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How to Get Eyes On Your Writing?


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You've written your manuscript and self published.  Everybody in their brother is advertising their books on Facebook, on YouTube, Instagram, and even, for goodness sake, on TikTok 2 minute videos!  How do you draw attention to your work so that someone will read it?  (Besides, that is, family and friends)

 

What can you do to make yourself stand out against the thousands and thousands of new authors self publishing their stuff every month?

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I wouldn't really know, since I haven't reached this point with my writing. But one thing I do think would be important would be to build excitement for the book before it gets published. Network with other authors in the genre, ask them to promote it on their social media, websites, and newsletters (obviously returning the favor).

 

Also, research your market. Find out where your target audience is on social media. It won't help to go to TikTok if your target audience is grandmothers. Radio interviews might be a better way to go then.

 

I think that it's easy to forget that while writing is an art and a craft, publishing and selling books is a business.

 

Anyway, those are my two cents worth.

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    I have been writing for more than fifty years.  I've sold a few stories, but have never been a success.  I once sold a short story for which I received a one time payment of between 5 & 10 dollars.  I did not frame the check.  I instead invested the proceeds in a breakfast at a local I-Hop restaurant.  From that I received a satisfying return.

     I've come to the conclusion that no matter how good your writing is, or how many positive reviews and critiques you receive on christianwriters.com, or any number of other  writers websites, don't quit your day job.

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We're talking about an author platform. It's a sore topic among lots of people, 'cuz it will probably take a lot of time from our writing.

 

To make matters worse, as authors we'll want a recipe for a platform. Let's follow a list of simple steps, declare it done, and then get back to writing. Problem is, this just puts us squarely inside that avalanche of authors you've mentioned. If we're doing the very same thing as everyone else, we blend in and become invisible. We've wasted our time.

 

I'm in the middle of developing the tools I will need to really develop a platform. I've had to stop, examine myself, and find places where I might someday be able to stand out enough to develop a real conversation among potential readers. (I'm not there yet, by a long shot...) If I can't find a place to stand out, then I'm resigned to remain forever buried in the avalanche of others who also aren't standing out. It may look grim, but others are making it, and I think we can too.

 

Developing a conversation among potential readers is probably not talking about myself and my writing. People mostly browse the internet to somehow make their own lives better, be it momentary entertainment, lasting self improvement, getting something, or fixing some problem. One of my personal steps to doing this for them is trying to make everything I write (including this post) somehow fit the personal slogan, Amuse, Inspire, Enlighten, Entertain. It has to do one. Bonus points if it can do more. 

 

I spend lots of time looking at what others are promoting on the internet, be it a book, a course, a wrinkle cream, or that Nigerian fortune that has supposedly been bequeathed to me. There's much sleaze to discard, but much to learn in the basics of grabbing people's attention, and occasionally a light bulb goes on, and I see something I might someday be able to use. I take lots of notes.

 

It's a lot of work, and I spend much less time writing than I'd like. I think that if I'm to elevate my writing from a hobby to something vaguely like a business, I need to develop creativity in ways very different from putting words down on paper. And when doing so, if i can continue to Amuse, Inspire, Enlighten, Entertain, I may eventually develop the skills to build a meaningful audience.

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13 minutes ago, Wes B said:

One of my personal steps to doing this for them is trying to make everything I write (including this post) somehow fit the personal slogan, Amuse, Inspire, Enlighten, Entertain. It has to do one.

 

That's a really good idea, @Wes B!

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46 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

 

Yes, I think people have to realize that you have to sacrifice writing time to marketing, advertising and even accounting.

 

Most of the "free stuff" we find on the internet is part of some sort of sales or promotional platform. It may not have to do with an author pushing a book; there are courses, services, and all sorts of products being offered. F'rexample, when we fill out a form to get a "free" cookbook, Bible study, or list of publishers buying short articles, we do it in exchange for an email address, that goes onto a mailing list. There will almost certainly be some sort of follow up.

 

If we follow that form back to its main website, we can usually find very quickly, the products/services for sale that actually pay the bills. Browsing through those sites usually lets us quickly piece together their sales & promotion plan, and there's often a lot to be learned. Some is sleazy and unusable, but there are often lots of great ideas that might somehow be formed into a useful part of our own platforms.

 

Research takes lots of time & work(I do a little every day & it adds up...), but unless the platform is extra sleazy, their promotional plan is usually pretty transparent, and there are lots of ideas to pick out, again, if we're willing to put in the time. Most of the sites may not offer anything useful, but most natural gold ores contain only a tiny, tiny fraction of a percent of actual gold. Yet they're worth mining. The gold we're searching for is far more plentiful.

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17 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

You've written your manuscript and self published.  Everybody in their brother is advertising their books on Facebook, on YouTube, Instagram, and even, for goodness sake, on TikTok 2 minute videos!  How do you draw attention to your work so that someone will read it?  (Besides, that is, family and friends)

 

What can you do to make yourself stand out against the thousands and thousands of new authors self publishing their stuff every month?

I'm not an author. I did marketing, however.

 

May I assume you write in the genre you love? Then, how do you find novels you like? Have you joined related forums? (Well, besides this one, but, honestly, this is a start.) If not, then join them. If you can join forums where you can have a little bio with your name on the bottom, good start for finding your audience. But, do not advertise your book, unless the topic comes up. Keep in mind that you're there to talk to other like-minded people, not to plug your book.

