The Best-Kept Fiction Marketing Secret

By Sandra Beckwith

What’s the best kept fiction marketing secret out there? Guest blogging.

Savvy, successful novelists know it helps them reach more readers in a way that’s more meaningful than tweets or Facebook posts.

I’m constantly recommending this tactic to fiction writers, but they resist, telling me, “That’s for nonfiction authors.”

They’re wrong.

5 Reasons Why Guest Blogging is Smart for Novelists

Here’s why – if you’re smart – you’ll take a fresh look at this effective book marketing tactic:

  1. Guest blogging helps you reach more of the right readers.
  2. You’ll create relationships with your blog host and their followers – relationships that can follow you back to your own website and social networks.
  3. Readers who learn about your book through guest blogging can purchase your book immediately from your article on the host’s site.
  4. Your article remains online indefinitely, making it a long-term marketing tool for your book.
  5. It will improve your own website’s SEO – search engine optimization – by linking back to your site.

The best part of this? Guest blogging is free. The only cost is your time.

Your time has value, of course, but you’ll invest time in any marketing tactic. How much time do you spend on Facebook and Instagram? Could you apply some of that to guest blogging on the right sites instead?

What’s Better Than Contributing to Genre Blogs?

In spite of these and other reasons, many novelists don’t write guest posts. Those who do usually write only for their friends’ blogs or for genre-specific sites.

And that’s all good.

But you know what’s even better?

Adding topic specific blogs to your list of potential guest blog sites.

Here’s how it works: You have within your manuscript what I call “nonfiction nuggets” – also known as “news hooks.” These are the nonfiction elements in your book.

Guest blogging for topic-specific sites requires identifying these nonfiction nuggets, then finding blogs about those topics. Here are just a few examples of these nonfiction gems commonly found in fiction:

  • Real life settings
  • Professions
  • Hobbies
  • Medical conditions
  • Industries
  • Themes
  • Conflicts

This might seem a bit abstract, so let’s look at a couple of examples.

Matching Nonfiction Nuggets With Topic Bloggers

Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries. Her Cumberland Creek series is about a group of scrapbookers while the Cora Crafts books are craft retreat mysteries. For the Cumberland Creek series, she can guest blog for blogs dedicated to the nonfiction element of scrapbooking, while for the crafting mysteries, she can write for blogs about crafting – one of that series’ nonfiction nuggets.

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan, includes a character who’s a worm farmer. Trust me, if there’s a blog for worm farmers (wormers?), you know they’d be interested in learning why she chose that profession for her book.

Did you read A Man Called Ove? Had Frederik Backman chosen to be a guest blogger, he could have approached blogs about grief and loss to talk about how he developed Ove’s feelings about grief.

Does your book feature a character with a health problem or disease? Approach bloggers on that topic. Did you write a children’s book about inclusion and acceptance? Approach bloggers who focus on promoting diversity. Is your book’s setting a real place? If it’s not a major metropolitan area, bloggers in the region will be interested in a guest post about why you selected that locale.

A Guest Blogging Exercise for You

Try this exercise: Skim through your novel to find the nonfiction nuggets.

List them — I’ll bet you can find at least three (and probably many more).

Then look for blogs on that topic (quick tip: type in the topic and the word “blogs”).

This simple process could vastly expand your reach to readers who will quite likely be interested in your novel because some of it addresses a topic, place, or something else they’re interested in.

Give It a Try

Once you’ve identified blogs, review their sites to see if they accept guest posts.

Make a list of those that do, then select one to use as a trial. Send a brief email introducing yourself and offering a couple of article topics that are a good fit for the site’s content.

If the host wants to move forward with one of your ideas – or another that they propose – request a word count and deadline. Before writing, study posts on the site so you’re clear on the preferred format and style. (For example, are there a lot of bullet points? Are paragraphs long or short?)

Deliver an error-free guest post that fits with the site’s style on time. Include a link to your preferred online retailer for your book, a brief bio, your author head shot, and your book cover image. Even if the host didn’t request them, they’ll appreciate having them on hand if they’re needed.

You’ll soon see that identifying the nonfiction nuggets in your book and matching them to blogs on that topic will help you find more readers in unexpected places.  And, anything that helps you connect with new readers who are interested in what you’re writing about will help you entertain as many readers as possible with your book.

Give it a try!

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Sandra Beckwith is an author and national award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to save thousands of dollars by doing their own publicity, promotion, and marketing. You might have seen her on “The Montel Williams Show,” or “CBS This Morning,” or read about her in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. Feedspot has ranked her website, Build Book Buzz, in the top 10 among thousands of book marketing blogs worldwide; it has also been named a top website for authors and writers six other times. Get your “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” when you subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter at https://buildbookbuzz.com/gift .