Monday, November 7, 2016

How Authors Can Market Themselves Using 140 Characters Or 80,000 Words

Writers have to be good not only at crafting a book that could easily be 40,000 – 80,000 words.  They need to be proficient at writing a Facebook post of around 100 or so words, a Tweet that is no longer than 140 characters, or an op-ed piece of around 750 words.  Toss in by-line articles, guest posts, and your blog and you can see how authors are tested by varying lengths, mediums, deadlines, and content styles.  But for today’s writer-turned-marketer, he or she must be aware of the ins and outs on how to write for others when it’s not a book.

Let’s explore these areas and what needs to be considered when writing content that moves book sales, brands you, and provides a platform to voice your views and ideas.

1.      Twitter
It would appear one can’t say a lot with 140 characters, and yet you can.  One way to say more is to include a link that allows you to use video, audio, or written content to give you a real voice.  Another way is to use a frequency of tweets to get out a message.  But the best thing to do is to write with humor, intellect, and insight that gives people the feeling you have credibility and conviction.

2.      Facebook
Same as Twitter, though your post can be longer than 140 characters.

3.      Guest Blog Posts
The key is to write with the blog’s demographics and network in mind – to provide that particular group of followers something they’d find of value and would feel compelled to share through their social media connections.

4.      Your Blog
You have a lot of freedom with your blog, from content and style, to length, and frequency of posts.  The key is consistency, to create in a certain persona and to strive to present a strong voice that’s clearly identified as yours.

5.      Op-Eds
Knowing the magazine or newspaper is key.  Commenting on an area you are uniquely qualified is a must.  The topic should be directly relevant to their readers and timely.  Go for around 150 words.  Be forceful and pick a side – but quote stats and reputable resources to back it up.

6.      Byline Articles
Similar to op-eds, the editor of the publication will suggest a length, usually 750-1200 words.  Pick a topic that not only interests them in giving you an opportunity but that fills the needs of that outlet’s readers.  Further, you want the opportunity to plug your book and site and to be able to reference the article for credibility purposes.

7.      Email
Email needs to do several things – get a point across without being too long.  If you need to debate or explain something – or want to avoid a paper trail – make a phone call instead.  Your email, if used for the media, should be attachment-free and the subject line should grab you but be free of spamming terms like, sex, free or buy.  Remember to spell-check, proofread, and use normal punctuation.  Follow the rules of grammar even if the masses are sloppy.

8.      Online Comments
You have to choose a side, so either support what you comment on or oppose it.  Do either carefully, as you don’t want to piss off too many people or hurt your brand.  Always come off as someone who understands and feels for both sides but explain why you support what you are championing.  Don’t feel obligated to comment on things that are too controversial or could blow up in your face.  You only get to write two short sentences for comments to people's posts.

9.      Letters-to-the-Editor
I’m an avid letter-to-the-editor writer.  I comment on things I feel strongly about and that relate to my brand.  See my clips here:  The Washington Post letter covers freedom of speech on campus.  A Daily News letter covers Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize.  You can do the same – get out a strong message on a topic that furthers people’s impression of you as an expert.  Most letters need to be short –  60 to 120 words.  You need to use an economy of words, reference an article/op-ed/letter or byline piece that this publication published, and share support for it or opposition to it.  Conclude with a strong sentence that sounds like a slogan to live by.

10.  Website copy
Your website copy should be organized in a straight forward, user-friendly way.  Don’t go crazy on flashy things, distracting sections, font that’s too small or background or letters that make it hard to read.  Rely on words, videos, audio and links to tell your story.  Update it regularly.  It’s your living business card, resume, and portfolio – so make sure everything is current, accurate, and positive. 

Whatever writing you undertake, be sure to think about honoring deadlines and meeting the standards or norms for that particular medium.  Make sure you don’t lose people with your jargon but do be sure to pepper in relevant SEO terms.  Headlines, subject lines, opening sentences and concluding sentences matter more than what’s in between.

With all of these different formats, one thing holds true:  you must capture people’s interest with the words you choose and the ideas you present.  You are a writer no matter who you write for, whether you get paid or not.  Always do your best to write under the limitations demanded by the medium.  Good writing will consistently stick out, whether it’s a tweet or full-length book.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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