 

Where else can your audience be found? I'm not into suspense, so I can't help you there, but, in my case, I'd check with toy stores and teddy bear hospitals if I could advertise there. And advertising doesn't have to be a poster. Bookmark? Small calendar? A small advert to help pay for the business's advertisement? (Like an ad on a diner's placemat, kind of thought.) I planned to advertise on the outfield walls at a Little League baseball field, because that is my audience. I can also advertise in groups about Philly, since it is set in Philly. (Just so you start thinking you have more than one kind of audience.)

Also, do you know other writers in your genre? Start a blog, do book reviews for other writers, promote the reviews on the social platform, until people start thinking of your blog for book suggestions, and make sure that writer knows you have done that for him/her. After you get enough traffic, start talking to other authors to ask for interviews. Who wouldn't want another writer to interview them? But do not ask for a tit for tat. It's like critting someone else's work. Do it often enough that others will return the favor. That averages one thank-you payback per ten. Don't know how many it takes before someone gives you a thank-you payback for your interview though. (And, it might not be that writer. It might be someone following that writer.)

 

Also research the more famous review sites. I'm really not an author, but I do know one site I trust for reviews of books. Kirkus. If you can get a book review from the readers at Kirkus, it's up there with that feeling that a publisher wants to pay you to publish your story. (I always pictured myself running up and down my street shouting to the neighbors about me becoming an author. ☺️) And when the day comes that your novel is reviewed, that's when FB, Twitter, and all the other platforms serve their purpose -- make sure the world knows.

The whole idea is to figure out where your audience hangs out, and make sure they know abut a book they'll really like -- yours.

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It was so much easier to be noticed when I first began publishing. But now? How do you get noticed if you are one grain of sand on a beach?

 

One way is blogging in a vein that suits the audience you are looking to attract. Offer something that interests them, and you can build a following. But that takes time. Time I'm no longer willing to devote to it. [If that's something you want to do, I'd suggest following Kristen Lamb, https://authorkristenlamb.com/ ]

 

If I were younger, and if sales meant more to me than writing, I'd pay more attention to sellng books. But as it is, I don't know how much time I have left, if I'll be able to say what I want to say in that limited amount of time. So, if my books sell (like they used to), thats's good. If they don't, that's also good, as long as I'm focused on saying what's important to me.

 

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21 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

What can you do to make yourself stand out against the thousands and thousands of new authors self publishing their stuff every month?

 

And that's the million-dollar question, isn't it? 

 

There's no shortage of books, courses, fads, superstitions, etc., on this subject. I've been doing this for about ten years now, and I've seen a lot. And just when I think I've seen everything, someone comes up with a new "thing." 

 

I'll tell you what I've learned. The problem with all of these marketing ideas is that most tend to be effective for a specific (or subset of) genres. What works for a romance novel usually won't work as well for a thriller. 

 

And to make matters worse, whatever current sure-fire marketing idea to pile up sales tends to have a short life before it gets played out. 

 

So here's my secret. It's what I consider the first rule of self-publishing: If you happen to find a marketing idea that sells you a lot of books, don't tell anyone about it.

 

Here's my second rule of self-publishing: If you happen to find a marketing idea that sells you a lot of books, DON'T TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT!

 

Seriously, I know it sounds basically anti-Christian, but if you happen to find the right secret marketing sauce to supercharge your sales, sharing it with others will only hasten its demise. The more people who rush to use your new wonderful marketing secret, the less effective it will become.

 

So that's all I got. Sorry if it's not what anyone wanted to read, but those are the cold, hard facts of running your own business - which is what we all are doing.  

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On 7/19/2021 at 7:49 AM, William D'Andrea said:

 I've come to the conclusion that no matter how good your writing is, or how many positive reviews and critiques you receive on christianwriters.com, or any number of other  writers websites, don't quit your day job.

There is truth to the term "starving artists".

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On a more serious note...

 

I've spent the last year embedding myself in my targeted community.  I'm on Discord channels.  I show up at YouTube live streams.  I make a name for myself with known authors through witty banter.  I back comic campaigns even though I am not a comics buyer.  On Twitter, I retweet books, comics, comics campaigns.  I've had people notice my efforts to help them gather a large audience.  These are all small things that build goodwill with my audience, and get me recognized.  So when it comes time to publish, I can draw on a few resources to help me.

 

The deacon in my church has offered to help me.  He has a PR firm.  He's suggested going church by church, if I need to, to push my book.  I'm also looking at home school conventions, maybe setting up a booth and seeing what I can draw.

 

Pushing a book is scrambling for every crumb on the table, and doing that over and over repeatedly.

 

I'm convinced there is a sizable market out there for my work.  It is a matter of finding fans, wherever they are, and getting them to buy my work.  If it's good - like everyone is telling me - then word will spread.

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6 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

I've had people notice my efforts to help them gather a large audience.

 

This is impressive. You are building friends and allies by helping them to succeed. People who are largely out there to promote their own works are a dime a dozen, but people making real efforts to help others along are not. The retweeting is a fine idea, which we could all do to help a deserving colleague along; are there other things you do in addition to the retweets? 

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7 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

I've spent the last year embedding myself in my targeted community.  I'm on Discord channels.  I show up at YouTube live streams.  I make a name for myself with known authors through witty banter.  I back comic campaigns even though I am not a comics buyer.  On Twitter, I retweet books, comics, comics campaigns.  I've had people notice my efforts to help them gather a large audience.  These are all small things that build goodwill with my audience, and get me recognized.  So when it comes time to publish, I can draw on a few resources to help me.

 

Exactly! Good for you, Jeff! This is what I've said all along. You develop relationships. You boost others. Like this meme I made some time ago...

 

image.png.55f0659346879622721a0a669f6380e0.png

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