Earning Your Place – reblogged from CaressingTheMuse

This post by Stephanie Allen Crist really hit the spot for me today. I’ll comment at the end.

Earning Your Place
Posted on April 20, 2013 by Stephanie Allen Crist

“In most people’s minds, marketing is about promoting a product or service. It’s about advertising. It’s about sales.

But the full cycle of marketing involves discovering what customers want, providing customers with products and services they want, reaching out to them so they know how to get it, and analyzing your results.

Simply put, you don’t start with a pitch. You start with a product or service that’s worth pitching. In your case, that means you start with a book that’s worth reading.

It could be said that people (at least some of them) on the bestsellers’ lists write crap churned out for the masses. There’s some truth to that, though not as much as the struggling writer likes to tell him/herself. The thing of it is that these writers know or stumble upon the secret to sales: Giving customers what they want.

This doesn’t mean following the hottest trends to make the best sales, though people do that, too. Let’s assume for the moment that you don’t work that way. Most writers don’t.

Instead, take it to mean producing the best book you can and then finding the people who will want it. It might not be the masses, and that’s okay. The thing of it is, though, you have to find them, at least at the start. When you’re building your initial following, you have to go out and look for people who might like your book. Then, you share your message, i.e. your pitch, with them.

So, to earn your place among successful authors, you need to:
Write the best book you can.
Find the people who will want to read it.
Tell them about your book.

If you do, then you will earn your place. If you do it well, you’ll earn your living. You might even become a bestseller in the process.”


This is the bit that made those little bells start ringing in my head :

 “…producing the best book you can and then finding the people who will want it.”

As soon as I read that [words in bold] it hit me that I have spent my whole life looking for kindred spirits, people who will like the kind of person I am, people who will accept me for who I am.

I can tell you right now that I do not have many real life friends who fall into that category. But. The friends I do have are friends for life. We have grown together, suffered together, supported each other in bad times and laughed like crazy during the good times. I would walk over hot coals for these kindred spirits of mine!

But what does this have to do with marketing? Everything. 

Just as I could never be the uber popular person with a million friends and acquaintances, I cannot become the uber popular writer whose work is loved by all. That will never happen because I am not that kind of person, and will never be able to write that kind of book. But I can reach out to readers who are kindred spirits and share my work with them. And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Love ya!


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

25 responses to “Earning Your Place – reblogged from CaressingTheMuse

  • Stephanie Allen Crist

    “I guess the truth is that if someone wants to do horrible things they will find some justification for their actions.”

    Exactly. Religion is a vehicle for those kinds of actions, but it’s not what the religion is really about.

    But no belief system is immune to that kind of thing. I hear a lot of people, at least in the U.S., arguing that religion should be abandoned for these very reasons and science or humanism should be the crux of a person’s belief system. And yet, while neither has had sufficient power (in the political realm) for nearly as long, already attrocities have piled up in their names.

    Human beings are too fallible and too prone to mistakes in judgment, in my opinion, to trust themselves or each other without question, especially when trying to justify doing something to someone else that we would not want done to ourselves.


    • acflory

      The trouble is that all religions and belief systems are created by fallible humans. Whatever the original ‘message’ may have been, it is soon overlaid by dogma and interpretation. Have you read the parables in the New Testament? Can you honestly say any of the Christian religions bear much similarity to those simple, honest principles? I don’t believe in a god but I do try and live by those principles.


      • Stephanie Allen Crist

        I agree. The fallibility of humanity is the problem. That is usually the heart of the original message, though influenced by culture and different senses of what the ultimate goal is.

        But, I would contend that letting the fallibility of mankind stand between you and a faith in God is mistake.

        I hear you say you don’t believe in a god, and I try to take that at face value. I don’t make judgments and I’m not called as an evangelist. I firmly believe that everyone needs the right to believe whatever they will according to the dictates of their own conscience. We all have free will, and I believe we all have it for a reason. So, I respect your right to believe whatever is in your heart.

        But…I’ve also seen a lot of people who want to believe in God, but who have lost their faith because of acts of man, particularly the acts of man within a given religious setting. Again, this isn’t meant as an attack against Catholicism, but most of the people I’ve known who have lost their faith were raised Catholic. The history of the Catholic church and the contemporary practice of Catholicism can make retaining a child-like faith very difficult, especially for those who’ve been traumatized by the cruelty of man.

        That you stil try to live by the true principles of the Bible, without the religious pracitce, makes me question your unbelief. Because I have read the parables in the New Testament. I’ve read the entire Bible, multiple times. I read from the Bible every day. I study and I pray and I try to apply everything I read to my life, even the Old Testament, which is much harder for me.

        And no, I can not honestly say any religion lives up to the principles taught by Christ; but in Christ’s defense, he didn’t come to this earth to establish religion. Religion is a man-made construct. Christ taught us to come to God as children to a loving Father.

        I try to abide by the Word of God. But I don’t go to church. I don’t feel welcome in church. There have been a few fleeting moments where I’ve felt that due to the genuine love of a few special individuals, but I don’t fit into any religion, because I can’t take “religion” seriously.

