How to Benefit from Facebook Writers’ Groups

A couple of years ago, I set up a Facebook group for writers. I love running it, partly because I’m addicted to Facebook groups. As opposed to pages, groups are designed to be communities of like-minded people on Facebook, where people can exchange tips, advice and experience. I set up the Facebook group for Irish writers and book professionals because I felt overwhelmed by the information overload on the web, and wanted to meet other writers and get information that would be relevant to me as an Irish writer.

Facebook groups are intended more for information sharing than for promotion, but they can help you get the word out about your books or writing services if you use them cleverly. Here are some tips for how to use Facebook groups to enhance your writing reputation, drawn from my own experience of running the Irish Writers, Editors and Publishing Professionals Facebook group.

  1. Start Chatting

Like anything in life, you’ll get out of a group what you put in. If you join in the discussions, you’ll get to know the other authors on the group and build relationships with them. Writing can be a lonely life, and just knowing there are other people out there ploughing the same furrow can be a comfort. As an extra bonus, over time, these people will be your audience when you have book or event that you want to spread the word about.

2. Be Generous

If you’re a writer or a book professional with some experience, a Facebook group gives you the opportunity to share what you know. If someone on the group asks a question, give them a comprehensive answer. This will enhance your reputation as an expert in the book field and may attract people to your books or services in the future. Give encouragement to a fellow author who doubts themselves and share useful information that group members post with your own networks. People will appreciate these little acts of generosity.

  1. Ask Questions

If you are breaking into the world of writing or the book world in general, a Facebook is a great place to gather the knowledge you need. A well-run Facebook group offers a safe environment where you can pose any question you want without fear of ridicule. You’ll have access to a warm, friendly community of people who know what they’re talking about, and the information you gather will help you achieve your writerly goals.

  1. Respect the Group’s Promotional Policy

Some groups allow no promotion at all, while others are very liberal, allowing you to trumpet blast your latest book release. In the group I run, we try to achieve a balance between promotion and information. We allow promotion using certain designated posts, and promotions are not allowed outside of them. In general, Facebook groups are more about information than promotion, and with blatantly promotional posts, you may run the risk of looking a little desperate. If this is your promotional style, you’ll get better results using more direct promotional mediums like Facebook ads or e-mail campaigns.

  1. Use Moderate Language

You’re on Facebook to represent yourself professionally as an author. My Facebook group doesn’t allow profanities, but even if there is no such restriction, be careful with your language choices. A remark which you think is made in jest can seem offensive out of context. Also, avoid making personal remarks against individuals, even if you have good reason to. You could run the risk of libel charges, and at the very least, you’ll give the impression of someone who’s bitter, which won’t do your reputation any good.

How do you use Facebook groups to promote yourself? And if you run a Facebook group, how do you make sure that the group is beneficial to members?

Facebook Group for Irish Writers

As a writer with a slightly unhealthy addiction to social media, I realised I would need to channel that addiction, so that I could justify the amount of time social media sucks away from my ‘proper’ writing activities. I was a member of many groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, but noticed that they were quite American and internationally oriented. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if there was a place I could go to that would give me information that was specific to Irish writers. There didn’t appear to be any, so I decided to set up my own.

From my experience on other groups, I knew that Facebook groups were far more interactive than pages. I already had previous experience of the power of groups to bring people together through the LinkedIn group I had set up, but to be honest, Facebook is more popular than LinkedIn and I knew a few lively souls who were on Facebook but not on LinkedIn and who would be sure to interact in a Facebook group.

What are Facebook Groups?

This probably explains why Facebook groups are taking off in recent times. Groups are very similar in structure to pages. But while pages give businesses, community organisations and non profits the chance to promote the services, groups are all about building communities and finding a common ground. As a result, the interaction tends to be livelier on Facebook groups than on pages. They tend to centre on mutual interests or locations. Groups give you the chance to target your social media communication, and if you set up your own group, you get to decide who to interact with and what to say.

In late January, I set up Irish Writers, Editors and Publishing Professionals on Facebook. It was like lighting a match and whoosh, flames light up the night sky. When I posted, I got instant replies. I asked the group members to suggest a cover photo for the group, as they’re not my strong point. Within minutes, a member had kindly given me permission to use this beautiful, quirky picture of a bookshop in a phone booth!

Book phone box

Structure of Group

I wrote a description of the group, outlining its goals, membership criteria. Essentially, the group is an information point for people in the book industry in Ireland, in any form, where they can make contacts and share information. I chose to make the group a closed group, which means that posts are only seen by members and that people have to request to join. Members can invite people to join by email, and these requests will also be approved by the admin.

