Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What’s In a Name?

Think of something you’ve enjoyed reading. Do you remember who wrote it? If it was good, you probably took note of the name so you can read more of that writer’s work. Or you might hear about a writer somewhere who sounds interesting and want to find something they’ve read. Either way, the writer’s name is now familiar to you, and you look forward to reading or finding out more about him or her.

Name recognition is crucial for a writer of any kind to draw and keep readers. Of course, first the writing has to be so good it makes people want to read whatever you write. But you can be a fabulous writer and no one will ever know if you make no effort to publish or publicize.

Different types of writers have different opportunities to get name recognition, but here are a few ways to ‘build your brand’, as they say:

    Do readings at appropriate venues. Download the app for finding local reading venues and other literary events from Poets & Writers.

    Write a guest post for a blog in your subject area. To pitch an idea to them, be sure you are familiar with their themes and style, that it is appropriate for your work and will attract your core readers. This might mean some online research to find the appropriate blogs of interest. Explore the blog, notice if it posts regularly or not, subscribe if you like it. You will soon have a clear idea what they are about. If you don't like it, then unsubscribe. If you do like it, then you are building your own network of information sharing.

When you pitch a post idea to a blog, be sure it is well-written, on a topic relevant to the blog, factually correct, and original material with quotes and references to anything that is not original. As a guest blogger you are introducing yourself to a whole new group of readers who, if they like what you've written, might click on the link to your blog or site, purchase your book, or remember your name when they next see it.
    Write reviews for books or movies that would appeal to your potential readers. Your name, title and contact information at the end of a well-written review will certainly be noted by potential avid readers.

    Comment on posts in your subject areas. Participating in an online community under your own name can slowly build your reputation as a credible source of good information well-delivered with integrity, humor or your quirky slant that might appeal to others. Having given freely of your expertise for a while, your sharing of a new book or a link to an article will be well-received rather than seen as sales promotion.

When commenting, try to post early so that more readers have a chance to read it before they move on to other articles or get bored with the conversation when it veers off topic, as often happens. And please don’t be the person that takes it off course or makes snarky comments.

    If your topic is pertinent to current news, be sure to write letters to the editor, using your full name, city and the name of your book if you have one. Publications have easy online or email ways to quickly submit your letter. Write the moment you read the article.

    If your work has a visual component, consider drawing people in with Instagram. If you have a pithy way of saying things that people want to hear, build your name recognition with Twitter.

    If you have a book published, give it a website and/or Facebook page so people can find you. Keep it up to date with readings and radio interviews. Encourage comments and answer the comments in a friendly way.

    Develop an email list of your faithful followers. Even if you are on Twitter and Facebook, not everyone is, so you’ll want to keep building your email list to let people know your latest publishing successes, give links to purchase publications and share your calendar of events. Get in the habit of taking pertinent interesting photos to include in your mailings, tweets and posts. Use MailChimp or Constant Contact to send out attractive mailings for free.

    Never assume your friends and family know what you are up to. Make sure everyone is getting your information, and make sure they have the ability to share it with their friends.

One of the biggest mistakes writers make is assuming that their writing alone will make them known. Publishers want writers who already have a following and know how to publicize their work. Is that you? I hope so! If not, let’s talk.

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