It’s rare to find an author who is passionate about shepherding her or his book into the marketplace. When I speak to writer’s groups about book publicity, authors lament their responsibility for the business side of things. Most wish someone else would manage their publicity or online presence for them. If you’re an author who resists tweeting or who avoids launching an author website because the upkeep feels laborious, simplify. Break the rules that most authors follow and you’ll have more time to write your next book.
Break this Rule: All Authors need an Author page on Facebook.
I don’t have an author page on Facebook, and when I’m working with authors on book publicity, I rarely recommend setting one up. Do it only if you plan to post engaging content daily that strengthens your position as an expert in your topic area. If you’re writing a memoir about adoption, for example, your posts might highlight your expertise in supporting social workers who handle adoptions. But before you create another online presence to manage, consider using your personal Facebook page instead. Why? Think about your favorite authors. Don’t you find tidbits about their life fascinating, especially when those details are not about writing? The same will be true for you. Readers want to know who you are beyond the bio on the back of your book. So rather than splitting your online presence into several different personas—author-me, parent-me, professional-me, etc.—why not offer fans an authentic peek into your real life? If privacy is a concern, remind yourself that you’re more likely to benefit than be at risk. Opening your personal page to fans will make you more conscious of what you choose to post, how you present yourself online, and what you share. Promotional posts are not ungainly when mixed in with posts about your passion for finding new hiking trails or your Labrador Retriever’s playtime with his stuffed bunny. Facebook makes it easy to change the audience for each post from private to public and back. You will remain in charge of who has a lens into your life while also building a stronger following for your next book.
Break this Rule: Facebook is the best social media platform for authors.
At literary conferences and workshops, when writers express anxiety about social media, presenters often say: “Pick the social media platform you’re most comfortable with, and use it to build your following.” That’s great advice if you want to stay in your comfort zone but it might not be the most sensible advice for marketing or publicizing your book. The best social media platform for your book depends on where your readers are. If the book you’re promoting is most likely to be purchased by a Millennial or Gen Xer (20- and 30-somethings) open an account on Instagram. Post photos and memes with strong emotional content, along with 20 – 30 hashtags per post. If your primary audience is middle-aged, choose Facebook and include emojis in your posts. If your reading audience skews political, Twitter is the ideal platform for you. Two or three hashtags give your tweet wings.
Break this Rule: Every book needs it’s own web page.
You only need one website to showcase you and your books. Don’t pick a clever or cute domain name for a website if you want to make it easy for fans to find you. Train people to remember your name with a domain name that is your name. If your name is taken, add “author” after your name, like this: joeygarciaauthor. Buy domain names that match your book titles and ask your website developer to park the book title domain names on a hosting site and point the title domains to the website with your name. When a fan types in the title of your book, she or he will be quickly redirected to your website.
Now that you have more traffic heading to your website, invite people to stay. The tabs on your site are like party invitations. Choose a tab’s description with care so it clearly describes the content. The “About” tab provides insight into you beyond what your book jacket might offer, along with a fabulous professional photo. The “Events” tab tells people how and where to meet you in person. If you’re a hybrid author (one who is self-published but also wants to secure a literary agent), your events page also lets a literary agent know how committed you are to getting your book into the hands of people who can’t wait to read it. A “Books” tab should include thumbnail photos of your book covers with a short description of each book and some praise from readers or reviewers. The books tab should also link to online stores where your books can be purchased.
A “Media” tab includes any press coverage you received for your book. If you haven’t received any, don’t despair. Use your smart phone or laptop to record a one-minute video of yourself talking about the book so that a TV or radio news producer or a podcast host will know that you are comfortable in front of the camera or behind a microphone. If you’re an introvert, remember it’s only one minute. Anyone can be their best for 60 seconds, right?
And finally, let people know how to reach you by labeling your last tab: “Contact.” Make it easy for people to get in touch.
Break this Rule: An author’s friends are the ideal reviewers for the author’s website.
It’s tempting to ask friends to visit your author website and provide feedback. After all, they want to support you. But remember, you’re in business. Your website is your storefront. Hire someone to work with you on your author website so the end result is polished and professional. If you have a D-I-Y website up, good for you. Now hire a publicist or marketing consultant to critique it and guide you in revamping the site so it powerfully represents you and your book. Your website should appeal to your readers, the ones you don’t yet know but who will arrive at your site eager to enter. Let your website inspire them to stay for a while and to return again soon.
Simplifying your approach to creating and maintaining an online presence is a confidence builder. Instead of worrying about getting everything done, you can trust that your business is handled. That peace of mind is priceless as you devote your newly created extra time toward writing your next book.
Joey Garcia is the founder of the Belize Writers’ Conference where writers vacation with literary agents while learning to become authorpreneurs, April 6 – 11, 2019. She is also a publicist for authors who are launching new books and those who want to give previously published books a boost. Learn more at: www.joeygarcia.com.
Joey is our guest October 24, 2018 for our weekly teleseminar series.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Social Media for Authors Course! Learn more about our courses for authors here.