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If you’ve had any involvement with marketing or sales, you’ve probably heard the term WIFM before. If not, that’s okay. It will be easy for you to remember going forward because it’s based on a principle of which, no matter how giving and selfless you may be, your subconscious is already very familiar.

So, what is WIFM?

WIFM is an acronym for What’s In it For Me. 

It’s the cardinal assumption you should always work with when you’re developing a tagline or a pitch for anything. People need to know what’s in it for them—what the value of this thing you’re talking about is and how it is new, different, better, fulfilling, etc.

Now, let me ask you something:

Are you a fiction writer, aspiring or otherwise?


Great. How do you sell talents? In other words, when people ask you—or you talk about—that book/story you’re working on, what do you tell them?

  • Do you dive right into the plot? “It’s about this guy who makes a series of mistakes that lead him on an adventure that takes place in another universe and…” OR “It’s about this girl who falls in love with her the guy next door, only the guy next door is a firefighter who lost his first love in a…”
  • Do you define the genre? (It’s a science fiction/ romance/ YA, etc.)
  • Do you compare it to other popular works out there? (“It’s like Fifty Shades/ Harry Potter/ The Girl On the Train/ The Whistler.”)

Think about what you typically say about your work and then ask yourself one simple question:

Have I said something that intrigues them and defines a benefit of choosing my work over other options in 3 or 4 brief sentences (roughly a paragraph)?

Here are some things to consider:

  • We live in the age of click-bait and YouTube—assume everyone has a short attention span.
  • No one wants to listen to you regurgitate plot—be specific, concise, and confident. 
  • If they want to know more, let them ask you for it.

Here’s an example of some information you should be prepared to provide anyone who asks in a brief paragraph/ statement about your work—and, yes, I encourage you to draft one and revisit and revise it from time to time.

  1. What’s your genre and the overall message—ex: love conquers all, we can overcome our prejudices, you can’t keep a good man down, space exploration may open us up to untold dangers, etc.?
  2. What’s unique about your protagonist/antagonist and your story compared to others in the marketplace?—It’s okay to draw one or two comparisons here, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by saying it’s just like XYZ bestseller. 
  3. What has changed from beginning to end—a lesson is learned, perceptions changed, etc.—because something should have changed whether it’s internal (emotional, physical) or external (the world, circumstances, etc.).
  4. Why, in a nutshell, is it hilarious/heartwarming/informative/enlightening, etc.?

You believe in your work, after all—now, it’s time to make others do the same. Don’t be afraid to market yourself. 

Lastly, mind your descriptors and don’t be afraid to Google synonyms and even pay attention to any ad campaigns you’ve seen that made a lasting impression. As silly as it sounds, ads for other (non-book) things may still help you find those words that stand out and excite people more than others. At the very least, it’ll start those creative gears churning in your head.

Here are some examples of weak vs. stronger vocabulary:

  • It’s a good story vs. It’s a contemporary adventure.
  • It promotes self-reflection vs. It’s an introspective tale.

Note: Do not go overboard with unnecessarily grandiloquent terminology in your discourse. (See what I did there?) People will most likely be of the opinion that you are a pompous ass trying to impress them with big words. They may also wonder if you actually know the meaning(s).