The Dirty Word That Artists Need to Learn to Love

We artists are funny people. We labor over our work, we write our hearts out, paint our souls onto canvases, whatever it might be – and then we sit. Almost every creative person I know has a “If I Build it They Will Come” mentality about what they create. Or, worse yet, an “I’m an Artist So I Should Starve” mentality. I really don’t get it.

Except I do. Because for a long time I was plagued with that idea, too. Freelancers have this issue to a point, usually around pricing and not charging enough, but fiction writers are terrible with this.

They’ll say “I don’t understand why my book isn’t selling!”

I’ll ask “What are you doing to market it?”

And then they look at me like I’m a fish that sprouted legs and started doing an Irish jig.

Marketing is a term that has such a bad connotation to it. Nobody likes it. Marketing means sleezy, icky, screwing people over, begging people for money, unethical, and not good for anyone but the marketer.

But that’s just wrong.

You market all the time. You just don’t know it. Don’t believe me?

Have you ever:

  • told a friend about a restaurant you wanted to try and convinced her to go there with you?
  • convinced a friend to read a book you loved and you knew they’d like?
  • received a job offer after an interview?
  • convinced anyone of anything ever in your life?

If any of these things apply to you, then congratulations, you’re a marketer. Everything is marketing. We market to people all the time. Because real marketing is, very simply, finding people who might want what you have, letting them know it’s available, and explaining the benefits.

That’s all.

The marketing that most people think of is not actual marketing, and it’s long dead. Sure, it still exists in some forms, but nobody pays attention to it. Marketing is all about relationships, doing for others, being helpful in all things, and drawing people to you and your products naturally.

Look, you put something valuable out into the world as a writer or creator of any type of art. You make people feel. Open their minds to new possibilities. Help them escape reality – or, in some cases, shove reality in their faces and make them think about something in a new way. That’s a service as much as it is an art form, and there are tons of people out there who would be happy to pay for it.

But it’s not about waving deals in front of their faces. It’s about making connections! It’s about finding the people who would be most likely to buy your work, and letting them know it exists in a friendly way, getting to know them, helping them out if you can.

Also: Don’t snarl at “free”. The opposite side of marketing that people tend to hate is the “freebie” marketing, or offering things for free. Free is awesome. I love free. I give out free things all the time. In fact, if you join my newsletter at, I send out a free PDF story every week! Sometimes I send out two freebies. I put free stories on Wattpad. Offer my books for free when they first come out on Kindle.


Because, in actuality, giving things out for free only increases my sales. No joke. This doesn’t work if you only have one book to sell, but if you’re a writer, you likely have lots to sell. If you give a short story away, don’t you think people will be more likely to buy your books? Of course. You’ve let them see what they’re getting into. It’s also a great way to screen for the people who will actually like your work – because not everyone will.

How many times have you purchased a product because you got a free sample?


Free is good. Free shows people that you’re not in it just for the money.

If you’re a freelancer, this also works. Now don’t go crazy with free – the free in freelancer is supposed to be your freedom, not giving away your work – but it can help to do a sample article for free. Even putting content on your site to content market your own services is a way of giving something to your clients for free – a site full of free samples of your writing. Free consulting is another good idea, again, if done in small doses.

Whatever your aversion to marketing, if you want to be successful in the world of any business, you have to get over it and start marketing.

If you’re interested in marketing for writers, I’ll be coming out with two eBooks in the near future, one for fiction writers and one for freelancers, on how to look at marketing differently, and how to do if effectively. If you’re interested in that, you can sign up for my newsletter here for freelancers, and here for fiction writers

PS: There’s an annoying glitch on my fiction website right now where the giant subscription pop-up doesn’t go away. I’m working on it. 😀

How do you feel about marketing? What are some of your favorite types of marketing? Let us know!


One Comment Add yours

  1. This is so true.
    One of the first ‘bits’ of good advice I was given was this (in business context)….”before you do anything ask yourself how it will affect your marketing”.
    Because everything you do affects your marketing in some way or another.

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