Happy Thanksgiving! It’s November 25th, and Write Nonfiction in November has just five more days left before the challenge ends. Blog readers have been busy reading, but I’ve heard little from writers. I hope that means you’ve been busy writing. I did notice, however, that many of the article on marketing and promotion garner less readers than others. I’m not surprised.
When I speak to nonfiction writers I’m always surprised at how few want to take on these tasks. In fact, many don’t realize they have to be their own best self and book marketer both before and after their book comes out. Still others just refuse to take on this job.
I started a discussion once on LinkedIn in a group for writers and editors asking what online methods they found worked best to promote themselves, and the majority of writers flat out said they felt their writing provided the best marketing tool possible. They said they only needed to be good writers; they didn’t need to do anything else. I got the distinct impression that they thought less of me and any other writers spending time on marketing and promotion as a way of getting noticed by editors and publishers or getting our books published. I was more than a little bit amazed. (A few writers, agents and publishers in the group did chime in to say that marketing and promotion were, indeed, necessary.)
So, on this Thanksgiving Day I’m here — yes, just me today — to tell all you nonfiction writers to get your heads out of the mashed potatoes and stare the Turkey down. The turkey represents the actual business of getting your work published and selling your books. That takes marketing skill. That takes promotional efforts. And no one is going to do that for you or like you can.
I’m also here to tell you that reasons exist for you to actually be thankful for this job being yours and for making the effort to promote yourself as a writer and to promote your work as well. (Yes, you can offer up gratitude on Thanksgiving that this job is yours–and, basically, yours alone.) Let me explain why.
Remember what I said on November 1: Even though the business of writing takes you away from writing, it does not represent wasted time. By marketing yourself and your writing, you develop a readership for your work — and ultimately all writers want readers. What’s the use of writing if no one ever reads what you’ve written? Many nonfiction writers write to help others (via self-help, spiritual, body-mind-spirit, religious books), but if their writing never reaches a reader, they help no one.
I’m not poo-pooing the need for good writing. Assuming your goal involves a published nonfiction book (and not articles), it’s a given that to sell your manuscript to a traditional publisher or your self-publish book to readers, you must have (1) a marketable idea, and (2) good writing skills. If you don’t have a good idea, no one will buy your book. If you aren’t a good writer, you can hire a good editor to make it look like you are a good writer. (If you need a good editor, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.copywrightcommunications.com!) After that, you will need to market yourself and your writing, first, to develop a platform — develop readers (buyers), and, second, to sell books.
That said, if you, like most writers, cringe at the thought of becoming your own marketing expert, let me assure you there are ways in which to make this job less daunting and more fun. You can also make it fulfilling. I know this, because I took on the job and now actually enjoy it.
If you accept that fact that in today’s publishing world you will be asked by your publisher to do at least one thing every day to promote your book, you’ll realize that you might as well resign yourself to beginning this practice now. You’ll have to do more if you self-publish your book, because you’ll have no help from a publisher at all; even small publishers might offer an author a little bit of help promoting the book…even if that simply means getting it into some stores and helping set up some speaking gigs. So, find 1-5 activities you might enjoy doing and make them part of your daily to-do list.
Here are some I enjoy and in which I find some personal value. (Notice that many of them involve writing.)
Blogging: Blogging gives me a presence online and drives traffic to my website. It also gives me a steady stream of readers–both new and regular readers. Later, when my book is published, I can tell these readers and, hopefully, a percentage of them will buy the book, because they’ve grown to trust me as a writer, blogger and “friend” online. Plus, I get personal value out of this activity, because it provides me with another way to express myself through my writing. It’s a writing exercise for me. When I’m bogged down editing for clients or producing articles unrelated to my books, I can write about something that matters to me or that is related to my personal work. And, by doing so, I gain readers every day. I find it very satisfying to look at my stats and discover that 100 people read my blog on a particular day or to receive a comment from a reader who said my post made a difference in his or her life.
Providing Free Content to Directories: I try to write at least one article every month on a topic related to my books and post this to an article distribution service. This places my article in a variety of online directories, where it then becomes available for use in blogs, newsletters, websites, etc. In other words, anyone looking for content and willing to pay one of the directories for my article can purchase it and use it. Each article contains a resource box with a short bio and contact information. This sends them to my website, where they hopefully become regular visitors or blog readers or sign up for my newsletter. I pay for this service. I love finding my articles in all sorts of obscure newsletters and blogs. Sometimes I just do a Google search of my name and spend an hour trying to find my articles. Or I’ll put a Google Alert out on some of the key words and see where the article landed. It’s really satisfying to know so many people find my articles worth publishing (even if they don’t pay me). And it’s satisfying to see my website traffic spike.
