Intro to Content marketing for authors

Content marketing is an easy win for authors, and in many ways a lot of us are doing it already without knowing why it’s called that or what it’s for!

I came to content marketing after being an author, but it’s only this year I really started to put together the value for authors.

Quite simply, content marketing is putting content out into the world that could help people find you, trust you, and eventually buy something from you. It’s about building your brand and becoming an authority. But it can just be about being recognisable.

Blog tours

If you’ve taken part in a blog tour, congrats, you’ve done content marketing! These are excellent because they get your name out there on multiple sites, promoting your book and increasing recognition. If every blogger on the tour links back to your website as well (called a backlink), that’s building your website authority, which makes Google more likely to recognise that when they search for your book title, or your name, they mean you.

Sharing your knowledge

Okay, so blog tours are great because your book title and image will be around all over the place and hopefully more people will see it because it’s being shared by multiple people.

An example of some promo images I’ve been putting out there…

But when it comes to people googling your name or book title, well, the work’s already been done. So how do you reach those people who don’t know who the hell you are, or how much they’d enjoy your book?

You blog!

By blogging about things your audience are interested in, you’re more likely to find them! So if you’ve written a novel about a haunted house, writing an article like ‘Top 10 best haunted houses to visit in the UK’ or ‘Top books about haunted houses’ is likely to find you the right audience! (Also, you’d be mad not to add your own book to the bottom of that list!)

There are usually two responses to this recommendation:

How do I know what to write?

How do I know anyone will care?


It’s called keyword research and it’s part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is basically how Google figures out what to list at the top of a search page, and how they can tell it was what you were looking for.

A simple way to start is just by researching your topics on Google. Then look at the recommended/alternate questions, or what it autofills with:

Already you’ve now got ideas for multiple articles based on what people are searching for: Top 10 haunted house movies, a review of one of the films, lists or reviews of top attractions, sharing your own haunted story…

As for how to get people to find you? There are a few best practices:

  • Make your title match the search query (if people are searching for ‘haunted houses’ make sure that phrase is in the title)
  • Be clear about what you’re writing (if it’s a list, use bullet points or numbers)
  • Have a look at what other people have written on the subject, can you add anything else? Have you got a new approach, or more information?
  • Share it on social media!

Obviously, on a professional level there’s loads more you can do, and there’s lots of tech opportunities and you can deep dive into keyword research and competition to get to the top of the listings, but from an author level, all you want to do is raise your profile!

Write for others

This one’s a no brainer but try to get written features elsewhere, whether that print or online. It doesn’t have to be a newspaper or magazine (although that’s excellent) – just being featured on a fellow author’s blog, or a bloggers page, with a link back to your site is helpful.

You reach potential new audiences and hopefully get a link back to your site. Whilst link building isn’t as important as it once was, think of it the way you would about a library book that’s been taken out hundreds of times: you’d trust that book, wouldn’t you? If so many people have found it helpful, it’ll probably help you too.

That’s what backlinks do for your website – they build authority.

Build a brand

This is one of the parts authors find hard – to summarise who they are and what they’re about as an author. After all, just because you wrote about haunted houses, it doesn’t make you an expert, does it?

So find out what you are an expert in! Or more than that, share what you’re passionate about! And try to link it to your book if you can.

Maybe you did research for your last book and visited some interesting places? Maybe you write in a specific way, or in a special place? Maybe a dream or a strange interaction sent you on your writing journey? Find out what it is that makes your writing interesting, and write about that!

If you’re interested to learn more about how content marketing can benefit you as an author, and get more into the nitty gritty of metadata, html and Google’s search algorithm, come chat to me on Twitter (@almichael_) because I’m a nerd about all this stuff.

And if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Welcome to the world, Andrea Michael

Okay, so technically those were probably the words my mother would have used 30 years ago if we were in an American lifetime movie, rather than the start to a blog.

