Let me speak about which marketing techniques have worked for me.
1. Website vs Blog
When I started out writing about seven years ago, I had a website. Because I am not very techy, I found the website cumbersome. Things happen fast in my writing world. I have books coming out, I have short stories published, I have events I’m attending, and I couldn’t keep my website up-to-date because I was unable to do it personally. I had to ask the website tech people to do it for me and it was very slow and not always done how I wanted. I find most websites to be dull and too static for my liking. You can fix that situation if you’re good at the technical side of things- I’m not.
So I let my website die and moved on to a free blog. I use blogger. I use my blog as a sort of online personal diary, but I also use it for marketing. If you go there you’ll find a page with my CV, a page with all of my books and where they can be found. I also have a section where I write about any news in my writer life.
I’ve found a blog more useful. It is interactive and I’ve met a lot of people through my blog. The important thing, though my blog is perhaps not the best example, is to be clear about what you’re selling. If you’re a freelance writer, for example, it’s a good idea to focus your blog posts in that direction.
At the same time, any blog that is just about blowing your own horn and marketing your goods will get little attention. You need to give back too. People need to have a reason to come to your blog, it’s up to you to give it to them.
You can do a lot on your blog. You can sell an ebook. You can get readers to sign up for a free e-zine that you send out to their email. You can have polls. You can hold contests. Whenever I have a new book out, I give a free, signed copy away on my blog.
2. Write articles
I was a published writer for quite some time before I started this column but now suddenly strangers come up to me on the street and want to talk about writing. I’m a fiction writer, but writing this column helps to sell my fiction.
If you are, for example, a nonfiction writer who writes about career guidance, a good way to sell your career books would be to write articles about career guidance and get them published, even free if you must. If you set yourself up as the expert in career guidance in Botswana, then it is likely more people will want to buy your book.
3. Show Your Face
If you get invited to speak somewhere, make sure you go. Be prepared, be professional, be entertaining, if at all possible, and it will assist you in selling your writing.
Make sure you come prepared with things to promote you. Print business cards or bookmarks. Have copies of your books for them to see. If possible come with copies to sell.
4. Social Networking
Say what you want about the time wasters called Facebook and Twitter, but I have found them invaluable for marketing. Many people outside of Botswana (and inside for that matter) know me only though Facebook. I’ve only just started on Twitter so I can’t speak too much about it just yet. As for Facebook, it has presented so many opportunities for me. I’ve found writers residencies on Facebook. I’ve met journalists who have interviewed me in magazines and newspapers in their countries. I have even got freelance jobs from contacts I’ve made in Facebook. I’ve also met a whole community of writers which has opened up my world.
Again, if you use social media only to promote yourself, it’s not going to work. You need to build up solid networks and you do that by interacting. It should never be a one-way speech.
(This article first appeared in my column, It's All Write in The Voice newspaper 1 July 2011)