Firsthand: How I grew my online followers by Paula Greenlees
Firsthand experiences of creative people marketing their work - because we learn more through sharing and collaboration.
I’m opening up the Anna Caig Communications blog to writers and other creative people to share their experiences of DIY marketing. These are posts by the people who’ve been there, done that, rolled up their sleeves and cracked on with finding audiences and promoting their work. Get in touch if you'd like to write a Firsthand post.
This post is by Paula Greenlees, whose debut novel Journey to Paradise came out last year. One of the most effective things Paula has done to promote her book and grow her online following is throw herself wholeheartedly into collaboration with the Debut 21 group of authors - by amplifying and supporting her fellow debuts, she's built networks and found opportunities to promote her own work.
How I grew my online following
I started a D21 Instagram page where the D21 authors could post their jacket covers, book blurb and a five-minute reading of their books under a collaborative page to a wider audience and readings to a larger number of people. It was also a great way to get to know other authors.
Being a debut novelist is daunting. Being a debut novelist during a pandemic, is even more so. One of the things that really helped me during this time was connecting with debut authors on Facebook and other online forums. I was a complete novice and didn’t know the power of social media.
The first thing I did was to join a Facebook Group for authors and then through this, a subgroup called the Debuts 21 grew. We were able to share information, launch dates, etc., that were relevant to debut authors, as well as gaining an insight into the various uses of social media, and one author very kindly taught us all about Canva! I also signed up for a couple of online courses, including a marketing and branding session with Anna Caig Communications, which was a fabulous session focusing on how as an author I could grow a brand. I learnt to promote and talk about what was special about my book and writing: in other words, what was special to me, and therefore thinking of my writing as product or a brand.
As a result, I grew in confidence using Instagram, I started a D21 Instagram page where the D21 authors could post their jacket covers, book blurb and a five-minute reading of their books under a collaborative page to a wider audience and readings to a larger number of people. It was also a great way to get to know other authors, and as a result we all share Tweets and posts whenever we have any book news – and yes, Canva does come in helpful promoting this, too.
Another benefit of Instagram is interacting with bloggers. I was very lucky to find Instabook Tours, who were setting up at the time and offered me a book tour on Instagram. This was wonderful and coincided with my eBook launch. All the bloggers were completely amazing and posted on Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, Goodreads and Net Galley. Instabook Tours has grown, and in July there is going to be a networking event where author and bloggers will be able to connect – I can’t wait to get to know more lovely authors and bloggers!
More recently, I have started an historical fiction author interview feature on my website. Although it involves a bit of work, it is fascinating to read about the thought processes behind author’s works and to see the array of covers, topics and to chat with the authors. I think starting a blog like this, or interviewing authors and posting about it on social media, is a great way of connecting with like-minded people and being part of a writing community, which in turn helps to grow your social media presence and followers. It is through activities like this in Twitter that I was lucky enough to be invited to have a book signing at my local indie bookshop, Kenilworth Books, be invited to talk at Creative Writing workshop, to get a feature in the local paper and to participate in the upcoming South Warwickshire Literary Festival in September.
The main benefits of social media have to be growing your audience, connecting with bloggers and other authors, along with discovering and being invited to take part in events and learning about new forums in which to participate. There is a wonderful community of writers and readers out there. By following other people, liking tweets or posts, your audience not only grows, it also snowballs!
My debut novel Journey to Paradise is set in 1940s Singapore. My second novel, The Forgotten Promise, set in Malaya during the Japanese Occupation, is out as an ebook first in September 2022 and as a paperback in December.
About the Firsthand blog series
The Firsthand series is hosted by Anna Caig and open to any creative person who’d like to reflect on an element of marketing and promoting their own work - from the success stories to what we learn from those tumbleweed moments (don’t worry, they happen to the best of us!) You don't have to have worked with Anna and if you have, you don't have to refer to it in your post - this is about sharing and collaboration, not testimonials.
Contact Anna for a brief if you’ve got a Firsthand experience you'd like to to share.
These posts are based on subjective experience and are the view of the individual writer.