You finished your masterpiece. Now the hard work begins.
The writer's process is an undefined journey through ideas, concepts, and pages of notes on the way to a finished document. Near the end of the journey it becomes critical to push back on frustration. You've just spent the better part of recent days, weeks, or even months finishing your work. You have written what can only be described as a masterpiece.
Now you can't wait to see what people think about it. What will they say? Let's hit the publish button and find out.
Nothing. You hit refresh. Still nothing. There must be something wrong with the metrics. Perhaps they lag behind a few hours. That must be it.
Every writer is also a marketer
The tough truth is that typically readers aren't putting aside time in their day to read what you have written. You need to let people know about this great work of art you have produced.
There are of course a few exceptions to this rule:
You already signed with a publisher or publication
Your name is John Grisham
You already have a base of 1,000 Raving Fans
If none of these is the case for you, you still have work left to do. Many authors view it as the hard part. You probably didn't get into writing to be a marketer, unless of course you write advertising copy, in which case you did.
I have read a number of authors post questions about their self-published book on Amazon. They ask why no one is buying it. Another version of this pattern occurs with authors on Medium. They see only a few views trickling in and ask where are the readers?
Like I said, don't get frustrated. This is an opportunity for you. Yes, there is a ton of content out there. This just means that readers need to know about your work, or at least they need to be able to find it.
Consider that every minute, five hundred hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. Although video is different from the written word, this data point highlights that the world is now full of content creators.
You are not alone. This is a good thing, by the way. The barriers to entry that once existed no longer do. It also means there is more competition for your audience's time.
Readership begins in one of two ways
Don't stop now. You have invested your time and energy into this. There are two ways a potential reader can start reading your work.
Readers are told about it or notified of it's existence, so they go check it out. This could be through email, advertising, or a publication that features your writing. Medium publication's are a great example of this.
Readers search for something they are interested in and find your work.
I would suggest having a strategy for both angles, at least until you build up your fan base.
It is striking to me how email is still one of the most important marketing tools today. This technology has been in use since at least the 1980s. Substack has capitalized on this fact and grown quickly. Building up an email contact list is essential, its a great way to get eyes on your writing.
Social media, paid advertising, there are numerous other options. The takeaway here is you should look at your target demographic and consider what will be the most cost effective way to reach your audience.
Those three dirty little letters: S-E-O
You've spent two months writing your novella. You couldn't be more proud of it. Then you spend ten minutes writing the book description and choosing tags for it before hitting publish. What's wrong with this picture?
Ideally you start the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process well before you begin writing. Great content makes this part of the process easy, as it lends itself to search optimization. If you didn't do that, its not too late but may be a little more challenging.
SEO is routinely one of the most popular course topics on Coursera. Much of the common wisdom out there is to consider SEO from the beginning, not treat it as an add-on at the end. Be careful however, as there are a number of myths about what SEO really is. See this article by an ex-Google employee in terms of debunking some of these common misunderstandings.
You can't "fix" content with some SEO magic. In fact, the last myth debunked by this article is that SEO is not magic-driven but data driven, .
It's also not just based on keywords. In fact, keywords are less important now than most people realize. Create your strategy. Plan for the long game. Build an audience, write often, and be smart. See this article for an overview of how to build your SEO strategy.
Think of SEO as a non-deterministic algorithm. It will be difficult to hack, as there are a lot of smart engineers at Google trying to make sure their customers are provided the best content. They want their product to please their customers, and they have a lot more people working on this problem than you do.
So don't get frustrated. Have a long term strategy. Collect those email addresses, and keep writing!