Your job’s marketing, is your responsibility


In an interview, the novelist Ian McEwan once complained light-stouthearted what it was like to go out and market a book after spending all the time creating it: “I feel like the wretched employee of my former self. My former self being the happily engaged novelist who now sends me, a kind of brush salesman or double glazing salesman, out on the road Mohawk this book. He got all the fun writing it. I’m the poor bastard who has Togo sell it.”

Every artist can relate.Very few of us got into this business because we wanted to have to manage social media accounts or approve an advertising campaign. Writers became writers because they wanted to write. Actors want to act — not spend two week son a grueling press tour. The founder wants to be working on their product, not polishing blog posts for some content marketing side hustle.

If Not You Then Who?

Who should make the time for your art if not you? What does it say that you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves to get to work telling people about this work you have made? Name one person who should be more invested in the potential success of this project than you.

The idea that the worlds waiting with bated breath for another movie, another book, another app? It’snot true. People love classics from the recent and distant past. When Harper-Collins has an imprint called Harper Perennial, for instance, or when catalog albums are outselling new releases, it should tell you something:People are pretty happy with the old stuff.

Your business needs your time

Al Ries and Jack Trout,likely two of the greatest marketers who’ve ever lived, acknowledge that CEOs are very busy. They have meetings, phone calls, business dinners, and countless other day-to-day responsibilities. So, naturally, CEOs delegate the marketing to other people. But this is a huge mistake. “If you delegate anything,” Ries and Trout say, “you should delegate the chairmanship of the next fund-raising drive. (The vice president of the United States, not the president, attends the state funerals.)” The same is true for creatives. We get it — you have other projects to do, you have a family, you’re busy.

The same goes for artists. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will find that there is plenty of waste inside our artistic routine. Time spent watching TV, time spent on meetings that go nowhere. You can cut back on all this.

-Take the time you spend messing around on your personal Facebook and use it to build an online community

-Take the time you spend fantasizing about being in the New York Times and spend it developing relationships with people who can get you there.

-Take the time you spend dealing with the Resistance, with procrastination, and lean into it. Use those less-than-inspired moments to think about how to build your platform or get attention.

That must be you. Marketing is your job. It can’t be passed on to someone else.

Marketing Is Art

Look at brilliant campaigns like Paulo Costello’s decision to upload his own book on Bit torrent sites in Russian to grow his fan base.Look what he did in Brazil with his publisher to run ads that featured the entire text of his famous novel TheAlchemist. It’s a giant block of text in 4.1-point font, so it’s basically impossible to read, but it’s still stunningly clever and brazen move. The brilliant ad reads in part, “Thanks to the 70 million who read the book. If you aren’t one of them, read this ad…” The result was immediate coverage in outlets like Ad week and, of course, much love on social media. He had to do that — he had to lead those efforts.

Are creative marketing ideas like this not their own works of art? Wouldn’t your work be served well by applying your muscle and creativity to coming up with something similar?

There are so many great ideas and cool ways to get your work out there, I promise.

-Do the thing that you think is crazy — that isn’t allowed 

-Take a stand. Take a risk.

-If you want to be in the news, make news.

-Reach out to potential champions of your work (they are desperate for good stuff too)

Jeff Goins talks about the difference between a starving artist and a thriving artist — this is that difference.The desire and the ability and the initiative to get what you’ve made in front of people. To see the whole equation as the artist’s responsibility — not just the time they spend in the studio or at the computer or on stage.

Plenty of people can make great work. Not everyone has the dedication to make it and to make it work. Marketing is an opportunity for you to distinguish yourself, to beat out the other talented folks whose entitlement or laziness holds them back.

So yeah, you have to get out there and hawk your stuff. Not just because if you don’t, who will, but because no one can do it as well as you can.


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