STORIES THAT ENCHANT THE MIND
The platforms and their best uses…
Which platforms would you use to gain the most exposure? That really comes down to you and what you’re willing to do. Let’s cover the major ones typically used by authors. However, if you have not read PART ONE of this article, please feel free to check it out too at the button below.
Creating an author website is the first step. When people hear your name for the first time, they are going to do an internet search. So be searchable. Let your website be the top link when the search results populate. Think of your author site as the foundation on which you expand out into the fast web. Your site doesn’t need to razzle and dazzle people, but it does need to look smooth, be easy to navigate, and constant the following information:
Optional items on your site can be…
WordPress is one of the more versatile options when it comes to creating an author website, but there are others out there such Squarespace, Weebly, Godaddy, and so on.
"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
I mentioned newsletters as part of your author website, which I know some of you may have scratched your head at. The reason why I mention it is because people who sign up for your newsletter have an invested interest in you. Most folks don’t like to get junk in their mailboxes, so the fact they gave you your email is a pretty big deal. This is a direct line of communication with others, so make sure to foster it.
I frequently say I am not a podcast person, but I have found myself listening to them when I am driving, cleaning, or doing anything that doesn’t require my full attention. You can find a podcast on just about any subject out there from grammar to new developments in genetic science.
Twitter is a great tool when it comes to networking and having a direct line of communication. If you enjoy writing profound or witty messages in less than 280 characters, then Twitter is for you.
Pretty much everyone has a Facebook account these days. Regardless of what your views on Facebook are, it does have some features in it that will make it easier to work with groups, fan pages, clubs, set-up events, reminders, and network in general.
Just like Facebook has a huge reach, so does YouTube. There are a ton of people who use YouTube either for tutorials, funny cat videos, news, etc. More than one author has an “Authortube” channel in which they talk about writing, the coming events, or happenings within the writing community. Plenty create vlog videos, share recordings of speaking at panels, updating their fanbase on how their current project is going, or may even talk about other books they are reading. I engage with a group of lady authors who live stream daily while they write.
If you’re the type that enjoys the idea of “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then you will likely enjoy Instagram. Of all the social media options, my favorite is Instagram because I am a visual person. There is also a feature built in where you can share your images with Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, so you don’t have to worry about reposting. It’s been changing where people can upload videos and broadcasts. I am curious to see where this platform will go in the coming years.
These are honorable mentions because I haven’t seen these produce great results for authors, but they can be fun to work with.
GoodReads allows you to have the option to create an author account and claim your books. It is also a place where readers can reach out to you and ask questions allows you to do giveaways for your book. The reason I have it in honorable mentions is because the site is primarily for readers, not for authors. When you see someone posted a negative comment about your book baby, the temptation to respond to them is strong (and can damage your career).
I haven’t visited Tumblr since the TOS changed last Dec in regards to what is allowed to be on the site and what isn’t. The reporting system which labels content as “explicit” is still wonky. It is a good site if you want to have a blog without the hassle of maintaining a website. Some folks enjoy posting their free samples on there, which can work and allows others to share it.
I’ve heard of Pinterest being used by authors, but it is more in the line of being used as an aesthetic board. I created a board myself for the purpose of creating my cover since I wanted to have a collection of reference images to give to the designer. As an author, it doesn’t do a lot for me outside of that.
Best practices with Social Media…
I’ve given you a list of possible platforms to use, but you are not required to use all of them. I’d say pick two or three you feel are easy to work with and stick with those (unless your publisher tells you otherwise, then you do what they say). If you try to do all the options out there in the web, you will be spending more time working with that than actually doing what you want to do: write.
If you do decide to juggle multiple platforms at once, make sure you have a good time management system in place and an idea of what you want to post in the future. As someone who learned the hard way about what to do with social media, I promise planning out the next one to three months will do a world of good. It also doesn’t hurt to have a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you set up your social media ahead of time. I’ve also seen a team of people utilize Trello to organize and prepare their social media.
Engagement will be important as you progress. People are looking to talk to you, hence why it is called SOCIAL media. A good rule of thumb is to spend about twenty to thirty minutes reading what others have shared, talking to them, or leaving comments. This is another reason why I advise against juggling too many platforms since the time adds up fast. I’d avoid comments such as “Great stuff, go like and subscribe to my page, please” since that leaves the impression you don’t care about the person, just that they follow you.
A word of caution…
Impressions are important and the last thing you want to do is create a less than appealing image of yourself. Just like the job industry will look you up after submitting your resume, publishers will scout your social media to see what face you are showing the public.
There are authors who have lost out on contracts because of how they conduct themselves on the internet–antagonizing people, insulting others in the industry, or posting controversial statements. What you decide to do with your social media is up to you, but if you think that it may ruin your chances of getting published, consider not hitting that submit button.
You will be approached multiple times by various groups to help “increase your influence” and “expand your follower count.” These are individuals looking to sell you a bot service which will give the impression that there are more people following you than there are. Do not engage in this. These bots are not going to purchase your book and it looks really bad when your follower count takes a nosedive when the bot accounts are terminated. Focus on forming relations rather than building numbers.
My personal experience…
Nov 2018, Eight Little Pages Publishing offered me a writing deal. I was thrilled, excited, and giddy for days. When my contract was sent for signing, I read it over with my husband and he pointed to the part which made my stomach clench–my requirement for my online presence. There would be a website, a newsletter, and I needed to post on whichever social media I chose at least three times a week (which actually isn’t bad).
At the time, my Instagram following hadn’t even hit a hundred. I didn’t understand the importance of hashtags and the idea of doing anything with Twitter left me dizzy.
I had to do it, but I didn’t know how. So, I did what any overachieve grad student would do and research the living hell out of the topic for a week. I watched every skillshare video, read endless blogs, listened to multiple podcasts and even bothered my friend who worked in marketing. Books on the topic piled high outside beside my bed and soon became littered with my scribbled notes and highlighter. On top of that, I also studied the pattern of several successful YouTubers and influences to see how they engaged with their audience.
Since then, my connections on social media has jumped up, I’ve made multiple connections with various people around the world, and I enjoy popping onto Twitter to see what folks are doing.
My followers didn’t jump up into the tens of thousands overnight, but you shouldn’t go into social media for the numbers alone. Followers come in time so long as you are active and engage with others. One piece of advice I heard repeatedly is to focus on the connections you can make before your sale.
Social media is intimidating. Every platform has its own environment, pitfalls, and various methods to engage with others. Regardless of what you select, don’t approach it as just another part of your “job.” Looking at it as a way to connect and befriend others will giving you a lot more satisfaction than seeing it as something you have to do.
If you are someone who frequently engages in social media, what is a suggestion you can give to those looking to engage for the first time?
Interested in learning more about social media? Here is a list of six great books to start from:
Carrow Brown, author of Ghost Walker Chronicles, is a military vet living in sunny Arizona with husband and dogs. She devoted to writing that both entertain and invoke thoughtful questions. She is bribed by tacos and always looking for a book recommendation.