An all-day bootcamp to help authors sort through various strategies, tools, and opportunities available
and what makes sense at this point in time for the next stage of their careers
Midwest Writers board member Dianne Despain (writing as Dianne Drake for Harlequin), who got her start at MWW in 1993 and now has 57 books published, asked Jane Friedman about the Author Platform and Career Development Bootcamp intensive workshop she will teach at MWW19 (Saturday, July 27) this summer.
MWW: So first, who, exactly is your bootcamp directed toward?
Many authors are confused about how to prioritize the many marketing tools and opportunities available-and what makes sense for their particular genre or readership. By the end of this bootcamp, writers will have a clearer idea of what’s next for them-and if all goes well, an action plan with specific and concrete next steps for the year(s) ahead.
MWW: If you could list the top five things your bootcamp will address, what would they be?
- A strong definition and understanding of your target audience or readership. What is your understanding of your readership and who they are? How can you find out? Is there a potential readership you’re missing out on?
- Optimization of your product (your books or anything else you do) and brand. How well are your books “optimized” to appeal to your target audience? Are you offering a coherent marketing message across everything you do? Are you using the language of readers to help your efforts?
- Direct reach development. How do you reach readers currently, and what areas need shoring up? What opportunities are available to expand your direct reach? What does your own website, email newsletter, or social media analytics tell you about that reach and where the opportunities lie?
- Lead generation. What strategies and tools do you use to reach new readers? How effective are your methods? What methods should you try?
- Using the power of community to help you. What opportunities exist to improve your reach through collaborations, partnerships, and influencers?
MWW: Since you’re known for your nonfiction writing and advice, how will this workshop benefit fiction writers or poets?
MWW: Is there an overall commonality between fiction and nonfiction when planning your career?
MWW (DD): I wrote for Women’s Day, Family Circle, etc. back in the day when they wanted words. The market has changed drastically since then, words counts are lower, pay is much lower, so is there a way to break into the magazine market today and make a living, or do magazine journalists need to seek out other types of writing to make ends meet?
When I first entered the publishing industry twenty years ago, one of the most popular books for freelancers was The Well-Fed Writer, which focused on how writers could get paid a much better rate by pitching themselves to corporate clients and businesses. E.g., there is significant demand for magazine-like content for businesses as diverse as Netflix, American Express, and Warby Parker. Even high-minded institutions like the New York Times and Atlantic have divisions to offer businesses custom content-to help pay their bills. So, if freelancers are flexible about the type of work they’ll do, there is paying work to be found.
MWW: Self-help books used to be all the rage in nonfiction. Are they still, or is there something else out there that’s currently the hot trend?
In the current landscape, you might categorize nonfiction publishing growth in two ways: there are books that help you learn and understand the world, but then there are books that help you cope with and escape the world. (And some books are a little of both.)
MWW: If there’s one best piece of advice you’d give an aspiring writer, what would that be?
Jane: Be patient with yourself and your progress.
MWW: And similarly, if there’s one best piece of advice you’d give a writer who’s had some success and is finally on the way?
Jane: Be patient in growing your readership.
This intensive is ideal for published authors or about-to-be-published authors, whether self-published or traditionally published.