13 Ways for Authors to Engage on Medium
You’ve just spent a year, two years, five, writing your book. Now you’re releasing it out into the world, and you just want everyone to read it. But getting attention for your book amid the great deluge of content can be hard.
Perhaps your agent, editor, or publicist has told you that you need a website, but you’re hard-pressed to know what to do with it. You don’t know what to write on a regular basis or how to maintain it technically or attract a readership.
What you do know is that you need to be where readers are: a space that’s beautiful and easy in which to publish, requires no maintenance, and provides immediate distribution.
That’s where Medium — a place where thinkers, experts, and writers of all stripes have come to converse, engage, and express themselves — can help. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
1. Set up your author website
Unlike a standalone website, Medium ensures you’ll never publish into the void — and when you connect your Medium publication to your Twitter credentials, you’ll bring any Twitter followers who also have Medium accounts with you as followers of your new website, too. Get started with a publication and learn more about how to keep or request a custom domain.
2. Host a conversation
There are numerous ways to converse with readers and other writers on Medium. Advice columnist Heather Havrilesky (aka “Ask Polly”) and author solicited readers’s questions and answered them over the course of a week.
You can also hold a conversation with a friend on the platform upon your book’s publication, or post highlights from an interview or Reddit AMA. Cass Sunstein and Baratunde Thurston discussed their mutual love of Star Wars, while Eric Ries did a Q&A with Steve Case. Fargo creator Noah Hawley shared highlights from his AMA (which can be embedded into Medium).
3. Publish an excerpt
Give readers a taste of your book before it’s released. Publish an excerpt, like bestselling food writer J. Kenji López-Alt and Daniel J. Levitin both did, and include a robust footer with an image of the jacket, a copyright line, and link(s) to buy:
But you don’t have to wait until your book is about to go on sale to publish a teaser. You can do so at any time—after publication, if a discount is offered, when the paperback or a new edition is released, or when a news story or event makes the book newly relevant.
The best part: Excerpts have spurred discovery…
4. Publish an op-ed or original piece
Donald Trump, You Are Not My Voice
Last night, in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention Donald Trump said he’d fight for LGBTQ Americans, and…
You don’t need a news event to write about your book — publication milestones are also opportune moments: Literary agent Betsy Lerner shared her adventures at a bridge tournament when her memoir about the game was published, while Gayle Tzemach Lemmon wrote about telling women’s war stories on the occasion of her book’s paperback publication.
5. Discuss the writing process
Many readers are hungry for expertise from writers who have successfully navigated the writing and publishing process. Google Ventures’s Jake Knapp took readers behind the process of designing his book cover. Rufi Thorpe described both the terror and wonder of being a debut novelist. Noah Hawley explained how he plays with story structure. Emily Gould wrote about the financial hardship she incurred when writing her novel.
From ‘Fargo’ to Fiction: Telling Stories Differently
Whom is the story about? How is it told? These are the biggest questions a writer faces.
6. Test ideas and get feedback
On Medium, a focus group is at your fingertips. Solicit feedback by sharing a draft of your work with a select group of collaborators, or with the entire Medium community.
(One of them was the subject of his piece, Stewart Brand, who sent Walter comments and corrections.)
7. Generate early buzz for your book
These days, it’s more important than ever to build an audience well in advance of your book’s publication. Create a marketing moment yourself by posting a cover reveal, like sarah knight did for her book (more on that below).
Hello, and welcome to the cover reveal for my book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck…
How soon? December 29th, 2015. Thanks for asking!
8. Publish an update
Perhaps you published an epilogue in a later edition of your book, or the story is ripe for an update since your book was published. Jon Krakauer updated Into the Wild with an epilogue about how main character Chris McCandless died, a version of which he published on Medium.
9. Publish outtakes from your book
Not every word that you wrote is going to make it into your book — but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have value. Publish scenes from the cutting room floor, like CNN analyst Brian Stelter did for an anecdote about how the TV news morning shows reacted on 9/11.
10. Hold a contest
11. Annotate your index
If you’ve written a book of nonfiction, chances are that it includes an index. Share behind-the-scenes stories by annotating it, like Antonio García Martínez did. He used responses and mentions to call attention to the numerous players (and Medium users) in his book, a tell-all about Silicon Valley.
12. Storyboard your book
The Night America First Faced Terror
On a summer night 100 years ago, terrorists blew up New York Harbor, destroying lower Manhattan. Here is how it…
13. Publish an entire book
Introducing ‘Stubborn Attachments’: Short Reads for Medium Readers
In my new essay, Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, I ask…
But wait, there’s more!
Medium isn’t only a platform for those who are already writing or have written a book—it can help jump-start that process. Multiple books have resulted from Medium posts: Refe Tuma launched the Dinovember movement on Medium, which led to book and movie deals. Designer elle luna’s inspirational post was published in expanded form, as was sarah knight’s paean to quitting her job. Due Quach is writing a book based on her piece about her experience being “poor and traumatized” at Harvard.
Publications on Medium have also spawned book deals: Journalist Ethan Brown’s investigation into a series of True Detective-like murders, which was published in Matter, will soon hit shelves. Clemantine Wamariya’s story (with Elizabeth Weil) about her life as a Rwandan refugee, also first published in Matter, will become a book as well. And Backchannel (The Backchannel Team) contributor Rex Sorgatz found an audience with his writing about tech and culture, which led to a book deal.
It’s a whole new world for authors — one in which you advance ideas and engage in meaningful conversation; where you meet, and interact with, your readers wherever they are; where you’re publicizing your book year-round, not just on publication; where you control the means of publication.
So sign up and get started.