Fools, Horses and Writers


Self-marketing for writersOK, so here’s the thing about marketing yourself as a writer on the interwebz.

It’s bloody hard work.

Hemingway famously said:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

And he never had to use Twitter.

So Who Made You The Expert Then?
“Ah yes,” you may be thinking sagely, “but just who are you, young whippersnapper, to deign to tell me how to promote myself or my novel online? What makes you such a guru eh?”

Well now, I’m glad you asked. I am, by profession, a Digital Marketer. Yep, honestly. That’s a real job.

I’ve been a digital marketer since before social media existed (10 years Facebook? Newcomer!), since before smartphones and tablets, even since blogging itself was a niche reserved for narcissistic self-aggrandising egoists with little to say but a whole world to say it to.

Online marketing has paid my bills, serviced my car, fed my cats, clothed me and generally kept the bank manager from the door for well over 15 years now. So I like to think I’m pretty well versed in it.

And I still say that marketing your writing – and yourself as a writer – online is bloody hard work.

No Short Cuts, No Snake Oil
There’s no magic bullet and no secret formula – if anyone tells you there is, they’re probably going to ask for a considerable amount of your hard-earned cash in the very next breath. It takes determination, perseverance, unlimited optimism and vast amounts of solid graft to make any headway at all.

        • There will be blog posts which you think are works of unmitigated genius, which garner not one solitary like nor comment. This situation may continue, on and off, for at least a couple of years.
        • You will compose pithy, erudite, witty 140-character quips worthy of Oscar Wilde himself, then watch them dissipate in the nebula of the Twitterverse without so much as a re-tweet.
        • Weeks will pass without your Facebook page, blog or Google+ account attracting more than a minuscule smattering of new followers. You will feel friendless, unloved and ignored.

This is all entirely normal.

It’s what my parents’ generation would call “character building.” Much like being locked in the shed for a week with only a loaf of stale bread and a couple of slugs, but that’s a story for another day.

My point is this: no matter how practiced, how experienced and how motivated you may be in matters of self-marketing, it still takes superhuman reserves of dedication to build a following which is in any way interested in you and your work.

In It For The Long-Haul
Now for the happy news (all been a bit grim so far, hasn’t it?)

Every tweet, every post, every un-reciprocated follow is worth it in the long run. As long as you don’t give up. Stick at it and the benefits will come. Every marketer will tell you of campaigns they’ve run which had no visible success. But that doesn’t mean they failed. The key point here is AWARENESS.

With every mark you make on the fabric of the internet, you are raising your visibility and getting yourself noticed by people who will recognise you next time they see you. It may take four, five, six encounters before they respond, react or even acknowledge your existence. But hey, you’re a writer, being ignored and rejected is par for the course. It doesn’t stop you writing though does it?

Your very own correspondent (who’s clearly avoiding first-person for some obscure reason) has been through the gamut of emotions associated with building an audience and continues to do so on a daily basis.

The snowball effect will kick in as long as you persevere. The larger your following grows, the more delightful individuals you become connected to on a second- or third-hand basis. These jolly souls will then see your efforts, share them (if you’re lucky)  and in turn increase your reach even further.

It just takes time, patience (which, believe me, I have precious little of) and a bit of skill.

Sharing The Knowledge
In the caring sharing nature of the blogging community I’ve grown to love over the past two years (that was perilously close to gushy for a Brit), I’m going to begin a series of posts explaining some of the tactics I’ve learned over the course of my professional career and others which I’ve picked up as a writer/blogger/self-publicist.

In no way will these be meant to patronise, lecture or otherwise teach my Grandmother to suck eggs. And if that phrase isn’t used elsewhere in the world, then I’ve just confounded a whole swathe of my readership!

Nope. Interspersed amongst my usual posts talking about what I’ve learned as a writer, there will now be a series sharing some of the top tips I’ve picked up in foisting myself upon an unsuspecting public. I genuinely hope that they’ll be of use to fellow writers in building your platforms, growing your audience and generally getting the word out there about yourself and your work.

There will, of course, still be gratuitous kittens because that’s what the internet was invented for.


20 thoughts on “Fools, Horses and Writers

  1. As a full-time freelance and ghostwriter, I could not agree more that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg and the rest are mind-sapping necessities.

    I just hate that there is so much noise out there in the social cybernet, but I do appreciate that Al Gore was kind enough to create the Interweb for one and all.

    Please don’t jump from a cliff any time soon, I have only just discovered you and subscribed, and do enjoy your posts.

    Patrick ONeill


    • Thanks Ernesto – I saw a quote recently which said that if you’re going to quit, you may as well do so after 2 hours rather than 2 years, as the net result is the same and you save a lot of effort. Another great reason to stick at it.


    • I doff my hat to you sir 😀 Your tone implies that not only will you continue to write for very many years to come, but also that you are likely to be most successful at any endeavours to which you turn your hand. Best of luck with it.


  2. Oh yes, THANK YOU! Social media is EXHAUSTING, but also sometimes awesome, lol. I’ve actually found the best results, or rather, the most “engagement”, over at Twitter, believe it or not. But I still carry on with the rest of it because well, what else am I gonna do? Lol. Honestly it’s mostly for myself anyway, as a type of memory-building system, a way to not forget all the effort I put forth over the years, my accomplishments, an easier way to reminisce one day vs having to take the time to scrapbook, which I am terrible at. Lol. If I think of it this way, it doesn’t seem like such wasted time. It *is* encouraging to hear about the snowball effect, though, truly. Just like in writing, to be successful we must PERSERVERE, NEVER GIVE UP, WORK HARD! Thank you so much for this awesome and encouraging post and I can’t wait to read the rest! 😀


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