If you’ve ever visited a farmer’s market, chances are you’ve sampled free cheese from one of their stalls. The cheesemaker is offering a sample of their work to get you interested. Are you an author that does the same?
Plenty of authors buckle under the pressure of writing a book for their chosen field. As the dust settles after the emotional turmoil of getting published, marketing the sucker is the next big battle to face.
And I’m telling you to give it away for free?
Well, not everything. Many authors and publishers provide the first chapter as a way to captivate readers. But even that needs a hook for readers to even try. Which is why as a new author, you can’t be writing for work that only guarantees pay. You need to offer some work for free to build your fanbase and improve your writing. And the internet has amazing opportunities to do so. Read on.
Free eBooks and email marketing
You may have seen plenty of websites asking for your email address in exchange for a free eBook. This a marketing ploy designed to incentivise customers, provide their email address and download a handy PDF.
How would this help you? Well, this gives you a chance to spread your creative wings.
Yes, you could offer the first chapter of your book, but write a free eBook with new material that relates to the topic of your book. It could offer potential customers the chance to see how far your talents reach. And you can embrace the model to create short stories that captivate your readers. Or extend your knowledge of the non-fiction you’re writing that readers would lap up further.
And it doesn’t end there. Once you have their email address, you can offer even more flights of fancy by writing free weekly or monthly emails to your subscribers. Let them in on your day-to-day life or share interesting links you’ve found.
Seth Godin is a marketing executive and author who released a free eBook, Unleashing the Ideasvirus. In his blog post (seths.blog/2007/03/you_should_writ) he talks about the liberation in giving away free work. It entices new fans to his existing or upcoming publications.
Articles for Others
Building authority as an author is not left in isolation. Most of the time you need to build a rapport with other institutions. Bloggers, newspapers and magazines can be amazing opportunities to build your reputation as a writer.
Like Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear presenter. He built his writing prowess not only with extensive books centred around his large ego.
He offers quippy articles about motoring for the British newspaper The Sunday Times (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/profile/jeremy-clarkson?page=1) and opinion pieces for the tabloid The Sun (www.thesun.co.uk/author/jeremy-clarkson ). It helps that his celebrity status sells papers, but airing his musings through other mediums adds to his grouchy persona that people can relate to.
One thing to keep in mind is that social media was never intended to become a marketing tool for products. Facebook and Twitter executives needed to sell advertising to justify their salaries space, sure. But they always intended their platforms to become soapboxes for the masses.
And you, the writer, can take advantage.
As you’re writing shorter stories in your eBook and email marketing, use social media posts to create observations. What do you think about the elections? The cup of coffee you drank this morning? How would you describe the frozen lake?
You can even write your thoughts on books, movies and music that you discover. Share links to places of interest that your fans may like and trust.
Social media also provides fans with an opportunity to speak to you. They could sing praise or give insight to your work which you can discuss. Whatever they say, what a better way to improve your writing for your fans than asking them!
The point is that offering work for free isn’t a death trap to failure. Like the cheesemaker offering samples, a customer that enjoys the taste will return for more.
So keep writing and your fans will keep coming for more.