Reading time: Just over 3 minutes
Social media gets a lot of attention these days, but you also need to know how to promote your writing without Facebook or Twitter. Here are some suggestions….
I watch my time like a mama bear guarding her cubs. I recently quit Facebook, and I constrain my Twitter time to no more than 10 minutes daily. (I provide my wonderful assistant, Laura, with my tweets for the month — they are quotes from famous authors — and she posts them for me each week. I devote my own daily 10 minutes to re-tweeting others and to thanking people who’ve re-tweeted me.)
Rather than play in the social media sandbox, I’d rather edit, write and meet with real live speaking, breathing people — not their digital avatars.
You may have different reasons for avoiding social media. Perhaps you don’t want to be distracted. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with technology. Possibly, you don’t want to look like the expressionless couple on the photo above.
Whatever your reasons for avoiding social media, understand that it’s not the only way to promote your writing. Here are seven other strategies I suggest you try:
Having your own blog is a great way to share your ideas — and to promote your writing. I’ve blogged for more than 10 years now and my blog continues to be the best advertisement I can imagine for my own book. This blog has sold thousands of copies of 8½ Steps to Writing, Faster, Better, and I know that because my book is not available in stores. The blog costs me something (in terms of time, hosting fees and email distribution charges) but it is the best way I know of staying connected with my readers.
If you don’t have your own blog, offer to guest post. Many sites accept guest bloggers and if you can share your messages there, you will create a new audience for yourself. Guest posting doesn’t usually pay cash, but it will often pay off for you in terms of the readers you get to meet.
2-Use email marketing
Social media has not yet displaced email marketing. And the latter has many benefits that social media lacks. For one, people on your email list have given you permission to email them. That means they’re interested in what you have to say and are more likely to read it. Decide what you’re going to put in your newsletter and send it out regularly. I think weekly is the ideal frequency but once every two weeks is also okay. Anything less frequent than that won’t get noticed enough. Of course, you’ll also need to hire a company to handle email delivery. Aweber, Constant Contact and MailChimp are the leading contenders. (MailChimp is no charge for the first 2,000 subscribers.)
Sometimes spelled schwag, this is merchandise that you give away at no charge, but that promotes your writing. The concept dates back to the early 1960s when it referred to everything from records sent to radio stations to slippers provided to airline passengers. Now swag is a major big deal, with the goodie bags offered to those attending the 2018 Oscar ceremonies ringing in at a value of $100,000 — per person. See the crazy details here.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you spend $100,000 on each of your readers. But do you think you could perhaps afford a bookmark? I frequently give bookmarks to my readers and they seem to love them. Other affordable ideas are: postcards, stickers, book plates, rubber bracelets, buttons and pens. Think about ideas that are affordable and that allow you to promote what you do.
4-Meet with a book club or writing group
The only hard part will be finding such a club/group in your neighborhood, or an area close enough to where you live. The American Library Association offers a helpful post on how to find such clubs. Bookstores, community centres and libraries are all good places to check. If you’ve written a book, be sure to have a recommended reading list and some suggested book club discussion questions on your own website.
Once you’ve ID’d a group, contact the leader and offer to speak (at no charge, of course.) At the meeting, you can either answer questions or do a reading. Be sure to bring some swag with you and offer to sign books, if you’ve written one.
5-Give a speech
Speaking is particularly effective for promoting non-fiction work and memoir. Service clubs such as Rotary and Kiwanis, trade associations, colleges and schools are often looking for speakers even though they don’t usually have much of a budget to fund them. Ask if you can sell your material at the back of the room, after you’ve spoken. Here’s a list of places to look for speaking gigs.
6-Participate in an online forum
Sites such as Quora offer a place to connect with others interested in your subject matter. If you are an expert in something, monitor the forum and participate by answering questions that others have asked. Over time, this will help you build a reputation as an expert. If your answers include links back to your own website, so much the better! This will help you to build a new reader base.
7-Be a guest on a podcast
If you’re a writer, you might wonder what podcasts have to do with you. Here’s the secret: podcasts allow you to build strong relationships with listeners. People will feel as though they really know you because they’ve already let you into their ears, usually via headphones, which is quite intimate. Further, it’s difficult to skim podcasts so readers usually end up listening to more of them and hearing the full story.
There’s no need to be defensive about not being involved with social media. Just develop your own marketing plan in other areas and you’ll still be able to reach plenty of readers.
My video podcast last week aimed to help writers capture their family histories. Or, see the transcript, and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. If you have a question about writing you’d like me to address, be sure to send it to me by email, Twitter or Skype and I’ll try to answer it in the podcast.
How do you promote your writing without using social media? We can all learn from each other so, please, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the “comments” section below. Anyone who comments on today’s post (or any others) by May 31/18 will be put in a draw for a copy of the non-fiction book 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman. Please, scroll down to the comments, directly underneath the “related posts” links, below. Note that you don’t have to join the commenting software to post. See here to learn how to post as a guest.