Marketing Myself as a Writer

Having finally accepted the inevitable fact that I’m going to self-publish my first novel in November, I’ve started to think about marketing and have been doing some research into marketing my blog. (I’m working under the assumption that the more readers I have of my blog, the more likely some of them will buy one of my books to read.)

The Bloodsuckers is part of my marketing campaign. I made it a weekly serial story to get people to come to my blog regularly and/or subscribe. Also, it’s a way to show off my talents (such as they are) as a writer. The thought is, if someone knows they like something I’ve written, they’re more likely to pay to read something new. The risk of buying something crappy is diminished when they’re reasonably confident they like what I write.

And lastly, when I started writing The Bloodsuckers, I was struggling to keep my blog updated regularly. By setting a goal of one episode per week, I guaranteed that I had fresh content on my blog at least once a week. (The longer your blog is dormant, the more likely you are to lose your readers.)

But I can’t implement one thing and stop. It’s time to try some new ideas.

You may have noticed that I’ve redone my blog theme. Again. Part of that is because I get bored looking at the same thing all the time, and part of it came from tips from A-List Blogging Bootcamps, which talks about the benefit of light and simple–not to mention an image (or text style) which can become part of your brand. So my new look was born out of that. As usual, I’m not permanently committed to it, so feel free to comment about whether you like it or not.

Something else that Bootcamps talks about is not being too specific. While to a theme (or three) is necessary, too narrow a focus keeps reader numbers low. Kristen Lamb speaks specifically to me when she says that writers should not write about writing exclusively. Which isn’t to say you can’t use your blog to talk about your writing or to help others write, but that should only be one theme out of two or three–not the entire thing.

She said a romance writer she worked with got much better results from her blog when she expanded it to include her interests in cooking and wine; many more people like cooking and wine than writing. She also points out that other writers are the worst audience to market to; we don’t actually buy a lot of other people’s stuff. You need to market yourself to the people who read the sort of things you write.

This makes total sense to me. So now I need to brainstorm. What hobbies and interests do I have outside of writing?

Medieval re-enacting and Judaism

Is that it? Is that how I spend my non-work hours? Writing, re-enacting, and studying Torah?

Yes. (God knows I don’t spend my time cleaning house or cooking.)

This is not going terribly well. You’re supposed to expand your theme into things which have a wider audience. Fewer people do medieval re-enacting than try their hand at writing a novel. And given that Jews are 0.18% of the world’s population, that’s hardly a large audience.

So let’s look at this from a different angle: what sorts of non-fiction things would my fiction readers like to read? Well, that’s a bit of a tricky question as I’m now writing in more than one genre.

  • Vampire readers. I have The Bloodsuckers available, so there’s already something there to keep them coming back for more.
  • Historical romance readers. Here, my medieval research and re-enacting will probably be interesting. Even if they don’t do it themselves, it can add to their knowledge and appreciation of what they’re reading. So more posts on medieval stuff.
  • Fantasy readers. People I know who like to read fantasy seem to spend a lot of their time reading and doing their own writing. And I already have that covered.
  • Contemporary romance readers. Hell, I don’t know. I’ve written exactly one contemporary romance and my protagonist was a writer by hobby and her love interest was a painter–so I’m not exactly going far from shore, there.

My problem is that I’m not a normal person with normal interests. I like to watch documentaries and anime. I like to read about life-hacking and traditional skills. I’m a Deist who believes God is at work in my life. I like a clean house, but hate cleaning it.

How in the hell do you make a theme or two out of such different, often contradictory things?

The posts that get the most traffic on my blog rarely have anything to do with writing in general, or my writing specifically; most of my traffic comes either from my personal challenges (using a standing desk, beating procrastination) or totally random things like Mardi Gras and my idea for a Pandora for Art. And, I must admit, I write those posts when I feel like I don’t have anything better to say.

So how do I harness the power of my own randomness? How do I bottle my renaissance woman persona with my interest in a little bit of everything?

Maybe that needs to be my blog’s tagline: Keri Peardon, The Random, 14th Century Renaissance Woman.


