“Selling My Books”: The New Guest Slot for Self-publishing Authors

My favourite book promotion tip of the moment is to write guest posts on other authors’ blogs, especially when a specific theme is called for.

Writing posts on other people’s blogs may not immediately help indie authors sell more books, but it will:

  • raise your profile as an author
  • build name recognition
  • open up valuable new networking opportunities

Guest posts also give you the opportunity to place more inbound links back to your own website, encouraging search engines to give your site higher priority.

But it’s not just the guest who benefits:

  • Blog hosts gain new, fresh copy to supplement their own posts
  • They also gain new followers and friends that the guest blogger brings with them to the site via social media sharing of their guest post.

Here are three examples of themed guest post strands on very different websites. All are beautifully presented and branded, each readily identifiable at a glance.

Lindsay Stanberry Flynn’s “Why I Write” Series

Cover of The Piano Player's Son by Linsday Stanberry-FlynnNovelist Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn has just completed an eight-part series of guest posts under the banner “Why I Write”, spanning the first two months of 2014.

Lindsay is a gifted writer and writing coach whom I met online some time ago. A friendship formed across the ether in which we shared advice, moral support and humour, and we also often hook up via the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), to which we both belong, and whose blog of self-publishing advice I edit.  Our online connection leapt off the screen and into real life when last autumn Lindsay kindly invited me to the official launch of her second novel, The Piano Player’s Son, published by Cinnamon Press (Lindsay won her contract as a prize in their novel-writing competition!)

Lindsay specialises in novels about families in turmoil, following familial disharmony. Given my propensity to favour Pollyanna scenarios with happy endings, they’re not the kind of book I’d normally plump for, but I found both this book and her debut novel, Unravelling, gripping and fulfilling reading.

And her book launch was a joy, interspersing readings with live music and performance poetry, in a striking old hall in the centre of Worcester. On this memorable night, a cabaret of entertainment played to a packed house, whose audience snapped up copies of both of Lindsay’s books from the sales table as they left. I’ve reviewed both of Lindsay’s books on Amazon and Goodreads, where you’ll find them for sale as ebooks and paperbacks.

When novelist Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn invited me to be a guest on her blog in her new series called “Why I Write”, I jumped at the chance. You can read my guest post here:

“Why I Write”~7 – Debbie Young

The Alliterative Allomorph with Jessica Bell

Cover of String Bridge by Jessica Bell

One of Jessica’s many published works

Another  regular guest blog feature that I enjoy is Jessica Bell’s, gloriously titled! I met Jessica via the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), to which we both belong, and we’ve become good friends, though not yet met in person. I’m excited to be joining her Homeric Writers’ Retreat on the idyllic Greek island of Ithaca in August –  find out more about that here: www.homericwriters.com.

I’ve now featured twice on The Alliterative Allomorph, in which Jessica encourages her guests to sound off about whatever aspect of the writing life is currently on their mind.

Disparate authors follow each other, week after week, often with not much in common other than their passion for what they do, and the mix works well. You never quite know what’s coming next – just that it’ll be a stimulating read. Here’s an example of one of my guest posts on Jessica’s blog:

Why I Used To Feel Sorry for Tolstoy – and Why I’m Over It Now

The Undercover Soundtrack with Roz Morris

Cover of Roz Morris's novelOne of the great benefits of having a regular guest post series on your blog is that readers who stop by to read one may find themselves hooked and make a regular date with your blog to see who writes what next. This certainly happens for Roz Morris (another ALLi chum) with her now legendary blog slot, The Undercover Soundtrack.

The Undercover Soundtrack is the author’s answer to that long-running BBC radio series, Desert Island Discs (which I adore). This blog slot gives authors the opportunity to share thoughts about the music that inspires and informs their work. I’m sure it must encourage readers to discover and explore new writers, as well as to read Roz’s own novel on a musical theme, My Memories of a Future Life.

Strange – and pleasingly neat – how all three of the authors’ novels shown here share a musical connection! Jessica’s isn’t clear from the cover, so I should point out that String Bridge is about a guitarist and comes with its own soundtrack, written and performed by the author, who is also a talented musician. Wow!

My New Weekly Guest Slot

For the reasons I’ve outlined above, I’m pleased now to be launching a regular guest slot here on Off The Shelf. It will be called “Selling My Books: (Author’s Name)’s Top Tip for Book Promotion” and it will appear every Wednesday. Kicking it off next Wednesday (19th March 20014) will be the Canadian author Francis Guenette, whose two novels Disappearing in Plain Sight and Finding the Light just blew me away. I first came across Fran via Twitter and was really pleased when she joined ALLi, opening up more opportunities for us to network to our mutual benefit.