However, I’ve been writing books for the last 6 years or so as A L Michael. During that time I’ve written literary fiction (Wine Dark, Sea Blue) and romantic comedies (the Ruby Tuesday series, the Martini Club series) and now it’s time for something new.

My forthcoming books are a little more emotional than my previous ones, with the focus on relationships, but not necessarily romantic ones.

I’ll be updating this blog with book news, reviews, tips and tricks for writing, and news of any new writing for wellbeing events. Stay tuned friends, and don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter!

Being an author and getting the hell on with it

You know what’s so entirely scary about being an author? It’s not finishing the book. It’s not even reading horrible reviews about the book or convincing yourself that you’re the worst thing to ever happen to the written word and you must immediately fake your own death and never write again.

It’s the lack of control.

Once your book is finished, you have multiple rounds of edits, where the control lies with you. It is yours to mold and shape as you will, with guidance from agents and editors and beta readers and whoever else you trust.

But the power lies with you.

Once it’s out there in the world? All bets are off, mate.

You are not likely to be in control of the packaging of your book. The cover, the title, the blurb. You may have some say, you may have a lot of opinions, or you may just want the experts to do their job whilst being the tiniest bit unsure…

And then rankings, what can you do about that? Sales? You can yell about it on social media and bully your friends and family. You can arrange events and readings and workshops and competitions and the truth is:

Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you would have had a bestseller anyways. Sometimes you would have had a wonderful book that was beloved by the fourteen people who read it.

I say this not to upset you. I am a control freak. I want to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. That’s why I write books in the first place! It’s a way of creating the world, bending it to my will and making the things I want to happen take place.

So when I can’t be in control of how my book does in the big wide world? It’s painful. And frustrating. And it means setting myself up to fail.

I tell you this not to stop the launch parties or events or facebook ads, or hours talking to friends on social media. I tell you this to set you free.

Control what you can, write the book you love, be proud of it. Do everything you can for it, boost it and support it…and then let it go. If you’re very lucky, it will have built it’s own momentum, grown its own wings whilst you’ve been working. And if it hasn’t, it will paddle along like the happiest little goose whilst you work on your next golden egg.

(I know, I’m mixing metaphors, but a bird is a bird is a bird).

In the mean time, in the spirit of complete honesty, I’m writing this blog post because I cannot control the fate of my little book. I may have significantly fewer promotional events this year due to a certain virus, and obviously that is the right thing to do (though I certainly have not accepted it graciously *stamps foot about cancelled party*) so, let’s support authors who are releasing their babies into this weird time, and especially debuts who will have had so much excitement for this time! Celebrate and support and do what you can, because whether your little bird flies or not: you wrote a book!

Best friends and galentines day

I am so into crazy supportive female friendships right now.

I write this whilst watching Booksmart for the first time ever (yeah, I’m always behind on everything, don’t worry about it) and I am OBSESSED with this friendship. The support! The love! The overwhelming need to tell your bestie just how freaking amazing she is!

Which reminds me of a really similar relationship, the one that launched a thousand Galentines: Lesley Knope and Anne Perkins. The ultimate girl duo, who are there to support each other, push each other, drive each other mad and know each other’s kinks and needs.

Why don’t we tell our friends we love them all the time? Where is that ‘drunk girl in the club bathroom’ energy on a Tuesday morning?

Which brings me very neatly onto my newest book: The Book of Us.

It’s a book about female friendship, but that complicated, all over the place kind of friendship. The kind where you’re in awe of the other person and love them, but you also are a teeny bit jealous of how they shine? The problem that you want to be around them all the time, because you have the most fun, but you’re also stuck being the person you’ve always been.

When you’re part of an awesome duo, and things have always worked, there’s no space to grow.

When I first started thinking about this book, I was intrigued by the kind of friendships where one is the leader and one is the follower. Sometimes that’s comforting, it lets you push and be pushed, helps you to grow. But they’re pretty impossible to break out of.

The two movies that I always think of when it comes to those relationships are Beaches and Me Without You.

How hard is it, to love someone but also know they’re not good for you sometimes?