Posts

The posts I encourage in the group include information about resources, celebration of good news, like awards or publication deals, and discussions about challenges that writers and book-industry professionals face. If members have questions they’d like to ask or topics they want to discuss, they can use the group as a forum. My description states that overt plugs for books will be removed, unless they’re to announce that the book has just been publish

Membership

Because I feel there are already enough groups for American, British and international writers and book professionals, I’m quite strict about the Irish criteria. Members must be Irish people living in Ireland, foreign nationals living in Ireland or Irish people living abroad. I will consider people whose parents are Irish, but further back, the Irishness becomes diluted.

When people request membership, I look at their profiles to see if they have friends in the group or if their profile mentions writing or books. If it doesn’t, I send them a message asking them what their background is in writing or the book world. If people don’t seem to be Irish, I ask them about their links to Ireland. Most people answer, and then I let them in through the hallowed gates.

Evolution of the Group

A lot of my Facebook friends are writers, so the group acquired over 100 members right away. Membership has grown steadily since then. As admin, I feel it’s important to keep the conversation going, but I haven’t had to worry too much about that. Members regularly put up posts and sometimes there are three or four posts a day. As admin, I can see who has seen the posts, and they’re getting a lot of visibility, but the replies are what counts and overall, people are pretty generous in their replies.

There have been a few challenges, like what to do about people’s writing. IT is a group for writers after all, and some people want to get feedback. Far be it from me to censor anyone, but at one stage, posts containing poems and stories dominated the group, pushing the more information-based posts downwards. I felt thatgiven that the group is an information point, I wanted those posts to take priority, so people would get the answers they needed.

Facebook doesn’t let you set up sub-groups yet, which is a pity, as it would facilitate people who want to use the group for their writing. I tried to organise the writing into a thread, but a lot of people didn’t see the thread, even though I pinned it so it would appear at the top of the page. Some members put up their writing. While I’ve no desire to censor people, and it’s good for people to get feedback, I felt the group was becoming dominated by the writings. So I left the writing as it was, and left a few comments encouraging people to comment on other people’s posts as well to build relationships, which in turn would give them the feedback they needed.

While I have had the odd overt plug or nuisance post, the group has remained spam free. I genuinely hope it’s a valuable resource for the people who use the group and I’m delighted that so many of them post so enthusiastically. It’s nice to feel I’m not alone in the universe and to get a response to the questions I post up. It’s also gratifying to see other members get the answers to their questions and share their achievements. I look forward to watching it grow over the next few months. I enjoy it so much, I’m afraid it may become yet another social media addiction! If you’re Irish, a book professional and have a similar addiction, here’s the link to the group.

Do you participate in Facebook groups? Have you set one up? How have you found the experience?

A Little Word Challenge

I’ve always thought that creating a new word would be a great way to achieve immortality. Your word would appear in dictionaries for generations to come, with your name beside it as the inventor, if there were any justice in the world.

The rapid changes in technology in recent years mean that new words are needed now more than ever, to describe the new technology and the new concepts that come with it. One phenomenon that I felt deserved its own word occurs when you meet a person you’ve been chatting to quite regularly on Facebook and Twitter, only to realise you don’t know them. Cue awkward squirming and a rapid exit.

So I set a challenge to the people that I know from Facebook and Twitter, some of whom I know in real life, some not, to see if they could come up for a word which describes this phenomenon. Hopefully one of these words will make its way into the lexicon and ensure immortality for its inventors.

There was a healthy response, with a few noticeable trends in the construction of the words.

Words that combined English with French or German. Words in this category included: FacebookMenschensiewissennichtwirklich, friemd (pun on the German for fremd, or stranger), webconnu and sousreal

Words that combined two existing words and captured the paradox of social media friendships – that people who seem to be friends are actually strangers. These included: franger, strangend, facepal(m), cyberbuddy and alternet.

Words that combined existing words to describe the illusion of social media friendship. These included: sociallusion, realmeet, realreveal, sociofabulation, cyberluded and webmirage,

Some words had slightly different definitions, but were still worthy contenders, including amity-nesia (forgetting you were friends with someone on Facebook) and to e-Frame, meaning only using photoshopped pictures of yoruself online, preferably with an inspirational quote.

A few of my favourites from those lists include the monster German word FacebookMenschensiewissennichtwirklich, friemd, sociallusion and franger.