        I do take God seriously. I do take the Holy Spirit seriously. And I do honestly believe that the Holy Spirit reaches out to each and everyone of us, because God wants a personal relationship with each of us as individuals.

        And that’s what “religion” seems to miss. Religions like to preach that there is one right way to do “it.” But God reaches out to us as individuals and nurtures us as individuals. Our faiths are not going to look the same. Our paths are not going to be the same. But that doesn’t mean He isn’t leading us, even when He’s leading us away from the religion that taught us to look for Him in the first place.

        I’m not trying to judge you. I wouldn’t do that. But, from personal experience, I know how easy it is to confuse the church with God. And I know how much it hurts when the church rejects you, when that’s exactly what they’re not supposed to do. I just try to remember that the church rejected Christ, too.

        I don’t know your heart, but it seems to me like part of you, the part that holds on to the good that you’ve been taught, the part that has cast aside the bad, wants to believe. Don’t let your disbelief in the church keep you from a personal relationship with God.

        Either way, whatever you choose, know that I value our friendship and I respect your choices and I respect who you are and I wish you the best on your journey, wherever it leads you.


        • acflory

          Thanks Stephanie. I knew you were religious but I felt I knew you well enough to trust you wouldn’t be judgemental. -hugs-

          The fact that you believe, after clearly questioning the whichever religion/church you were raised in makes you one of my kind of people. 🙂 I think everyone has to truly believe in something. You believe in God. I believe in goodness and personal integrity. The point though is that we both believe and live by our beliefs.

          I did not go through anything traumatic as a young Catholic. My loss of ‘faith’ came about because of the Church’s insistence on /faith/. I’m intensely logical and I finally realised that that I could not believe in anything that was so alien to my nature.

          My belief system revolves around the parable of the talents. I believe I was born with certain skills/talents, including logic. To be true to myself, and in a sense true to a god if this is how god made me, I must make the most of what I was given.

          I think it was Plate who talked about the concept of Eudaimon. Basically it translates as someone to be congratulated, but the example given was of a man on his deathbed who looks back over his life and dies knowing he has lived the best life he was capable of living.

          That is what I strive for. If you take away the question of faith, you and I are not so different. 🙂


          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            Insistence on faith, versus development of faith, is always a problem. Religions all over the world have tried to enforce faith with laws and violence. While insisting on faith is less extreme, the result is the same: People may act as if they have faith to be in obedience, but that doesn’t actually develop their “seed” into faith. It makes it shrivel up and die. You cannot legislate faith, whether you try to do that as a nation or just in a church.

            In the sense of talents, faith is actually one of my gifts. I had spiritual experiences that helped to develop my faith without having been to any kind of church, which also reinforces my resistance to church. I do have a strong logical side, but it is balanced by a mystical side, which is probably why I gravitate more towards fantasy than science fiction.

            Eudaimon sounds familiar, but if it is the context is wrong and I can’t place the familiarity. The story, though, sounds more like Aristotle. I don’t much care for Plato. I’ve read the Republic, but I mostly get hung up on Plato’s call that children born with disabilities should be left out on a hill to die. Kind of cancels out the whole shadow cave story.

            No, we’re not so different. I, too, believe it’s important to be true to yourself and to who you are made to be. You will walk your path, I will walk my path, and we will rejoice in those times when our paths converge. 🙂


          • acflory

            Hmmm…. it’s been almost 40 years so I can’t be 100% sure Eudaimon is attributable to Plato. Perhaps it was Aristotle. The message remains though. And yes, I completely agree you can’t legislate faith. I’ve always felt that if someone truly believes in something then it becomes a way of life. Sadly for most people it just seems to be something reserved for Sundays.

            I think our paths will keep converging for a while. 🙂


          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Christians aren’t the only ones who keep religion as a habit.

            So do I. 🙂


  • EllaDee

    The exact opposite of How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. I hated this book and everything it represented. In his defence, all I can say is “if you can’t be a good example at least you’ll be a dire warning”. If I had to write and do such crap to be a success I wouldn’t bother.
    Your way works just fine.


    • acflory

      I haven’t even heard of Steve Hely but from what you’ve said I won’t bother looking him up. My definition of success has a lot to do with personal integrity too. Never believed the ‘end justifies the mean’ bull$hit.


      • Stephanie Allen Crist

        lol I have to agree there. I have a conscience and I’d like to keep it and keep it happy.

        Besides, there’s a difference between becoming famous and becoming infamous; there’s a difference between being a one-hit-wonder and building a lifelong career; there’s a difference between your writing being hot and your writing being loved.

        I don’t care much for fame. Actually, I’m kind of afraid of it, though I’ll tolerate it if it becomes necessary. I’m much more interested in building a lifelong career by writing things others can love, learn from, and enjoy.

        My marketing (and my marketing advice) reflects my attitudes towards writing and my firm belief in integrity.

