A few months ago I mentioned I was trying to clear out my home office (and home!) because we were preparing to sell the house. Fast forward a few months and our home is now sold and we’ll be moving into a new one in mid-April. It was not an easy process getting ready to market our house, but lucky for my realtor I’ve watched a lot of HGTV. After the dust had settled (literally), I realized that a lot of things I learned about home staging could also apply to writing and marketing my own work.
Get rid of the excess. We boxed up many of our possessions to give our home an uncluttered feel. In fact, I packed up so much stuff that I had to go back to our storage unit to find some décor items to give our home back a little of its personality the day before we took photos. There have also been times I’ve had to trim the fat off my writing, too. You know what I’m talking about—a scene where a character goes on and on talking about something that isn’t even essential to the storyline. Or a flashback to bogs down the flow. Don’t think about it—just cut the excess and move on.
Think about how you want your readers to feel. After signing with our realtor, it was clear he wanted potential buyers to walk into our home and feel like they were in a brand-new house. This concerned me at first, because our home is 18 years old. Eventually, we came around, opting for fresh, neutral paint in every room and new carpet upstairs. It was an expense we didn’t want to cover, but it made a difference in the way the house looked and smelled. Buyers felt like they were walking into a new and updated home. In the same vein, think about how your want your readers to feel. Do you want them to read through chapters of your work, confused and muddled because you haven’t spent the money to hire an editor or shared it with a critique group to get honest opinions? Of course the answer is no.
Act like a professional. Our realtor insisted on professional photos of our home as well as a video tour as part of his marketing package. To make the most of this, I had a friend who is a home stager come to my home and make suggestions on how we could make each room look its very best. It was amazing how the little details like colorful throw pillows, fresh flowers, and antique books stacked on the fireplace mantel made all the difference. When I submit article queries, I try and make sure the language is concise and professional, with relevant clips and an engaging call to action. I also recently updated my website to give it a fresher look. If I want to make money with my writing, presenting myself as a professional is non negotiable.
With proper staging, our home was under contract in two days. It was worth living through the weeks of renovations, packing, decluttering, painting, handymen, and countless trips to home improvement and décor stores.
For writers and editors, packaging and “staging” your own work is just as important. What ways can you present and package your own writing and/or marketing materials to ensure you are published or hired for the job?