Which word do you think is a candidate for immortality?

What’s Wrong with Inconclusive Endings?

Last week, 700,000 television viewers in Ireland watched a series about a missing teenager called Amber. The series ended up being a big water-cooler topic, particularly the ending, which left more questions than answers. I hopped on the bandwagon and posted the following comment on Facebook.

A note to the producers of the TV series Amber. If you are asking your audience to commit to watching a drama for four nights in a row, have the decency to reward that audience with a solid conclusion.

Shock horror, not all my Facebook followers agreed with me! They raised valid points about how the ending reflected real life, which often offers no conclusion. Since the series was about a missing person case, it made sense to them that the case should be left unresolved. But I stand by my view that, to borrow the title of a Julian Barnes novel, these viewers deserved ‘the sense of an ending.’

Here’s why I think inconclusive endings are a bad idea. I’m referring to books, but these points could apply to all forms of storytelling.

1. They don’t reward readers

If someone has followed your through to the end, that’s a great privilege. It means they thought enough of your story to persevere, and they believed enough in the world you created to become immersed in it. I think it’s only fair then that those readers be rewarded for their effort with a sense of resolution. This doesn’t mean the ending has to be trite or happy. It’s just good to feel that a story is complete.

2. They’re Breaking the Rules

It’s true that some stories don’t follow the traditional form, and readers of those stories will probably be happy to be left with an ambiguous ending. It’s also true that once an author knows the rules, they’re free to break them. But if you are following the traditional beginning-middle-end format in a greater or lesser form, then you need to follow them through to the end. Otherwise you’re in danger of implying that rules are just for the little people.

 3. They Drop the Ball

When a story ends ambiguously, it can sometimes feel as if an author ran out of steam or didn’t quite know what to do to finish off the story, so they simply allow the story to putter to a halt. We have a lot of expectations of endings, so we like our build-ups to finish in a satisfying explosion. Authors need to stay with their own story to the end, not just 90% of the way.

Are you a fan of the inconclusive ending? Or do you prefer your stories wrapped up in a bow? What endings have thoroughly satisfied you and what endings have left you wanting?

Author Interview: Lorna Sixsmith, Would You Marry a Farmer

Lorna Sixsmith is known in Irish social media circles for being a blogger extraordinaire. Her blog posts regularly receive thousands of hits. What you mightn’t know is that Lorna’s roots lie in literature – she was an English teacher for many years. This year, she decided to return to those roots and write a book. She was inspired to write Would You Marry a Farmer when one of her blog posts went viral, and she’s hoping her blogging magic will work just as well for her book.

I’m delighted to be part of Lorna Sixsmith’s blog tour. Because I give advice to other writers about publishing, I thought I’d focus my interview on the interesting route Lorna took to publishing her book. I genuinely think it’s a viable option for other writers who want their book to see the light of day.

Lorna-Sixsmith

 

 

 

 

 

Lorna spared a few minutes to chat to me about her path to publication.

Lorna, let’s start at the beginning. Where did the germ of the idea for this book come from?

I had always planned on trying to write a book and wrote 40,000 words for a novel about two years ago but never had the time or the confidence to go back to it. The idea for this book came from a blog post I wrote in September 2012 entitled ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer’ – a tongue in cheek look at what farmers’ wives might expect.  It was always popular but when it went viral one week, I wondered if there would be similar interest in a book that covered that topic.

You’re used to writing blogs – how did you rise to the challenge of writing a full length book?

It was a challenge but having a deadline was wonderful. I can achieve almost anything if I have a deadline but could procrastinate for ages otherwise. I had a relatively short time to write it too – I wrote 10,000 words back in April but the rest was written and edited in three months. The book is divided into sections and subsections and I I faced writer’s block (partly from lack of inspiration or more so from feeling overwhelmed), I just told myself it was like a blog post and was then able to tap away at the keys until that section was completed. The blog posts I write can be anything from 400-2000 words on a normal day, so 2000 words for a section was then very achievable.

What made you choose to self publish that book rather than approach a traditional publisher?

Lack of patience I think.  Once I had decided to write a book, I wanted to get it out there. I knew the traditional route could take two years or even longer, , even if I managed to get an agent and a publisher this year.  More and more people are self publishing now too, some because they see it as the route to being discovered by a publisher, others because they have gone down the publishing route and have decided they would prefer to do it themselves.  Others prefer to keep control over their own project and I have to admit there was a little of that in my reasoning too.  Traditional publishing does add more kudos to a book but once I had made up my mind, I wanted to see it through and complete it by year end. I have another book in mind for 2014!

