The topic feels strangely self-reflective: writing about publishing. But with the advent of easy self-publishing and increased indie publishing options, the aspiring author is also a prospective customer. Publishers need a marketing strategy, just like any other industry. The articles, blog posts, and other marketing content created by publishing businesses are as varied as the authors themselves. But the hottest trends in publishing writing spread around the industry at the speed of a bestselling novel.
Leverage the Power of Podcasts
Serial — NPR’s record-breaking podcast series — turned podcast listening into a national obsession. Once the home of obscure topics and tiny audiences, podcasts are now home to some of the biggest names in their industries. Shows aimed at would-be writers provide advice on producing and marketing your next great book. Listeners can collect both genre-specific and general tips from real experts. The cream of this crop includes:
- The Sell More Books Show with Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen
- The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn
- Self Publishing Formula by Mark Dawson
- Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast
- The Author Biz
New podcasts appear all the time, and listening is a must-do for serious authors. Each podcast is also tied to a writer or lecturer who wants to sell more books or class packages. This makes podcasts a new method of content marketing for how-to authors.
Marketers who want to take advantage of this hot new promotional niche have ample opportunity to do so. Many of these podcasts need sponsors. Sponsoring a favorite podcast gets your name in front of a wide variety of authors from a source they respect. Publishers can instantly tap into the exact audience they’re looking for and become a go-to resource when the manuscripts are ready.
Gain Influence Through Facebook Groups
If you’re trying to figure out what’s new with publishing writing, the best place to start is social media. Facebook has hundreds of groups dedicated to working and aspiring authors. Some of the most popular groups revolve around one specific guru author and their fans. Take for example:
- Mark Dawson’s groups on Facebook and Amazon marketing
- H.M. Ward’s Marketing Tips for Writers Group
- The Dragon Riders — Authors Dictating group designed for authors who use Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate their novels more quickly
Most of these groups include long posts designed to encourage frank conversation among professionals and to forge a closer group dynamic. Each group holds a ready-made audience for any marketer. Instead of split-testing or waiting for your influence to grow, become a member of these online communities. This will also give your posts the weight of authenticity. Plus, group conversations will reveal what authors are talking about, what they respond to, and by extension, how best to reach them as consumers.
Engage with Friendly Newsletters
Traditionally, email newsletters were designed to let dedicated fans know when their favorite authors had a new book coming out. They might let out a sneak peak of an upcoming cover or other small details related to the newest book.
Today’s newsletter has completely changed, looking more like a chatty email from a friend than a marketing piece. The idea is: let the fans get to know you, and they’ll consider you a friend… which makes them more likely to buy your books than if you were a stranger.
Sign up for an author newsletter, and you’re likely to get pictures of their beach vacation, heartwarming stories about their new rescue puppy, recipes for dishes they’re cooking next Thanksgiving, or humorous tales of their clumsy yet loving spouse. They’ll let you into their lives, if only for a few minutes every month. After months of reading about their coffee addiction and their local farmer’s market, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right next to them while they type their next novel.
Marketers can use these same techniques by developing a softer approach and offering up one person or character as the voice of their company. Readers will respond more favorably to emails from a person than those from a faceless business. Personalizing your promotions can touch that emotional chord in all your recipients.
Fill the Gaps Like a Publishing Service
Indie authors must manage the publishing process themselves, but not every task that needs to be done will fall in their wheelhouse. Businesses like Infinity and Ingram Spark provide author services such as editing, cover design, and formatting, leaving authors more time to concentrate on what’s most important: writing more books.
These “author services” market themselves by offering highly useful blogs that give away publishing tips o’ the trade. Smart writers will follow these to receive a free education on every aspect of the independent publishing business. In return, they find themselves drawn back to these publishers’ websites, where they’ll find tempting offers to take the more frustrating tasks off their hands. Authors can hire these services to find professional cover artists, editors, and any other experts for work they need to contract out.
These services take advantage of the fact that no author can do everything on their own. Savvy marketers can do the same: identify the facets of writing life that most authors fall short in and offer simple solutions to these problems.
Just as with novel writing, you can’t simply follow a formula to generate great publishing writing. But you can mimic successful strategies like those listed above to meet writers where they are and become their trusted partner on their publishing journey.
Victoria B has been a full time freelance writer since early in 2009, with articles published in USAToday.com, the online version of The San Francisco Examiner, Garden Guides, Travel.com, Hotels.com, and other sites. She can write how-to guides, straight informative articles, restaurant and travel reviews, and keyword-guided SEO content.