On my #Welcome Wednesday slot I'm welcoming back my very busy friend, Gayle Irwin.
|Gayle book signing at Cheyenne|
Gayle's books have been featured recently on this blog but she's back today with 6 brilliant ideas for getting out there and doing 'THAT PROMOTING STUFF!' The techniques are working well for Gayle in her specialised market of inspirational dog books and, with a bit of tweaking, they might work for you. I'm doing some of the things Gayle mentions, so here's a hearty almost Christmas #Wednesday Welcome to Gayle.
Hello again, Gayle. I'm glad to have you with us, today. Please share with us what you've found useful.
Discovering Your Writing Niche and Finding Your Audience Along the Way
by Gayle M. Irwin
Authors have so many options these days not only in publishing, but also in marketing their work … and themselves as writers. From Facebook and Twitter to blogs such as this, and websites like Goodreads, online opportunities abound to connect readers with authors and their books. Traditional booksignings are still popular as are library readings. There are so many opportunities to market one's works and engage readers.
I write inspirational dog books for children and adults. I have found aligning myself with dog rescue organizations and schools offer tremendous opportunities to market my work and to find new readers … as well as inspire audiences.
Find a Cause
|Gayle at the Casper Humane Society Book signing|
Finding a cause, such as pet rescue, or a group, such as historians, can help authors promote themselves and their work. Whether one writes non-fiction or fiction, aligning yourself with an organization or a topic and working with people affiliated with those endeavors can be a major benefit to an author. I have a friend who writes romantic fiction that's sprinkled with suspense or adventure. I've encouraged her to talk with groups that help women caught in domestic violence situations (one of her stories has that drama as an element) and/or that are involved in women's health (my writer friend is a retired nurse). Most books have some type of theme woven into the stories, and finding opportunity as a speaker related to that theme can help sell books.
|Gayle on the 'Oregon' trail school speaking|
Since the publication of my first book (a chapter book for children) eight years ago, I've been fortunate to speak in elementary and middle schools. I often talk about writing, but I also educate the students on pet care and animal welfare organizations (shelters and rescues). I've even woven lessons people can learn from dogs into speaking engagements I've conducted for Christian women's groups and at senior citizens' centers, and I've been able to sell my books at these engagements. I donate part of my book sales to pet rescue organizations, helping audiences be part of such rescue work simply through purchasing my books, and therefore, having a connection, albeit indirectly, with such amazing and necessary work.
Nancy says: I've done a little speaking at local groups, libraries and schools. I don't tend to sell many books at these but it does get me know in the local community.
Other Ways to Make Personal Connections
As one finds the online marketing pathways best for them, an author should not neglect the personal connections, trying different things to engage potential book buyers. Something I've considered in years past and just tried for the first time this year is craft fairs. These often cost a great deal of money, so I'd advise starting with smaller venues that cost less money, which is my current journey: small and inexpensive. I was able on one occasion to share a table with my romance-writer friend and split the vendor fee with her. Until I find more success with this type of outreach, I'll stay in the smaller market for awhile. You have to sell a lot of books to re-coup a $300 table/vendor fee, let alone the time and effort you put into the endeavor.
Nancy: My Craft Fair sales have been very successful during 2015 but my table costs aren't generally so high as you mention, since the venues are small market towns. The larger tourist markets around Aberdeenshire are very expensive, as you quote above Gayle, and it's very hard to recoup any profit from these. I've had most of my author talks booked as a result of being out there and talking to customers or interested people.
I'm still learning about online marketing. There is SO MUCH out there! Facebook, Twitter with its tweets and re-tweets, Instagram, blogs, author/reader websites, and much, much more. It's a meandering journey, but one worth learning about and experimenting with. I belong to several Facebook author and/or book groups, including children's books, book marketing, and others. Additionally, there are sites such as Goodreads, Authors Den, and so many others, through which an author can promote his/her work and connect with readers. A person can't belong to all of them, so one needs to review, experiment, and decide then focus on what seems to work. And, if that particular site or two doesn't seem to work well, try others. For me, I find Facebook enjoyable. I'm also on Twitter, but not consistently. I'm not an Instagram sort of gal. But I'm open to discovering and learning and therefore, finding new readers.
Nancy: I love Facebook, too, but find some other markets like Twitter hard to keep up but I need to 'do better' next year.
Freelance Writing Expands Horizons
Another avenue I've found helpful, as well as a benefit financially, is freelance writing for various outlets, both online and in print. As my writing has blossomed in different areas, my name is more recognized and that helps a writer's business to grow. Because of my work with a local newspaper for the past three years and local a magazine for five years, one of my children's stories was selected to be serialized this fall in a weekly children's edition of the local newspaper. That led to increased school engagements and even book sales to a group of fourth graders, the books paid for by the school district – not a bad gig overall! I've guest-blogged such as today and on pet blogging sites and I blog regularly at Writing Wranglers & Warriors. I've written (and continue to write) pet columns for various print publications, as well as on my own website, and I've composed pieces that have nothing to do with pets, such as features on Vietnam veterans – those works help “get my name out there.” I'm not simply an author, I'm a writer. I may not work fulltime as a creative writer, but the various projects keep me busy … sometimes too busy to put in the time I should for marketing my books. But, I love the diversity, and I love the financial rewards that being a diversified writer (even part-time) brings.
Nancy: That is a brilliant way to keep your name rolling around out there. I've never yet tried magazines but that sounds like a plan for 2016.
Writing and Marketing Take Persistence
Writing, whether that's focused on books, being a copy writer, or serving a freelance magazine and newspaper/content creator, takes work. Marketing takes work, too. It takes research, and it takes trial and error. And, marketing is not always fun – sometimes writing isn't either. But, the rewards of both are positive in the form of more book sales, interactions with readers, and making connections – and maybe even helping great causes, such as pet rescue/adoption and women's health issues.
|Gayle's dogs - Mary and Cody|
As the craft fairs and booksignings dwindle for 2015, I look forward to what 2016 will bring. I have a dog rescue book for kids in the works, and I have six school visits planned for January already. I also have magazine articles to write in the New Year. One of my 2016 goals as a writer, particularly as an author, is to continue exploring book marketing opportunities, and to implement what I learn with greater focus in both online and personal engagements. Outreach, education, and connection – important aspects of marketing myself/oneself as a writer.
May your endeavors to reach and connect with readers be successful in the New Year as you discover your writing and marketing niche(s), finding your audience along the way!
Nancy: Here's to your continued success Gayle in the coming year! Seasons greetings to your whole family!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker who lives in
She is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults
and has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle.
Additionally, she's contributed short stories to five Chicken Soup for the Soul
books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion
for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to
several animal welfare organizations. She speaks in schools and for civic and
Christian women's groups, weaving topics together with lessons people can learn
from pets. She is currently working on three books, including a pet rescue
story for children. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com. Wyoming
Find Gayle on Facebook on the following pages:
She also has a Dog Devotions Facebook page and a Tips for Blind Dog Owners Facebook page, at which dog owners will find encouragement.
You can also find Gayle on Twitter @wyoauthor1.
Thank you for sharing with us today, Gayle. Best wishes to you for successful writing in 2016.