First of all, reread the title of this post. I have been a (marketing) published author for almost six months now, so in no way am I an expert on any topic. Sharing is caring so they say and I care, hence this post. Why not help each other succeed (whatever success means to you). To be honest, I have found only sharing and kindness in this business since I began. From authors sharing helpful tips to others freely blogging about their knowledge, I am in awe of how giving they are. Authors are quick to retweet, give sincere congrats on a book promotion, and are overall such nice people. I am proud to be involved with this community and I hope to someday reciprocate with my own well-earned knowledge.
Here is a caveat when I say that I’ve been a published author for only six months. I did publish a nonfiction book in 2013 (Online Dating: 5-Step Guide – Find Love and Romance on the Internet) but I did zero marketing because 1) I didn’t know any better, and 2) I was already writing my second book. That’s right, I didn’t have an author page, a facebook page, a blog, a twitter account . . . nothing. I did have a Smashwords bio but since then I enrolled the book in KDP. I think I had two people look at my bio on Smashwords-and I have a suspicion that one of those was mom since she’s my number one fan. I didn’t expect any sales but that was okay; I just wanted to get something out for practice. Therefore, I consider myself a real published author only after my next book came out in November 2014.
I wanted a different experience with my next book, Deadly Dating Games. This time I DID want recognition and sales. But, wow, what a lot of work! Needless to say, I was unprepared.
I work a full-time job, as most writers do, and I felt overwhelmed with marketing. It seemed that if I lagged and did nothing with marketing, then sales did nothing. And I am not talking about marketing, as in the traditional sense such as advertising and “pounding the pavement,” here but marketing YOURSELF. What I mean when I say this is that when you market yourself by being available, i.e., by posting/blogging/tweeting, emailing and being genuinely friendly and helpful to others, that, in turn, with fuel your book sales. That is the marketing I am talking about.
I found, rather quickly and abruptly, that once I got myself into the marketing mode, I was bound and chained by its death grip. Instead of writing, which is what we as authors should be doing, I was spending my day trying to make up for lost time (well, supposedly working at my full-time job, too, but that’s just an interruption in my writing career). Marketing is an angry best friend of social media, it pulls you into itself with gnarled limbs and then spits you out, exhausted, with limp hair, mascara smears and bags under your eyes. It’s like the little monster hidden in your basement, constantly demanding food and attention. If you have a plan, this little monster won’t get so out of hand. Oh, it’ll still be there, watching your every move through the cracks of the staircase with watchful eyes, but if you can control it, you have the say as to when it gets fed.
Let’s feed that monster. We can begin taming its demands by preparing early, and by being ahead of the game. We can train it to stay in the background when we have more important things to do with our day, like write!
Let’s talk some more about the social media aspect of marketing and getting our name out there-also known as building a platform. One of my favorite bloggers, Nat Russo, talks about an author’s platform here – author platform.
If you haven’t published your fantastic novel yet, here is a helpful tip: Get a head start on social media before publishing! Yes, I wish I would have known this; it would have saved me from wasting valuable time and a big headache trying to do everything at once. Get a profile up on Goodreads. Review books. Find some favorite bloggers and leave comments. Make your presence known. Tweet and retweet. And most importantly, be friendly and helpful. This is your social presence and you are your own bridge to your novel. Don’t allow that bridge to become unstable, but keep it firm and attractive so that others will want to follow you over to the other side-to your book!
The following are just a few things that I did to create a presence on social media. The links to my pages are by no means the best out there but I wanted to include them to show you that you can do this yourself. It takes patience and work though, so be prepared. Do a little at a time and don’t let it overwhelm you. By all means, always be in a learning frame of mind. Study the profiles of people who you admire. We can learn something everyday, I know I do.
- Create a Twitter Account. I didn’t even have a twitter account when I published in November 2014. Tweets . . . uh? I couldn’t understand the concept at all. It took me a while, but I soon got the hang of it. I still don’t know all the ins and outs, but the best thing to do is to jump right in and “fake it until you make it.” Don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you. Your time is valuable: preview their profile and what they tweet before following. Retweet often of others’ accomplishments and the tweets of helpful bloggers and articles. TIP: I made a rule for myself. For every tweet I posted about myself and my book, I retweet at least three or four other tweets. Kathy Logan is one of my favorites, tweeting helpful articles on writing. @JoanieChevalier
- Create an Author Goodreads Profile. I recently read an indie author’s book and posted a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I then clicked on her Goodreads author profile to learn more about her. She had a page, but she didn’t have a photo, she didn’t have any friends; no interactions whatsoever. It was a disappointing experience for me as a reader. Don’t be that author! Create a profile and interact with your readers. They took the time to read your book; take the time to appreciate them by at least being present. My Goodreads Author Page
- Create an author facebook page. Having an author page gave me the opportunity to interact with my readers and fellow authors. I was taken a little taken aback the first time someone wanted to be my “friend” on my facebook profile, and I didn’t even know them. Duh, of course, Joanie, you’re a published author now! I am a fairly private person and I didn’t necessarily want “strangers” to be my “friend” on facebook and see my family pictures and personal information. The alternative was to create a page that I could manage to let people know what I’m up to and to communicate with them. Of course, even though this is my author page, it’s not all about me, that would get annoying and tiresome (and boring!). I post other author’s pages and books as well as helpful links. My Author FB Page
- Start a blog. I know what you’re saying: “What would I write about?” Exactly my thoughts when someone suggested that to me! To start, find something that you are interested in to make it easy. My first blog was a short story and the second blog was a poem! Then I wrote a longer blog about the California drought. I didn’t have to think about that subject too hard and it formulated in my mind when we were camping at our favorite lakeside campsite and the lake was lower than usual. I talked to a park employee and it was so interesting that I did a little research and bingo, I created a blog about it the next day, with pictures and everything! I was so proud. Drought Blog. Another thing you can do is find a few favorite bloggers and stick with them. Make comments and forward their blogs; if they are helpful to you, they’ll be helpful to others. Maybe someday you can return the favor. Many bloggers have an email signup and these articles can be very helpful to a new author.
- Create a webpage. Another great way to get your name out there. Creating a website nowadays is fairly easy, with templates and “connect-the-dots” instructions. My website is here. The templates were there but it still took a while to figure out how to make pages, link everything correctly, insert media “html,” etc. but I persevered and expanded and improved it slowly over time. I’m sure there is much more to do but at least it’s a start and a way for people to find me.
Why do all of the above, you ask? Because of these next three explosive words: Your next book! By the time you publish your next book, you will already be established on the various social sites. These followers will be your next customers. And if you do it right – by being present, helpful. informative and kind – your followers will be kind in return-by buying and reviewing your book. Now, this is something to be excited about!
I hope, no scratch that, I know that a few experienced authors will leave us newbies a comment on something I missed. We love to learn!
I wish you the best success!