#5onFri: Five Outreach Ideas for Authors

by Melissa Chan
published in Community

As an author, the sole act of completing and finishing written work can be a daunting task all on its own. Throw in marketing and outreach and the entire process can become overwhelming. Books require countless hours of ideation and rounds of editing. Crossing the finish line alone is enough cause for congratulations.

However, the goal of most authors is not to simply complete work in a vacuum, but to get it in the hands of eager readers. Compliments and positive reinforcement aside, it’s important for any author to receive feedback from others over the course of their career. Readers might give written reviews, star ratings, or simply offer feedback through spending habits. Whatever the case, even authors who do not seek fame or fortune will want to make an effort to get their work out there for the world to see.

Below are a few ideas to get started on outreach. Whether for monetization or simply for fun, outreach can bring opportunities that one would not otherwise have.

1) Blog about it

As an author, in addition to your books being available for purchase on various platforms, you probably already have a website. At a minimum it has some information on it, such as a biography and details about your books and where to purchase them. This is a great place to get started, but don’t overlook the value of your digital footprint. A blog is a natural extension of any website. Many website templates have built-in platforms for publishing blog articles, so you can get started without having to fiddle with the inner workings of your website design.

Writing one’s own articles might seem counterintuitive, since you may feel that outreach is based on finding new audiences, but never underestimate the power of the world wide web. Simply having your writing available to be found by searchers on the internet is a way to find new readers and fans. Think about what your ideal reader might be searching for, and write some posts on the topic. Don’t forget to leave the comment box open to encourage audience engagement.

2) Connect and collaborate with other authors

Having your own website is the perfect way to get started with joining the digital author community. Collaboration between authors is a fun way to get some promotion for your work. It tends to be low cost and only requires as much time and effort as you are willing to put in. Working with authors on blog posts, interviews, or general book promotion is a great way to bridge the gap between their readers who would be interested in related work. Accepting well-written articles from other authors can be a relief for those who have been blogging on their own for months. It can also offer fresh perspectives on their blogs.

This type of cross promotion can lead to other possibilities down the line. Being in contact with someone is the first step to working on bigger projects. Working with another author or blogger on a simple post can make each aware that the other is competent and good to work with. This is a basic type of networking that is much better than any resume or CV. Maybe you will collaborate on a collection of short stories down the line, perhaps they will refer your work to a magazine editor they know. Connecting and collaborating with other authors is an excellent and sociable outreach activity that is as easy as sending out a few friendly emails.

3) Give out book-related freebies

Bookmarks, pens, and t-shirts make for excellent promotional avenues for your books and author brand. Merchandise is commonly thought of as an additional point of sale to one’s novel, but this is not necessarily true. There is a big difference between giving out something for free and charging money for it. When you give out something for free it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to worry about returns and other such issues down the line. Freebies are a great way to get the word out about your work. Depending on where you are promoting your work, different items will be better suited for the occasion. Try making digital bookmarks for download if you will be going to a book fair. Stickers, buttons, and other unique items can be given out at book readings to future fans to remind them to read and buy your books.

4) Go on a blog tour

Anyone who is familiar with inquiring to blogs and websites for book reviews, author interviews, and spotlights on their books will understand the value of a blog tour. Before the days of the internet, a book tour would consist of traveling from location to location. Authors would visit local bookstores and other venues along the way. They would read excerpts from their books, meet some fans, and try to get the word out about their work in general.

Today the internet makes it possible to do this virtually. Instead of the expensive task of physical travel, you can promote your work on blogs and websites, thus reaching a worldwide audience directly from the web. Basically, each blog is a tour stop and over the course of a few days or a few months the tour host will post about the book during a predetermined schedule.

In fact there are so many authors who do blog tours that there are companies specifically dedicated to hosting tours for authors. Pay them a reasonable fee and they will set the tour up and get in touch with their bloggers. If you prefer the DIY approach, get in touch with bloggers to organize your own tour. Book tours are a great way to spread the word across the internet about your writing and who you are as an author.

5) Write a sequel

Sometimes the best way to promote your work is to produce more of it. The more work that exists in the world, the greater chance it can be discovered by a larger audience. Consider turning a novel into a series. Your first novel doesn’t have to perform well to explore a continuation of the characters, setting, and themes in a sequel. When prospective readers see that the book is a series it can make certain readers more interested in the first book. Sort of like a TV show versus a movie. They know that if they liked the first installment they will have more content to read afterwards.

Books and author brands can take a long time to take off. Spending time writing a sequel can take your mind off of the promotional aspect of writing while still giving your current body of work a boost.

Remember, all books, genres, authors and their audiences are vastly different. No two strategies for marketing are ever alike. I hope that these outreach ideas have given you a few ideas for your next outreach campaign. Give one or two a try, and the results could surprise you!

Melissa Chan is the founder of the online retailer for bookish items, Literary Book Gifts. She designed each of the  wide range of t-shirts and tote bags specifically geared for the enjoyment of any book lover. She is passionate about books and literature and hopes to one day pen a full length novel. Until then you can find her crafting vintage items for the store or curling up with a delightful mystery or romance novel by the fire with a fresh cup of tea.

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