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Part 2: The 8 Things Writers Should Do to Influence Readers (and Make a Sale)

Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery by Diane Holmes, Chief Alchemist of Pitch University

WARNING: I’m in the middle of shaking you up, baby.   Okay, now read on.

A purchase is a one-time exchange. But demand is what creates a career.


So your job is to create that demand, that interest, that desire for what you offer.

Certainly the quality of your work can create a demand.

We writers love to rely on that, because it’s what we care about: our writing.  Plus it’s passive which is so much less effort.  Write, send it into the world, let the writing speak for itself.  Wait to be recognized.

What we hope:

Readers (clients) will be so inspired by our quality, they’ll make it their mission to demand more.  Well know about this mission because they’ll spontaneously call us just to rave.  Thank goodness they’re not distracted by their own lives.

Might be good to ask how can WE, also, create a demand.  What is our power in influencing readers? ( Us, not our marketing materials, not our business cards and tag lines.  You and me.)

But why????

Because not everyone will have read your past writing.    These people–who could easily be your future audience, buy your products, champion your skills–won’t know your sentences are pure glory.

But if they meet you, speak with you, they could become the people who demand your work, even though they HAVEN’T read it.

Now that’s the power of demand.

As I said in Part 1, when you speak, nothing influences demand better than the 8 languages of passion.

Read Part 1 HERE.

We’ve already covered the language of Mastery, Excitement, Heart, and Confidence.  Onward now to the final 4 ways you represent your passion.

5) Extraordinariness.

We all want to think we and our writing are special, are unique.  But we’re usually talking about being special and unique in the same way as everyone else is. 😉

(That’s especially true if the specialness is a product of a marketing exercise where you have to write down something that everyone will agree is a mighty-fine quality.  It’s always too generic.  Too fake.  Too  filled with hype.

So what we think of as special and unique is Not. Good. Enough.

What I’m talking about instead is the crossroads where “blow your mind” and greatness meet up.

You’ve heard of a delight factor, right?  Well, I’m  talking about a delight factor that is authentic to you and inspires that wow feeling in others.

And yeah, you might not be aware of your own delight factor unless someone else points it out..

So go figure it out.  Then learn to include what delights you and others, what makes you extraordinary, in conversations.

No, not with an agenda.  That ruins everything, doesn’t it?  In an authentic way, because how can you NOT talk about the thing that captivates you the most?  How can you look forward to having a conversation about something that delights the folks you talk with?

Imagine writing for Groupon and not sharing how much you enjoy writing crazy things like : “The hamburger is an edible American icon, much like coleslaw made with shredded Norman Rockwell paintings.”

The Groupon voice is the writer’s and the reader’s delight factor!  It’s what makes a job writing coupon ads extraordinary.

Here’s an interview with Markus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief,  He talks about his choice to make Death the narrator, and about his breakthrough thought, “What if Death was afraid of us? What if Death was haunted by humans?”

It’s an extraordinarily special approach to an award-winning novel, and he talks about it in the most ordinary way.  Such a good example about how you do this.

Imagine if he hadn’t mentioned it at all?

What a missed opportunity that would’ve been to create a demand for his novel in the very people most likely to appreciate what he, himself found extraordinarily captivating.


clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

The 8 Things Writers Should Do to Influence Readers (and Make a Sale)

Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery by Diane Holmes, Chief Alchemist of Pitch University

I know you’d like to send your writing out into the world, sit back, and listen to the applause.  (I often pretend I hear it. A girl has to have some fun.)  But… no career really works that way.  Sob.

You’ve gotta get up and represent.

Snoopy Knows How to Represent

This article is about you, Dear Writer, and the relationship you create with potential customers through your spontaneous interaction (and not your lovingly crafted prose).

But before we get into that, I want to make sure you understand who your potential customer is.  It’s anyone who buys your writing, hires you to write, facilitates that process, might recommend you for a job, or could possibly speak highly of you.

I use this term pretty broadly.

My point is that sometimes potential customers end up spending money and buying your product or service.  And sometimes they don’t spend money, but they still contribute to your career.

If customers are only those who buy your writing, you miss the entire class of “industry professionals.”  And the big ol’ world of  “influencers” called a network?  You can’t even see them if you focus solely on money.

Basically, I think of your potential customers as all those people who create a demand for your work.

Demand is what creates a career.  A purchase is a one-time exchange.

So, you’re in the business of creating a demand for your work.  (Write that down.  There’ll be a test some day.)

Back to spontaneous interaction, or as I like to think of it…

The Art of Communicating Passion…

(…and inviting your potential customer to share it with you.)

For 20 years, I’ve been a keen observer of how some of the best writers I know never get a career launched, no matter how good they are.  And others limp along with anemic careers that don’t begin to do them justice.

To be blunt, these writers never caught on.

It’s not fair.  It’s frustrating and heart breaking.  And it has nothing to do with how hard they worked or how much they believed in their dream.

It does, however, have a lot to do with demand.

For book writers, it’s only recently that authors can truly participate in creating demand.  But it’s still such a new concept to them that they often sit back and wait to be recognized out of habit.

They also sit back because they have no idea how to influence demand.  So, I’m going to tell you how, right now.  This isn’t about what to do.  It’s about HOW.

You have to learn to speak the Language of Passion.

And here are the 8 passions you should share freely, openly, and joyfully:

#1 Mastery.

Do you love reaching for the stars? Striving for excellence? Challenging yourself with each new project? Readers love this too.

