All aspiring and published authors should consider themselves journalists. Whether you want to build author platform or you simply want to find ways to promote your book, articles provide an effective promotional element to add to your marketing toolbox.
It’s easy enough to simply write articles about the topic of your book “off the top of your head,” but interviewing other experts or commenting on current news that relates to your book can help you place more articles and, ultimately, sell books. If you are still in the author-platform-building, book-blogging or blog-readership building stage, articles can drive traffic to your site and help build visibility for you and your work.
Should You Worry About Getting Paid?
If you have never had an article published, that first gig can be the most difficult one to land. If you’ve got many bylines under your belt, landing freelance writing assignments gets easier and you are likely to get paid something for most, if not all, of them.
While still in college I wrote many free articles as an intern to get those sought-after bylines that would help me get a job and paid writing assignments after graduation. Today, I still occasionally write articles for publications that provide me or my books with good “exposure.” I try most of the time to get paid for my work, though.
Many experts frown on writing for free. If your goal is to build platform, increase blog readership or subscriber base and sell books, you shouldn’t worry about payment. It’s nice to also get paid for your work, but primarily you want your work to get seen. The more it gets seen—with a bio that includes links to your blog (or blogged book) and to your book (or sale on Amazon.com or elsewhere), the better off you will be in the long run.
Of course, writing for your blog entails writing for free, as does guest blogging. “Free” has become much more acceptable, especially if you are trying to build platform or promote your work. Many bloggers consider the posts they publish “articles,” and the larger sites, like Social Media Examiner, call themselves “magazines” and publish “articles” as well.
Guest posting is a wonderful way to expose yourself to a different audience and expand your reach beyond your own subscribers and social media followers. Research which blogs are the most popular in your niche or category (subject area), get familiar with them, comment on them, and then, when you feel you have a sound reputation as a blogger, approach them for guest posting gig. This means you need to email a pitch to the blogger. The pitch should include an actual blog post idea and the reason why you have the credentials to write that post for their particular site.
Write for Publications
The easiest place to garner actual print publication articles may be local and regional publications. Seek out some in your area that might be interested in your book’s subject matter and send them a query letter. A query letter also provides a pitch and your credentials as well as the details of the article you plan to write.
If you are an expert in your subject area, you can approach national magazines right off the bat. Send a query letter and stress your credentials over your lack of bylines.
To find publications that might want to publish articles on the topic of your book, get the 2014 Writer’s Market. It’s best to purchase the printed book with the online option, which allows you to check the updated search engine to find publications cover your topic. Then filter through the results. This resource is also a great supplement to what you see on the newsstand or find elsewhere. It doesn’t include all publications.
You may also find online “magazines” and newsletters interested in your work. Not all of them will pay. You can decide if the promotional opportunities are worth your time and effort.