Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

Become a ghostwriterMany writers wish to earn a living through their craft. Some choose to write their own books and sell them, while others prefer to become freelance writers who sell their wordsmithing services to others while still receiving credit for their work. If you enjoy helping others share their ideas with the world through the written word, perhaps you might wish to become a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter is someone who writes for another and receives no author credit. If you’re a professional writer who wishes to become a ghostwriter, you should know that although there are some similarities between authoring and ghosting, a ghostwriter flexes different muscles.

I have been a ghostwriter for twenty years. During this time hundreds of experienced writers have emailed me, asking what it takes to venture into this world. I’m ever eager to encourage others to explore this unique writing opportunity. At the same time, I always caution that this move isn’t right for everyone.

A few drawbacks

I love being a ghostwriter. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping an author write a book. However, there are some aspects of the trade you might not like. It’s good to be aware of these before entering the field.

A ghostwriter works for someone else

A ghostwriting client is king. He is the author.As an author, you’re the boss. You decide what to write, how to communicate your ideas, and ultimately how the book turns out. When you’re ghostwriting, you give up this control. For example, if you’re building a world in a sci-fi story and want to develop the main character into a strong independent woman, but your client wants her to be less so, that’s how she’ll be.

I always tell my clients, “I’ll tell you what I honestly think, but in the end you’re the boss and I’ll follow your wishes. After all, it’s your book.” And I mean it. My job is to educate my client on the process and guide him to the best-possible book. It’s not my job to push a particular agenda. You need to be okay with the idea of following the course set by another if you want to become a ghostwriter.

You can’t share what you’ve written

Everything you write as a ghostwriter is protected by a confidentiality agreement. Although some clients are extremely generous and allow me to share portions of their books as writing samples, it was not always so. In the beginning, people had to hire me on faith or simply based on my blog or short stories. I can tell you from experience, it’s not always easy to encourage someone to take this kind of leap of faith. Lack of writing samples makes getting a new client difficult for new writers in the industry. Even now, after having written over two dozen books, I still can’t share the titles with others.

When you become a ghostwriter you must keep the secretIn addition, if your friends ask you about the projects you’re working on, you won’t be able to discuss the details of the book. So, when I’m delving into the history of a new cryptocurrency or uncovering the secret remedy for a disease, I can’t share much with my friends and family. And they know not to ask. Unfortunately, this can make for awkward silences when people are talking about their day around the dinner table.

Bottom line, you must be willing to keep mum about your work and find ways to promote your writing skill without samples if you want to become a ghostwriter.

Your name won’t be on the cover of the book you wrote

I think this is the toughest pill to swallow for most writers. Being a ghostwriter is a bit like being a surrogate parent. Once you finish the manuscript, your baby is out of your hands. The completed book rightly belongs to the author who hired you. This can be emotionally rough. For many this is a deal breaker.

After spending a year creating a masterpiece, you must be willing to hand over the project and disavow having played any part in its creation. You must be willing to silently step back and allow someone else to claim full credit. I honestly don’t mind this, but many do.

Having laid out all the drawbacks, I must say there are many perks for ghostwriters. Aside from the financial rewards, it’s an emotionally rich and satisfying career. We get to walk in the footsteps of many different people, learn their crafts, feel their emotions, and then share their experiences with the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Skills required to become a ghostwriter

If you’re a writer who wishes to become a ghostwriter, you might need to develop a few skills. These will set you apart from a solo writer.

Learn to listen

When you become a ghostwriter you must learn to listen to others.A ghostwriter is a great listener.

She not only listens to the words her clients speak or write, but she also listens to their messages, themes, and writing goals. A ghostwriter breathes with her client, gets in sync with him and does her best to fulfill all of his intentions and purposes for the book.

For instance, when I interview a client and discover she wishes to write a memoir chronicling how she became a successful entrepreneur, I’m jazzed. Not only can I help her share her life story, but I can help her help others follow in her footsteps. Now, if her goal for the book is also to gain new clients, that’s important to know, as I’ll need to write her book with that in mind. Since her readership will include her future client base, these people will be interested in how specific aspects of her business might benefit them.

