Greetings, authors and friends! 👋
Joe Walters here. This is my first book marketing blog post with you all, so I’m going to make it real spicy. A cup of chili flakes. A pound of Frank’s Red Hot. A whole heaping pile of marketing advice for you to think about, act on, and reap the benefits of. S-P-I-C-Y.
Today, I’ll be talking about the benefits and processes of guest posts for authors, from benefits to pitfalls to how to get it done. Instead of rambling on for another few minutes (which trust me, I could do), I’m just gonna jump right into it.
In order to make yourself known to a specific publication’s fan-base, an author may choose to write a unique blog post or article so that the publication will publish it on their websites, magazines, newsletters, and more.
When you submit your book for potential review or interview to a publication, you should recognize that you are submitting your book alongside many, many others—including those published by Penguin, MacMillan, and a whole bunch of other publishing giants. It is absolutely one-million-percent worth it to try to get book reviews and interviews, but after submitting for a while, you may start to notice that you’ll either need to research even more potential review outlets or try something new. Instead of spending the time doing that media research for the 5th time, I would recommend writing a guest post or guest article for an outside publication.
Why You Should Do It
You need to expand your reach. Right now, you likely have a set number of people who you can show your book’s sales pages to: social media followers, newsletter subscribers, blog followers, and forum and group members. If you’ve been doing a good job of providing regular and strategic content to those fans, that’s great. But however much they love your new content, they may have already bought your book, so their fandom is great but it is not increasing your sales.
That’s why you need to brainstorm different ways that you can bring new followers to you. Oftentimes, that’s in the form of publicity through book reviews and interviews, but since you will NOT be reviewed or interviewed in each platform you pitch, you’re going to reach a point where you feel like you're grasping at straws. Instead of that, let's give guest posts for authors its due consideration, shall we?
If you write and publish a guest post about a relevant topic on another publication’s website, here are a few things that could happen:
- The publication may tag you on social media, alerting their followers that they can follow you too.
- You can leave your most often-used social media link or “@...” in your bio, and readers can choose to follow you if they liked your post.
- You can leave your book title in the bio, as well as your website link (if allowed).
- You can link within the post to a post you wrote on your personal website, sending readers clicking to your site
- You can write a catchy title that is often searched on Google (including a good keyword), and it can appear on the first page of Google for hundreds of people per day. That means new visitors visit that blog post long after the actual publication date of the post
- In your future bios, you can include any big-name publications that you place a post with. If you say your work has been featured in Buzzfeed, LitHub, etc., the people who read the back cover of your next book will feel like you are a validated (note the capitalization) Writer.
- You can write a blog post that is related to your book’s content, both fiction and nonfiction, which may or may not actually give you reign to link something about your book in the post itself.
- While rare, it is definitely possible that a reader enjoys reading your work so much that they see your book in the bio and buy it. But keep in mind that it usually takes more than just one thing for a person to decide to buy a book; that’s where your social media, reviews, interviews, & accolades will help convince them to hit purchase.
Possible Pitfalls About Writing Guest Posts
Before you keep going, you should know that guest posts and guest articles are not sure-fire ways to increase your reach—although, if you keep doing it, it’s pretty darn close to it.
You may spend a lot of time writing your guest post. You may have to do research, find appropriate links, pitch to publications, and realize that people either don’t want to publish your work, don’t want to answer you (most common), or don’t have an audience that will really increase your reach that much. One non-book-buying social media follower for a few hours of work may not feel like a good return on time investment.
But still, if you write enough of these, you will see a return—I’m sure of it.
Writing & Publishing Guest Posts
First, you’re going to want to figure out what you can write about. Start first with topics that are at least loosely related to your book’s topic, keywords, and categories. If you write fiction, focus in on reading-focused blog posts or writing-focused blog posts specific to your genre. After that, dig into the topics/themes that your book features prominently and ask yourself if you’d be willing to speak on them. If you write nonfiction, focus first on the topics and subjects that your book features prominently. You should have plenty of directions you could take this, from something you learned in research or something active in your field that you know and can talk about. Book and movie listicles could work in your favor too.
After you’ve assembled that list, try to brainstorm around three blog post titles that you’d be willing to write for each topic. Most blogs and publications are looking for content that includes multiple subheadings throughout (like this or this), so try to include phrases like “10 Great…” “How to…” etc. It might not hurt to consider if the topic you’re writing about would have an often-searched keyword in it either, like “10 Insightful Books About Writing” or “What You Need to Know About George Washington History.”
Once you have your list of potential blog post titles, it’s time to research. Start finding your way around publications that publish material for the audience you’re trying to reach. You can add the platforms who didn’t answer your review pitches, and you can add to your list by pinpointing your audience and going to the websites where they frequent.
How to Send Your Pitch
After you have your list of publications who might be interested in a few of your posts, it’s time to pitch.
But, wait, Joe—you didn’t tell us to write the blog post yet!
Good eye, random hypothetical author. You do NOT need to write the post before you pitch. Matter of fact, you actually don’t want to. You want to email the publication with multiple options they can choose from. Instead of writing a bunch of unpublished blog posts, all you need is a few titles.
Subject line: Would you be interested in a guest post about
- Direct address: Always personalize for each email.
Para 1: Greet and introduce yourself as an author. Thank them for being an outlet for
to get to know important topics like .
Para 2: Ask them, “Are you open to guest posts at
? I would love the opportunity to contribute to your site with a blog post tentatively titled the following:
- “10 Ways to Be a Better Flyfisherman”
- “How to Use a
- “The history of Flyfishing in Pennsylvania”
Para 3: “Would you be interested in publishing any of those blog posts? Just let me know which one you’d be most excited about, and I’ll get it ready for you within
.” Thank them for the opportunity and let them know that they can ask any questions they’d like.
What to do if your guest post is accepted
Dance! Then write, I guess. Revise. Edit. All the stuff that makes you happy to be a writer.
When you send your draft back to the contact who asked for it, include a separate attachment for your 4-5 sentence author bio that has a link to your website or most often-used social media account. Mention your book in the bio. Also attach an author photo for if they choose to use it.
When the post is published, share that thing on your social media feeds! Pop it into your newsletter. Thank the outlet for publishing it and then add the new publication to your website.
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About the Author
Joe Walters is the friendly neighborhood marketing guy at Sunbury Press. He is also the founder of Independent Book Review and a book marketing specialist at Paper Raven Books. In his free time, he enjoys working on his novel, taking road trips, and trusting the process. He tweets at @joewalters13.