Part Two: Prepare for Launch
It is never too early to prepare to publish your book. When your muse taps you on the shoulder and suggests that it is time to write, you should begin to create the tools that you need to market yourself and your writing.
Publishers and agents prefer to deal with an author who has a strong presence on the web or other marketing venues. If you are planning on self-publishing, those marketing outlets will be crucial to connecting with buyers for your book.
In this era of social media, there are numerous avenues open to make vital connections to potential readers. Novice writers are often unknown entities within the literary world. Unless you have acquired a public persona in a career field or some other endeavor, your social media reach may only be your family and immediate friends. You need more.
In this article we will discuss those pathways in general, addressing each of these social media platforms in greater detail in later articles.
Having a blog or website is akin to having a home address on the internet. This is where you, your thoughts, your work, and links to your sales platform and media appearances reside. Blogs at one time were highly necessary in the competitive world of traditional publishing. Agents and publishers only took blogs with a high number of followers seriously. Years ago I read a statement by an agent who declared unless an author had a minimum of 10,000 followers, she didn’t bother with reading their submission. The opening of self-publishing has reduced that need, and while a following is still essential for all authors to be successful, a huge following is not as critical.
This is the internet presence you should start as soon as you consider writing. It takes quite a while to build followers as well as establish your presence on the web.
Well, it is Facebook. Love it or hate it, this social platform is imperative to establishing yourself as a writer. Not necessarily for your credibility, and it can help there, but for name recognition.
The largest social media group in the world, Facebook gives you a global presence. You should as an author establish an author page, join not only writing groups but in some cases, depending on the genre you write in, there are pages/groups for the readers of that genre, and post—often.
While not every post is going to be read by everyone, Facebook can be a valuable tool for a writer. The key is to be active.
Twitter is unique. You can follow anyone or any group you choose at will, and they may or may not follow you back. With the incredible number of accounts on Twitter, finding like-minded Tweeters is not difficult. Twitter recommends accounts with similar interest.
The key here is Tweet, Tweet, Tweet. It is how you gain followers and retweets, which increases your exposure. Not sure what to tweet about, tweet about everything related to your writing or interest in writing and reading. Tweet out links to your blog posts, short excerpts from your work, where your next book signing is, something about your favorite author.
This social networking app (owned by Facebook) allows you to post images and videos from a smartphone. Gaining in popularity by the second, many ‘experts’ think Instagram is overtaking Twitter. It is indeed quicker to send a photo or video, but it can also be used to post quotes from your writing. If you have access to programs such as Gimp or Photoshop or can add simple text to an image, you can display an image and promote your work. The key to Instagram is to be repetitive and, as with Twitter, post, post, post.
Tumblr remains a bit of an enigma. There are conflicting opinions of this site, but those who love it, love it a lot. The site is a bit like Facebook and a personal blog in that you can post links to articles, images, videos, gifs, and quotes, etc. It offers you a simpler version of a blog site.
That YouTube is popular is a given. I doubt a day goes by without any of us viewing at least one video on YouTube. There is a growing sense that the video medium will soon be the most valuable outlet for promotion. Having your own YouTube channel allows you to post book trailers, which are now becoming a favorite promotional tool, read quotes from your novels either using video or audio only and, as we discussed, drive traffic to your main platform, your website/blog.
Google+ is a Facebook-style social community. There are pros and cons to this site due to the forced interaction it requires for all of the Google platforms. However, there are some excellent writing groups there, but while it has many users, it is not utilized as much by the members. That said, Google is trying to improve the site and if you have a blog, posting your blog posts, etc. into a Google+ community can be accomplished with a click of the mouse.
These social media sites can be used to promote your brand from the moment you begin to write. After publication, the work you have done to put these tools into place will be invaluable to you. The consensus is that it is never too early to begin to present yourself to your reader.
We will be addressing these platforms in greater depth and other avenues available to you to promote your writing in future articles. In the meantime, start setting up those profiles and keep writing!