If you wish to become a ghostwriter, but are concerned that listening is a weak point for you, don’t worry. It’s a skill anyone can learn. It just takes some practice.

A little exercise

Start with your friends.

Listen to them.

Really listen.

After they leave, write down what they said.

Can you recount what they said in the way they said it? Keep in mind, you’re not only listening to the content of what they’re communicating, but you’re observing the nuances of their language. Everyone has a different way of speaking. You need to hear how they put words together.

If you find yourself drifting off as your friends speak, that’s not good. You need to quit that bad habit. It’s like biting your nails. How would you handle that? Yes, you can just quit doing it.

Rein yourself in and really listen to what your friends are saying. Work on improving the accuracy of your perception of the conversation until you capture the full content and tone of it.

You also need to become adept at hearing what people don’t say. If you’re writing a memoir, you are hired by your client to get at the truth. When he says something that begs a question, bring out your inner journalist and ask for details. Or if you sense that he is hiding a pertinent fact, pry a little. Of course, he has a right to his secrets, but his memoir will fail if he doesn’t open up to his public. They will be able to tell if he’s not being genuine.

A good ghostwriter will find a way to get her answer. Interviewing clients is another necessary skill to become a ghostwriter. That sounds like a good topic for another blog article!

Become a good writer

A ghostwriter is a compelling and competent writerIt goes without saying that in order to be a ghostwriter, you must first be a writer: a competent, compelling, and confident writer. Writing comes from experience; you don’t need a college degree, nor must you be a published author. While both could help, neither is absolutely necessary.

Having said that, I believe it would be difficult to ghostwrite a book if you’ve never completed one yourself. There are lessons one learns simply by seeing a project through to completion. For instance, how do you overcome writer’s block? Are you able to edit out a cherished character that just doesn’t quite fit in? Every time you conquer an obstacle, you learn a lot. This helps you write a better book for your client.

I believe it will be helpful to you if you develop your own writing style and voice before you embark on the grand adventure of helping your client develop his.

Learn to capture another’s voice and style

One of the signature skills of a ghostwriter is to discover and bring out the voice and style of your clients. In order to do that, you’ll need to take a lot of notes and study all their current written work. Some clients will give you pages of a diary or blog articles they’ve written. You need to pick out the phrases they use, hone in on their style of communicating, and create a voice that will accurately portray them.

While you wouldn’t want to pass on the grammatical errors of your clients, you want their unique speech patterns and mannerisms to shine through. For instance, one client might use endearments for everyone around her, while another pauses dramatically between meaningful thoughts. You want to be sure to weave these into your book.

On the other hand, if your client has a lisp or stutter, you wouldn’t pass a speech impediment on to his character. Find the qualities that highlight who he is without amplifying the negative characteristics.

A little exercise

Capturing someone else’s style and voice is another skill you can practice. Jump on the internet and find a prolific writer who blogs. See if you can pick out her voice. What makes her uniquely her? Find those nuances.

Zero in on any cultural references. For instance, if the author is from the UK, he might use some colorful phrases unique to his region. “Blimey” or “dodgy” might be sprinkled into his dialogue.

As a ghostwriter, when you capture the author’s dialogue, you can even drop a few foreign words here and there, as long as their meaning is clear.

Guten Tag, Herr Schmidt!” helps us know the character is of German origin.

When the foreign word’s meaning isn’t completely clear, define it within the text.

“She handed out the Stollen to her family. The buttery fruitcake was enjoyed by all.”

Ultimately, there are many ways a person communicates his thoughts and ideas. If you want to become a ghostwriter, know that it’s your job to spot these and create your client’s voice using their distinct style.

