(This article first appeared in the Institute of Childrens' Literature but it applies to all writers)
Seven Ways To Sell Yourself To Readers
Writers know that the first person in line we need to impress is an editor. Without her, our work never sees the light of day. But selling what you’ve written is only one step to being a successful writer. You also need to sell yourself to readers. They’re the ones who will come back for a second helping if they like what they read the first time.
It’s not easy to constantly promote yourself, especially if you don’t have a balloon-like ego. Quiet, introverted writers find it difficult to sing their own praises, but it’s almost a necessity if you want to make it in the writing world. Even social extroverts aren’t always aware of what they can do to make readers seek them out nor are they completely comfortable in doing so.
Maybe you’re a writer who prefers solitary confinement, spending your time doing what you do best—writing. There comes a time when you need to raise your head and make a concerted effort promoting yourself. You’ll see results, although they may not be immediate. So, what can you do to sell yourself as a writer?
.Share Your Published Work
When you have an article or story published, don’t hesitate to send it to all your friends and family. They, in turn, will probably share it with others, and your work and your name spread to untold places around the globe. I had a hard time doing this in the early days of my writing life. I feared that people who meant something to me would look at me as a braggart, but I’ve learned that it is a benefit to me and truly liked by many of those recipients. I try to add an out for them by saying they should hit the delete button if they have no interest. That makes it guilt-free for any who aren’t interested.
Submit to Ezines As Well As Print Publications
There are benefits when you submit your work to ezines, better described as online magazines. They can reach many thousands of people while a print magazine may only have a circulation of 5 or 6,000. There’s value in keeping your name in the cyberspace of the writing world regularly, as readers begin to recognize your name. Print magazines are normally published in one country, but ezines reach across the seven seas to multiple countries.
Capitalize On the Electronic World
What better way to plug your work than on Facebook and Twitter? I have a Facebook account which I use for social networking but also to let others know when I’ve had something published or when I have a blog posting that might be of interest to writers and also non-writers. I post the same information on my state authors’ organization Facebook page. Consider a personal website. You may need to hire someone to help you design and set it up, but it’s probably money well spent. Like all things, you can start with something basic or go for the Cadillac right away. Leave comments on other websites and blogs with your website/blog address. Curious readers click on links.
Join Local, State and National Writers’ Groups
Become active in writers’ groups, the face to face kind. I’ve entered my state authors club contest ever since becoming a member ten years ago, and I’ve placed many times. More than once, when I’ve introduced myself at a state convention, someone will say, “Oh, I’ve seen your name before.” It works in small groups or large. Make your work visible in every way you can, and your name becomes recognizable. If the group has a newsletter with writer news, make sure you send in your publishing successes. Let your name appear as often as possible.
Accept Speaking Engagements
If you have an opportunity to speak to a small group at your church or a civic organization, accept it. It can be nerve-wracking at first, but it gets easier each time and more people in your community will label you a writer whenever they see you. One
appearance may lead to more invitations to share your work. And again, your name becomes familiar. People in your community and surrounding area will soon know that you write great science fiction stories or that your travel articles contain insight and humor. They’ll remember you when seeking a program for some other organization. It’s not necessary to wait until asked either. There’s nothing wrong in letting groups know you would be willing to speak. Don’t do it meekly either. Tell them you would love to speak at one of the meetings, that you have a couple terrific programs that would be informative and entertaining. Sell yourself to get your foot in that first door.
Be A Blogger
Another way to sell yourself is to become a blogger. Starting a blog connected to your writing is not enough. You need to let people know about your blog. Leave comments at other blogs and sign with your blog address. Use your blog address as a set signature on all your e-mails. Advertise your blog on Facebook and Twitter. Add as many labels at the bottom of your blog as possible. The more keywords you have, the better your chances of a search engine zeroing in on your blog. Take time to study all the gadgets and stat tracking that your blog host offers. The more extras you use, the more visible you’ll become.
Take Advantage of Publisher’s Press Releases
Publishers often send press releases to TV and radio stations in your area, also newspapers. I’ve appeared on an afternoon TV show several times because of press releases sent by the Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers. I’ll admit the initial appearance gave me butterflies in my stomach all day long, but the host of the show put me at ease once we were on the air as he interviewed me and discussed the process of getting a story into an anthology. I’ve read several of my stories from other Chicken Soup books on this same show, and now I enjoy doing so. No more butterflies. I’m helping the publishers, but I’m also selling myself. If you receive an invitation to do something similar, remember that it’s up to you to accept, and it’s a terrific way to become known to the reading public. Don’t pass up a golden opportunity like this.
At this point, you may be thinking that selling yourself amounts to bragging. You might remember your mother teaching you to be humble, to not blow your own horn. That’s still true in some instances, but when your writing career is the subject, it’s more than okay. Go right ahead and inform the world about you and your writing. No one can do it better than you. Believe in yourself and go for it!