How did you hit on the idea of crowdfunding the book?

I had heard of crowdfunding but had never thought of it for my own project until I attended a social media conference in Wales in June. I heard a presentation about a successful crowd funding campaign for a film documentary and as I hadn’t progressed beyond 10,000 words at that stage, a little light bulb went off.

What methods did you use to reach your target?

I created rewards that centred on the book and the majority of the pledgers opted for the €15, €25 and €45 options for pre-ordering the book.  Some pledged for a social media course at We Teach Social (Lorna’s social-media training business) and some businesses were happy to increase their pledge to €100 for the 5 books and the banner advertisement on my website. These larger amounts were hugely significant in helping me reach my target.

Social media was crucial to the success too – I used blogging, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.  Twitter was the most successful tool with over half of the pledges coming from twitter followers from all over the world. The social media activity also helped in getting press coverage in local and national newspapers too.

What obstacles did you encounter during your crowdfunding experience and how did you overcome them?

I didn’t encounter many obstacles as such. There was a lull in the middle which worried me but apparently that lull is perfectly normal. In hindsight, I should have told all my contacts about the campaign before it went live and then sent another email when it was live. I didn’t do that and was left wondering if people had seen it and were ignoring it or if they were putting the pledge on the long finger or perhaps they hadn’t seen it.

Would you recommend crowdfunding as an option to other self published authors?

Yes I would, but I would advise having a significant following on social media in advance.  Very few people will pledge from an ‘offline’ mention, they need to see the link online to follow it. Apart from the comfort of knowing that a significant portion of your printing and publishing costs have been covered, it is great publicity for the book before it hits the shelves.  I found that pledgers were naturally excited about the book too. They feel they have travelled the journey with me.  I recently received an email requesting my address for a book that I funded back in May – I’m looking forward to seeing that book and knowing I was a small part of it coming about.  If it doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t mean the book will fail but perhaps it might need tweaking before it is self published.

You hired a professional illustrator and editor for your book. What difference do you think investing in professional services makes to a self published book?

I really wanted to have illustrations throughout the book and knew I would need about twenty in total. I felt they would really add to the humour of the text as well as breaking up the black text.  It was a cost but I feel it really added to the production values of the book. I also decided to opt for a hard cover – I would like it to be a ‘fun coffee table book’ that people either read in its entirety or dip in and out of.

 

I think it must be very difficult for writers to edit their own book – you see what you think is there, not necessarily what is written. My husband was excellent at pointing out errors and while I had a few beta readers, nothing could equal the suggestions and subtle changes made by my editor (that’s me – coughs). Even before we got to the edit stage, it was comforting to be able to send the editor a good draft of three sections to receive her feedback and take that into consideration before I submitted it for the final edit.

How do you think your social media profile stood to you in your fundraising and promotion of the book?

It has been essential.  The crowdfunding would not have succeeded but for my social media profile and my membership of various online and business communities. Even being an organiser of the KLCK Bloggers Network and Blog Awards Ireland helped in terms of getting pledges. One journalist contacted me and wrote a piece in a national newspapers because she read about the crowdfunding campaign on my blog.

This virtual book tour will also help me to reach potential readers of my book who might not otherwise have heard of it. It’s about building brand awareness too before people will necessarily click the ‘buy now’ button.  I wrote a blog post a week ago entitled ‘Ten reasons to marry a farmer’. It received 50,000 views in the week with most of the traffic coming from shares on Facebook. Irish Central have reposted my post on their site and it has received significant shares and comments on Facebook too. The huge traffic hasn’t resulted in comparable sales but it all adds to brand awareness. People came to read a blog post, not to buy a book but a fraction may return.

Many of my purchasers in the last week have been via twitter too. However, it’s not just about social media. It is important to get coverage in traditional media too such as radio and print. Hopefully more of that will be happening over the coming weeks.

Overall, what advice would you give to people who are choosing to go down the self publishing route, to avoid pitfalls and maximise their chances of success?

Ensure it is a relatively popular topic if you are going to the expense of printing your book. Test the market with a Crowdfunding campaign or know that you have a substantial following on social media.

–        Write a blog, set up a Facebook page and a twitter account. These are essential tools now for self publishing authors.

–        Write the best book you possibly can so that your followers will act as your ambassadors and spread the word for you.

–        Invest in an editor and an illustrator for your front cover.

–        Foster relationships with key influencers and journalists.

