Photo by Robin Ivy
Recently, I chatted with author Tabitha Lord. Tabitha’s HORIZON series has won several independent book awards including the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize in 2016.
In addition to writing novels and short fiction, Tabitha is a partner and senior writer for Book Club Babble and managing editor for the Inkitt Writer’s Blog. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, four kids, and lovable fur babies.
What is your number one tip to creators (new and old) on how to best market themselves in today’s world?
Self-promotion and marketing can feel uncomfortable, especially for us artistic types, so I prefer to think about it as relationship building. Connecting with people who like your art and share your interests can be gratifying and feel more natural than constantly pushing them for a sale.
Still, we have to be willing to promote our work in ways that are most effective. For me, it means choosing to do events and signings where I’m likely to find fans. As a sci-fi writer, Comic Cons, World Con, and single author events have been very successful. Find your people. Meet them where they are. On-line, I need to stay up to date on the latest advertising methods. I have to be willing to spend a little money, try something, and then track my results and adjust accordingly. Research the latest trends. Conduct your own marketing experiments.
This whole endeavor – building a platform, maintaining an online presence, showing up for events, communicating with fans, etc. can feel daunting. If I were to give out one piece of advice it would be this – create a long-term marketing plan and do a little something every day toward your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Why is marketing yourself, aka the business of creating, so important for creators to learn and embrace?
I’ll speak from what I know, writing and publishing, as things may be different for other types of artists. All the working writers I know, whether traditionally published, independent, or hybrid, have to take a certain amount of ownership for their own marketing. We really can’t get away with hiding out in the coffee shop, tapping away on our keyboards, and hoping our books magically sell themselves.
If we write only for ourselves, then we don’t have to worry about the business side of things. But, if we write because we want to share our work with others, then we have to understand how to reach our readers. We also have to understand how the business works if we’re entering into a contractual agreement or hiring others. The more we know about this side of the house, the more effective we’ll be at getting our work into readers’ hands.
What do you like best about being a creator?
I love writing the first 10k words of a new novel! This is when my enthusiasm for the project is still brand new, and it’s before I’ve hit any creative roadblocks. It’s the time when I truly feel most joyful, and the words flow continuously.
What do you like least about being a creator?
I hate the crippling self-doubt that hits me at least once during the writing process. Usually, it happens about half-way through a first draft. I suddenly think my entire plot is collapsing, and I’m certain I’ll never figure out a way to salvage it. I wonder why I ever chose this career path to begin with, and I’m sure I’ll never write another book. Sometimes the feeling visits again when I’m editing, but at least then I have the infrastructure of a draft already in place.
Who (or what type of art) inspires you most and why?
I have a hard time answering the ‘who’ question, because there are so many writers I admire for different reasons. Stephen King for his sheer storytelling prowess. Isabel Allende for her beauty with words. J.K Rowling for her stunning imagination. The list goes on…
Truly though, I appreciate anyone willing to labor over their art and then have the courage to put it out into the world. It’s a piece of us, whether it’s a song, a moment on screen, a painting, a dance, or a book, and we’re vulnerable when we share it.