After Fran’s post, I’ve got a substantial list of guests lined up. If you’re a self-published author and would like to share YOUR top tip for book promotion, please message me via the contact form with a summary of the tip that you’d like to write about, and we’ll take it from there.

And if you run a regular guest slot on YOUR blog with a specific theme, please feel free to post a link in the comments section so we can all hop over to have a look at it!

If you’re a writer and you’re not yet a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), the nonprofit organisation for professional self-published authors, check it out – the ease it offers of making great author friends is just one of many benefits of membership. Aspiring authors are welcome to join, as well as those who have already self-published books! To find out more, please use this handy link to the ALLi website so they’ll know I’ve sent you!

10 thoughts on ““Selling My Books”: The New Guest Slot for Self-publishing Authors

  1. Admittedly a sample of three guest blogs, all very generously hosted, is not a great sample but despite interest in the posts themselves, none added even a single follower to my blog.(I think it gained some for the hosts.) I get the impression that in this climate of pressured attention only posts directly related to the advancement of the readers’ positioning,or the sales or improvement of their books have any hope of attention. I titled my blog ‘Careless Talk’ in the hope of broadening the base…those aspects not directly related to the books ( although everything ultimately feeds into an author’s writing) but in hope of attracting interest in an author’s wider interests ie the attraction of friendship for shared interests- in my case a different view of South Africa. Although I have a few very faithful readers ( for whom I give daily thanks) it is not growing. I wondered whether any other authors feel the need to branch away from endless book selling, and whether they might like to do so under Careless Talk? It can be visited for an impression at http://involution-odyssey.com/blogscribe/ Is this idea unrealistic? Would anyone even have the time?

    • Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment, Phillippa. Just to clarify, I’m assuming the three blogs that you are talking about are different to the three mentioned in my post above – and what a shame that you didn’t have a better result from your experience. I think the choice of blog to guest on is very important – and also for the host to match the right guests so as not to dilute the value of their own blog. Thank you for the invitation to look at your blog which I shall do tomorrow – am out for the rest of the day but will certainly return to it, and I encourage other readers to do so too!

      • Thanks Debbie. One was Roz Morris’s marvellous Undercover Soundtrack which I took to following every Wednesday, as much to hear about music as writing, and that led to writing a review of a book from another guest (Breathing for Two), and another was the Chris Graham’s ( The Story Reading Ape) generous hosting of anything an author wants to reveal, and a third was a subject specific blog on secrets (Mary Gottschalk) which had nothing to do with my book, but was a theme in her book for which she invited contributions. I enjoyed doing them all. They did take a fair amount of time which I don’t begrudge but as to building an audience myself- no evidence of that.
        Perhaps all that reveals is the advantage to the host who has already built an following interested in the specific and nothing else. If that is so ‘Careless Talk’ is not specific enough and probably won’t cut it.

    • Philippa, thank you for your long and thoughtful comment and I’m sorry you didn’t have a better experience of the three blogs that you guested on (which I assume are three different ones from those I’ve highlighted in this post). Picking the right blog to guest on – and for the host, choosing the best guests to match the theme of the blog – are critical, to avoid devaluing the hosting blog, and to optimise the outcome for the guest.

      Thanks for sharing your blog address here, which I will certainly visit, and I hope other readers here will too. All authors (and readers) are under such pressure these days and there is so much out there to read, but it is always worth checking out new opportunities – that chance visit can turn into a great long-term relationship, as I’ve discovered over and over again.

  2. I’m still a babe in the woods when it comes to all this promotional business. I’ve lived a good, long time and love to write, but frankly, the self-promotion is a bit hard to take. I’m not going to give up, however. I’m fairly computer-savvy, and even though older than most of you, I can get it figured out. Thanks for this article.

    • Glad to be of help to you, David – and you’re not alone in finding unpalatable the self-promotion required to sell books. It’s not just a self-publishing issue, either – I know at least one trade-published writer who actually stopped writing rather than have to comply with the demands of his publisher’s publicity machine. I guess the best thing to do is to try to find publicity activities that you actually enjoy – I hope there will be at least one thing that you like doing! – and focus on doing that, and avoid what you can’t bear. (Plenty of authors steer clear of Twitter for example.) And take heart from the received wisdom that the best way of all to sell more books is to write more books! That’s not a frivolous comment – having more books to your name will boost your visibility within online retail sites and other online search facilities. I blogged about that principle here:https://offtheshelfbookpromotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/how-to-sell-more-books-write-more-books/ Good luck, David!

  3. Pingback: Location, Location, Location « disappearinginplainsight

  4. Pingback: Selling My Books: Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn’s Top Tip for Book Promotion | Off The Shelf Book Promotions

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