Off The Map: A Writer’s Stumble

Still on Jeff Goins’s Writers’ Road Map, the next step, the seventh, in his twelve step plan is to get 100 subscribers. Why? He sold, he says, fifteen thousand copies of a recent book ‘thanks to email.’ And goes on:

As a writer, I get more “mileage” out of my newsletter than any other platform, including my blog. When I send an email to my list, I often get hundreds of replies, far more engagement than a blog post gets. If I send a link to my email list, people click it. If I ask a question, people answer. If I talk about my new book, people buy it.

Obviously he has more than a hundred subscribers, but one has to start somewhere. The question, then, is how do I get those subscribers? To help me do that he gives me an assignment:

Reach out to 100-200 people via text, Facebook, and email, and ask them if you can add them to your list’ by using this script: ‘Hey, I’m starting a blog about X and want to send out weekly newsletters. Can I include you?

I’m so not going to be able to do that. I’m not starting a blog, I’ve had this one for some time. So that would be a lie. I guess I could say: ‘I’ve started a blog.’ But do I want to send out a weekly newsletter? No. I can’t imagine what I’d put in it that would make it worth receiving, and anyway, I simply can’t bring myself to spam my friends and colleagues. However, not wanting to give up entirely I snatched at an article that landed in my inbox and looked at the advice of Caitlin Jans, of Authors Publish, in the hope that this might provide an alternative – more organic, less aggressive – way to expand my list. Her advice? Set up an Author page on Facebook. Although heaps of people seem to hate Facebook I like its village square feel; it’s a place to bump into old friends and distant relatives, as well as read news the main papers and tv channels don’t bother to publish. I would never know what’s going on in the local theatre without it, and I’ve also found it very useful to publicise events and, recently, to offload a stack of old plastic flower-pots. I do find Facebook a useful tool. But, I have a problem with the term ‘author,’ to me it sounds pompous and, of course, it is from the same root as authority, and I don’t feel particularly authoritative. I know I know some things, but an authority? Eek! 

So I slightly subverted her instructions and set up a page named after this site: Curious-Authentic Ink, with no mention of a human agent at all. To that page I added a sign up button, which leads to this blog, and I’ve started to share arty stuff and news about what’s going on in the region. Not quite sure what the hell that will achieve, but that’s almost part of the fun. I realise this is going to be a long term project, I may not get to buy that fancy shampoo just yet.

Back to the Writers’ Road Map: the next step (8) is to publish ten guest posts. 

Why (and how)? I’ve read this section several times now and still can’t quite work out how this will help me, as a fiction writer/poet. He talks about such things as: ‘positioning your content,’ ‘build[ing] [your] tribe,’ and ‘growing your platform.’ And then he mentions ‘celebrities.’ Yes, it’s not enough to guest post on the blogs of friends and writers I already know, he wants me to go for celebrities. I’m not sure quite what he means by celebrities. Are we talking football players? Oscar winning actors? What is the definition of a celebrity these days? 

Luckily he does provide an example from one of his ’tribe’ who seems to have become a super-blogger by following his advice. Elizabeth made a list of ten blogs on which she ‘dreamed’ of guest posting, and then kept asking them until they said yes. This sounds similar to spamming your friends’ email accounts in step 7. I’m just not that pushy, and anyway, I’m not looking to be a super-blogger. All I want is to write fiction and poems, and not starve in the process. But keeping in with the spirit I turned to Pinterest to see if I could identify ten bloggers I’d ask if I had the nerve. Into the search bar I put:

Writers Writing Blogs

This was a horrible mistake, there are thousands, if not millions, of writer/writing blogs out there. This site alone showcases a hundred of the damn things. I merely became overwhelmed and slightly irritable. Before giving up, though (I had my tax return to avoid) I removed the words ‘writers’ and ‘writing’ from the search bar, saw and clicked on this, which led me to this, which led me to something useful. A site I will actually try submitting an essay to. It is the New York Times’ Modern Love something about which I have quite a bit to say.

So trying to follow the Writers’ Road Map has led me to something positive; I’ll let you know how I get on.

*Bear in mind it can take me months to write an essay.

Header image: delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

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