Long ago, I was a fan of Scrooge McDuck and his motto: “Don’t work hard, work smart.”
Later, when I became a professional writer, I believed in devoting what smarts I possessed to writing. In those days common wisdom held that the publisher would take care of marketing, which was not always true even then. And nowadays, except concerning a precious few writers at the very top, marketing is a burden assigned primarily to us. I use the word burden because most of us hardly consider marketing following our “bliss”.
For some time, I have attempted to learn how effectively to market my books. Though I have gathered lots of information, when I attempt to apply it, I feel much as I did on the first day of college biology after the instructor assigned 100 scientific terms to be memorized. I feel as though my brain has become a hopelessly cluttered room.
My daughter Darcy, as a child and teenager, seemed mentally incapable of performing school tasks that didn’t engage her. What might have challenged other students appeared to her as clutter in a mind that had plenty else to challenge her.
I’m a lot like Darcy.
She has transformed her academic liability (which people labeled ADD) into an advantage by creating organizational systems.
Maybe I can follow her lead.
Robert Pirsig, in his remarkable Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, tells of guiding a student through the process of composing an essay. Her original topic was America, about which she could think of nothing to write. No doubt she was overwhelmed, with too much to choose from, facing a vast array of clutter. Pirsig asked her to narrow the topic. She did, to Montana, but she remained overwhelmed. Narrow it more, he suggested. She attempted to write about Bozeman. Again, a vision too much possibility shorted out her brain. She tried focusing on a street in street in Bozeman, then on a certain building, and at last when she narrowed her topic to a corner brick of the building, she wrote plenty.
As one of my careers is teaching, I will adapt Pirsig’s method and create a class, Book Marketing 101, using the most clear and sound advice I have collected. I will wrestle it all into a structure and chop it into tiny pieces. Once the class is created, I will enroll, and perhaps give myself an assignment each week or so. Just maybe, I can transform the marketing burden into a series of engaging experiences.
Care to join me? I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.