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How to reach your audience: marketing and self-promotion basics

You’ve identified your target audience and found out what they like to do. Now it’s time to come up with your tactics — the ways in which you’ll reach and engage with them. The most important thing to remember is that effective promotion and engagement means that you won’t be constantly in sales mode. Audiences today are sick of being sold to. They want to be engaged by interesting content, meaningful interactions, or valuable information. No matter what you do, make sure it fits into one of those three criteria.

A website or blog

This is the first place you should start when building your self-promotion plan. As an author, you are now your own business, which means people need to be able to find you and your books online. Whether you choose to create a website, blog, or both is up to you. If you don’t have any web-building experience, consider using user-friendly options like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. Make sure to purchase your own domain name as well.

Mailing lists

This is a great way to keep in touch with your audience and is especially attractive to publishers. If you’re planning to crowdfund, every member on your mailing list is a potential supporter. The hard part, of course, is to get people to join the list. To do this, you’ll need to offer them something they’re interested in. This could be a weekly short story, a roundup of interesting, curated information from the web, or special offers and discounts.

Other blogs

A great way to reach new readers is to borrow the audience from another blog. There are a ton of blogs out there that are open to guest posts. Make sure to find the ones that suit your audience, and then craft a compelling pitch. If you already have your own blog, you can offer to do an exchange, which can be another great way to draw new people to your own site. If you’ve already written your book, you can also build a list of bloggers who review independent writers and pitch them your book.

Social media

This is the first place most people start. Many social platforms can be great places to make immediate and engaging connections with your readers. Make sure to include links to your social accounts in your email signature and on your website or blog. Content should generally be original thoughts, observations, or blog posts and content from the web that you think your audience would enjoy. If you’re less experienced online, don’t sign up for more than two platforms.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular platforms and how to use them:

Going offline

There’s no reason to confine all your self-promotion tactics to online activities. Here are a few more things to consider:

  • Start a podcast. It’s just like a blog, but in audio form.
  • Speak at industry-relevant conferences. These can be great places to sell books, especially if you’re a nonfiction writer.
  • Traditional networking. Join meetups and clubs, and attend events. It never hurts to pound the pavement and hand out business cards.