Writing News Releases that I Post to the Media: I maintain a yearly membership with ExpertClick.com, and there I am able to post news releases that go out to the media. I can tell them what I am doing. I can rewrite my articles and post them. In general, I can let them know that I am the expert on the subjects about which I am writing in my book(s). This way, they will think of me when something comes up in the news that relates to my upcoming books. This also provides me with the ability to comment on news that pertains to my book’s subject matter, making me a socially relevant expert. This activity feel personally valuable when I get a call from the media, which doesn’t happen too often. But when it does, I know my efforts have paid off. I did land a monthly podcasting job from this site, and that has paid off in numerous ways. In particular, I now speak ever month to a huge audience. (The podcast has 110,000 listeners in 90 different countries each month.) This site also gives me excellent Google ranking. (If you are interested in signing up for ExpertClick.com, use my link for a discount: www.ExpertClick.com/discount/Nina_Amir.)
Commenting on Blog Posts and Articles: I have Google Alerts set up for words related to the topics of the books I am writing. When I get an alert and see that someone has written a blog post or an article related to these topics, I click on the link, read what they have written, and, if I have something to add or feel they have written something worth noting, I leave a comment. These comments always provide a link to my website. This brings more traffic to my website, thus increasing my chances of more unique visitors (those who come back more than once), more blog readers, and more people signing up for my newsletter, thus increasing my the list of people to whom I can promote a new book. This activity seems worthwhile to me when I actually develop relationships with the website, blogger or writer. We may set up reciprocal links or begin sharing leads. This is when I know what I offer has value to someone writing about a similar topic or that someone feels their readers benefit from what I have to offer as well as from what they offer their readers. I also learn a great deal from those writing on similar topics, and I might not normally spend the time online finding these blogs or articles.
Frequenting Social Networking Sites: Since I work at home alone most of the time, only having contact with other people when I need to interview someone from my books or for an article, I have found that I really enjoy social networking. I most enjoy Facebook and Twitter. It’s fun to find real friends there who follow you because they enjoy what you post or “tweet” not just to gain more followers. When you show up at Twitter, for instance, and “tweeple'” are happy you are there, converse with you and “retweet” what you post, it feels good. And it’s just plain enjoyable.
Writing Articles for Ezines: I write for ezines related to my topics. Some of these pay and some of these don’t. Many writers refuse to write for free. I prefer to get paid, but if I can post an article on a site that get’s 5,000 visitors per day and is willing to run my bio with links to my website, I’m happy for the opportunity to promote myself and to attempt to gain more readers and more people on my mailing list. As usual, it feels great to have my writing read as well.
Speaking or Teaching: I do try to schedule at least a few speaking gigs per year. Sometimes these are local, and sometimes they are in other areas of the country. I must admit, they give me the jitters, but once there I enjoy myself. I like doing workshops or offering classes; then you get to talk to people one on one. This develops stronger relationships. I find it easiest to offer teleseminars. I can do this from the comfort of my home and potentially reach the most people possible. I enjoy testing out my ideas on people and having them give instant feedback; it’s a bit like test marketing your book, especially if you are doing it prior to having a published book. Plus, each time I speak or teach before an audience, I feel more prepared to be a published author. That gives this activity added value.
Writing for Traditional Print Publications: I send out queries or essays to a variety of print publications on topics related to my books. This tends to be hit or miss, since they have to accept my ideas or essays. However, when they do, I typically get paid and get a short bio and possibly a link to my website. As a magazine journalist by trade, I find this most satisfying. I love having my work published in magazines and newspapers and getting paid for my writing. The fact that people are reading my work, I’m getting paid for that work, I’m building my platform,and I’m gaining “fans” at the same time fulfills many of my goals in one fell swoop.
Additionally, I have gotten involved in a few organizations that give me some promotional advantages while also allowing me to pursue my interests or support causes in which I believe. This is why you’ll find me as director of public relations of CyberJudaism.org, for instance.
I’d like to leave you with the same information I offered on WNFiN Day #1: These efforts have helped me grow my “author” website (www.purespiritcreations.com) to 10,000 visitors per month and the related blog, called “As the Spirit Moves Me” (www.purespiritcreations.com/wordpress), to an average of 3,000 readers per month. To some these numbers may seem huge; to others they will seem small. Remember, I have only self-published a handful of booklets and many, many articles. I am not a well-known speaker.