Capture your client’s viewpoints

As a ghostwriter you need to see another's viewpoint and capture their style.People have a unique take on things; they see things from their particular point of view. Some will tell you outright how they feel and what they believe, while others won’t. For those who don’t, you’ll need to glean their viewpoints using interview questions. You must be able to identify these so you can help the reader see things from the author’s standpoint.

Recognizing the viewpoints of others is another skill that can be learned. You can start by observing others around you. Slip into their shoes and really see things from their perspective. Their point of view might not be yours. That’s OK. Simply understand how they feel and think about things.

In order to be a great writer, you must be able to adopt the various viewpoints of your characters. That’s one way they come to be three-dimensional (and beloved).

Another tip to differentiate characters in a book is to observe how different people react to the same situation. For instance, one friend might shriek when surprised, while another will do his best to suppress his reaction. Then there is the person who will laugh hysterically. These little details go a long way to creating believable characters.

The Business Side of Ghostwriting

One of the chief differences between being an author and being a ghostwriter is that when you’re a ghostwriter you’re running a business. That means that you’re in charge of everything—all aspects of the enterprise. You must:

  • Procure new clients
  • Complete all projects on time
  • Collect testimonials from existing clients
  • Write the entire book yourself
  • Ask for payments from your clients
  • Hire outside team members to help when needed

It’s important to be highly organized, to keep track of all your deadlines and to answer emails and texts from clients as quickly as possible. I have a policy of answering all incoming emails within 24 hours, but usually do so within hours of receiving them.

As with any business venture, you must be professional in all aspects of the business. Of course, you should never deliver any piece late; in fact, I recommend being early. Exceed expectations.

And above all, respect the confidentiality agreement as if you were a secret agent. Your word is your bond.

Always work with a contract

Always work with a ghostwriting contractDon’t try to go into business without a good professional contract. Trust me, if you work on a handshake basis, it can become a disaster. Part of running a successful business is making sure to provide the services you promised your clients. In order to do that, you need to be clear about what your services are.

I outline all the pertinent details for a good ghostwriting contract in another blog article, but here is a summary of what a good contract should contain:

  • A confidentiality agreement
  • The rough word count of the book. Note: Word count is much more accurate than page count.
  • The deadlines for all the major milestones. This would include:
    • The outline
    • The first draft
    • The final manuscript
  • The ghostwriter’s fees
  • Confirmation that the copyright of the book belongs to the client
  • The number of revisions included in the price

While you can find decent contract templates on the internet, I highly recommend that you hire a lawyer who can draft one to fit your particular needs. An ambiguously worded agreement will cause you and your client trouble down the line in the event of a disagreement.

 

I find being a ghostwriter a very rewarding experience. Over the last twenty years I’ve worked on ten novels, eight nonfiction how-to books, and seventeen memoirs (along with a few children’s books and screenplays). I enjoy the diversity: getting to know all different kinds of people and stretching my writing muscles in a variety of genres. I have learned so much from each project and have found fulfillment in helping others meet their goal of creating a book. If you’re a writer who wants to become a ghostwriter, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I’m here to help!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Write Your Family History

Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

Different Kinds of Editors

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

What’s It Like to Be a Ghostwriter?

A good friend recently asked me, “Hey, Laura, what’s it like to be a ghostwriter? How does the world of ghostwriting work? How do clients find you?” I loved the questions. Thank you, David.

What is a ghostwriter? Question mark.What is a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters are simply writers who are paid by a client to write their books, but don’t receive any credit for their work. These ethereal creatures are rarely seen.

We work hard so you look good.

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me if I mind that I don’t get a cover credit. No, I’m cool with it. Why? Because I love to write. I love being part of the process for another author. It is an honor for me.

Now, I am also an author, with my own published works, so I don’t crave seeing my name on the cover of a book. I’ve experienced that joy!

What’s it like to be a ghostwriter?

It’s exhilarating!

Truly. Each project I work on is a fresh new adventure. Sure, some themes are similar to others, but no two authors have the same experience or the same message. In addition, each author brings their own unique perspective to the project.

