Humor for Speakers

Some Tips on Marketing Yourself As a Writer

by John Cantu ©

"If It Was Easy Everyone Would Do It"

In another ezine I subscribe to, there recently seemed to be an inordinate amount of bickering about the drudgery of marketing. People were complaining about the time it took and about how thick the Writer's Market was (a US publication listing markets for writers of all types), and how small the print was, and quack. . . quack. . . quack. The following is my slightly edited response:

About a week or so ago there was a lot of ranting and raving about marketing. Let me tell you how this week has been so far (written Wednesday May 31, 2000):

On Monday got a check for $750 for writing material for a lawyer who had to give a five minute humor presentation to his firm on being named partner. Time spent working for him was four hours and 52 minutes.

On Tuesday got a call from a buddy who is the new editor of a web ezine and wants me to write two 300-word columns a month for $50 each.

Today I got an email from a professional comedian who wants to talk to me next Tuesday about some material he needs. Also a call from a speaker client who wanted to check on the progress of my adding humor to her two day seminar script. And had to call a wanna be comedian to tell her I couldn't start work because her tape hadn't arrived yet.

Now, you may be thinking, "Damn I'd like to be in Cantu's shoes right now." Okay, but how did I get here? In 1968 I read in Writer's Market that cartoonists bought ideas. (By the way, I was astounded that people criticized the book for being dull. It is such a great resource to find a lot of buyers in one place. It is reference not entertainment - it's like criticizing the phone book for having lots of characters and no plot.)

Anyhow to make a long story short, I tried to write cartoon ideas. Found I couldn't write funny stuff on purpose. Gave it up for two years and then discovered a technique in 1970 that enabled me to start to write humor on demand. (Read Thirty Years of Comedy/humor Writing - Some Lessons Learned for the full story on my two year hiatus from comedy writing and my discovery in 1970 that showed me how to write unlimited humor, keeping me from ever being bothered by writer's block again. Available by purchase of CANTU'S COMEDY WIT AND HUMOR WISDOM , $29.95 Ebook - Click here for more info and order link.)

I submitted cartoon ideas on a daily basis, 10-20 ideas in a batch to maybe over 100 cartoonists. (And for some artists it was multiple submissions because as soon as a batch came back I sent another one out.) I got my first sale nine months later - $5. I had spent 10 or 20 times that in postage, but it never occurred to me to complain about the wasted time or money.

You can discover markets anywhere, but I found my market needs by researching in Writer's Digest and then submitting to likely buyers; writing to other artist in care of magazines; subscribing to cartoon trade journals... In other words, at the beginning I expended a lot of time, money, and effort for which I wasn't getting reimbursed. I didn't enjoy the market research. To be honest I despised it (still do), but how else could I find people to buy my stuff?

I sold $35 filler items to Readers Digest by submitting 20 items a week for 52 weeks. I read lots of back issues of Reader's Digest at the library to see what they were buying. Let me repeat, market research is necessary. It is dull. It is boring. But it is necessary. I sold Reader's Digest maybe six items that year - and like my cartoon efforts sold nothing the first nine months.

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