Part 2: How do you market your book when you suck at technology?
If you missed last week's newsletter, read that first. These two posts go in order of what to think about when it comes to what you want to post and on which social platforms.
In my previous week’s newsletter, I shared ways to start thinking about what platform(s) you want to use, how much time you have, and what you want to convey to your audience.
Today, I break down an important piece—which is, what should you share? Whether you decide to do quick videos, record your voice, snap photos for Instagram, or write on Substack, you still need to decide what you’re doing. Of course, it should be related to the book you want to market and maybe your previously published books too.
What is the point of what you’re sharing?
How does it shine a light on the bigger picture?
I’m going to take a guess that this might be the missing piece that is preventing you from getting started on this whole marketing thing?
For me, after I choose Substack, I became really clear about what I wanted to do, which was to share my journey to authorship and what I learned along the way.
I started writing about stuff like:
Create content ‘buckets’ or ‘pillars’
I began to categorize these ideas into content buckets or pillars. This is something I’ve been doing in my career as a content strategist and marketer. It helps you get really clear on the type of content you want to produce, rather than trying to rack your brain each time you have to write something.
Come up with three or four content buckets, pillars, categories, whatever you want to call them, and stick to it.
Whenever a new idea strikes me, I file it under one of these buckets. If it doesn’t fit, I still write it down so that maybe I can figure out how it can fit under one of my pillars. I sometimes use freewriting to lean into an idea.
If I can’t come up with a way to make it fit under my pillars, it’s not a big deal to me. It’s just a good exercise to do, especially when I’m writing scenes that may not perfectly fit into my book.
These are my pillars for Memoir Junkie Wannabe Author:
Writing about writing—tips, advice, lessons learned in my journey
“The best of”—memoirs, podcasts, and anything related to writing
Snippets of my chapters or personal stories—these are parts of my memoir
I go deeper into these ideas below.
Bucket idea #1: Convey you’re a human
A large part of promoting your book is promoting yourself. You. Your interests, hobbies, and who you are as a person. I write about the fact that I love memoirs and podcasts.
In my new favorite podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing (highly recommend listening to), the hosts, who are teachers, literary agents, and editors, read real query letters from authors. In these letters, I notice authors always write a few quick sentences about where they live, if they have pets and their hobbies. It reminds me of the back of a book jacket cover where you see the author’s black and white photo and a blurb about them.
This tells me it’s important to convey who you are as a person.
This got me thinking. Maybe it would be fun to dedicate one of your buckets to your hobbies, like sewing or hiking. Instagram would be great for this.
The only reason I don’t do this on Substack is because I already have Claire’s Holiday, a website I started years ago which is only about travel and snowboarding. (Side note, I’m thinking about moving this over to Substack and may write a future newsletter about this.)
Bucket idea #2: Share tips
I’ve been a writer for a big chunk of my career and a part of me is kicking myself for not taking writing classes sooner. Once I started taking classes and joining webinars, I was eager to share what I learned because it was different than what I was trained to do in my career, which was mostly B2C and B2B marketing, writing, and strategy.
I wished someone else had shared these discoveries with me when I first started writing my manuscript. In looking at it through that newbie, someday-author lens, I shared everything from podcasts I listened to and why, as well as how much these writing classes were costing me.
To this day, those are the most popular newsletters on my Substack. This tells me to keep going with this particular bucket.
Maybe you’re writing a book about herbs and want to share a few quick tips on which herbs are great for the flu season or general health. Or maybe you are a talented editor and can share tips about the biggest mistakes you see writers often make.
Make sure people have takeaways from your content.
Bucket idea #3: Share what you’re writing
I felt it was important to showcase parts of my manuscript.
A large part of my memoir has to do with my brother, so I shared scenes related to him. I realized I had so many stories to tell, I started a spin-off Substack called Stories About My Brother.
Also, The time my dad got shot was a highly engaged newsletter that got a lot of views.
I know you might be thinking, I can’t share parts of my book. Yes, you can.
Unless you’ve already got a deal with a publisher who tells you not to share (which is weird because wouldn’t it make sense for a publisher to encourage you to do whatever gets more eyeballs on you and your book?) you should absolutely share parts of your book.
I was recently listening to this episode of Write-Minded (fast-forward to the end where Brooke and Grant talk about “book trends”). It validated my thinking about how publishers want to see that you’re building an audience (gaining likes and followers) through your writing.
If you’re really against this, you could also share something that is related to a specific part of your book. Write about how you felt when you wrote it—did it spark fond memories? Did you cry? Did it give you motivation? Why?
Think about how you will share
Try and start with the end goal in mind. After you write your blog, post your Instagram, write your Facebook post on your author page, how will you promote it? It’s really helpful when you work backwards.
Perhaps you see lots of questions about something in one of your Facebook groups or on LinkedIn. Or maybe a specific topic is trending (ChatGPT) and you want to give your unique perspective on it. Where will you go to share it?
For me, it made sense to join relevant writing or author groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to share my stuff. This happened rather organically as I was attending a lot of writing groups and classes regularly.
I naturally joined these groups on Facebook and as I wrote weekly newsletters in my Substack, I started sharing in those groups. People saw what I wrote and started subscribing to my Substack or commenting on my posts.
I mainly use LinkedIn & Twitter
Beyond Facebook groups, I had no interest in discovering new and clever ways to promote my posts. After all, I had a manuscript to finish (and still do!).
So what I did was focus on the channels I was already kind of active on. I mentioned this in last week’s newsletter.
For me, it’s LinkedIn and Twitter. I also cross-publish relevant Substack posts on my professional website too.
My thinking is: just go with what you know and double down on that. I joined a few writer groups on LinkedIn and share my posts there too. This makes way more sense for me than starting a brand new TikTok account and spending time trying to figure that out. (Although I’ve heard TikTok is now where a lot of book publishers and agents live!)
So, start with one channel or platform—whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Substack, or your own website.
To this day, I still don’t post anything about my memoir on Instagram, and despite lots of encouragement from others, I don’t use TikTok. It’s not that I don’t want to try something new, and by all means, if you want to, you should go for it!
But for me, I don’t want to feel more overwhelmed. Maybe one day I will. But for now, I’m okay with my marketing strategy and I’m enjoying it, which is the most important part. (Yes, I actually like writing these long-ass Substacks! 😁)
You could snap a few photos and write a few snappy captions or poetry or show off your wordsmithing on Instagram or Facebook each week or two.
What I leave you with
It’s so cliche but true—this stuff takes time and consistency. Come up with a schedule, whether it’s weekly or two times a month.
If you’re short on time and know you can’t commit to writing long pieces, try opening a free Substack account and record your voice using their podcast tool. Share insights or things that are happening in your life or related to your book.
My biggest pieces of advice
Figure out your content buckets.
Choose a channel or platform. (Start with what you know, if this part overwhelms you.)
If you have questions or want to learn more, I’m thinking of doing an AMA (ask me anything) over Zoom. Then, once I understand what the biggest questions are, I can curate a webinar or another newsletter to address your questions.
Feel free to keep the conversation going in the comments.