I’m the kind of person who gets very wrapped up in my projects. I am fully engaged and learn a lot about the subject matter so that I become an expert in that field for the year or two it takes me to finish the book.

What do ghostwriters write?

There are many kinds of ghostwriters. Some specialize in screenplays, while others only pen memoirs. A number write novels or only write niche-market how-to booklets. Then again, many focus on ghostwriting articles.

I’ve ghostwritten about thirty books. Some are short stories, while others are over 400 pages in length. Most are memoirs.

Personally, I look for compelling content when choosing my next project. I select books with positive messages which will help readers in some meaningful way. In addition, I also look for clients who can easily communicate their ideas to me.

There’s a special bond that forms between me and my clients; I can’t explain it, but it is apparent when it is there.

How do clients find me?

Before I had a website, clients would just find a way to reach out to me, usually through word of mouth or some bizarre and extraordinary set of circumstances. Honestly, the whole process seemed magical!

Nowadays, most of my clients come in through my blog articles. They search the internet looking for help and find my page. When my clients find my website, something resonates for them and they stop shopping around and contact me.

I try to answer most emails that come my way, even if I know the writer can’t afford me or the project isn’t a good fit for me. If I believe I can help the person, I’ll reply.

Flexibility is key

flexibility in writing a bookA good ghostwriter is flexible. We have to be, because we work with a slew of different personalities and creative voices. The style and feel of one book will be different from another. It has to have the voice and spirit of the author to be authentic.

The needs of my clients also vary. Some wish a book written very quickly, while others require a lot of time to collaborate. Each relationship I have with an author is unique and I work hard to make the process enjoyable for each person.

I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on what’s it like to be a ghostwriter. If you need help and wish to chat with me, please feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help you write your book.

 

 

Tips for Outlining a Memoir

Woman outlining a memoirDear Friendly Ghostwriter, I want to write my life story. I’ve been working on my memoir for seven years, but haven’t made much progress. I know what I want to write about, but I can’t seem to get my thoughts on paper. Help! – Emma V.

Dear Emma V.,

Yours is a plight I’ve heard many times. You aren’t alone! Many people wish to tell their life stories, but don’t know where to begin.

Honestly, I think the problem might be simpler than you think. Consider outlining your memoir. Working from a jumbled mess of notes can be daunting for many.

Now, some writers feel that outlining takes all the joy out of the process. One friend once told me, “If I were to outline the entire book, what would be the point in writing it? I know exactly what will happen!” Although I understood what he meant, I couldn’t disagree more.

Organizing your thoughts saves time

As a writer, I enjoy creating the mile markers first and then filling in the details. It’s a bit like sketching the elements of a painting before applying the pigment. It helps to have those guidelines.

As a writer, I prefer knowing where I’m starting and where I’m going. It puts me in the driver’s seat.

Before I commit to months of writing, I want to know my direction. I want to know that the path I’ve selected will lead me to a worthwhile destination. I mean, if wrote thousands of words, which veered off a cliff, I’d have to toss it. That is frustrating to anyone.

Bottom line, if you’re stuck and unable to write, please consider organizing your thoughts into a good, strong, detailed outline.

Outlining a memoir

If you’re writing a memoir (or a novel), tackle each individual incident of the book. It’s important to work out:

  • Who is in the scene
  • Where it takes place
  • When it happened
  • What happened (briefly)
  • What is the purpose of the scene.

The last point is the most important aspect for this exercise by far. After all, if a scene has no purpose, you shouldn’t waste your time writing it. It will just land on the editing room floor at the end of the project.

The fact is, your outline should be purpose driven from the start. Every scene must propel your story forward. Each incident must have a reason for being there, something that fits in with the flow of the book.

Once you finish your outline, the theme for your memoir should pop out. This will help you organize your thoughts, too.

Outlining a how-to book

If you’re writing a how-to book, your outline will be very different. I’d suggest that you create a table of contents, with bullet points for subheads. I often write a little paragraph describing the proposed text under each segment.

