The good news is that the ‘political economy’ of journal publication is now such that it is in everyone’s interest that published articles are widely read. It is in the interests of journals and their editors to increase their impact factor and their downloads so that good contributors continue to contribute and the journal can measure its standing in the list of equivalent journals. It is in the interests of publishers because they are seeking to increase revenue though increasing subscriptions or through increasing the cost of existing subscriptions, and they know that institutions will review the readership of their journals in making these decisions. And last, it is in the interest of the authors because, apart from all the professional development reasons, let’s face it we all want to be read. This means that everyone has an interest in helping you be widely read.
There are a number of basic strategies you can follow to increase your readership and make everybody happy. The first port of call is to ask the editors if they can make your article free to access for a period of time. They may be more open than you might expect. Getting readership of particular articles can be a good loss leader for publishers and may encourage like-minded contributors to the journal. The second strategy is to just to brazenly self-publicise your article through sending emails to contacts you have and anyone you have cited in your article (excluding those you demolish) with a brief note saying that they might be interested in the article that you have published. If the article is free to access this might help people and you can simply provide a link directly to it.
The third strategy is to tweet and blog away in ways that link to your article. If you are not on twitter then you may find that journals will tweet on your behalf. And if you do not blog, then you might want to consider starting or contributing to one of more of the proliferating high quality social science institutional blog sites that seem to be springing up.
In short, be prepared to self-publicize, make use of the new social media and your contacts and don’t forget that, for once, in blowing your own trumpet, you may be doing everyone a favour.