Everything I needed to know as a self-published author, I learned in advertising
Photo Credit: Che Mendoza
I had always wanted to be a writer growing up but when I started looking for a job right after graduating from college, writing opportunities didn’t seem - at that time - as lucrative and as cool as everyone else had romanticized.
I ended up working odd jobs for a year until I had the guts to apply for a position in the marketing department of a TV network and got the job. After learning how to drink vodkas and tequilas for the first time in my life and party like a rock star with famous local actors in the glitzy entertainment industry with my young colleagues (who became my friends for life later on), I decided to stay put and see where my hard work would lead me to. But then after a few years, as they said in the film Up Close and Personal, “it stopped being fun” so I moved on.
I ended up working in my first advertising agency, not as a Creative which would have been a more suitable career for me but as a Media Planner/Strategist. I spent two years in my first ad agency, moved on to the next and stayed there for another two years. A few moths later, with a heavy heart, I left my job because I had to move and live in the United States for good.
After being bored in my new environment for years not knowing where to start, I finally released my creative energy and dipped into freelance writing. A few hundred write-ups later, I found fulfillment in my new profession.
But like a starry-eyed ad-agency-culture fanatic, I have to say that I had spent some of the best years of my life in advertising and the fun that I had in the ad agency trumped the long hours at work, finicky clients, heartrate-elevating deadlines, jittery pitches, tension-filled budget meetings, and out of this world requests at the last second of the last minute right before TVC and RC launches.
I just self-published my first novel FOBOLOUS and am gearing up for my first book signing at Barnes and Noble in Houston. And I have my years of working in advertising to thank for on why I’ve made it this far.
Toughing it out
Advertising teems with so much youthful vitality and creativity trying to match the clients’ countless requests and if you’re not tough enough to step up to the plate with your emotions in reins, you’ll either whimper in frustration or simply quit. Self-publishing is the same way. It’s teeming with new information, unfamiliar turfs, tons of extra work, and quirky demands pulling you in different directions. On top of that, your hard work doesn’t usually pay off in tangible forms such as book sales, reviews, promotions and a YES from vendors. If you’re not trained to pick up the pieces after the project you’ve toiled on for days crumbles in one shot, you will give up.
In advertising, you get to handle numerous accounts in different industries and you have to service each account as if they’re the most important invention in the world next to table salt. Since quality is the mantra for everybody, it’s essential that every client feels satisfied. Never mind how you almost got run over by a truck remembering the corresponding stats and market figures for Client A, not Client G or B or L or M. Similarly, writing a book after coming home from a 9-5 job with a house and family to take care of while maintaining presence in social media through blogs and posts, networking with sales contacts, reviewing your marketing options, and having an email war with your graphics designer somewhere out there on the other side of the globe about your front cover artwork is kind of the same.
Handling Rejections and Weird People
A tiny girl in purple tights, Doc Martens, frilly skirt and orange hair who looked like Bjork, a quiet guy with pierced ears and a white Mohawk, and a bubbly AE running around with her Madonna-inspired armor-looking corset. Yeah I’ve walked the same hallways with these people in the agency but what’s funny is, they’re not the weirdos at all. The weirdest ones were those dressed to the nines giving you rejection talks, strange demands, unbelievable feedback or judgmental looks like they just landed from the I’m So Fancy Crater Avenue of Mars. As a self-published writer, I eat rejection for breakfast most days and weird people dropping out-of-this-world comments or cold shoulders (also known as NO) to my writing and self-publishing efforts are as common as tapioca in a bubble tea drink.
Being Creative and Thinking Out of the Box
Advertising is not only creative through the ads they come up with. Creativity is in everyone’s blood from pitching storyboards to recommending TV shows a brand should place spots at. Ad people don’t normally recreate a tried and tested formula but go as far as stirring the status quo to see if it makes a significant difference. In self-publishing, it goes without saying, the more creative noise the writer makes, the bigger the chance to get the readers’ attention that may lead to trust and loyalty.
Competing with Myself
A Creative Director once told me, “In this business, we’re only as good as our last job.” And that stuck with me for a long time as I tried to outdo my own performance for every project or task that I worked on in the agency. I strived to compete with myself making sure the outcome of my current task was always better than the previous one. I didn’t measure my success by comparing my stats with my team because I knew we’re all skilled and talented in our own way and what works for them may not work for me in various levels. My self-published failures and successes are my own and comparing them with those of other self-published authors is not only misleading and foolish, it’s totally obstructive to my growth as a writer and publisher.
Click here to check out my novel FOBOLOUS.
All rights reserved. 2016