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Firsthand: Play to your book marketing strengths by Vicky Woodgate

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 Vicky Woodgate, a nonfiction writer and fabulous illustrator. Vicky cleverly brings a range of her skills into her book marketing. We need to take advantage of every weapon in our arsenal when it comes to connecting with readers, and Vicky's work is a great example of how to do this in a practical way.

Vicky Woodgate, head and shoulders
Vicky Woodgate

Play to your book marketing strengths

Being a nonfiction writer l also pitched articles with illustrations to relevant publications – the trade off, links and images of my books, instant exposure to a target audience and great content to share.

What works and what doesn’t? That's the million-dollar question. And I still don’t know. My book, The Magic of Sleep, came out smack bang in the middle of lockdown, l therefore decided to take on more of the marketing myself, some things worked great and some not so much. Firstly, I let the publisher know what I was planning so we could work in tandem. Advice and guidance were invaluable from Anna – deciding what I ultimately wanted to achieve and how my skill set could help this. Being both an author and illustrator, visual aids like animated gifs, little films and fun visuals on social media seemed a good idea. I decided to use Instagram as it’s great for artists but also Twitter because you get an instant rapport if directed correctly, an afterthought was Facebook, posting the posts from the other platforms. I also wanted to guide people to my website to see my work and profile, and of course build a mail list base. I offered freebie downloads and activity sheets to get people to sign up - the publishers also snapped these up too. This worked very well. Mind you it would work better if I had the time to send out a newsletter! Being a nonfiction writer l also pitched articles with illustrations to relevant publications – the trade off, links and images of my books, instant exposure to a target audience and great content to share. It’s hard work but this worked great. As did book giveaways, interviews, and podcasts, some generated by me and some by the PR team. One year on and my next book just came out, The Magic of Seasons. This time the publisher was much more on the case, I also set up more articles earlier and decided what I would post on social media well in advance. So back to the question what worked and what didn’t. Articles - that’s a big yes.

Instagram growth - that’s a no, you must post consistently to build and even then, many posts just don’t seem to get seen at the moment. I plan to post more this year; I’ll give it one more go - famous last words!

Twitter - better than instagram for engagement but animated gifs are a lot of work for an instant flash on a scrolling screen. Getting retweets is great and competition giveaways are brilliant as are joining conversations, tuning into to relevant hashtags still works a treat.

Facebook – a little meh. Not for me. The animated gifs and movies did not go to waste, co-editions and my publishers loved getting that content from me and used it, so actually the reach may have been a lot bigger than I can see, plus they are fun to do. Ultimately, I think I have achieved a better online presence in the past year. I make sure everything is up to date, including news on my website and my socials – even if it’s retweeting or reposting something else, or reusing older posts. So, when people come looking for me l am ready for engagement, and they can see I am out there, ready to say hi! ☺

Vicky Woodgate

Vicky Woodgate is a UK based author and illustrator. For over 20 years, she worked as a commercial artist around the world on fun and interesting projects, in recent years she moved into writing and illustrating for children. Her love of the natural world led to writing Urban Jungle and A World of Birds, published by Big Picture Press, her latest series The Magic of Sleep (2021) and her new book The Magic of Seasons: A Fascinating Guide to Seasons Around the World (2022), is published by Dorling and Kindersley. You can buy Vicky Woodgate’s latest book The Magic of Seasons here: Find Vicky: Website: Instagram: @vicky_woodgate

Twitter: @vickywoodgate Facebook: @vickywoodgateAuthorIllustrator

Links to articles:

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.


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