Lauren and Cassidy in The Book of Us are complicated people, capable of real cruelty to each other. Because often you’re awful to the people you love the most. And when you’ve got an intense amount of love and loss and distance to cover to get back to that place you once were, it can be ugly.

So this Galentines Day, if there’s a friend you miss, or have drifted apart from, or want to reach out to, DO IT NOW!

Writing and Travel: exploring new places in fiction

So many of us love books because they give us an opportunity to enter a new world. Whether that’s a magical, alternative world or a country you’ve always wanted to see, fiction can take us there. I’d argue, in a way that non-fiction doesn’t.

Seeing characters you know experience and explore somewhere gives us an emotional insight as well as a practical one.

One of my favourite books (if not my absolute favourite ever) is Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron. It’s set in historical Barcelona and it’s so incredibly magic, so that when you go to Barcelona, you can see it in all the mystery of the book.

Places tie us in fiction. Whether it’s a comment about Kings Cross station platforms, or the description of a seaside resort you visited once as a child, fiction can make us feel connected through recognition.

So when the time comes to write books, it makes sense to take inspiration from the places you’ve been to, and the places you dream of.

My upcoming book, The Book of Us, was a mixture of these places for me. It’s a story about two friends going on the trip they’d always meant to do after university, but had never managed because they had a falling out.

In one instance I took some wonderful memories I had of touring Australia and put my characters in a surf camp on the Gold Coast. I visited Surfaris about 10 years ago and it was magic. It was my first time travelling alone, having to make friends and spending my time saying ‘Yes’. I loved surfing and always wanted to go back to surf camp. So I sent my characters there instead.

Another place featuring in the book is Seville. I set the book there and wrote it knowing that I was due to go in February last year. I came back and made a few changes, based on what I’d learnt and added in a few images that I’d loved. I would never have guessed how much Flamenco was being performed in the streets, for example. So I added that in.

I definitely found that using real experience made it more real. Which was why I was a little concerned writing about the third place….Finland.

Mainly because I’ve never been. I’ve chased the Northern Lights (unsucessfully) in Iceland. I’ve been snowboarding in some lovely places. But I’ve always wanted to go to one of those beautiful glass igloos. So I spent time researching as if I was going on that holiday myself! I can’t say it was difficult!

What books and places do you love? Are there any places you discovered through fiction that you went on to visit?

Your writing goals for 2020

Well hello there! Happy new year!

Are you thinking this is the year you write that book? Maybe you’ve been doing that for a while already, but you’ve got new goals a’brewing?

Or maybe, like me, you’re not entirely sure what your writing goals are.

So many writing goals are based on things we have very little control over – it’s not up to you if you get published, or get an auction over offers, or get an agent. All you can do is THE WORK.

So, is 2020 the year you do the work?

Here’s some things you can do this year to make it a successful writing one:

  • Keep writing! Anything at all. Short stories, poems, lists, reviews, morning pages, drunken scrawled notes on your phone app. Whatever it is, don’t stop writing!
  • Stop comparing yourself – I know, I know. It’s hard. We all say it, none of us do it. There’s bee a lot of looking back at the last decade instead of just the last year and there are so many authors who have achieved loads! Think of it as a long game! Whether you win this year, or reach those goals in 5 or 10 year’s time – you’re still going to be writing, right? So take the wins where you find them and keep going.
  • Enjoy it! If you’re not enjoying that form of being creative, then find something else!
  • Take a risk! Whether that’s writing something outside of your comfort zone or ordinary genre, submitting to an agent or publisher, joining a writing group, making new friends…who knows where it could lead?!
  • Be polite! The writing and publishing industry is small. If you get rejected, take it with a touch of class, thank them for their time and take whatever feedback forward. Onwards and up!
  • Read! I know well enough that if you’re doubting your writing ability, reading some excellent books can really make you feel particularly rubbish. BUT, being a reader is going to make you a better writer. Never met a great writer who wasn’t a passionate reader. The more you read, the more you naturally understand story, rhythm, character and what your audience wants.

