Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Barefoot Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. His debut novel ROOMS will be published by B&H Fiction in April. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at]comcast.net
Which Color Is Your Ping-Pong Ball?
Let’s pretend I have seven Ping-Pong balls. One yellow, one blue, one red, one green, one purple, one gold, one silver.
You’re standing five feet away.
I toss them in the air and tell you, “Catch the Ping-Pong balls!” Odds are you’ll catch none.
If I throw them again and say, “Catch the green one!” odds are much higher you’ll end up with the green one in your hand.
This is marketing. You have to narrow your focus till you know exactly what the purpose of your writing is. What “ball” do you want to catch with your writing?
Once upon a time a plumbing company said, “We’re not going to do faucets anymore. We’re not going to do bathtubs. No shower heads. We’re going to do only one thing.” The other plumbers said, “You’re crazy. A plumber has to do it all.”
They said, “Nah, we’re going to do one thing, do it well, and become known for it. Drains.” Some of you have figured out I’m talking about Roto-Rooter, one of the most successful companies in the history of America.
You have to do the same thing with your writing. Focus.
It’s extremely rare to find someone who succeeds in multiple genres, or in nonfiction and fiction at the same time.
But I’m not talking about choosing nonfiction or fiction. I’m not talking about defining your genre. I want you to think deeper. I don’t want you to consider what you write as much as the motivation behind your writing: your purpose for writing. What is your purpose? What is your vision? What is your theme?
A few years ago a friend told me, “Most pastors have one primary sermon in them and they keep doing different variations of it throughout their careers.” I think there is truth in my friend’s comment. So what is your sermon?
Knowing this is key, because when do, everything you write will be put through that filter. It will influence every marketing and branding choice you make.
If someone were to wake you in the middle of the night—when you wouldn’t have time to think about it—and ask, “What is your writing about?” how would you answer? In one sentence (or less), can you describe the vision you have for your writing?
Your vision isn’t so much what you write as what it does for your readers.
Last month I asked this question on an e-mail loop I’m part of. Here are a few of the answers:
Cec Murphey said, “When I write, I want to reach out and hug my readers.”
I love this!
I met Cec briefly at the Mt. Hermon Writers Conference in ’06. In August of that year, I attended one of his outstanding mentoring clinics. I walked into the room, we looked at each other with a “Don’t I know you?” expression on our faces, and a few seconds later ended up in a big bear hug.
That’s who Cec is. He hugs you physically, spiritually, emotionally, and through his writing.
So from a marketing perspective, his statement captures everything about Cec. And he did it with twelve words. He knows his vision.
Brooke said, “Everything I write is written to encourage and empower Christian women to trust in God and His Word so fully that when their faith is tested, through trials, they will not be shaken.”
See how Brooke gets specific? She’s addressing a specific audience (women) with a universal need. Who doesn’t have periods when their faith is shaken? We learn that her writing is going to focus on the Word. And she offers a promise: “They will not be shaken.” Well done.
Cheryl Barker says, “I’m all about ‘Refreshing Spirits, Nourishing Souls.’”
Who doesn’t want that? Cheryl’s motivational gift is probably encouragement, and her friends would say, “I always feel better after being with Cheryl.” It’s who she is, and she’s expressing it through her writing.
Edwina says, “I want to show women how much God loves them and how He sees them, which is nothing like we see ourselves.”
Why does “is nothing like we see ourselves” intrigue us? Because we know we don’t see ourselves the way God sees us, but we long for it. Edwina is going to show us how God sees us? We want to know more.
Kathy says, “I try to encourage women to move beyond the guilt and pain from past shortcomings. To step into the new life that God offers.”
Nice! Many of us carry guilt and long to step into our new lives, but aren’t sure how to accomplish that. Kathy is saying, “Come along, let’s explore how to do it.”
Jim Pence says, “My writing is about God’s goodness and sovereignty, even in the worst circumstances.”
Wonderful! Again, we’re intrigued because we want to know God’s goodness and sovereignty, especially when circumstances turn dark.
Ready to take a shot at it?
Don’t worry, I won’t be waking you up at 3 a.m. But if I do, I hope you’re ready.
Do you have a marketing question? Fire it my way: email@example.com.