In another in her series of very helpful posts, Judy Cullins talked about driving traffic to a writer’s site by offering giveaways. I’ve thought a lot about this and have decided I’m two things: a true bashful Canadian and a reluctant marketer.
Canadians are famous for self-deprecation. From birth we are taught to put ourselves last in a way that seems to make us feel just a bit inferior. As though our ideas, accomplishments and even looks may not be as good as others’. When we travel, people in foreign lands tell us Canadians are just so nice and, whether it’s true or not, we bask in the praise, smiling in our best ‘aw, shucks’ manner.
And writers. Well writers just mostly want to write. We don’t want to spend weeks on promo tours, and cocktail parties can be their own personal hell, about as bad for some as sitting for hours, pen in hand, making small talk with gushing readers. We writers are a bit shy and a lot secretive about our abilities or lack of same.
We don’t think we have anything to give away that anyone would want, so how can we attract readers to our site with freebies?
Here are 7 skills writers most likely have:
- We know grammar. We can explain in great detail exactly when to use it’s and its. Looking at life all around me, I see that this skill is sadly lacking. How about a short primer on grammar rules?
- We understand about connotation and denotation of words. None of my friends would ever describe herself as fat, but I’ve heard pleasingly plump and wrinkle free more than a few times. Writers get that, and can easily teach proper word choice to get the effect wanted.
- Research is part and parcel of our writing game. We know all the library tricks, in the actual building and online, to help searchers find what they want. I’ve seen writers blog about amazing research sites they’ve found. A how-to for finding such things as town plans in the 1800s or the intricacies of skinning a raccoon might be a small freebie to offer on your site.
- Letter writing is rarely a sought-after skill these days, but certain types of letters will always be in demand, whether they be written on paper or via email. I’ve received several emails where nothing is wrong with the subject matter but the organization and tone of the writing leave me gritting my teeth. Perhaps writers could offer letter templates for certain situations. I mean everyone has to have a Dear John letter in their arsenal. Or how about a love letter a la Cyrano de Bergerac?
- Writers can offer templates for tools other writers might need. Character sheets, plot arcs and timelines are some of the rudimentary tools new writers need and more established writers are always anxious to see how someone else writes. Try putting a link to freebie forms on your site.
- Writers need to develop an inner ear and an observant eye. Write a comparison of how writers look at the world around them as compared to the way most people do. This might be accompanied by work sheets as well, if your brain leads you in that direction.
- Readers love to know some of the background behind the novel they’ve loved. Prepare a download of tidbits about your books and your challenges in writing them, and offer them to readers for free.
Of course all of these skills are marketable, if a writer has the time and inclination, but we must do what works best for us. Check out Judy Cullins’ site as she is a great marketer. Even if you use just one of her suggestions, you’ve moved ahead.
How do you market yourself and your books? What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do as a writer to move ahead? Consider leaving a comment to add to the discussion, especially if you have more suggestions to add to my list.