Like me, Ringo Starr’s never measured pie in pieces. There’s no bigger piece of the pie, simply endless ingredients for limitless pie. This kind of collaboration’s evident in a number of libraries that offer writers opportunities to showcase their craft, reading from both published and unpublished work. At the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) it was called New Voices; now it’s Writers Showcase, featuring both emerging and established writers. Four or five writers read in turn. There’s opportunity for Q&A and readers’ publications are available for sale. This happens several times a year. In addition, many libraries actively support Indie authors, buying and promoting self-published books. Authors can apply for royalty equivalents through Canada Council for the Arts’ Public Lending Right Program.
Whether discovered online or in person, writing groups continue to be an excellent means of learning, sharing resources, further establishing brand and providing opportunities to sell more books. Many people even use short form content on Instagram and the like to help promote in this way (especially after looking into advice from The Small Business Blog and its contemporaries). It’s fun and supportive. Everyone’s innovative when it comes to promotion. One of my writing circle colleagues would set up a table of books at craft fairs and swap meets, giving a slice of cake to every book buyer. (“Angel food works best!” she says. And she’d never even heard my pie analogy.) The second edition of her memoir sold over five thousand copies without social media.
Another group member credits his strong sales to a perpetual online presence – promoting his young adult fiction through Amazon, Goodreads, and an active website. Partial proceeds to charity bolster his success. Others in the group don’t want the personal visibility that can come with social media. Author websites, on the other hand, can provide greater anonymity. But all agree a strong network of email contacts remains the surest way to reach a readership and prospective book buyers, particularly for subsequent publications. When it comes to network contacts and brand building, email is ownership, social media is nothing more than a short-term rental. However, it may not be the same when it comes to business branding where platforms like Instagram can aid well in amplifying the products to the targeted audience. Marketers often make use of growth services like Ampfluence (check Ampfluence for Instagram reviews) and Nitreo to improve their social media presence and engagement rate.
Private functions, guest readings and literary events, promoted through email and social media – e-posters, announcements and invitations – have consistently been my most effective means of brand building, promotion and book sales, with both traditional and self-published work. Pick the venue based on you and your readership – class it up or make it funky – whatever fits.
Like most of us, technology’s cut my attention span, so whether I’m attending or hosting, I want a well-paced program. Collaboration and multimedia are the best means of delivering this, music and visual art to accompany a reading of your written word. Your presence – your brand – grows, the whole greater than component parts. People want to take part; to hold a memento. Promotion brings us together. A book is our tangible takeaway.
Like it or not, social media’s essential to any author wanting to build brand, promote their work and sell books. As with any tech it represents greater efficiency and increased effectiveness. But never allow it to replace what best represents your brand as a writer. And that’s you.
Originally published by Authors Publish Magazine and the Federation of BC Writers.
Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the Gone Viking travel memoirs (Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, Gone Viking III: The Holy Grail) and A Season on Vancouver Island. He’s won numerous book awards and received a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.