Whatever your writing goals in 2020, I wish you quiet time, inspiration, support from the people who matter and excitement at those voices in your head. And for the love of all things holy, BACK UP YOUR WORK.

Happy writing!


What is The Book of Us?

I haven’t been quiet about revealing my new book. After almost a decade spent writing novels, this is the one I’m so incredibly excited about. I’ve spent the last two years working on it, and I remember the exact moment the idea struck.

I was hoovering my flat, (shocking in itself) thinking about these two best friends who had fallen out, and how they’d send letters back and forth to each other as they tried to rebuild their friendship.

Of course, as is the way of these things, that’s not what this book looks like at all any more. But it is about female friendship and trying to rebuild something once it’s been broken, and the years have passed.

It’s so easy to take those youthful friendships for granted, cemented by routine and consistency and knowing each others’ families and histories. It becomes harder to make friends as you get older, to truly commit to people and reveal who you really are. To have the same types of friendships you had when you were younger.

So what happens when that person you loved most in the world betrays you? What if you chose the wrong side? What if you spend ten years holding a grudge but they might not be around much longer to bear it?

The Book of Us is about two friends with their complicated, loving (and sometimes toxic) friendship. How it fell apart and how they’re trying to rebuild it before time runs out. It was inspired by movies like Me Without You and Beaches, where the relationship between two friends is more important than romance. Where sometimes jealousy and love and pride can form into something painful, but you can’t quite let go.

Sometimes you need to lose your friends to grow up, but sometimes you need to find them again to remember who you were.

It’s currently available on netgalley, and the story starts just after Christmas, so it might be the right time to get into it! Let me know if you’re reading with the #thebookofus on socials!

The responsibility of the author

In my class on Writing Romantic Comedy last week, we discussed recognisable tropes, and when they were comforting and when they veered into stereotype.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a trope. Give me a ‘hate-to-love’ romantic pairing, forced to share a room with only one bed in the middle of a storm in December – I will read the heck out of that.

But what about the romantic tropes that haven’t aged well? How do we walk the line between what romance is, calling out bad behaviour and not writing ‘woke’ characters just for the sake of it?

I guess it’s about perspective.

I’ll give you two examples:

There’s this guy who is head over heels for this girl, but she doesn’t know he exists. He goes back to the coffee shop she works at a couple of times a week, just hoping to get the chance to talk to her, and even if he doesn’t, just to see her smile and laugh with her colleagues makes his day feel a little brighter. He teases her, and she always bites back with something sarcastic, he takes it as a good sign. She might not realise he’s been trying to ask her out for the last three months, but he’s hoping eventually she’ll realise.


There’s this guy who is head over heels for this girl, but she makes him feel like he doesn’t exist. He goes back to the coffee shop where she works every day, he’s memorised the times she starts and ends her shift, eager to get to talk to her. He waits until she’s finished work and locking up, because he wants to talk to her alone, without any of her stupid colleagues who always stop him from talking to her, or insist on taking his orders instead. She flirts with him, she smiles and nods when he makes jokes, so she must be interested. She’s said no every time he’s asked her out, but he’s just not asking the right way, clearly. When he does, he’s sure she’ll say yes.

There’s a distinct difference there, right? At least, I hope so! The first one is how I met my soon-to-be husband. The second is the start of some creepy stalker story.

The difference? Misreading signals and ignoring the word ‘no’.

With so much focus on consent and power, along with a big focus in fiction right now on emotionally abusive relationships (See: Our Stop, The Flatshare, How Do You Like Me Now?) it’s important to remember to represent a good kind of love (if that’s what your story is about). If your romance is unhealthy, it’s going to be hard to get behind. Just because your leading man is hot, doesn’t mean he’s not a creeper.

A good way to check this is to see if the same dialogue and actions could be carried out by someone you didn’t consider an attractive male lead – does it still seem dominant and appealing, or does it seem forward and creepy?