I’d love to hear from fellow writers. What do you think? Do you use an outline? Please post your thoughts in the comments below.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

Do You Want To Write A Book About Your Life?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

How to Edit Your Own Book

Write and Publish a Book in 2020

Options for Hiring a Ghostwriter

Man drinks a cup of coffee and considers hiring a ghostwriterDo you have a story to tell, but don’t have the time or expertise to write a book? Perhaps it is time to consider hiring a ghostwriter. Many authors do.

Your first step will be to interview several writers, so you can get quotes for your project. Take your time and get to know the ghostwriter before you sign the contract.

It’s good to remember that you have options. Discuss these with your ghostwriter and determine the best path for you.

There are a few ways to go:

Write a proposal

Do you have a nonfiction book (memoir or how-to book) concept that is very marketable? Would you prefer to have a publishing contract? Then your best bet is to write a proposal. In addition, when the idea is strong enough and you have an excellent marketing plan, you might be eligible to receive a healthy advance.

You can find examples and how-to articles on how to write a proposal online, but keep in mind that a publisher will be looking for certain components. If your proposal is poorly written or violates the basic rules, it will be rejected automatically.

If this is an unfamiliar arena for you, hiring a ghostwriter to write your proposal is your best bet. It typically costs about $10,000 and will include all the requirements, including two chapters of your book.

Self-publish

If you know that you can market your own book, self-publishing offers a lot of advantages. Many busy authors hire ghostwriters to write their books for them.

Expect to spend anywhere from $25,000 – $80,000 on your book. The price will depend on the ghostwriter’s experience, ability, and the size of the project.

You may get quotes that are below $10,000 and that might sound very tempting. However, a book written for such a low price tag will most likely not meet with your expectations. It will draw poor reviews, which is the kiss of death for a new author.

Write the book yourself and hire an editor

If you realize that you don’t have the budget needed for hiring a ghostwriter, you will need to buckle down and write it yourself. This is a reasonable option for people who are able to write.

If you need help, consider hiring a mentor to help you through the basics. A good writing coach can guide you through the steps and help you avoid basic errors.

For those authors writing a memoir or novel, I would also highly recommend that you pick up and read Digital Ink. Available on Amazon for just a few dollars, it will give you many important tips on how to write your book. Read it cover to cover.

Once you have finished your final draft, you will need to find and hire an editor to help you polish and correct any errors or inconsistencies. This service will cost a few thousand dollars.

Whatever option you pick, whatever path you take, understand that you will need to market your own book. You’ll need to have your own blog and be acquainted with all the basic social media sites. That’s a must for any author.

Writing your first book is a big step! If you are hiring a ghostwriter, make sure that you’ve explored your options and you have selected the right path for you. If you need help sorting through your choices, feel free to email me. I’m here to help!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Do you want to write a book about your life?

Do you need help writing a book?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

Tips to Find Your Memoir Theme

You must be brave to write your memoir

Writing a memoir requires the skill sets and virtues of a knight.

The author needs unparalleled bravery and must possess an honest and true heart. He or she has to show humility and be generous to the others mentioned in the book, even when they don’t deserve it.

But how do you find the theme of the tale you want to tell?

Start with the end to find your memoir theme

A good memoir takes the reader on a journey of the courageous hero (you). Your path should lead to growth or accomplishment of a goal (if it doesn’t, please rethink writing the book). This growth or accomplishment will point you in the direction of your memoir theme.

While the spoils of war, the victories, are the focus of your memoir, lessons will be learned along the way. Keep in mind, that means your mistakes will be exposed for all to see. But in the end, you should be the conquering hero.

And the reader will be by your side, sharing in your victory.

For instance, if you are a successful businessperson and wish to share your story, your theme might be how you slayed your personal demons that threatened to hold you back in order to rise up in the business world. I’ve written quite a few memoirs with this message.

