Saturday, March 30, 2019

Guest Post by C. Hope Clark, award-winning author of two mystery series

Freelance Short Writing: a Path to Book Sales

Everyone reads short pieces, whether on their phone, online, or in picking up a magazine from the grocery store. Our free time comes in snatches these days, so we tend to prefer our reading material shorter.

As a matter of fact, the attention span of readers is decreasing. Nicholas Carr argued in his Pulitzer-Prize nominated book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, that technology has altered how we read. Readers have lost the ability to deep read, where the reader is absorbed, taking it in without distractions.

Therefore, the writer. . . any writer. . . ought to capitalize on this trend to put their name, brand, and titles before those readers by writing short pieces. It’s called freelancing.

As editor of FundsforWriters, I’ve preached that every writer, all kinds, should freelance as part of their effort to be seen and read. To only write books, and hope that readers find your book, is a frustrating endeavor resulting in few sales. What sells books is commercials, or rather, short introductions to the fact you write books or wrote a particular book. Blurbs, advertisements, blog mentions, online word-of-mouth, interviews. . . and articles.

To say you wrote a book means nothing unless you are famous. 
To say you have a book for sale means little unless you pander to the cheap side of the market. But to entice serious readers means you introduce them to your writing ability. If you cannot get your book in their hands easily, then do so via the avenues of freelance feature writing.

Freelancing used to be restricted to magazines
Today, you have the options of newsletters, blogs, podcasts, social media, and weekly newspapers, both online and paper, with all of them connected with links. And magazines aren’t just national glossies. Frankly, you gain more traction with regional and local publications. What does it matter if your piece is read by 5,000 people locally or nationally?

With today’s reading habits, readers choose short reading first, saving longer reading for more specific times, days, or even weekends or vacations. Yet, throughout the week, they are inhaling short piece after short piece. So how can you, a book author, snag a piece of the shorter action to help sell your books?
Prove how savvy you write by pitching pieces to these publications. 

Connect the piece somehow to what you’ve published.
Be slick and savvy about it, please. No infomercials. For instance, I write a mystery series set on Edisto Beach, having just released the fifth book, Dying on Edisto, in March 2019. In order to promote it, I have and will continue to write short pieces on:
· How setting can become a character.
· How to legally use real setting in fiction.
· How to use multiple POVs in serial fiction.
· Why Edisto Beach is the perfect vacation beach.
· How I manage writing full time.
· Wildlife on Edisto.
· How I was bribed into being a mystery writer. (I met my federal agent husband on a bribery investigation.)
· The best bookstore in South Carolina (the Edisto Bookstore, of course).
· Tax write-offs for a writer (to include my beach visits to Edisto).

Those are just general topics. This Spring, I’ll have a feature in Visiting Edisto Beach, Explore Edisto, and at least 40 blogs using these and many more ideas. How do you find these markets?

     Do an online search for publications, blogs, newsletters on the sorts of topics affiliated with the book or subjects you specialize in.
     Do an online search for the publications in your town, your region, then the state.
     Ask your social media connections if they are seeking blog posts, or know of others who are.
     Take note in restaurants and grocery stores for local periodicals.
     Take note of bookstores for broader geographically-reaching periodicals.
     Contact your college newspapers and magazines.
     Seek avenues in your employer’s newsletter, magazine, blog, or website.
     Connect with your peers for suggestions, or get them to recommend you to venues they know.

·         Go over the blogs and online magazines you read, whether or not they are affiliated with your topics. You can write about anything.

If you can write for pay anywhere, do it. Challenge yourself to cover a topic they like or need, and if it cannot connect directly to your book, then just include the book’s release or availability in the byline. Make this byline part of your contract if you agree to write that piece for compensation. Just include it if you are writing for free.

The question may arise: Why write about nothing to do with my book (or other writing)?
Answer: Because more people will read your byline in that publication in one weekend than will find and read your book in a year. And if that byline mentions your book or other brand, then you’ve not only been paid for writing, not only avoided paying for an advertisement, but you’ve also proven to someone how beautiful or intelligently you write, hopefully intriguing them to read more than this one story.

You are seeking respect as a writer, first and foremost, regardless of what you write. And if someone likes your short piece, they just might consider your book. And it cost you not a thing to make the effort.
Just like I wrote this piece.

 C. Hope Clark’s latest release is Dying on Edisto, Book 5 of the Edisto Island Mysteries. She has also authored one other award-winning mystery series and is working on another. She founded, selected by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 18 years. Her newsletter reaches 35,000 readers. /
Find Clark's books at the links below.

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