Jennifer Fusco, authorIt’s a noun, not a verb.

A few years ago, a young marketing exec joined one of my local writers’ groups. Jennifer Fusco was determined to write fiction for publication, so she joined Connecticut Romance Writers Association (CTRWA). A North Carolina native, she spoke in a southern accent like mine, so we hit it off.

Jennifer soon became a member of the CTRWA board, then served a term as president, and hit the writers conference circuit with plain talk presentations on aspects of marketing for authors. Her contemporary romance FIGHTING FOR IT, set in the world of boxing, is slated for a September 2015 release by Penguin. Recently, Belle Bridge Books released MARKET OR DIE, an instructional book for authors filled with concepts like branding, market research and making a SWOT analysis.

She used my SWOT analysis in her book.

SWOT is an acronym 

SWOT stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Basically, it’s a cold assessment of the best your product has to offer and the worst that could happen when it’s out there in the cold, cold marketplace.

At the risk of sounding like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” I’m the only child of an Irish Catholic widow living in the Bible Belt. I’m well-trained to see both silver linings and clouds. When Jennifer suggested we in CTRWA take a shot at writing a SWOT, I found the process easy.

Market or Die by Jennifer FuscoAn irony inherent in a SWOT analysis is that Strengths can also be Weaknesses, even Threats. Just a little re-phrasing makes a plus into a minus. And vice versa.

Anyway, after Jennifer asked us to share our SWOTs, I emailed mine on a lark. Little did I know it would take on a life of its own.

She told me she loved it (silver lining). She used it in some of her presentations at writers conferences (silver lining), during which one attendee sitting in front of me turned around and whispered, “That’s you, isn’t it?” (silver lining.) However, said attendee wasn’t certain because I’d told Jennifer to use RM Lane, a pen name I’m still considering. (Cloud.)

Jennifer also included my SWOT analysis is in her book, MARKET OR DIE: A DOWN AND DIRTY GUIDE FOR MARKETING YOUR BOOK (silver lining).

Anyway, writing a SWOT is one of Jennifer’s suggestions in her book. Even though the media has changed, many of these concepts have been used in advertising and marketing for nearly a hundred years.

My alter ego RM’s example is among excellent company. Many famous, best-selling authors like Eloisa James, Tawny Weber, and Hank Phillippi Ryan show how they build readerships by using many of the time-honored marketing techniques.

What my SWOT meant to me

Ever since I hit “send” on the first email to Jennifer with my SWOT analysis, I changed things about the book to take the edge off the Weaknesses and Threats, but I could only blunt, not eliminate, them (cloud).

Before I wrote the SWOT, I was well aware of the pitfalls waiting in my first novel’s chosen setting. As a perfectionist, I’ve often lost my way in the shadows of the Weaknesses and Threats, even though I’m aware they’re the flip side of the Strengths and Opportunities.

It’s a double! Over on my horse blog, Jennifer is “driving” a Four In Hand Q&A. Check it out.