        The truth is a lot of people get rich/infamous by scamming others, but a lot more people building lifelong careers and lasting success by doing good and doing it well, without ever receiving the big name attention. It all depends on how you define success.


        • acflory

          “It all depends on how you define success.”

          Ever since my late teens, I’ve always seen true success as being the sum total of a life. Did I do more good than harm? Was I true to my beliefs? Did I make the most of my talents?

          The first two have always been fairly easy to do because I grew up a Catholic and I have a strident conscience. The last one has been the hard one. I guess that’s why I’m focusing so hard on my writing now. It’s the one talent I have that can encompass all my smaller, Jill-of-all-trades skills.

          If I can keep writing, and being read, I will be a success. The fame and fortune would be nice, but neither are necessary. 🙂


          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            “Did I do more good than harm? Was I true to my beliefs? Did I make the most of my talents?”

            Kindred spirits.

            Though, I can’t help but think about a line from Stargate: SG-1. Daniel Jackson was dying and Oma Desala was trying to help him ascend, but he felt unworthy because of his accomplishments (or, rather, his failures).

            Her response was something to the effect that the results were outside of his control. All we can truly control is whether we are good or whether we are evil.

            Making “the most” of your talents is something that is beyond your control. We don’t choose the consequences of our efforts, we choose the quality and quantity of effort we put into our tasks. Likewise, we don’t choose the fruits of our labors, but we do choose if, how, and how well we labor.

            Your success is writing the best book you can write at the time and investing yourself in marketing your book as well as you can at the time. How much you are read or by whom is out of your control. Trying is something you can control. Being honest is something you can control.

            And therein lies your success.


          • acflory

            Beautifully put Stephanie. That is exactly what I try to live by. It’s not a religion but it is part of my belief system.


          • Stephanie Allen Crist

            While I do believe in God, I don’t hold a lot of stock in religion per se. The Spirit teaches and our spirits learn, and sometimes it amazes me how many “religious” people just don’t listen.

            Being good or evil has very little to do with religion. All the religious fanatics make that quite apparent. You can’t question their faith, but I can’t help but question their understanding.


          • acflory

            I think we have a capacity for great altruism, and also great evil. Sadly the things that make us commit acts of atrocity, as well as smaller acts of maliciousness, find it easy to twist religious teaching to their own ends. What is even sadder is that many of the religious leaders are the worst offenders.

            I guess the truth is that if someone wants to do horrible things they will find some justification for their actions.


  • metan

    I think there is a lot of luck to finding an audience as you said. The internet has ensured that we can spread whatever bit of ourselves we want to share with the world quite easily. The problem is making your ‘thing’ stand out in the gigantic crowd where everyone is trying to do the same thing!


    • acflory

      Absolutely. I have no real idea how to do that. All I know how to do is look for people who are sympatico and connect with them. I used to worry a lot about not ‘doing it right’ but now I realise I can’t do it any other way.


  • acflory

    I can’t deny the element of luck in the equation – catching people’s imagination is such a nebulous thing. I truly don’t believe anyone can /plan/ to do that. It just happens, or not. In terms of active marketing though, people who like the same things I do, at least in some areas, are the people I can relate to… and that takes the pain out of marketing. 🙂


  • lorddavidprosserDavid

    There can be a lot of luck attached to this too. Being in the right place at the right time- writing a vampire book just as vampire books are taking off- having a publisher see your latest tweet and decide to just check it out- and even being recommended on Facebook by someone with many friends of the subject matter and the right age group.

    Kindred spirits and even real friends may be in tune with you as a person but may not be in tune with what you read or what you write. Many of your friends may be fellow gamers Andrea but still may not like Sci-fi books or fantasy except on screen. Many will love the screen but never find time to read at all. Finding people who share all our tastes and quirks isn’t easy.

    I’ve found that some people have come to my books only from following my blogs about the cat or about my wife’s illness and yet I was blogging about the books before that.Yesterday in fact I had a lovely message from a new reader who had come to send her condolences and read about the books and decided to try one. I think we have to constantly sell the product but sometimes think outside the box where we try. Maybe J K Rowling would have been a hit sooner if she’d pitched the Harry Potter books as being suitable for adults instead of concentrating on children’s publishers?.
    Hugs to all xx


  • Stephanie Allen Crist



    There are writers who catch on and are launched into publishing stardom despite themselves. The example is only vague in my mind, and I’m going to be lazy and not look it up, but I think the author of Catcher in the Rye was like that and I’m pretty sure the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull was too.

    One thing I’ve found in my, um, other occupation is that there are two common occurrences: 1) People assume that others share their experiences of the same events and are surprised when they discover that’s not true. 2) People assume “nobody” or “only a few” people would understand some of the things they try to hide, only to discover that a lot of other people can identify with them.

    Finding kindred spirits is how you build up that loyal base. What happens after that is completely outside of your control.


    • acflory

      Apologies for not responding sooner! For some weird reason WP is not letting me see my notifications. 😦 I’m literally having to look at my own post from the outside to see the comments. 😦


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