One of the first questions I ask clients is: What is your goal? Most answer as any working writer would: sell a ton of books. As a working writer myself (six books out so far, two more coming this year), I want that, too!
If you’re reading this as a blogger hoping to get a ton of eyes on your work, then the answer is the same: gain a ton of readers.
Yet, here’s the tricky part: how do we get there?
1.68 million books were released in 2018 (that’s 4,602 per day) and this does not include self-pub’d books on Amazon without an ISBN (Amazon assigns an in-house ASIN which an author can choose instead of the more costly ISBN). Source: Publishers Weekly.
We can drive ourselves mad figuring out what the easy button is, or we can put in the hard work to make it happen. Here is my advice to help you along. Keep in mind these two bits:
- Making money on your books is the side hustle, at first. It IS possible, yet I don’t suggest making it your only goal. Know that and accept that. The work I’m suggesting here will take a while, and it won’t be easy. It’s not extraordinarily difficult, yet it IS work. What I promise clients, and work on for myself, is visibility. I’ll explain more below.
- One single book (or blog post) will rarely, if ever, make you a household name. Dream big! It can and does happen, albeit, rarely. Whether it’s extraordinary writing, good luck (or bad), the planets aligning, who you know, all or none of those factors, who knows? If you’re planning to make writing/blogging your career, expect a long road to success (whatever that looks like for you).
How Can You Be More Visible?
As I discussed in my last post, How To Build An Engaged Following On Social Media, with 72% of the American population on social, being there is an excellent way to connect with readers.
And by being there, I don’t mean constantly spamming “Buy my book!” links. That’s one-way communication and is the antithesis of social, yet for whatever odd reason, many writers lose the ability to interact with people on social media once they launch their book or blog (for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll refer to ‘book’ so feel free to apply the concepts to your blog if you’re a blogger).
Let’s go back a step further. Many writers aren’t sure what else to talk about besides their book. We’ve worked so hard on our book for so long — of course, we want to talk about it. Understandable.
However, we are not robots. We have rich, incredible lives, families, other interests. What else are you passionate about? Interested in? Want to learn more about?
That. That right there. Hold that in your hand. That is the key to connecting with readers. What are those interests we can connect and discuss with readers?
Now, take those interests, passions, thoughts, and post about them. These are your keywords/keyphrases to help brand you, the author. I discuss this in-depth in Why Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now if you’d like to learn more.
And here’s the cool part: once you start posting consistently on social media, on Medium, in your newsletter, on your blog, on guest blogs, in articles, quotes, etc., with your keywords and keyphrases, readers will start to associate these topics with you.
Branding is about managing expectations.
For example, for BadRedhead Media, my company, you will always see me write about book marketing, author branding, social media, writing, and book promotion. This is what readers expect from me, what I’m known for, what I’ve written two books about (so far), and what I help clients do (and what I show up in Google for — and that’s the biggest win of all!).
So, ask yourself how you want your readers to know you: what are your interests? Your passions? Your goals? Here’s a list of ideas from Shaunta Grimes which works for both authors and bloggers:
Please note: this works regardless of your writing genre. Many of my clients write fiction. If you change your paradigm that you always need to be talking about your book and at people, this will come easier to you. Connect with readers as people and talk with them, not at them.
Daily Ideas To Grow Your Writing Business
In no particular order, here are some tactics you can do each day that won’t take much time to help you move your writing business forward. Pick one, pick three. Do whatever works for you.
- Use Twitter. It’s been around for 15 years already (the same age as my youngest child) so any claims as to it being ‘too new’ are BS on your part. #SorryNotSorry
Why Twitter? Google indexes tweets. Your demographic is likely using it no matter age or gender.
Just don’t be Spammy Spammer. Learn how to use it by visiting their Help Section or read my last article about social media (linked above), or this article in The Writing Cooperative that specifically discusses how to market your books on Twitter.
2. Post on Facebook? Up to you. While Facebook is my least favorite social media platform (and Google does not index Facebook posts), the majority of the American public does use it. Keep in mind, however, that you are prohibited from using your personal ‘friends’ account to sell; you must create and use a Page for that.
Facebook can, however, be helpful in creating relationships with readers, particularly if you form a private group (aka, a Street Team), which is something I’ll write about in a future post. Also helpful if you create an Instagram Business account and link the two. Again, more in a future post.
3. Not a fan of Facebook? Spend more time on Instagram. It’s grown exponentially in popularity (second only to Facebook), and many younger people like it much more. The only real drawback is you can’t post any kind of hyperlinks (e.g., to a book or blog post) unless you pay for an ad or if you post in a story and have over 10K followers. You can refer people to your bio, however.
4. Start an email subscriber list. It’s okay if you don’t have anything to share with subscribers yet, or if you have very few subscribers (or none). Gotta start somewhere, right? Why is this important?
Email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media, according to a study done by McKinsey & Company. The same study also shows that the buying process happens 3 times faster than in social media. Source: Digital Agency Network.
5. Share our writing. We are writers after all. Many new writers are terrified of sharing their work. It’s understandable. We sit alone in our rooms, talking to ourselves and our cats, who are usually a pretty good audience (unless they’re hungry).
While it’s important to connect with writers in critique groups or other types of author support groups, what I mean from a visibility standpoint is quite different.
Create quotes from your latest book or blog post and share them on social media. Create a Pinterest board just for your own quotes and share that — I also recommend sharing others’ quotes so you’re not headed down the “All About Me” media hole.
Visuals always do well on social media. In fact, according to Social Media Today:
- Our brain only needs 1/10 of a second to understand an image. Reading 200–250 words takes an average of 60 seconds.
- People remember visual information 6x better than the information they have read or heard.
- The click-through-rate (CTR) of a website is about 47% higher in sites containing images.
- Infographics grow 12% more traffic, and 200% more shares than posts without images.
- Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.
- Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks and 150% more retweets than tweets without images.
- Facebook posts with images get over 3.2x more engagement than those without images.
- LinkedIn posts with images generate a 98% higher comment rate.
- Video generates 80% more conversion.
- According to Cisco Visual Networking Index, around 78% of all data traffic in 2021 will consist of videos.
Get in the habit of viewing your writing as a career, which not only includes writing, but also marketing. A publishing mindset is different than a writing- only mindset. If you plan to make money with your writing, take a step back, and make a plan. (More on creating marketing plans in the future, too.)
To close, here’s an excellent article by writing mentor, Leigh Shulman, where she lays out different concepts of the writing business. I look forward to hearing from you and please let me know your thoughts!