I’ve been working in the publishing industry for over 10 years, and in that time, I’ve heard a lot of reasons about why authors don’t prioritise their online presence.
They don’t have time, because all of their time needs to be spent writing.
It’s boring – don’t people just promote themselves all the time? They put the time in, but sales aren’t going up. Building a mailing list is slow – why send out a newsletter when there are only 10 people on the list?
It can all seem like a lot of work without much return.
But I really believe that, apart from writing amazing books, connecting with people online is one of the most important things an author can do.
There are lots of reasons why I think this is important. The top five that come to mind as I write this are:
1) You can network with your peers.
Need a break from writing? You can easily connect with other authors that you like and admire, and you can connect with authors you’ve never heard of, but who share similar goals to you. There are also endless book people on social media – reviewers, freelance writers, publishing types, booksellers – so you can make useful connections there, too. And apart from being “useful”, for many authors, Twitter in particular is like a giant water cooler, with endless chat to dip in and out of.
2) You can build friendships.
This might feel crazy when you start out. But it’s so possible and so worthwhile. If you do it right, people will follow your story and you’ll start to follow theirs. I have made quite a lot of real, actual friends thanks to social media. People who I meet up with regularly in real life. While your readers might not end up being your best friends, you may well find yourself having a genuine connection with some of them that go beyond ‘thanks for reviewing my book’.
3) It can build advocates.
If I love a book and the author has been lovely to me and shares really great stuff on Instagram stories or sends a really brilliant email each month, you can guarantee I’m going to recommend that book and that author. I’ll probably also pre-order their next book and help spread the word about that one, too.
4) It can deliver real sales.
I can think of at least four books I’ve bought in the last six months as a direct result of the author’s interactions with me online. And I say that as someone who works in publishing and gets free books every day. I resonate so much with these people, that I’ve bought or pre-ordered their books off the back of our conversations. When you work at building up an audience of readers, it makes driving pre-orders and early sales just that little bit easier.
5) You might have fun!
Yes, when you start off, it might be hard work. But as you get to know people within your community, you may find that you enjoy thinking of things to share with them. That you are following their stories as closely (possibly closer, since they’re more visible!) as some of your friends and family.
Yes, it is can take time to build, and almost every platform rewards consistency. You do need to dedicate some time to it each day or week. But it doesn’t have to be all-consuming if figure out where you need to focus your time and create a realistic plan of action. What are you waiting for? Get stuck in!
Want to work with me to build an effective and sustainable online plan? Would you like some help talking about your books in a meaningful way? My author mentoring programme is a space for just that. We delve into your target audience, look at different channels relevant for your audience, and talk about content ideas and planning. Want to know more? Click here.
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