I will admit that my “opt in” efforts have not been as good, and my mailing list has not grown tremendously over the years. That’s my next task–to get more people to actually opt in to my newsletter so my list grows.
On Facebook, my followers are not huge (over 360), but people tend to be more careful about who they “friend” on that site. On Twitter, though, in about nine months I’ve gained over 760 “tweeple.” Every day that number increases.
Overall, I’m struck by the personal value I’ve found through my marketing efforts. Although I have bemoaned the fact that I have yet to receive the coveted traditional publishing contract, I have found my writing in ezines, newsletters and blogs all over the world. More people read my writing each day than I ever thought possible–possibly more than would read a published nonfiction book of mine unless it was on the New York Times best seller list or the next Harry Potter of nonfiction. When I think about the fact that I have yet to sell one of my book manuscripts to a traditional publisher, I remember that because of my marketing efforts I actually am reaching–and helping–an enormous number of readers. That fact, however, will likely help me reach my goal of landing a traditional publishing contract. In the meantime, I’m having some fun, finding personal value in my marketing efforts and feeling fulfilled as a writer.
No, I’m not making much money off these efforts–well, I make money off a few of them. However, if I wanted to self-publish a book or push my self-published booklets harder on my website, I could. When I want to market my teleseminars or workshops, I can. And when I do have a traditionally published book in hand, I can tell all these “friends,” “followers,” “visitors,” “readers,” and “tweeple” about it, and hopefully they will buy the book…and tell their “friends,” “followers,” “visitors,” “readers,” and “tweeple” to do the same.
In the meantime, I’m being read and listened to, and more and more people know who I am and what I do. I get feedback as well. All of this I find personally valuable. That makes my job as Nina Amir’s marketing director a bit easier to stomach. Actually, most days, the job “tastes” pretty good.
On that note, I think I’ll dig into my mashed potatoes and eat a bit of turkey before it get’s cold.
About the Author
Nina Amir is a seasoned journalist, nonfiction editor, author, consultant, and writing coach with more than 30 years of experience in the publishing field. She has edited or written for 45+ local, national and international magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and newsletters on a full-time or freelance basis. Her essays have been published in five anthologies and can be found in numerous e-zines and Internet article directories. An award-winning journalist, she also has a proven track record as a book editor; one of her client’s books was self-published and then purchased and re-released verbatim by Simon & Schuster (Fireside) and another won the 1998 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award (Inspirational category), received a contract from William Morrow but remained self-published and went on to sell over 115,000 copies. Another of her client’s books recently was purchased by O-Books, a fast-growing British publisher.
Nina also is an inspirational speaker, spiritual and conscious creation coach, teacher, and the regular holiday and spirituality expert on Conversations with Mrs. Claus, a weekly podcast heard in more than 90 countries and downloaded by 110,000 listeners per month (www.thefamilyyak.com). Through her writing and speaking, Amir offers human potential, personal growth and practical spiritual tools from a Jewish perspective, although her work spans religious lines and is pertinent to people of all faiths and spiritual traditions.
Additionally, Amir has written and self-published several booklets and workbooks, including :
- Using the Internet to Build Your Platform One Article at a Time, 8 Tips for Getting Publicity, Exposure and Expert Status by Providing Free Copy Online
- The Priestess Practice: 4 Steps to Creating Sacred Space and Inviting the Divine to Dwell Within It
- The Kabbalah of Conscious Creation: How to Mystically Manifesting Your Physical and Spiritual Desires
- From Empty Practice to Meaning-Full and Spirit-Full Prayers and Rituals…in Seven Simple Steps
- Navigating the Narrow Bridge: 7 Steps for Moving Forward Courageously Even When Life Seems Most Precarious
Currently Amir is writing four books; she also compiled a Jewish celebrity cookbook for which she is seeking a publisher.
To learn how to use the Internet to build your platform one article at a time, why every author needs a platform or how to enhance your expert status by posting articles online, go to: http://www.copywrightcommunications.com/Teleseminars.html orhttp://www.copywrightcommunications.com/Products.html
Help writers find the wonderful information and resources at Write Nonfiction in November all year:
Vote WNFIN One of Writer’s Digest’s Annual 101 Best Internet Sites for Writers
Please visit www.copywrightcommunications.com and sign up for the free newsletter to receive a gift at the end of the Write Nonfiction in November challenge!
Don’t forget to sign into the WNFiN social networking and chat room and tell us what you are writing about or start a discussion.