Hello, everyone! Today’s blog post is a little special. It’s partially a project update and partially a recap of all I’ve been researching and learning over the past few months. Since I am so new to the world of publishing and marketing, I do not really know how to begin. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. How do you get people to see your blog posts and buy your books? Well, I have a strategy. It certainly isn’t foolproof, but it has worked for me so far.
1. Join social media
In today’s world, if you want your voice to be heard, you need social media. I used to believe that social media was useless, full of only angry people who yelled at each other constantly. What would they care about my books? Well, after joining social media, I learned that my perception of the platform wasn’t entirely true.
Social media has many different spheres. One sphere might be populated by the angry people, and you’ll want to avoid them. Another might be full of authors and readers who share your passion for books. Finding these people is hard, but once you do, you’re set.
If you’re like me and find it hard to join a new community, I have one piece of advice for you: just do it. Reaching out to other writers isn’t that hard. They aren’t going to laugh at you and send you away with a pat on the head. Chances are, they’re as eager to make new friends as you are. Writers thrive in a community where they support each other.
Once you find your niche in social media, wonderful! Be supportive of others in that community and try to collaborate with them. It’ll help you out, and likely them as well. When I was new to the blogging sphere, I had no idea what I was doing. (I still don’t, if I’m honest.) I decided to try doing blog tags and collaborations with other bloggers (admittedly ones I already knew, but that’s definitely a step in the right direction).
Some collaborative efforts I have seen floating around the Interweb are author interviews, cover reveals, scavenger hunts, and blog linkups. All of these have, to some extent, a collaborative effort between members of the writing community. Something my friend Ashley and I devised was Blog Swap, where we created a story for the other person to continue on their blog. Any effort that gets members of someone else’s readership to look at your work is beneficial. One of the biggest mistakes I made in 2020 was not reaching out to other bloggers and authors sooner. I hope to make up for that in 2021.
2. Start a blog and/or author website
Back when I first considered publishing my books, I knew that I would have no success unless I established an online presence in the form of a website. Before doing anything else, I began a blog. The idea was daunting. How was I supposed to design a website? What would I write about? Would anyone follow me?
I managed to figure out the above questions, fortunately, and after almost 10 months, I am finally getting into the rhythm of blogging. It wasn’t easy at first, but I did it. You can, too!
Now, what about an author website? A few months ago, I started looking at what other authors have done as far as marketing. Besides social media, many of them have websites dedicated to their books, and I thought to myself, “Maybe I should have one, too.”
Recently, I changed the look of my blog to be more polished. I also considered adding a whole section dedicated to my future books but decided against it. The Arbitrary Fairy is the website I use for blogging. I occasionally talk about my books here (see the Storywell), but my other posts are all over the spectrum.
I doubt I would be able to blog and promote my books on the same site without it looking messy. If there’s one thing I learned from my research, it’s that author sites should be very streamlined and to-the-point. A crowded homepage is much harder for a reader to navigate, and the stuff you really want them to see (such as sections promoting the sales of your books) might get skipped entirely. Uh-oh.
As I mentioned in my most recent project update, I have been wanting to launch an entirely new website after determining an official release date for my book. Well, unfortunately, I still do not have a time set for my book’s release. I am the type of person to want to make concrete decisions about everything before moving forward with other things, but when it became clear that waiting was looking more like procrastination, I had to just take the leap and launch my author website.
Presenting… Newheart Author! (While Newheart isn’t technically my pen name, it’s the name I use in a lot of my social medias, so I figured it was appropriate.) When people ask about my books, this is the site I’ll direct them to. I plan to expand it to include character profiles, book art, and of course, news about when my first book will be released.
This new site will be more focused and professional. I will keep it updated, but I won’t make weekly blog posts on there. This brings me to my final discovery about the intimidating world of marketing…
3. Create a mailing list
It’s something every author seems to have. They say, “If you sign up for my email list, you’ll get free short stories/exclusive content/giveaway opportunities!” and gain a large following through it. Creating an email list is vital for authors. Readers may not check your blog or website often, but if you create a newsletter of some kind, it’ll go straight to their inbox!
But how do you even do that? After studying the emails of other authors, I discovered two potential candidates. Mailchimp and MailerLite. Mailchimp is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers, MailerLite is free until 1,000 subscribers. Through Mailchimp, you can send 10,000 emails per month; through MailerLite, 12,000 emails per month. I can’t imagine ever getting 1,000 subscribers or sending 10,000 emails per month, so I guess the free path will work for me.
But wait! There’s more! WordPress has a widget that you can link to your Mailchimp account! Using it, people can sign up to your mailing list directly through your website! That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
When I attempted the email list process months ago, I got overwhelmed quickly. The Mailchimp site was incredibly confusing, so I closed the webpage and didn’t return until recently. After doing some research, I discovered that MailerLite is much more simple and intuitive than Mailchimp, although it only allows half as many subscribers.
Right now, I’m testing the waters with Mailchimp. There seems to have been an update to the interface since it’s slightly less intimidating. Using that widget I talked about, I was able to add an email signup form is on the front page of my new website. What do I plan to do with this mailing list? Beyond the usual “update” emails, I have a few ideas, but none are really plausible until I actually publish my book. Perhaps I’ll follow the example of those other authors and try to provide free short stories/exclusive content/giveaways. Who knows?
If you’d like to be a part of this journey with me, feel free to check out Newheart Author and maybe even join my email list. (Here’s hoping nothing broke since I last tested to see if it was working.)
I mentioned learning from other authors and following their examples. If it works for them, it should work for me too, right? That’s always the hope. Everybody’s experience is different, though. I’m sure some of the authors I follow are winging it like I am. At the same time, though, they have had a lot more experience and know what not to do. I’ll keep you guys posted on what has worked for me and what hasn’t. Hopefully that way, I’ll be able to keep you from making the same mistakes I did.
For those of you who know very little about marketing, I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions about what I’ve discussed today, go ahead and ask! For those who do know all this, do I seem to be on the right track? What other tips would you give to people like me who are just starting out? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Thanks for reading, friends! Until next time,
P.S. In case you skipped all that, I just released my author website! Check it out here.