Making Connections: Marketing Tips for Writers

Written by A Guest Author

By Richard Billing

Marketing is perhaps one of the trickiest parts of the writing process. You’ve just spent months writing a book, the last thing you want to do is slave away on the web trying to unlock the magic code of getting it noticed.

I’ve tried various things—paid ads, joining forums and groups, going out to events. There seems to be no golden rule. What works for some may not work for others. Certain things do prove more effective, though, and these more effective means center on one thing: making connections.

It is important to note that I don’t cover social media in this article. I focus on the three methods that work best for me.

The Mailing List

The email list is discussed heavily when it comes to marketing for writers. It’s the thing, we’re told, to be constantly building and nurturing. According to literary marketer Tim Grahl, email subscribers engage the most with content and yield the highest results when it comes to selling books or getting blog hits. The reason is because in signing up to your list, they’ve chosen to connect with you.

Building a list isn’t easy. Think of your own experience browsing websites. How many times have you felt compelled to enter your email address into a mailing list box? For me, not very often.

Unless you’re given a good reason to do so.

What does a reader get out of subscribing to your email list, save the odd email from you? As much as we’d love to know what you’re up to, the reality is we don’t have the time. Tease the reader with an incentive, a free short story, a guide on a particular subject, even a full book. Something they may want.

Once you have your incentive in place, you want to promote it on your platform as much as possible. On your website—if you have one—place sign-up forms on every page, making them stand out and easy for people to use. No need to ask for their names or any other information; email address alone is sufficient. That’s all you need after all. On Facebook or Twitter, make use of pinned posts and cover photos. Images and videos help attract attention, so utilise them well.

One thing you could seek to include on your site is a pop-up form. Admittedly, I find pop-ups annoying. If I’m reading something and a form pops up I race to the ‘x’ button in a state of outraged annoyance. However, they do work. Using MailChimp, I designed a pop-up form and more people sign up using that than by any other method.

While on the subject of MailChimp, I couldn’t recommend it more highly for managing your mailing lists. It’s easy to use and it’s free. Another benefit is you can create automated emails, so when someone signs up they get an immediate email delivering your giveaway and updating them on everything you do. You can make a free pop-up form too, and it supplies you with lots of analytics, if you’re into all that.

Getting out there

This method isn’t as easy as making a pop-up form on your computer. It requires guts and determination, but it’s perhaps the most effective method of all because it forms the strongest connections with readers.

Going to writer’s events such as conferences, workshops, seminars, lectures, book launches, poetry nights, or readings are great ways to engage with potential readers. You can introduce yourself, tell them about your stories, and importantly, ask others about their writing. In doing so you’re making all important connections, so when you publish new content those individuals are looking out for it, and you’re looking out for theirs too.

Think of things you can take with you to events like this, things that will make people remember you and look you up. A pen with your platforms printed on it? A USB stick with a copy of one of your stories? I’ve even heard of one person buying Kindles, loading them with their stories and handing them out to publishers.

In this age of technology, it’s easy to get lost behind screens, but one of the best methods is the most tried and tested—getting out there in the real world and saying hello.

Engaging with others

Linked to meeting people, engaging with the blogs and platforms of other writers is another fantastic way of opening eyes to your writing.

We writers invest a hell of a lot of time in our content, so when someone takes the time to engage with us, man are we grateful. Simply liking and commenting on someone’s article, post, or tweet is a simple and effective way to make an all-important connection.

Set aside time to read the work of others and then tell them what you liked about it. If there’s a particular blogger you like, why not invite them to guest blog on your website, or see if you can write for them?

Bio

Richard Billing writes fantasy stories and runs a blog he’s coined “The Writer’s Tool Shed” where he shares writing tips and techniques he’s picked up while studying the craft. You can read more here.

 

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