Click here to buy Lorna’s book. http://irishfarmerette.com/?wpsc-product=marry-farmer

Tomorrow, the book tour stops at Thursday Muddy Matches by Heather, a blog full of ideas for rural-themed events for British singles

 

Have Fun Creating Characters

Creating characters is by far my favourite part of the writing process. It gives you an idea of what it must be like to be God, as you mould your characters into what ever images you choose. As you add quirky little details to them, like the funny way they hold their cup, or their hatred of tapas, they start to come to life. You feel as close to them as you do to your friends and family.

I wanted to give my Facebook followers that feeling of satisfaction – and of almighty power. I asked them to create a character based on this picture.

Maurice Murgatroyd

They really are a marvellously inventive bunch, my followers. My humble thanks to them for the three character sketches the follow.

Sketch One: Wilbert Harbinger

Wibert is 78 and three quarters. He is highly intelligent. He lives in a crumbling house in Navan, Co. Meath, Ireland. He has chosen it for its isolated location, which allows him to conduct his intelligence work in peace. He has been able to prove that the Higgs Boson particle is a scam and he is part of a dangerous sect, notable by the three spots tattooed into their foreheads. There are very few members left, because they observed strict celibacy.

Sketch Two: Boris Amstruther

In spite of appearances, Boris Amstruther is quite a goer. He is 60 years old and lives in a rundown log cabin. He spends his time rescuing distressed hamsters and guinea pigs which live in the forests around his cabin. Once a year, he goes to the isle of Man, where he races in TT rallies. The only thing he eats is Bovril.

Sketch Three: Lawson Farge

Lawson Farge once stuffed black puddings and sausages in a factory. At night, he still dreams of sausages, and those dreams horrify him so much that he has turned vegetarian. He lives alone by a disused rail track. Recently, he converted to Catholicism and his new faith gives him comfort. He can see into the future and isn’t very happy about it.

Would you like to create your own character sketch, based on this picture?

Why the English Language Isn’t Going Down the Drain

In the 15th century, there were 50 different ways to spell church. People wrote words down as they heard them, and they heard them in a multitude of different ways. So why are grammar Nazis getting in a twist about how words are being spelt on Facebook and in text messages?

Language Revolution

We’ve all grown up in a world of print. The arrival of print in the 16th century brought huge changes to the language. For the first time, there had to be agreement on how words were spelt, so they could be typeset with the minimum of fuss and expense. This was nothing short of a revolution, which gave birth to the written language we use today.

Now the language is going through the same seismic shift it went through 500 years ago. It’s changing to adapt itself to new mediums: the Internet and mobile phones. Wading through large blocks of text isn’t practical on a screen; it tires you out. And you also have less space to say what you need to say. So the language is adapting, with shortened words and acronyms. It’s the arrival of so-called Netspeak that has the Grammar Nazis in a twist.

Don’t Fear Change

Changes in language have always got people hot and bothered. People have always been concerned that grammar is going down the drain. This desire to control the language reached its zenith in the 18th century, when the first dictionaries and grammar books appeared. A lot of those iron-hard rules have gone by the wayside, because people realised they made the language too stuffy and rigid for everyday use. With the relaxing of these rules, written material has become more accessible.

The problem is that when you transplant Netspeak from computers and mobile phones to the printed page, it looks horrible and it makes no sense. As long as our schools and institutions are living in the 20th century, we’ll still need to adhere to the rules of printed English, which is no harm, because it gives the language an anchor.

Image taken from Amazon
Image taken from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m as much of a spelling Nazi as anyone, but I think it’s time to stop panicking about the relaxing of grammar rules and the arrival of Netspeak. These new means of communicating are allowing people to be wonderfully inventive with language. You’ll see examples of this when you read Netymology: From Apps to Zombies by Tom Chatfield, a chronicle of Internet-inspired words. And some of these words are older than you think!

 

How to Make Social Media Work for Writers

I’ve had an exciting offer – to chair a panel discussion called Making Social Media Work for You, as part of Waterford Writer’s Weekend. If you’re in the Waterford area, it’s on Friday 22nd Marchl at 1pm in Greyfriars Gallery, Waterford City. It’s worth mentioning that people in any field of the arts, or who have a small arts-based business, are also welcome to attend.

Social Media Image

My co-panellists are all writers who’ve cut a swathe in the world of social media. Catherine Ryan Howard has built an impressive social media profile to promote her self-published books. Twitter inspired singer-songwriter Derek Flynn (@derekfo3) to launch two albums. Orla Shanaghy showcases her writing through her blog, Wait Till I Tell You. And then there’s moi, who used Facebook and this blog to flog copies of my book, The Pink Cage.

