’re reading, and this line hit me hard:

A novelist’s objects, places, characters: we want ours to be his, and his to be ours. This desire is paradoxical. It is a desire for privileged access, and thus a type of greed. But it is also a hedge against loneliness–the vision is shared.

Isn’t that what you’re doing with your writing?


Marketing is the same. Exactly. It’s a new format, but it’s what authors do every single day they sit down to write: getting their hero from chapter one to epilogue.


Your main character has just shifted from the character you create on the page to the reader you want to buy your book.


Think about how you read. Yeah, books are widely available. Technically, anybody can buy one and read the same words you have in front of you.


This is why reading is special: you may be reading the same words they are, but your experience and interpretation are unique. What you read isn’t even purely what the author intended. And yet, reading feels intimate. You and the author now have a private connection.


Ok, take a step back. You’re the author again. And this is how readers are reading your book. This is the feeling you’re leading them to when you market to them.


Why are you more comfortable denying them that experience than welcoming them into it by not marketing?


That’s the question I had to ask myself. That’s the question that told me I was thinking about marketing all wrong.


 

I want to know what you think. Ask yourself that question, and ask what you’re denying readers by not inviting them in.

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