Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Where’s the WIIFM?

Here’s something most beginning writers don’t want to talk about: marketing your writing. For most writers, writing is the “fun” part, but turning around and selling that work is the bane of their existence. It may help to realize that, like every other aspect of writing, marketing requires creativity.

It may seem like your writing should sell itself. You know, you send your precious baby out into the world with no introduction, and the first editor to see it simply snatches it up. Reality check! Selling writing is like selling anything else, and the first rule of selling is to tell the prospect (in this case, the editor) what’s in it for them. You can think of it as WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. It’s okay to put in something about your credentials. If you have an impressive track record or some awards under your belt, some editors will be impressed enough to take a look at your piece or query letter. Don’t make it all about you, though. Say what’s in it for the customer. In the advertising world, there’s nothing more important than WIIFM. People won’t buy from you because you have the most degrees, know the latest writing tricks (okay, maybe they will…sometimes) or have state-of-the-art story-spinning software. Editors usually don’t care how many years you’ve been writing or how many credentials you have. They care about how good your piece is and what your writing will do for them. How many readers will it attract? Will advertisers want to be featured near it? Will it win their publications awards? What’s in it for them?

People only pay attention when you meet their WIIFM criteria. They only want to know what’s in it for them. They have a problem or desire, and all they care about is whether you can solve their problem or give them their desire. When selling your writing, show the editor the WIIFM!