Value of Social Media

We don’t want this panel discussion to be a talking shop. We want to spread the word that social media is a valuable tool for writers. It helps them to get in touch with the audience, generate publicity for their books and most importantly of all, sell them. No wonder so many writers are finding a home on social media.

We’ll start off by sharing our own experiences on social media and the lessons we’ve learned. Then we’ll talk about the role of social media, how to use it to gain an audience, make connections and conduct valuable research.

Using Social Media

Social media feeds on top-quality content, so as a writer, you’re at an advantage. Social media gives you the chance to showcase your writing style. We’ll talk about what to post, so you’ll create content that engages your followers and converts them to your writing style.

Writers can be wary of social media, which is understandable. There are issues of privacy and copyright and it can be quite the time-suck. We’ll talk about how to overcome those pitfalls and make sure you get the maximum benefit from social media.

We’ll make sure that the audience is involved throughout the discussion. That way, they’ll be more likely to learn from the experience. We’ll be feeding off what they tell us, so the discussion could go in any direction. But we’ll make sure we don’t stray far from the central point; how to use social media effectively.

We’ll round off the discussion with each of the panellists giving a top tip for using social media that you’ll be able to put into practise straight away. If you want to come, you can book on the Waterford Writer’s Weekend website;

I Write Because…

I’m nuts.

I’d have to be, wouldn’t I? Writing does not save lives. It doesn’t save your soul. If you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a truth and manage to express it in a way that resonates. Even then, you have to gamble on the fact that readers will be listening. And that’s a big gamble.

Writing harms your bank balance. If your writing’s going badly, you’re a bear to your friends and family. Writing won’t get your house clean. And to clumsily paraphrase Gil Scott Heron, it won’t give your mouth sex appeal.

Why write?

Because I can’t not. And because I love it. I simply wouldn’t feel human if I didn’t. Writing helps me to live with myself.

Writing is a compulsion

I write to make sense of the world. I write to savour the delight of words bouncing around my  head, on my tongue and onto the page. When I write, I get to play God, creating characters and worlds. I write because I have things I want to say.

And I can’t lie to you. I write to be read. If I’m going to put so much labour into my pieces, I’m not going to let them moulder on a hard drive. And even if only about five people read them, I’ll remain deeply satisfied that I produced the best work I could.

A highly unscientific study on social media yielded similar findings among my fellow writers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only nut out there. Thanks to all who contributed for the opinions.

How to Sell Yourself Without Selling Out

Throughout history, artists have always had a special place in society. It was recognised that their contribution to society went beyond the financial and people were willing to support them so that they would have the space to create their masterpieces. Let’s face it, it made the rich patrons feel good to have an artist around, so they could show all their friends they weren’t just about the money. And if an artist was dirt poor and had no financial support, it didn’t matter – they were an artist.

Unfortunately, or so it seems to me at least, that mentality is now gone. Artists are expected to fit in with society. That means they usually have to do another job with their art to make ends meet. Grants are getting scarcer and scarcer. When an artist finishes a piece of art, they’re is expected to treat their work as a product and promote it. In other words, they have to sell themselves, a concept that fills many of them with curdling resentment.

Shouldn’t an artist’s work speak for itself? Well yes, but only if there are people to listen. The world is increasingly fragmented and people’s attention is getting harder and harder to hold. If you want them to know about your work, you have to tell them about it. That’s the secret to selling work as an artist – selling by telling.

You don’t need a fancy campaign. You don’t need to spend a lot of money. You don’t need to be in people’s faces. You just tell them about your work, the thing you are most passionate about.

When you’re finished your work, the ink or paint is dry, the last note written, the last line learned, have a brainstorm with yourself. Think about what inspired you to create the work, what process you went through to finish it, what message you wanted it to portray. In other words, tell the story of your work.

When you’ve done that, there are some wonderful free tools you can use to tell your story. You’ll be familiar with these already. The social media tools: Facebook, Twitter, blogs. Then the good old traditional media. Your local newspaper or radio station will be your greatest champion. Make sure you accompany your words with good pictures. That’s what’ll really speak to people.

You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  Wouldn’t it be a shame if that work went unrecognised. This is where artists have lessons to learn from the business community. Business people aren’t afraid to put a value on their work. If artists do the same, their status will rise and they will get the following they deserve.