4 comments on “Marketing Myself as a Writer

  1. wrmcnutt says:

    “How in the hell do you make a theme or two out of such different, often contradictory things?

    So how do I harness the power of my own randomness? How do I bottle my renaissance woman persona with my interest in a little bit of everything?”

    Well, topless photos seems to work for an awful lot of women.

    • keripeardon says:

      I said MY interest in a little bit of everything, not YOUR interest in my little bits. But I’ll let my husband know you’re asking for topless pictures of me, Master William.

  2. Wallace says:

    Well, you actually do have other interests. Besides the one shots about the standing desk and the several shots about procrastination, you also had a series about list making, dieting, exercising and walking to work, and even a post about setting priorities in life. I’d guess offhand that about a fifth to a fourth of your posts have nothing to do with writing.

    And that’s a good thing. Most people don’t want to read about the same thing all the time. Even if it’s a blog dedicated to, say, food, readers don’t want to read about just food all the time. They are interested in advice one might have about shopping, or utensils, or even amusing anecdotes about people one meets while scouring the stores for just that right whisk.

    I’m not sure how you could write interestingly on things that are peripheral to writing. No one goes out to buy paper or pens or typewriter ribbons anymore, instead they just stay home hunched over their computer screen. The only interaction writers have is with other writers and, eventually, if they are lucky, with editors and publishers and publicists and other publishing people.

    You might try writing about just general things that attract your attention and you feel the need to say something about them. That’s what I do on my Facebook Notes that I write. It’s just sort of a collection of essays on whatever I’m thinking about at the moment. I’ve written reviews of TV shows, expressed opinions on politics, wrote about my week on jury duty, and even the time my GPS tried to kill me. I’m pretty sure nobody reads any of them, or at least nobody ever comments on them, but I’m not really trying to cultivate a following.

    All I want to do is to convert my thoughts on some matter into a coherent essay that I feel expresses my opinion on said matter. If people read it and enjoy it, all the better, but I’m not expecting my writing to gather a flock of followers who avidly await my next post.

    My main problem is that I, for the most part, only post my essays on the Notes section of my Facebook page. This severely limits the number of people who can read them since I only have about 135 friends and most of them don’t really care what I write since they aren’t going to read anything over a few lines or a funny picture. I do have a Live Journal page that I transfer them to eventually, just to make them available to the general public, but I suspect no one even knows it’s there.

    The only way you are going to get a much broader readership is to get some publicity for your blog. And the way to do that is to get people who have lots of readers for their blog to mention your blog. Other than flat out bribery or having friends with successful blogs mention you, you might try posting replies to the more famous and widely read blogs. If you can think of something witty and clever to say that makes a good point on those blogs, and include a reference to your blog in your post, it might get some of the readers of those blogs to check out your blog.

    I think you’ve already done well with the vampire serial by publishing it on Smashwords, which should get you some readers on your blog who want to keep up with the latest episodes. Your short story on Amazon is certainly helping, but unless it’s in the top 100 or even top 1,000 stories, it’s doubtful anybody is going to find it except by chance, and, sadly, right now, nobody is searching for works by your name.

    The best advice I can give you is to just write about whatever strikes you fancy that day. If you made a new costume for the Middle Ages, write about how you looked up a picture of it, created a pattern from the picture, bought just the right fabric, and then sewed it up and wore it to the next event. Or maybe you had a particularly funny, or tragic, run in at work and you just wanted to share what happened. Or even just write a post about something your cats did that you found amusing. You could even write a post that expands on the reply you gave me about women in Judaism and how their role has changed, or not, through the ages.

    Whatever you write, do a good job of writing and put your actual thoughts and feelings into it and I’m sure you’ll build your readership. Everybody likes something that is well written and insightful, especially if it’s free.

    • keripeardon says:

      Actually, a lot of your advice is the same or similar to what I’ve been reading by successful bloggers:

      Read other people’s blogs and comment.
      Link to other people’s blogs (they usually get a notice of a pingback, and will often follow it; if they like it, they may recommend it on their blog).

      And, specifically for authors: make posts which are personal in order to connect to your readers on a more emotional level. It makes them feel like they know you.

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