There are so many of these actions in older books, films and TV that just don’t hold up now – look at so many of John Hughes movies. Getting a girl drunk and swapping her for a different girl with some guy. Making a deal in return for a girl’s underwear. Inappropriate touching without consent.

There’s so much creepy stuff that we just kind of accepted as part of the story. Luckily, I’d say we have a much higher level of expectation for what’s acceptable in life as well as on screen, but that means your story has to keep up.

Is your male lead strong and attractive, or is he bullying and obsessive? Is he rude and teasing, or is he negging? Is your female lead giving into her own desire, or is she being manipulated?

Consider whether the kind of relationship you’re giving your main characters is one you’d want your kids to be in. If it seems like an epic romance for your character, but if your daughter bought that dude home you’d kick him five ways to Sunday, it’s not woke enough.

What do you think, do writers have a responsibility to write good romance? Are there any examples of good or bad romantic relationships that have made you pause?

Mid-list authors and the curse of invisibility

I was at a conference this week, where I happened to mention I was an author. The person I spoke to immediately asked: ‘Ah, self published?’

Dear reader, this is not the first time this has been said to me, automatically. It also takes a superhuman sort of strength not to deny this vehemently, and try to show off about your achievements as an author.

Which, of course, does nothing but make you feel worse and like you’re a fraud.

But I wanted to unpack that automatic assumption about self publishing.

There is, obviously, nothing wrong with self publishing, and the authors I know who are most financially successful, and most savvy, are self-pubbed. For those in the writing sphere, we know that self publishing is the way to excellent money for those who are smart, hard working and willing to put in all the publishing work on top of the writing work.

But that’s not what people outside the fiction circle think.

When someone’s first response is ‘Oh, you’re self published?’ what they’re really saying is, ‘Well, I haven’t heard of you.’

This is because, dear reader, mid-list authors are invisible. If you have not heard of me, I cannot exist. I cannot possibly have sold tens of thousands of books, I cannot have written multiple novels in the last ten years.

This is because the story of publishing shows us two options: the failed writer, never publishing, sitting amongst their rejection letters and unfinished manuscripts, and the successful author, being part of a six-way auction for their debut novel which goes on to sell millions.

We do not see the mid-list authors, working away year after year, releasing book after book, and doing well! Doing well! You do not need to sell millions to be an author. You do not need to be famous, or a household name. There is a whole wide world of readers out there, and you can have your corner of it.

Mid-list authors are invisible because they don’t appear in books (no, we write ourselves the fiction we want, of fame and fortune) or movies or television. Even the marginally successful authors in TV have book tours, or ridiculous advances.

This industry is a strange one, but I hope that this realisation offers hope and is comforting – there is not simply ‘bestseller’ or ‘never makes it’. There’s a whole group of authors who are selling and writing and making deals and seeing their words in other languages, and finding new readers every day. There are writers who make this their life’s work, without quitting their day job.

They are still writers. They are still doing this wonderful work. Just as there is always room for readers, there is always room for new writers. So whether you’re starting out, or have been doing this a while, whether you’re hoping for a big break or happy with your lot, whether you’re self pubbed or trad pubbed, I want to celebrate mid-list authors.

Because we may not often be seen, we’re trudging on every day, creating worlds and words, and I think there’s something incredibly beautiful about that.

Anxiety, Curiosity and Writing Fiction

I have had this feeling for a while now, that being anxious is actually part of writing. It’s both a cure and a cause.

For me, anxious thoughts start in the same way my ideas do…with ‘what if’. Sometimes those ‘what ifs’ are bad and disturbing and upsetting. What if everyone I love dies? What if I fall off my bike and the glass lense shard goes through my eyeball? What if that child wanders into the road? What if everyone hates me?

You could do it forever, terrifying possibilities splayed out like every fork in every road from here to eternity. But there are other ‘what ifs’.

What if the mother felt responsible for that baby? What if the person who died was lying? What if you discovered a secret much later? What if you couldn’t forgive?

