A few weeks ago, I wrote a review and interviewed Rachel McAlpine about her new book How to be old, a collection of poetry. It is an entertaining book I would recommend to anyone, young or old. It is a lesson in humility, honesty and positive attitude which depicts her proactive journey in living a happy, healthy and active extreme old age.
During my research, I came across Rachel’s blog, Write Into Life https://writeintolife.com/ and was struck at both the quality of the blog itself, but also by the polished and consistent image she had across various digital platforms. A lot of work and thought clearly went into this and I have been looking at what I could learn from this.
We can learn from her website. Write Into Life has a clear focus, it is built to be easy to navigate and focuses on three aspects of her work, her blog, her podcast and DIY aging. There is no fumbling and getting lost, the graphics are funny and drawn by Rachel herself. You do find links to the books she published, her three most recent books highlighted, followed by all her other publication. We also can email her directly (although I suspect this goes to her publisher first). The content is entertaining, updated regularly and something I enjoyed reading greatly.
This is for the description, what is more intriguing is the image she built across platforms. Whatever you read or hear, newspaper articles, blogs or interviews, the information remains consistent. There is a definite brand McAlpine with little deviation and I should not be surprised. After all, she was a pioneer in training other people to write for digital platforms. I have been wondering how can we could emulate such a polished and well-published status?
Few of us are salesman and we would rather write and contemplate than think about promoting our work or our books. Budding writers, especially in a small country like New Zealand can ill afford an agent. There is, as usual, a lot of self-help online. I would go further and wonder how much is expected or needed in this self-promotion race?
Tony Perrottet, in The New York Times goes as far as telling us writing the book to be published is the easiest part of the process and talks of ‘rabid self-promotion’, ‘literary whoring’ and ‘orgy of blogs, tweets and YouTube trailers’. Is it really necessary? Do we have to sell our souls to be successful? Reading further, it would seem likely. How else could we get noticed? Apparently, this is nothing new and famous writers did not hesitate to do so and names such as Hemingway, Steinbeck and Nabokov are mentioned in the article. You could go as far as ancient Greece to find writers’ self-promotion, a phenomenon which carried on through the ages. It is a fascinating article well worth the read.
But I digress and lost sight of my reality. It might be a little early for me to worry about this. We need to remain down to earth and start with the basics. Here is a few things I came across. One of the most down to earth advice came from BookBub. The sight strongly recommends building an author website and now we have played with WordPress, we all realise the powerful tool this can become. Here is their list of must have (click the links for more details)
- Books (with retailer links)
- Author bio (in the third person)
- Author headshot (with photographer credit)
- A way to get updates (via email and/or social media)
- A way to get in touch (with you or your publishing team)
They also have some handy tips on how to promote your book(s) online on multiple digital platforms. Their first advice is to make sure to use clever images. BookBub gives many ways of doing so showing props, clever displays, sneak peeks and more.
Another area to explore is found in Kindlepreneur, written by Dave Chelson, and his ultimate guide to Social Media for Writers 2020. He mentions Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest and gives the pros and cons of each platform. His advice is to use one platform and work hard on it rather than scatter your energy. Here is one of many pieces of advice from Kindlepreneur Youtube channel.
And one final site, The Creative Penn and its marketing page. This site really looks at a broad range of aspects of marketing and will help you refine your goals and targets. And a podcast from Joanna Penn for the road.