Becoming a Content Provider

Our series on author marketing will explore the traditional modes of marketing, but before we do, we need to talk about “content providers.”

Authors are, first and foremost, content providers. We write books (fiction or nonfiction) which contain … content. In all the talk about marketing, sales, and branding, authors sometimes forget a fundamental truth: we are content providers first.

Being a “content provider” means providing useful information which other people want to receive and consume. At the core, of course, authors provide content in and through the books we write–but content is a form of marketing, too. Why are you reading this post or following the #PubLaw hashtag feed on Twitter? Hopefully, because it provides content you find useful or interesting. Every author–every person–has interesting content to provide.

Your job is to figure out what content YOU can offer others.

On one level, your content is your book. But the book is never the end of an author’s story (pardon the pun).

If you write historical novels, you probably know far more about a time and place than your novels include. If you write science fiction, you probably know your tech. 

Every author has hobbies and areas of expertise that include, but also go beyond, the subjects of their novels. For example, I’m an author and a seahorse-wrangler in addition to writing ninja mysteries. 

The key to becoming a content provider is finding ways to share the information and topics you know and love. Sometimes, this means “sharing for free” and other times, you’ll be paid for doing it–but every time, it helps people get to know you.

When people come to an author for valuable content, and learn that the author “also” writes books, they often want to buy the book as well. Some of the most important “marketing” an author can do is finding ways to provide valuable content in addition to the published books an author wants to sell.

Providing content spans a range of activities, from social media and blogging to articles and public appearances (paid and unpaid).

The good news about providing content is that it doesn’t require a giant advertising and marketing budget. It does, however, require time and consistent effort. In the weeks to come, we’ll talk in detail about the various ways that authors can offer content (free and paid) to build an audience. We’ll also talk about how to encourage your content audience to take a look at your books, without being pushy or spammy.

Some people shy away from “offering content” because they see it as “too much effort” with low return. However, paid ads don’t have high returns either. And there’s another important point about content providers: people like them.

The publishing world is filled with competing choices and voices. Becoming a content provider helps you stand out from the crowd. If you write in multiple genres, you may have multiple areas in which you can offer content. Don’t be afraid to utilize them all.

We’re going to look at many specific aspects of providing content and marketing, but we’ll start with the budget-friendly (free) ones. Next week, we’ll start with a look at Twitter as a venue for providing content and author marketing – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Between now and then, here’s your homework: find a topic (or more than one) about which YOU can offer useful content. Be creative, and remember, sharing content that others provide can be a form of providing content too (but remember not to plagiarize).

Find your topic, and think about three ways you could share the information with others, using Twitter (or another form of social media). Don’t worry if you get stuck – we’ll walk through the steps together in next week’s PubLaw!