It has been on my mind for a while now that curiosity and anxiety are two sides of the same coin, both coming from this ‘what if’ space. The unknown is anxiety inducing, the black space where our brains have to fill in the blanks. And yet, it’s also the space where brilliance arrives. Because when you start from nothing, you have somewhere to go.

I spend a lot of time writing through those anxious feelings, talking down those voices, shaking them away or outrunning them. Journal pages are the space for reality, for cold hard facts: not everyone you know hates you. It’s incredibly unlikely for A, B or C to happen. Where’s the evidence for that thought? But journals are also the space for possibility, for being the creator of your own reality. So you don’t waste it on the negative. You conjure big dreams and plans to outshine the uncertain greys.

I think anxiety has a big part to play in writing novels. If my brain wasn’t jumping to those ‘what ifs’ I never would have wondered about the girl left behind when her father was dying (Prosecco and Promises), the rockstar mother who wrote her top hit about abandoning her daughter (Cocktails and Dreams) or the girl who disappeared into one night friendships and ecstasy to escape the mundanity of London life and cultural distance (Wine Dark, Sea Blue).

I certainly wouldn’t have wondered what would have happened to two friends with an imbalanced relationship, a terrible betrayal and a final journey together before their thirtieth birthday without those anxious and curious thoughts. (That’s my new one, Before We Part).

What do you think – where do your ideas come from? Anxiety, curiosity, memories, people you know, things you’ve seen?

The unexpected complexity of a perfect romantic comedy

We all know the snobbishness the genre faces. People think romcoms are ‘frothy’, ‘easy’ and ‘all the same’. They make judgements about the readers and their intelligence levels. Even more so, those judgements apply to the writers.

But those of us who love, read and write romantic comedies know just how powerful they can be. Re-reading my favourite romantic comedy is like a comforting hug, taking me back to a different time and reminding me that happy endings exist. They evoke a sigh of contentment. They are infinitely satisfying.

At this moment in time, where politics, environmental issues and disagreements make the world a dark and stressful place, I don’t think it’s at all surprising that people are reaching for books that make them feel good. That let them escape for a few hours with likeable characters, solvable problems and personal growth. Love, as always, conquers all and everyone gets what they deserve.

What’s so wrong with that?

Absolutely nothing! But romantic comedies are so much more than that. In putting together my syllabus for my writing course this autumn in how to write romantic comedies, I was briefly stumped. There wasn’t that much to it, surely? A loveable main character, a strong storyline, a love interest that made you swoon…

But no, I realised as I tried to find a semblance of order, there was so much to it. There was building tension between the couple, and getting the pacing perfect so that readers could gallop through to the conclusion, or pace themselves like nibbling at a delicious cookie, savouring every crumb. There were the sub-genres and the tropes you expected. There are the moments and storylines you can see from a mile off, and the skilful writing that makes them enjoyable and believable. There’s the funny characters and the embarrassing moments. There’s the learning and the journey and walking a fine line between who your characters are and who your reader wants them to be.

It’s easy to write lazy and bad romantic comedies. We see enough of them as failed movies. They fall back on stereotypes without paying homage. They don’t strive to find something new or make anyone lovable. They expect you to accept what’s happening because you like the genre and that’s what you expect.

There is true skill to writing a romantic comedy that makes the characters come alive. That makes a reader feel they have full escaped and replenished whatever part of themselves needed a breather. As Stephen King says, easy reading is hard writing.

My go-to comfort reads, my ‘perfect’ romantic comedies are ‘Faking it‘ by Jennifer Crusie, ‘You don’t have to say you love me‘ by Sarra Manning and pretty much everything by Mhairi Mcfarlane (but particularly ‘Here’s looking at you‘, ‘It’s not me, it’s you‘ and ‘<a href="http://<a href="; target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//" ></a>""Don’t you forget about me‘).

So tell me: what are your romcom comfort reads, and what would you say to romcom critics?