Thursday, April 19, 2012

Keeping It Simple

I recently spoke to several small groups. In one I used a brand new presentation. In the other, I used one tested many times before. The latter fell on its face.

FundsforWriters now meshes with Lowcountry Bribe when I speak. The topics try to show how C. Hope Clark has practiced what she preaches to reach this point in her career. Thus, the new speech.

One group, however, wanted pure FundsforWriters, so I pulled out the familiar presentation, freshened it, and gave it a shot. A few sets of eyes started glazing over the minute I left the art of writing and crossed into the business of writing. Add to that the tremendous list of resources  I discussed, and then I lost several more.

Conclusion 1:
Pick a lone solid point, build on it, and give a simple, clear message in the end.

Conclusion 2:
A presentation has a lifespan, based not just on the content, but on the interest of the speaker. Once a speaker presents a talk three, four, five times, the sparkle disappears.

The same goes for your marketing as a writer. You cannot use the same delivery over and over. Uncover, develop, create as many facets to yourself as possible, but present each in an uncomplicated, basic manner.

Example 1: 
I have a piece in this month's The Writer Magazine called "Using Contests as Stepping Stones." Wanting to measure the strength of my novel, Lowcountry Bribe, before daring to query agents, I entered contests. Once I started placing in them, I decided the manuscript was strong enough to pitch. Of course I did other things to better my story and find a home for its publication, but this article simply addressed contests.

Example 2:
On my website,, I do not explain my 13-year history with FundsforWriters. The copy and graphics only address Lowcountry Bribe, with only a casual reference to FundsforWriters. Why? The point is The Carolina Slade Mystery Series.

Example 3:
I love cooking (when I find time), and I collect recipes. However, even when the sender is Southern Living, my favorite recipe resource, I have no choice but to delete an email that says "80 Tasty Kitchens," because it makes me tired just thinking about the time I'd spend looking for one or two items I'd enjoy in the list. However, send me one that says "Pork Medallions with Strawberry Glaze," and I'm more likely to open that sucker up and read it.

When you're trying to impress, market, or query, keep your point simple and finely honed. My time is as short and precious as yours, and you know how frustrating it can be to see hundreds of emails in your box. To open an email that has 40 links to articles is a turn off. One that has two or three important ones catch your attention.

KISS is no longer Keep it Simple, Stupid. Keep it Simple and Smart, however, makes a lot of sense.


Sioux Roslawski said...

And all this time I thought KISS stood for "Keep It Simple, Sioux."

Wonderful post, Hope.

Karen said...

This is a great post. It will make me think about the point of each of my blog posts before I write them.

Ann said...

Hello Hope,
This is a great post, thank you for sharing your presentation experiences! I will take your suggestions to heart.

Janet Hartman said...

I agree with your conclusion but it also concerns me that their eyes glazed over when you talked about the business of writing. Many of my writer friends would be published, or published far more often, if they studied the business end of writing.

Hope Clark said...

Yes, that is always my concern. The business of writing doesn't interest too many. I'll continue to make it as entertaining as possible while instilling the need to know. One can only keep trying.