Learn to speak the language of excellence and to talk about how jazzed you get trying to be the best you can, at what you do.  This is NOT bragging.  It’s not about talking about how good you are.

It’s about talking about your quest for quality and your delight when you reach it.

#2 Excitement.

Make your joy apparent.  Share your deep love of what you do.

Frankly, it’s boring to hear about how “special” folks are because “this is their dream” and “they’re meant to do this.”  But the fire and delight of a passionate, awake mind never gets old.

#3 Heart.

Sometimes what comes across to readers and customers is the overpowering stink of desperation, the yearning of one person focused on her/his personal dreams.

You know what combats that?

Warmth, compassion, and a bigger perspective that includes other people.  Find other people interesting.  Let them inspire you.  Honor the motivation and good fortune of a shared path.

#4 Confidence.

Over confidence is pretty ugly–so ugly that most trustworthy people avoid feeling confident all together.

But a lack of confidence is unnerving.  Plus we believe that it’s a fact.  “You’re right.  You must not be any good.”

But here’s what works.  Be in touch with your credentials and your experience.  Be excited about it at the same time you know you’re destined to grow even more.

Credentials, experience, growth: these things are true.  They’re how you earned confidence.

And yet, I know you’re still not sure about this whole confidence thing, as our society only seems to talk about confidence in the sense of someone with no self-confidence or way too much.

But I think of it this way.  There’s a pose in Yoga called Mountain Pose.  And when it’s done right, Beth Irvine says it feels “grounded, still, powerful, and majestic.”

When you can really speak with confidence about what you have done and will do, this is what you share with your reader and potential customer.


clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in FictionMastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

Why Freelancing Is Like Pool

Nine Ballby Catherine L. Tully

After reading the headline here, you may be wondering what on earth I’m talking about. It may sound crazy, but it’s true–freelancing and pool have a lot in common.

At least if you are doing things right.

I put myself through college working at a billiard hall (Bet you didn’t know that about me!), so I know a thing or two about pool. In order to get better, you have to think ahead to your next shot. Simply making a ball won’t do–you have to have a strategy–much like chess–to win. As you pocket one ball, you have to think about “getting shape” (lining up) on your next ball, and it helps to be able to see how to “run out” (make all the balls until you win) rather than thinking about one shot, then the next.

Freelancing is the exact same thing. If you are just concentrating on the task before you and not thinking about your next step(s), it will take you forever to build a career in this field–if you do it at all. You need to be able to multi-task, doing marketing, sending out multiple queries, writing, filing, billing and more, all with a plan in mind. In pool the goal is typically to clear the table. In your freelancing career, the goal is whatever you set–but you have to set one (or more) in order to develop a plan for your life in this business.

So with the end of the year approaching, I would like to encourage every freelancer out there to set a few overarching goals. Once you do, they will help guide your strategy, and thus, your career.

(And if you happen to be a pool player, here are some rooms to check out next time you’re in my neck of the woods!)

New Year, New Goals


Have you taken the time to sit down and write out your career goals for 2010? It doesn’t have to be an elaborate process…but I believe it is an important one. Setting concrete goals is something that keeps you moving forward, and I know from personal experience that it works. At least for me…

If you haven’t created a few goals for yourself, why not give it a try? Every year I set the simple goal of making more money than I did the year before. And I have yet to be disappointed. Doesn’t that sound nice?

So what are my other goals for the year? Here they are, for all to see…

+ Continue building my new dance blog.

+ Do more outreach to writers in the form of classes and seminars.

+ Each year I pick out a few magazines I would like to try and get published in. Then I work on query ideas for them throughout the year. Although I don’t have mine picked yet, I know I will try for at least 3 new, big mags. Perhaps an in-flight…

If you feel like sharing, you can list yours here. Either way, all the best to reaching them in 2010!

Planning For 2010

roadby Catherine L. Tully

It may seem totally crazy to start thinking about 2010 now, but I know from experience that planning is key when it comes to getting ready for the next business year. For many freelance writers, the slow season is coming, and there is no better way to get through it than by making good use of the time.

From Thanksgiving until just after the Superbowl, things usually get a bit quiet. People are vacationing, spending time with family and generally not “on”. (Yes, even editors!) This means queries sit, magazines work ahead and the money comes in a lot more slowly.

While you can’t see what is coming up in the New Year, you can take the time to do the following:

+ Set goals for 2010

+ Clean and organize your workstation

+ Create a list of query ideas

+ Check and see what articles you may be able to re-slant and re-sell in the coming months

+ Look for new markets

The slow season doesn’t have to mean that you don’t get anything done, and goal planning is truly essential to your career as a freelance writer. Get geared up to get things done instead of being discouraged that you aren’t working as much as usual. (Oh–and have a little fun too!)


Writing Goals For 2009

Ok. Here we are, sitting at the edge of 2009…. and I’d like to ask you a question–have you developed any writing goals for the upcoming year? Having a set of ideas that you want to reach for can help you–I’ve done this for years and recommend it highly. It doesn’t have to be a super in-depth sheet listing every detail, but try at least to include the following:

  1. How much money you’d like to make for the year.
  2. A publication credit or two that you’d like to get.
  3. Some type of self-improvement as a writer. (Taking a class, reading a book on self-publishing, etc.)
  4. A “shoot the moon” goal that can help give you inspiration.

Tuck these goals away. Put them somewhere you’ll remember them when the next year is drawing to a close, and then see how you did overall. Or….post somewhere to remind yourself what direction you are hoping to go. You may just be shocked by how close you can come to achieving them!