If your goal is to sell books, attract new business or raise your profile as an expert in your field, then bylined articles are a great way to reach your target audience with a controlled message showcasing your expertise.
First, what is a bylined article? It is an article, written by you, and published in a magazine, newspaper, or online outlet. Full credit is given to you as the author, with a blurb about you, your book, and your business–ideally with a photo, an image of your book cover, and links to your website and book’s Amazon page.
Placement of your article gives you credibility, continues to establish you as a leader and expert in your field, differentiates you from your competitors, and sparks book sales. Articles may also open new opportunities for you, including regular article submissions, expert commentary, consulting projects, speaking engagements, and new business opportunities. All of these have happened for our clients, including one business author who shared that he received more than $500,000 in new business and drove his book to the bestseller list as a direct result of just a few months of this type of media exposure, primarily in targeted industry trade publications. Another author had his bylined article featured as a full page article in TIME Magazine, which opened many doors for him, his book, and his consulting business.
Here are some tips for writing a bylined article to increase your chance for placement:
1. Pick a topic offering valuable information to your target audience. The article cannot be about how great you are or how wonderful your book is. Although that might be the case, you need to select a topic related to your book and expertise that will inform, educate, or inspire readers. Giving solid content that addresses your audience’s concerns is key. The goal is to give readers meaningful information through your insights, experience, and advice and to entice them to want to learn more about you and your book.
Here are examples:
- Business relationship author wrote an article on tips to remember people’s names. Target audience—sales managers.
- TIME Magazine featured an author who wrote this article: Don’t Become Irreplaceable—have a plan to successfully sell your business. Target audience—small business owners.
- A successful female CEO and author wrote this article: Women You’re Unique. You Lead Differently from Men, and that’s a Good Thing—Especially in the World of Business! Target audience—women starting their careers.
2. Include lessons learned/case studies. Showcase your expertise by including case studies where there was a real-life challenge and how your advice resulted in a positive solution. Readers will learn from the lesson and you will shine as an authority. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Look at the chapters in your book and isolate one point to write about. Again, the goal is to entice people to learn more about you.
3. Know your media outlet. If you have a particular magazine, blog, or online site in mind, read the type and style of bylined articles they publish. If your relationship self-help book can be useful to teens, women, and newly divorced women, write an article specific to one audience. Don’t make it generic. If your entrepreneurial book can be of use to a specific industry, write an article just for them—the family restaurant, a graphic design freelancer, a financial planner, etc.
4. Choosing the right article headline. Again, look through your favorite magazine or online sites for article headlines that grab your attention. Use active, not passive words. Highlight benefits, not features. Examples of weak and strong headlines:
Fabulous Diet Tip that Makes a Difference!
or better ….
5 Ways to Visibly Reduce Body Fat in 30 Days
Use Back Up Storage Drive With 1TB of Memory
or better …
Never Lose Another Computer File Again
Investing Your Money For the Future
or better …
10 Painless Ways to Save NOW for Your Preschooler’s College Education
5. Know the length of an article. A good rule of thumb for the length of an article is between 700 and 1,200 words. If you have a specific outlet in mind, check submission guidelines for the outlet.
6. Contacting the right media and determining exclusivity. First, while national media exposure and big name media features are always welcomed, many authors find more value with coverage in small, trade publications that reach their exact target audience. Some outlets want exclusivity–to be the only place featuring your article–and will ask if your content has been published elsewhere. Therefore, contact (emailing the editor is the best place to start) your “home run” outlets first with your article and your bio. Some media outlets will still accept an article if has already been published as long as it’s a good fit for their readers. Offer to write an exclusive article (especially on your high-priority outlets) and brainstorm ideas that fit their needs and editorial calendar. Often you don’t have to rewrite an entire article to make it exclusive or fitting for the target audience. Once you have one article placed, contact the publication again offering more topics for new articles.
7. Using your published article. Once published, showcase your articles as part of your resume, in your brochures, as handouts in your presentations, on your website, etc. Published articles give you credibility—be sure to include tag lines such as “featured on HuffingtonPost.com,” or “as featured in TIME Magazine.” Plus, online articles never go away and will turn up when people search for you online.
Although bylined articles take care and thought in creating, the benefits of showcasing your book and expertise are priceless.
Sandra Poirier-Diaz is president of Smith Publicity, one of the premier book publicity and book marketing firms in the industry. Since 1997, Smith Publicity has implemented more than 1,600 promotional campaigns. For more information please visitwww.smithpublicity.com or Sandy@smithpublicity.com