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 Week 7: Make Your Mark

Free Writing Course > Week 7 Make Your Mark


How to promote and market your guide


This is the final week of our writing course. You have finalized your guide, and are now waiting for royalty cheques to pour in? That is as good as setting up a stall in the forest and selling your guide. No one would know!


Always visualise a marketing campaign first so that you have a course of action to follow. Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.


To help you, here are seven tips on marketing your guide and four ways to increase your credibility.


Note: This course was originally written for printed guidebooks, but most of the tips can be applied to apps, eBooks and websites as well.



Seven marketing tips


1. Start a blog


Write a blog about a topic closely related to your guide. For example, if you are writing about food in China, it would be interesting to blog about different eateries and the types of food you like.


Attractive and high-resolution photos are a bonus. Use carefully chosen keywords to draw in traffic from search engines. For your China food blog, you could use the different types of cuisines as keywords for different articles, and add some general keywords such as 'China food'.


Of course, you want to rank high on Google for highly searched keywords. But keep in mind that the most searched keywords are often also the ones with the highest competition. It is therefore better to start with lower volume, low competition keywords, and try to get a good rankings for them. You will gain more visitors from a page one or two ranking on Google for a low-volume, low competition keyword than from a page 129 ranking for a high volume, high competition keyword.


Allow readers to copy and post your articles in their own blog, as long they add your byline with a link to your blog or guide. A typical and effective byline is 'John Little is the author of China Food Guide'. This increases the chance of people reading about you and your guide.  


2. Talk about your guide


Ensure that your guide cover looks attractive and sell your guide to bookstores in your destination and or home area. Tell them why your book will sell well, and emphasize its unique selling propositions: 'My guidebook has in-depth reviews of restaurants in China with menus decoded to plain English.'


Donate a few copies to libraries and ask if you can do a book reading. Prepare your presentation well before the book reading. You could refer to How to put personality in your videos as guidelines for a good presentation. Book readings are also often held at bookstores.


As a travel writer, you have a distinct advantage over other writers when it comes to events such as book readings: you can include stories of your trip, a photo slideshow, and maybe even a few videos. In this way, you can make the 'readings' interesting happenings, and people will show up just to listen to you. They will surely buy a guide or two in the end.


Don't be ashamed to sell your book in these situations. This is perfectly acceptable. We know of one author who frequently asks customers to buy a second or third copy 'for your friends'. You would be surprised how many more copies he sells with this sentence alone!


Also, tell everyone you know about your guide, and politely ask them to share your email/blog/website with their friends to spread the word. Be careful not be too pushy, though.


We have prepared an email template that you can use for this purpose.


3. Engage social media: leverage Twitter and Facebook


Create a Facebook and a Twitter page for yourself and/or for your guide. Keep updating them on a regular basis with news of your guide, e.g. if you are planning a launch, doing an update trip, or simply have another book reading. You can use your existing accounts or create a new one solely for your guide.


You can also share bits and pieces of your content through your Facebook and Twitter account, e.g. the best bars or restaurants. This will keep people engaged.


Get friends to help refer the page and our guide and soon, you should have a group of fans connected to you.


When you publish your book on GuideGecko, you will receive a free page dedicated to your book. In the top right corner of this page, you will see Facebook and Twitter links. Use these links to share the page with your followers, and ask your friends to do the same. You will also receive a free profile page for yourself. This page has the same links to share it with your friends.


4. Share and provide a preview of your book


Providing a preview by displaying free selected chapters of your book will help interest readers. Most people want to know about a writer’s writing style and book format before making a purchase.


GuideGecko allows you to choose the exact pages for a preview easily. You can select them directly in our Publishing Wizard


5. Create your personal talk show


To create more exposure for your published book, make your personal talk show with services like Youtube.


You may share about your interest in the topic written, ups-and-downs in writing a guidebook, or even interview some readers of your guide, asking them for their honest reviews. Also consider interviewing people in your covered destination, e.g. a taxi driver, a chef, or a hotel owner.


If you are camera-shy, try making an audio show. One option to do this is at Blog Talk Radio. 


6. Issue press releases


You should definitely issue a press release to let the world know about your new book. We have created a whole section on how to write, format and distribute a press release for your guide. Check it out!



7. Use Google Alerts to discover where the conversations are taking place


Contribute to discussions in forums and communities, and increase publicity for your book.


Search for related discussions, e.g. on 'China Food' in the example above. Then add your tips and comments as replies. You can include a short byline and a link to your guide in your signature at the bottom of your posts. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Most forums and communities welcome new contributors, but if the marketing gets too much, they will quickly ban your account. Often, you need to have a certain post count before you can add links.   


How do you track where the conversations are taking place? Create multiple Google Alerts for relevant keywords. Google will email you whenever a new conversation or blog post on a given subject appears.



Now let’s look at how you can increase your credibility as an author and get more fans!



Four ways to increase your credibility


1. Create an identity


If you have artistic and technical skills, create your own business card and flyers to promote yourself and your guide. If not, a printing shop may help you with the designing and printing for a small fee.


There are many portfolios online that showcase business cards and other marketing materials like flyers and posters. Browse through them for an idea on how your art work should look like.


2.  Get endorsements


Gain credibility through an endorsement. Once your guide gets associated with a credible public figure/celebrity, your guide immediately rises to its standing. It is not difficult to ask someone, people are actually often flattered to be asked to endorse a guide. 


Get someone who embodies the spirit of your guide to endorse. For example, if you are writing for backpackers, seek someone who looks tough, adventurous and fun. You can also search for contacts through travel blogs. 


3. Encourage readers to review your guide


Having guide reviews (e.g. on the iTunes app store) will help build credibility. Your prospective readers will be more comfortable purchasing if they see that your guide has already been read and people enjoyed it. Encourage your fans to write honest reviews, your prospective readers will appreciate it.


Your free book page on GuideGecko allows readers to easily contribute reviews and ratings for your book, and you can even comment on them.


4. Write guest posts on travel blogs


Many bloggers would like to post more often than their time allows them. This is where you can come in with a guest posting. Guest postings offer you the opportunity to write about a topic related to your guide. In case of popular blogs, you can easily reach thousands of people. But do not only go for the big ones, guest posts on smaller blogs will also attract visitors to your guide.


Usually, the owner of the blog will give you a short bio or byline along with your post. You should mention who you are and add a link to your guide in the bio or byline.


Start looking for blogs related to your destination or the topic you cover, and 'borrow' some of their readers!



Get going!


Now that we have given you some ideas, it’s your turn to get it on! Move on to our suggested readings and marketing exercise, or publish your own guidebook right away!


This concludes our writing course. If you liked the course, please tell your friends about it - the course page has Facebook and Twitter links as well :-). Also feel free to leave a comment there, no matter if you want to praise the course or give us feedback on how to improve it. Thanks!





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