Or perhaps you survived a life-threatening illness. In that case, your memoir theme would be centered around the successful life changes that guided you to health.

So, look carefully at your story. Where did you win? What did you do to get there? That’s where you’ll find your theme.

Summarize your book in one or two sentences

When you complete your book, you’ll often be asked “What’s your story about?” It’s good to tackle this question right at the start. When you first sit down to write out an answer, it might take you a few hundred words to summarize your 50,000-word book. That’s normal.

Remove the extraneous words and explanations and work to pare the description down to a single line or two. Thoroughly examine what your story is about. I know. It isn’t easy, but you have to edit it down.

This description will come in handy when you need an “elevator pitch” later. For instance, I’m writing a book about my experiences roadschooling three children. My pitch would be:

This is a travel memoir plus roadschooling how-to book which chronicles my adventure on the road after trading in my 2,500 square-foot home for a 36-foot RV.

Are you interested in reading my story?

Step back and look at the big picture

Do something great and write your memoir about itIt can be hard, when you review your life, to find a theme. After all, it was your life and it can be hard to be objective. That’s probably why a lot of people reach out to me to help them ghostwrite their memoirs. It’s often tough to do on your own.

If you’re writing your book yourself, try telling someone who doesn’t know your story about your memoir idea. This may help you sort it out because they’ll probably ask questions and make comments. Note these. If you are not ready to share your story quite yet, try stepping back and asking yourself questions you think your reader would ask about your story.

“Why did you make that choice?”

“What was your mindset when you traveled that path?”

“What would you do differently now that you know what you know today?”

These kinds of questions can help you formulate a good memoir theme, because your answers are really the successful solutions you developed. They brought you to the place you are today!

Your readers may be able to resolve their issues and be victorious in whatever battles they are fighting when they follow in your brave footsteps and apply your successful solutions. That’s the beauty of a good theme. You, the fearless knight, can really inspire and help others.

Please feel free to email me if you need a little help! To learn more about successful memoir themes, please check out my article on the subject.

For additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

Guerrilla Marketing for a First-time Author

A first-time author needs to roll up their sleeves and get creative in order to sell copies of their book. Let’s start with guerrilla marketing as an approach.

What is guerrilla marketing?

Simply put, guerrilla marketing is a low-cost way to promote, which relies on creativity and ingenuity rather than large amounts of cash.

When you’re a first-time author, you probably don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at marketing and promotion. Am I right? However, you must get the word out about your book, if you want to sell copies. That’s where guerrilla marketing comes in.

Many people seem to have the misconception that if you write a good book, it will sell on its own. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. These days, authors must sell their books. Even if you have a traditional publisher, they will expect you to have a killer marketing plan. And if you self-publish, your book will die on the vine if you just put it up on Amazon and hope for the best.

As a first-time author, you will need to find some simple, free ways to promote your book. Sure, you can always throw money at the problem, but let’s start with guerrilla marketing. Keep in mind these tips aren’t a complete marketing system by any means; rather, they are suggestions to get you started so that you can reach readers and make yourself known. The rest is up to you!

Know your reader

Before you begin to promote your book, you must know your reader. Who are the people you want to pick up and read your book? Take the time to consider your market.

Define this demographic as precisely as you can. Then brainstorm ideas about how to reach them. There really is no cookie-cutter plan when it comes to guerrilla marketing your book. Remember, you’re substituting brilliant creativity for cash.

For instance, if you’re promoting a sci-fi book, why not create bookmarks featuring your book and hand them out at the next sci-fi convention? You could also create a T-shirt with your book’s title on it, along with a catchy tag line.

The World Wide Web Is Yours

Many of us spend a good portion of the day online. This is where we shop, find information and just hang out. Reaching people online is a vital part of any promotional strategy. But be warned: Nobody likes to be harangued into buying books. It’s annoying. Instead, become engaged with the folks who share your interests. Become a vibrant, vital part of the community you join. As you establish yourself as an expert in your field, others will take notice and naturally become interested in what you have to offer.

