The nature of writing has changed quite a bit. In the past, you would write a book, or an article, or short story, or a poem and you would send it off to the relevant publishers. If you were lucky, they published you. And then they told you what they wanted you to do in order to market the book, for instance, attend book signings, a book launch, interviews or some such endeavour.
Not so much these days.
To start with, you can decide whether your writing would be best published via a publisher or independently; in print or online.
Whatever you decide, though, still means that you have to do more marketing than you would have in the past. That much has changed, and will not easily be unchanged.
Where to start?
You Are a Brand
You are a brand, as much as Coca Cola and Nike and Microsoft and Apple and the loveable coffee shop on the corner is a brand. That brings power to influence the sale, or the lack of sales, of your writings. And, as Spiderman would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
So, what is this branding thing all about?
A brand was used on cattle when a farmer wanted to say: “This cow is mine, not yours.” It is something that you can easily identify and tells you something about the branded.
What does this mean for you as a writer? Well, what is the essence of your brand? Some brands are all about family and home-cooked meals. Others are about sweat and ambition. Still others are offensive, but make people think and talk.
What are you?
Because you can be anything, but beige. You have to stand out. Branding is all about being different from the rest. And for that you need fire-engine red.
For writers it is not too difficult. If you can be yourself, and be it well, then you should be different. Don’t try to be someone you are not. You might admire JK Rowling, but don’t try to write like her.
Find your own voice.
And then allow that voice to be seen in images you choose for your website; in words you use in your blog and in the kind of writing you do best of all.
What If You Publish “In Print”?
Don’t think that you don’t need to “be digital” if you are going to be writing “in print”.
Things have changed.
Where will people find your books? In your local bookshop? Sure. That is a great place to look for your books. And to find them. And to buy all fifteen of them.
But what about Kalahari or Amazon?
Even if you sell print, you still need to tell people about it. And ignoring your global audience is … well, kinda silly, don’t you think?
You can sell your printed books via online distributors. You can use the same research that you did for your printed article, and write and sell a blog with a different twist. Or create an eBook that you can distribute via Smashwords or Kindle.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Unknown
Often writers are simply a bit lost in terms of digital and therefore cut themselves off from all of those possibilities. Yes, you can stay where you feel safe. It is your prerogative.
But there is SO much out there. It would be great if you could join in.
Things have never been better for people who love words. In the past, only the select few could produce something other than manuscripts hidden away in a dusty bottom drawer. These days, it is all about words.
Although it’s true that many online readers skim and make horrid choices in terms of content, the fact of the matter is, that many people are reading (even horrid things). Many more than ever before.
And many are writing.
Yes, from the divine to the totally ridiculous, including horrid writings!
So step out of your comfort zones and try your hand online. And don’t worry about following some crazy, expensive courses. Just surf the Net! Everything you need to learn is out there, and much of the good stuff is even free.
Okay … Do You Need a Website?
You want to be able to be found online. The easiest way to do that, is to have a website. There are many free websites, such as Webs, Weebly and Yola.
But maybe start with something simple, like a blog. The best blogs are, IMHO, to be found at WordPress. (Sincerely hope some WordPress boss sees this and gives me lots of free goodies …)
Start with a blog. It’s easy to do. If you are not sure, look for some videos that can help you through the steps.
Keep it simple. Don’t do too much too soon.
But remember: your website or blog is all about you.
And Social Media?
Once you have set up a blog, you can create social media accounts that connect to your blog. That way, if you post something on your blog (in plain English: if you write an online article) then it also appears in those media. For instance:
Set up a Facebook Page that is separate from your personal Facebook account. Then you can still share silly recipes or funny cat pictures with your friends on your personal account, but you can keep your Page clean and focused on your writing, your articles, blogs or books.
Have a look at this if you are not sure how to set up a Facebook Page.
And look here for hints on how to link your Blog and your Facebook Page.
You might like to set up a Twitter account linked to your “writer brand”. It’s a great place to stay in touch with other writers or writing groups.
Again, link your Twitter account and your blog so that your blog entries immediately appear as Tweets.
You could also link it the other way round. If you want your Twitter feed to appear on your WordPress blog, here is how to do just that.
Because so many people use Google to search for writers, and their writings, it really is a good idea to have a Google+ account.
Google+ works with circles – you place people in different circles and you can post an entry to all your circles, or choose which ones it is aimed at. It makes life really easy. For instance, if you want to tell only your family about this great guy you met, you can post it simply to your “Family” circle. But if you wrote a blog about how to meet a great guy, you can post it to your “Family” and “Writing” circles.
Here is how to set up a Google+ account.
The Way Forward
Good luck on getting started! If you get stuck, “help” is your friend, and “Google” your buddy. With YouTube being the favourite aunt. In the (slightly adjusted) words of dear Dumbledore: “Help will always be given to those who ask for it.”