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Writing student evolves into book marketing teacher

For the next 27 days, we’ll be taking a little detour from the traditional marketing posts you’ve come to know and love on the Marcie Brock blog as I lead by example and follow my own writing prompts for the Author Blog Challenge. There’s still time to register. Join today and qualify for drawings for daily giveaways for every day that you post.

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Day 2 writing prompt:

What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?

The teacher teaches what the teacher needs to learn.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Throughout my writing evolution, I’ve been on both sides of the teacher’s desk – and I’ve found both of these truisms at work in my life.

Of course, my most expansive writing instruction came in the form of my BA in nonfiction from the University of Arizona, part of the university’s esteemed Creative Writing program. At the time I was in school, the UA creative writing program ranked up there with Iowa as a great place to get an MFA in writing. I’ve frequently thought about going back for that master’s degree, but have yet to pursue it.

One event from my undergrad experience still stands out vividly, though. It was the first day of class, maybe

Timid teacher? REJECTED!

the second semester of my sophomore year when I was finally beginning to take credits toward my major. I’d been looking for a good fiction writing class, and one instructor came highly recommended so I signed up for his section.

Though we were just beginning work toward our undergrad degrees, the instructor took some time to explain the MFA program, telling this group of budding young writers that in order to actually receive that coveted master’s degree, you had to publish your work with a ‘real’ publishing house. One kid immediately piped up to ask whether the instructor had been published yet. I’ll never forget his response: “No – I’m too afraid of being rejected to send my manuscripts out.”

Are you KIDDING ME?!!? I remember thinking. How on earth was he going to teach us anything if he was too big a chicken to even try to get his own work published? If he couldn’t encourage us from his real-world perspective, I had no use for him. Well respected or not, I dropped his class the next day.

On the other hand, I LOVE the teaching side of things. I’m not much for teaching writing, though. Perhaps I just don’t find it that interesting? Marketing, however, is something I really enjoy teaching – because it’s so useful. People can walk out of my workshops and programs, implement the tools I’ve taught them, and see almost immediate results in their book businesses. As a result, many of my classes run the gamut from putting a book together to marketing it once it’s done.

My husband, sister, and I recently decided to try our hand at writing a screenplay. We’d been at it maybe 3 months when the perfect teacher did appear. Still so grateful to Hollywood screenwriter Jeff Schimmel for his 2-day workshop during which I took 75 pages of notes! It’s coming up on a year that we’ve been working on this thing – but it’s actually getting close to finished. And now, we know exactly what to do with it when we’re done.

I’ve always believed the most successful people study their craft. Yes, it certainly helps to have innate skill at your chosen art – be it calligraphy, creative nonfiction, or throwing a curveball. But honing that skill with the help of a seasoned instructor is the thing that truly sets the natural talent ablaze.

Wishing you the best in your writing (and marketing) studies –

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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If your skills need improvement, INVEST in yourself and take a class!

I recently attended a screenwriting workshop presented by Hollywood veteran, Jeff Schimmel. To say I learned a lot of immensely useful information is the biggest understatement of the year. But as valuable as the literal information I received from the workshop was, the even more important thing I received was encouragement. “Anyone can sell a screenplay,” Schimmel said.

Of course, the caveat is that it’s a great story submitted through the proper channels in the proper format. Piece of cake, as my personal trainer used to say.

This workshop was an investment for me: Money. Sixteen hours of valuable time I could have spent working. My intense energy and undivided attention. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

Here are my takeaways for a first-time self-publishing author:

  • YOU can do it! But it probably won’t be easy.
  • You will have to make some investments. You may  have to give up your weekends for a year. You may sleep a little less, or occasionally miss “Modern Family.” If there are things you need to learn, find a qualified teacher, spend the money, put in the time, and get yourself educated.
  • When someone gives you a road map, follow it. In attempt to stand out from the crowd, we can have a tendency to spit on the system in an effort to do it our own way. The thing is, the system is there because it works. If someone advises you to create an outline, write a marketing plan, rehearse your pitch till you can say it in your sleep – accept that advice, because those are the steps a successful author takes. Use your creativity in the right places: to create a great book, for a mischief marketing campaign, to reach the rock star whose blurb will help you sell books.
  • If you’re willing to work your butt off, you will write, publish, and sell your book.

Writing, by its nature, is a solitary occupation. But every once in a while, it pays to step out, find a community, get some support, and enhance your skills.

Happy learning!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit Write | Market | Design to download your Marketing Skills Evaluation. This will help you determine how close you are to SBM status, and where you may need a little extra boost.

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