I recommend using these tools to promote your book:

  1. Author Website – Every first-time author needs their own website. This is your “virtual home” where your readers (and future readers) will come to find out all about you and your books. I highly recommend avoiding the free websites and splurging for your own domain name. It looks more professional.
  2. Blog – Your author website needs a blog. Write content that is relevant to your audience, sharing your expertise, viewpoints and experiences. Plan to post once or twice a week. In addition, exchange guest blogs with another author. It will help you both.
  3. Facebook – Set up a personal page and a separate author page for your book. You can share content between the two, but you should not flood your personal page with a lot of book announcements. Also, consider starting or joining Facebook groups that relate to your book topic or genre.
  4. YouTube – Book trailers are a key part of any marketing plan these days. They should be short and sweet and, of course, very catchy. Check out mine for Chess Is Child’s Play. If you get lucky, it might just go semi-viral. If you have a non-fiction book, consider also creating a how-to video series related to your book’s content. Be creative in sharing your expertise. And don’t forget to include links to where viewers can purchase your book.
  5. Other social media platforms – Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are three other key websites you might explore. Each has their own style and purpose. Engage with the ones you like best. It will be more fun for you, and you’ll probably be more authentic on the platforms you enjoy.

Get reviews

Feedback from readers is one of the cornerstones of any marketing plan for first-time authors or even experienced writers. Amazon and Goodreads are two important platforms to collect reviews.

Always offer a no-strings-attached free book to any reviewer. Keep in mind that not everyone will follow through, so budget accordingly. But never be stingy with the number of books that you’re willing to send. Also, be sure to give people time to properly review your book. Don’t rush them. Having said that, you can politely request that they let you know when they can schedule time to read and review your book. That gives you some leeway to tactfully nudge the process along.

Marketing for Chess Is Child's Play

In addition, consider requesting reviews from popular bloggers. Those can be harder to get, but they are invaluable. Find people who would appeal to your target readership. For instance, to promote Chess Is Child’s Play (a book which instructs parents how to teach their young children chess), I approached parent bloggers as well as chess enthusiasts, as these were two of my key target readers. Sometimes readers would send me photos featuring my book (see photo above from the West Pasco Chess Club).

In-Person Promotional Activities

While many of us are learning to master online avenues for reaching our audience, the tried and true promotional activities are still effective. Honestly, nothing beats the thrill of live interaction. Here, again, your emphasis should be on establishing relationships and helping others; don’t just peddle your books. And whatever you do, don’t just go to friends and family and beg that they buy a copy of your book. That’s always an uncomfortable approach.

Instead consider these ideas:

  1. Hold readings and book signings – Your local bookstore is likely to set up a table for you one Saturday, even if you’re a first-time author. In addition, libraries are often game. However, think outside the bookstore and consider setting up a table where your readers might be hanging out. Get creative!
  2. Teach classes – There are many venues that would appreciate hearing you share your expertise. Again, go where your readers are and offer your advice for free. If they like what you have to say, they will probably pick up your book.
  3. Partner with other writers – It’s a well-known business axiom that businesses do better when they are positioned together. That’s why you often see a Coffee Bean near a Starbucks or a Papa John’s near a Pizza Hut. As an author, you can apply the same principle and join forces with other authors to market your books together. Besides, you might find the process more enjoyable.
  4. Attend events – Go to any event where you might find people who are interested in the topic of your book: conventions, craft fairs, business networking meetings, vendor fairs, etc. Connect with others, share with them, maybe even bring along some copies of your book and hand them out. You never know what these connections might lead to.

Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for a first-time author. Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all opportunities to share your expertise and your story with others. Be genuine and focus on helping people and book sales will naturally follow.  I’d love to hear your guerrilla marketing ideas in the comment section below!

Here are a few other articles you might enjoy reading:

Need a Ghostwriter?

Ask a Ghostwriter: What about Character Development?

Do You Need Help Writing A Book?