Sep 20, 2010

Emma Mactaggart SWOTs Writers

Get used to the idea of selling yourself

Emma Mactaggart did not speak at the CYA Writers Conference about how to write a novel, she talked about marketing yourself as a product. Emma knows a fair bit about marketing and self-publishing, she currently works on a project of publishing kids books written by kids.

As a writer you would be aware that it is no longer enough to simply write. You must turn yourself into your brand, because readers buy a writer, not just a book.

Emma suggests doing up a SWOT analysis. If  you're not familiar with this term, a SWOT analysis is a plan that a company will do to identify its strengths and weaknesses hoping to recognise any opportunities and threats they will be facing. It's simple, here's how you do one:

Simply divide a page into four sections with a cross (+) or draw up a chart with four sections and label each one:
Being as objective as possible, write up the skills and traits that you see as your own strengths as a writer, and so on. Here is an example of some of my own points I did for this exercise:

  • Financially able to spend time on my writing
  • Studies in literature and creative writing
  • Social networking (Twitter, blogging, Facebook)
  • Marketing background
  • Working in education
  • Afraid of flying
  • Not confident talking to strangers
  • Start more projects than I could ever finish
  • Self-publishing more acceptable and achievable now
  • Publishing for Kindle and e-devices is easy
  • Internet for marketing
  • Many Beta-readers in the perfect age-group
  • Building contacts and markets online
  • Travelling by air may be necessary for promoting books
  • Undoubtably, I will HAVE to talk to strangers, agents, publishers, etc
  • Time management
  • Confidence
Hopefully from the above example you can see the value in examining yourself as a product and drawing up your own SWOT analysis. You will see how some points will link with points in another section, for example, working in education (strength) means that I have beta readers available in the age-group I write for (opportunity). You can also use this information to overcome or avoid potential threats or problems, for example, knowing I have time management issues means I should schedule my writing time and stick to it. I can also overcome the potential threat of not enough confidence by taking on more writing courses (which I'm currently doing) and just put my work out there more.

Give it a try - do you find any points that surprise you?

If you would like to learn more about the talented Emma Mactaggart, you can check out her sites and blog:

So, besides my fiction, this is the product I need to learn to sell:


  1. What a great blog post. Thank you for posting these reminders.


  2. I am certain you will have no problem selling your product.

    I was surprised to see that I share so many of your qualities. Confidence is my biggest enemy. And the thought of talking to publishers or having book signings terrifies me. I guess in a way- lucky I don't have to worry about that yet. (So maybe one of my qualities is lack of determination.)

  3. I think of it as career management. Isn't it pretty much the same in any job?

    It's a great exercise. Thanks for sharing. :) Seems most of your weaknesses can be shored up with a bit of effort.

  4. I haven’t heard of SWOT. I think I’ll give it a try as marketing myself is something that doesn’t come easily. Oops… I guess I should add that to my weakness list.