Blogs can be a great way of demonstrating expertise, providing news, engaging and building a community. But it’s not the only way. When the move from static websites, where browsers could only read what you posted and had to dig out your contact details to email you a comment which you weren’t expected to publish, to social media, where browsers could read, comment and generate their own content, started it was fine to build a social media platform through trial and error because everyone else was experimenting and working towards discovering what worked. But now the internet community is less tolerant of mistakes and getting it wrong can provoke a viral backlash.
Publishers are looking for writers to have an established internet presence. Independent publishers don’t have the budget to help writers create websites or blogs. Most writers don’t have the budget to pay others to do it for them and, in an environment where authencity matters, using a third party isn’t always advisable.
It really is not worth setting up a blog if you don’t think it’s for you or can’t commit to a regular schedule of posting. But there are plenty of other promotional tools in the box.
These can be as frequent or infrequent as you like providing you give readers something to read and an opportunity to respond. There are now plenty of e-newletter providers who enable you to produce a professional newsletter with graphics and interactive options that also allow you to manage your subscription list. Do check out the legalities regarding email marketing. You must allow people to opt in, give an unsubscribe option which does actually unsubscribe people and give a postal address (need not be a home address).
The advantages of e-newsletters are their flexibility and you can allow readers to send in items to include in a future newsletter (particularly if you’re targeting younger or teenaged readers).
These are useful ways of building a community around an author, book or book series. You can post your own news and readers can post questions, share posts, upload images, etc. It’s a good idea to draw up a policy for what can and can’t be posted and establishing that anyone posting needs to show courtesy and be constructive. The page will also have to be moderated so inappropriate content can be deleted.
A Facebook page also has the advantage that you can separate your personal status updates from your writing related updates so you don’t have to extend your friends list to people who like reading your poems but don’t what to know about your social life. You can still share posts to or from your Facebook page where relevant.
Twitter and similar social media
Twitter is great for short updates or posting links to interesting articles/videos etc. The downside is that tweets have a short shelf life so you can’t guarantee that all your tweets will be seen by all of your followers. It’s also critical to share by retweeting others’ tweets or linking to articles/news/etc that isn’t just promoting your work. If you’re seen to be broadcasting (i.e. all your tweets point to your publications, your publisher, your own websites, etc and only about self-promotion) you will lose followers.
Guest Blog Posts
If you can’t commit to a regular schedule of posting blog articles, why not consider offering guest blog posts when you have a book or live event to promote?
Before you approach bloggers, check that they accept guest posts, read a few articles to get a feel for what they do publish (just as you would if seeking to get a poem or story published) and sketch an outline of a couple of blog posts. When you approach a blogger, remember it’s their blog not yours and no is a perfectly acceptable response. The best approach is to outline why your post is suitable for their blog, not list the advantages to you of your post appearing on their blog.
Blog Book Reviews
These many not seem as prestigous as a review in a literary magazine, but blogger reviewers generally have a quicker turn around and the published review is accessable to anyone with an internet connection, not just magazine subscribers. A review of your book on someone’s blog is also useful online marketing material.
If you have a book you’d like to be reviewed, don’t just send the book. Send a request first so the blogger can decide if your book is suitable to review for their blog and also if they have time review it. Remember, it’s their blog so don’t demand a review on a certain date, a speedy turn around or suggest particular points to include in the review.
If you’d like to write book reviews for a blog, approach first with some sample reviews and mention where your reviews have appeared before. It might not matter if you haven’t published reviews before if your sample work is good enough. Like magazines, blogs that publish reviews are looking for someone who can meet deadlines and is reliable.
Marketing In Real Life
Online marketing is a complement to offline marketing so don’t forget press releases, interviews, readings, live events, networking events, literary festivals, etc. Ultimately which marketing tools you use is entirely down to what suits you and what you can do well.
The first post in this series was Poets and Blogging
The second post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Search Engine Optimisation
The third post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Promoting your Blog
The fourth post in this series was Poets and Blogging: Statistics
The Social Media and Writers panel event will be at Leicester Writers’ Club on Thursday 19 May 2016 at Phoenix Arts from 7pm. Tickets for non-Club members are £5 on the door.