This piece isn’t intended to be expansive, just a quick a run-down of what I think are the necessary building blocks for any new authors introducing themselves to the world. I’ll probably go into a bit more detail as far as my own exploits with each topic but for the time being here are the cliff notes:
There are a number of outlets for people to share their life stories, accomplishments, and so on, most notably Facebook and Twitter. Coming from someone who isn’t the most social guy on the planet I can say these tools are pretty invaluable when it comes to reaching potential fans. This may have been obvious to some yet I’m sure there are still people out there who won’t bother to put in the time or effort to ensure their social platforms are worth other people’s time. The main reason is because of the little voice in the back of their head telling them to focus on how to get people to buy their book rather than engaging them so they want to buy their book. It’d be easy to set up a Facebook page and have a bunch of posts about your new title coming out in a few months or the latest reviews you’ve received but at the end of the day those things could fall on deaf ears. The same goes for Twitter. Tweeting about your new project incessantly before you’ve established a large enough base might just have the opposite intended effect. I think the best way to avoid this is by breaking up the monotony so you (or your pages) don’t become one dimensional. Post or tweet about things potential fans may be interested in besides your book. Give them more of a reason to check out your page or follow you on social media. From there it’s just a hop, skip, and roll to advertising…
I know I said this a few posts before (and I’ll say it again, and probably again) but Google, Photoshop, and WordPress are what you’re looking at when you see my website. I didn’t have a professional developer come in and custom design anything for me but instead threw this together myself. It was a little more daunting than I thought, but not by much. The truth is that I made things harder on myself than they needed to be in the beginning, luckily I don’t have a problem with a lot of trial and error. I can’t speak for everyone, though, which is why I would suggest that if you’re the kind of person who needs extra help, you should get it. Do NOT think you can skip this step in your writing career without losing credibility in the long-run. The reason being, if nothing else, you should have a place all of your own where people can put a face to a name (along with book titles). It not only adds to your list of impressive accomplishments but also gives you a back-up plan in case you find yourself without a platform to sell your books (i.e. you make Amazon or some other company mad and they drop you). It can provide the sort of independence needed in the event something like that happens without completely disrupting your life.
The first two topics listed deal with essentially passive ways to target large groups of people. You can post a picture or comment and have it “shared” a few thousand times or have something “re-tweeted” without having to do much else. With your email list, though, you’re actively addressing an audience. And not just any audience, but individuals who have taken the time to provide you with their names and emails in order to receive correspondence from you in the future. The significance of this CANNOT be overstated simply because these are the people who will be your first line of contact when you have a new release. These are the ones who will be writing some of your first reviews and will, hopefully, remain loyal fans for years to come. That’s exactly why you need to start growing your list early. How early is up for debate, but you definitely shouldn’t wait until you’ve already published your work. A situation like that would be akin to studying for a final exam the morning of the exam. And this is where things get interesting. In order to get a potential reader’s name and email for your list you need to offer them something in return. You need to provide something of use or interest to them. This can take several different forms including a weekly newsletter, a podcast, or the ever-so popular giveaway. But, no matter what you choose, the one thing to keep in mind is this…ask not what your reader can do for you, ask what you can do for your reader.