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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.

Anya Kamenetz hosted a conversation about kids, parenting, and technology to collect feedback for and raise awareness of her forthcoming book.

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:

It’s not just nonfiction; Emma Straub published an excerpt of her novel.

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…

…and book sales, as this note on an excerpt from Brian Grazer’s book attests:

“I’m very impressed with Medium’s reach; my book excerpt in Cuepoint was shared more than my excerpts in VF [Vanity Fair], Newsweek, [and The] Daily Beast.” — Marcus Baram

4. Publish an op-ed or original piece

Take advantage of a newsy moment to write an op-ed, like writer and activist Jenny Boylan did about Orlando and the presidential election.

Brooke Hauser, author of a biography about Cosmopolitan founder Helen Gurley Brown, urged women’s magazines to get political.

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.

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.

Walter Isaacson published a piece from his manuscript and reached 18,200 people in its first week online — “approximately 18,170 more draft readers than [he’d] ever had in the past.”

(One of them was the subject of his piece, Stewart Brand, who sent Walter comments and corrections.)

Kevin Ashton wrote popular posts about creativity and innovation that he incorporated into his book, and Steve Case crowdsourced edits from readers for the paperback edition of his book.

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).

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

Ask readers to share stories with you via a contest, like joyce maynard did with her publisher on the occasion of her latest novel’s publication (the prize: a week-long stay at a writer’s retreat).

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

Try your hand at telling your story in a visual way. Chad Millman reinvented his book, about America’s first terrorist attack, in graphic form on the occasion of the event’s 100th anniversary.

13. Publish an entire book

No agent or publisher? No problem. Publish your book on Medium yourself. Economist Tyler Cowen and media commentator Jeff Jarvis did exactly that.

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.

You can also read about Medium’s features and follow @medium on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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Kate Lee

Kate Lee

currently @stripe, ex-@WeWork, @medium, ICM Partners

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