DBF Interviews: Rachel Killeen

rachel-killeenFor over 20 years, Rachel Killeen has enjoyed a varied career in business, corporate and treasury banking. In 2008, she traded in her corporate heels for hiking boots to travel and to write Client Science (Chartered Accountants Ireland) a professional services marketing book and to establish Killeen Communications. Rachel’s latest book Digital Marketing (Chartered Accountants Ireland) aims to help smart businesses win the online customer loyalty battle by simplifying message, media and method. Rachel is now a professional writer and speaker inspiring businesses to innovate and flourish.

You can learn more from Rachel at The Business Clinic, an interactive Q&A session with our panel of savvy experts at Dublin Book Festival 2017.


Q. What are your top five tips for writers – using Digital Marketing?

Writing is a business. If you want a following of readers and commercial success for your book, then regard your writing as a commercial enterprise, not just an artistic endeavour.

Every business starts with a customer. In your case, the readers and buyers of your books, are customers.


Q.  What is Digital Marketing for writers?

Digital Marketing allows you to market your writing, your profile and your genre using digital technologies, which include: Internet, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, and even outdoor advertising.

If your aim is to get your writing to online readers, then you can use email, advertising, website content, mobile phone apps, gaming, video, and social media sites – such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for example.


Q. Can you suggest five ways that writers can use digital marketing?

Writers often don’t have a marketing budget for their writing.  So my five tips are low-cost!


Rachel Killeen’s Top Five Digital Marketing Tips for Writers:


1. Know who you are writing for. 

Before you publish a book – before you even start writing a book – ask yourself, what do my readers want from me? Do some research:

  • Profile your ideal reader – Identify their lifestyle, occupation, hobbies and interests
  • Get inside their mind – Feel what they feel, think how they think
  • Work out their priorities and motivations – What motivates them to live as they do – is it luxury, is it eco-friendly living, is it life experience, is it education?

Once you understand your ideal reader, their likes and dislikes, priorities and motivations – as they relate to your writing – then you can work out your genre, your storyline and how to attract readers online.

For example, a writer of a gardening book may find that there is a gap in the market for a book on garden design. The writer may find that gardeners seek new ideas; innovative ways to design small gardens, and their priority is to recycle and ensure that their garden has space to entertain. The well-researched writer will then write to that brief.

A crime-fiction writer may find that their ideal readers are interested in historical crime cases, and in the psychological back-story of fictional characters. They may be motivated, for example, by an interest in psychology and a desire to escape the daily grind by reading a terrifying thriller based on a true story.

Understanding the reader, help writers to appeal to the person that will eventually buy their book.


2. Find out where your readers hang out – online.

When you research your ideal readers, you can find out where they hang out online.  List the websites that your potential readers are most likely to interact with.

Taking the gardening book example.  If your readers follow specific gardening websites, then seek out opportunities to provide guest blog articles, specialist insights and tips for garden enthusiasts on those websites.

Be topical, advisory, supportive and even controversial – but not sales focused.  Your aim is to support the motivations and interests of your potential readers not advertise.

Website owners are always looking for free and fresh content. Providing articles helps to establish you, the writer, as an expert contributor. You can gently mention your book and where it’s available at the end of each article.


3. Establish your own digital marketing presence

Once you understand the dynamics of your readers – their motivations, their priorities, and their places of reference online – then you can confidently establish your own Internet pages.

These Internet pages can simply be a small WordPress website, a Facebook page, or an Instagram or Twitter account, for example. You may even choose to post videos on YouTube.

It is important to keep your personal profile and the profile of your writing as simple and uncomplicated as possible. Think reader not writer. Use good quality images and photos. Update your content regularly. Find ways to interact with your readers, such as blog articles, photo galleries, video, links to other interesting websites and details of events that are relevant to those who will read your pages.

A crime writer might set up a facebook page profiling their latest book. That Facebook page might also provide a repository of unsolved true crime stories, in addition to the book promotion. This additional content may well attract attention to the page, start the conversation flowing and further establish the writer in their chosen genre.


4. Seek independent evaluation.

‘Self praise is no praise’, as they say. So make sure that every piece of positive endorsement that you get for your writing is recorded, so that potential readers get an unbiased perspective on your book.

Include reader testimonials, any positive comments from journalists, and where possible a comment from an authority in your field. For example, the gardening book writer may seek to get testimonials from well-known or celebrity gardening experts or from people with extraordinary gardens.

Social media works well for authors. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram your aim is to attract a group of followers that like your work and want to get updates as you post them. Try to get as many ideal readers on board to support, like or follow your pages and your book as possible. Invite people to post comments endorsing your work. Provide useful and interesting articles and links to other websites and articles to show your interest in the genre. Not every article you post can promote your one piece of writing – so think laterally to attract new readers.


5. Partnerships

There is so much divisiveness in the world today. We can all feel a bit lonely and isolated – perched behind a desk with a pen, paper and peppermint tea. I believe that joint initiatives and partnerships are key to a writer’s success.

All writers have one thing in common – they live in a community setting. That may be urban, suburban or rural. There are always opportunities to promote your writing in association with other writers, in association with other artists, in association with other businesses, seeking to attract like-minded customers.

Link with local partners in your area.  If your genre is gardening – think garden centre. If your genre is romance – think Valentine’s promotion. Link with local newspapers, local stores, local community centres, and local educational facilities.

Through partnerships, we spread the word about each other’s ventures and we build audiences for our work. In a divided world, togetherness forges success.