The Book Marketing Tip for October 28, 2012:
Focus on one type of writing (1 genre, 1 field of journalism, 1 field of expertise, etc). Don’t muddle.
When I began my writing career, I wrote mostly aviation journalism and airplane-pilot how-to articles. The editors of aviation publications grew familiar with my work, and my average pay per article improved gradually.
Eventually, I took on a position as Special Sections editor for General Aviation News & Flyer for a short time, and my focus on general aviation topics continued. More and more readers followed my writing, and I was known as one of the best aviation writers in the magazine business. Aircraft manufacturers called on me to write pilot reviews of their latest models. The FAA sent me press releases daily. Pilots and aircraft mechanics called often with hot news tips.
Life, however, intervened. For some reason, I deviated from aviation and turned to marketing. I supposed it was because I was hired to write marketing material for aviation companies, and that started me on the road to PR and publicity writing in general.
I enjoyed receiving more assignments for a short while as I wrote on a wide variety of topics. But I did not stop to think how it would affect my fanbase. back then, writers didn’t talk about such things. My following eroded, to the point that aviation readers no longer remembered my name.
When I began publishing magazines, the erosion sped up. American Cabby Magazine was the last magazine I put out, a topic I had never covered before in my writing. It brought me to a point where my fanbase completely evaporated, at least for my writing.
For the last five years, I have been repairing the damage. My writing is now focused on issues of marketing and publishing, and in the mix, it often includes the topic of book marketing. I’ve built up a new fanbase of thousands of identifiable readers, primarily because I now focus on one topic.
Each time an author is published, the readers learn to trust that reader as an expert on that topic, or a master storyteller for a certain type of stories. They become accustomed to a relationship that they identify with, and they tell others who have similar interests. This leads to a self-propelled buzz-marketing campaign.
But when the writer changes course and writes in a different field or genre, the fans do not follow; or if they do follow, they are disappointed and come to distrust the writer. Th fans go elsewhere, and never return, even if the writer does come back to her original field.
The key to long-lasting success as a writer is to focus on a topic or genre. Writers must be more than just providers of content, they must be the experts in their fields.
This is more than mere branding of an author. It is the way writers improve their writing. each field has a different style, a different vocabulary, a different way of sharing information. Subject-hopping writers never take the time to be the best communicator in any field. As a result, readers sense that the work is not to be taken as a primary source of information or entertainment.
Muddling–the mashing of different topics or genres–only leads to weak writing careers. Sticking to a single topic generates an integrity of writing style that readers love.
What is the field of writing that you focus on? Does focus give your writing an edge?
Recommended reading: Be Your Own Brand