Article marketing allows authors to do more of what they love -- writing -- and less of what many don't -- talking. Is it a fit for you?
Are you looking for a free way to reach more readers with information about your book? One that lets you do more of what you’re good at — writing? And that lets you leverage what you’ve already written?
One of the most efficient ways to promote your book online is through “article marketing.” With this tactic, you write and share short, informative, bylined articles related to your book’s topic.
“Share” means publishing the articles on:
- Your website
- Article directory sites that others use to find content for their newsletters, websites, and blogs
- Blogging sites such as Medium
- Other websites as guest blog posts or site content
Why article marketing works
The articles you write for this purpose aren’t about you or your book. They aren’t overtly promotional. This is editorial content, not advertising. Think newspaper article, not advertisement.
Instead, you’re providing a preview of sorts of what people need to know from your book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
As an example, here’s one of my evergreen articles published on the article directory site, Ezinearticles.com: “6 Surefire Ways to Promote Your Novel.”
Here’s what’s in it for you:
- Each article includes an author resource box — “about the author” — at the end. I recommend that authors include a one-to-two-sentence bio, website URL, book title, and a call to action. That might be “Learn more about the book on [retail site of your choice URL]” or “Sign up for my free and helpful weekly newsletter at [newsletter sign up (opt-in) page on your site].” When others use your article, they’re required to include that resource box.
- Links back to your site in the article or reource box help with SEO — search engine optimization — which relates to search engines finding your site.
- You’re helping your target audience see what they might get from your book, which could make them more inclined to buy it.
- The helpful information you provide in the article helps position you as an expert, which boosts credibility and makes readers more likely to buy your book.
Rather write than talk?
I’m a big fan of article marketing for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a good fit for authors who would rather write a helpful article about a topic they know well than talk about it on a podcast or to a reporter. And it’s a solitary act that you can do on your own schedule, at your convenience.
But I also love how it lets authors re-purpose existing content. Not only do you use your book’s content for inspiration and text (see below), but you can also alter an article several different ways and post it in different directories or offer it to multiple blogs or websites.
Don’t publish the same article in multiple places, though, because Google doesn’t like that. It won’t help your SEO. Instead, rewrite each article slightly:
- Change the headline
- Write a new first paragraph
- Reorder any bullet points
- Tweak the last paragraph so your conclusion has the same message but said differently
What to write about
Not sure what to write about? Let these five suggestions for identifying article topics inspire you. (WARNING: Once you get started, you might have trouble stopping).
1. Study the chapter subheads in your table of contents.
How many of them would make good mini-articles? Most, probably.
For example, I can turn the subhead “Identifying what’s newsworthy” in Chapter 2 of my book Publicity for Nonprofits into a how-to article.
2. Review your sample author Q&A from your online press kit.
Review your online press kit sample questions and answers. Which stand out as good instructional topics?
You won’t want to write an article answering, “Why did you write this book?”
But your answer to “Your novel’s characters have such interesting names. How did you decide what to name them?” could easily be expanded into an interesting piece on the significance of character names in fiction and how authors select them.
3. Think about the questions you get asked most when doing media, podcast, or blog interviews, or when speaking to groups.
Answer those questions in informative articles that will showcase your expertise and generate interest in your book.
If you’ve written a memoir, for example, people probably ask how you handle references to others in your book, especially if they’re depicted in an unflattering way. Turn your answer to that question into an informative and interesting article that also offers insights into your personal story and might intrigue readers enough to buy your book.
4. Find the nonfiction nuggets in your fiction and use them as idea springboards.
What are the nonfiction gems in your fiction? Did you shadow a police officer while researching your mystery? Write about the essential steps law enforcement officers use to stay safe in dangerous situations and how the rest of us can incorporate them to stay safe, too.
Is your protagonist a black belt in karate? Write an article or essay about the advantages of studying martial arts.
The possibilities are almost endless if you’re open to seeing how your fictional elements can be helpful in the “real” world.
5. Convert your blog posts – especially those that generated lots of comments – into articles.
It won’t take much more work, will it? Some of them might require little effort to become freestanding articles while others might need to be expanded.
I do this on Medium.com (and need to do more of it). Here’s one example: “The definitive guide to handling negative book reviews.”
Article marketing resources
If you’re not familiar with these types of articles, read through several at a syndication site such as Ezinearticles.com. You’ll see quickly what content is useful and what isn’t. (Type my name into the search box to see how I used this directory in the past.)
Not an article writer? I’ve included a template that guides you through the bylined article-writing process in my workbook for authors, Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates. It will help you get up and running with this process as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve got a few articles written, start the online submission process with a handful of the sites on this submission site list.
Don’t expect to see a sudden surge in book sales, though. Building reader awareness takes time and requires using multiple tactics consistently.
Article marketing, if it’s a good fit for you and your book, should be one of several tactics in your book marketing plan.
Are you using article marketing to promote your book? Has it helped? Please share your experiences by commenting below!
(Editor’s note: This article was first published in May 2012. It has been updated and expanded.)
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