Make The Most Of Your Author Platform, Part 1
A recent Twitter conversation amongst other authors I follow has finally given me the inspiration for a post here that I’ve been looking for. I am by no means an expert. I’m simply fortunate to have learned a lot over the last few years and to have seen these methods in action. Since I love helping people and supporting other authors, I felt the best thing I could do is share what I’ve learned.
I tumbled into the world of building a social media author platform with a decent amount of knowledge on how to engage to get the best results, courtesy of being a part of the social media marketing team for my (admittedly unconventional) day job. I’m not saying I know it all, or even that everything I’ll share here is spot on. I will say I’ve seen these techniques work, for myself and others, so they’ve got to be worth a try.
Full disclosure. Before opening an author account, I’d never been on Twitter, aside from making sure things posted elsewhere for work cross-posted there. I’ve never had a personal account, and I can’t see that ever-changing. As a writer, however, I love it. The author community is fantastic and supportive, the hashtag games are fun and it’s an easy way to share tidbits of my works-in-progress, my writing process, random funny things and, of course, cat pictures. With four cats, I have a plethora of those.
For authors of any variety, especially indie authors, sales are crucial. Obviously. Without the marketing team of a publishing house, all of that hard work falls on the author. It doesn’t have to be torture, though. Social media can be a truly wonderful tool for building and interacting with your audience.
Be A Person, Not A Pop-up Ad
In the conversation that inspired this post, I was trying to think of a good comparison for posting non-stop promotional tweets for your books (or anything else, for that matter). My mind wandered back to my early days on the ‘net and how incredibly annoying it was to be trying to talk to friends or research something for school only to have twenty pop-up windows open one after the other. In the mid-90’s, there wasn’t much you could do about them.
To me, that’s the perfect comparison for people who spam their social media feeds with promo posts of their own work, RT’s of their own promo posts and those made by others. Yes, sales are vital. Yes, you want to make sure your carefully crafted promo images and posts are seen amid the chaos of any particular feed. More importantly, however, you want to make sure the people seeing them care enough to stop and look, not just glance casually as they scroll past.
When your work isn’t selling as well as you want or need, it can be a blow to the ego. It is easy to think simply increasing the number of promo posts is exactly what you need. But look at those posts as those mid-90’s pop-ups. If 30 appeared on your screen rather than 20, did that make you any more likely to consider what they were advertising?
It made you want to make them go away even faster.
So, what can you do?
Engage your audience. You’ve likely seen similar advice plastered all over the internet. It can get a little confusing, to be certain, especially when so many articles are filled with jargon and keywords you may not have deciphered yet. You’re posting those awesome promo pics like crazy – isn’t that engaging?
Eh, not really.
Let them see the person behind the product. Talk to them. Join in conversations, hashtag games (and not just the writer ones), pose questions. Share favorite songs, quotes, movies, books, characters.
Don’t let everything you post revolve around writing, or your book(s). Again, I direct your attention to cute cat (or other animal) pics.
Don’t retweet at random, nor everything you see.
Gorgeous sunset? Share a pic. Stoked for the premier of your favorite show? Let ’em know! Cat/dog/SO/kid did something super funny? Share the story. Passionate about organic goat cheese and artisan olives? Show the world! Slip promo posts, with and without images, in amongst all of that and you’re far more likely to catch the attention of your audience.
Which brings me to my next point….
Authors Need Readers
Obvious, yes, I know.
Something I’ve noticed about the Twitter author community is many of us seem to interact almost exclusively with other writers. I get it. The author community is a lot of fun, most of us know the hashtags by heart and it’s wonderful to have the support of others who know what we’re dealing with. Naturally, many of us buy each others books. In the grand scheme of things, though, that’s a small inlet in the ocean of book sales. The people we need to reach are the readers.
Other authors are your support network. Your extra set of eyes during editing, your cheerleaders on release day, your shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong. They may gladly read your work, but they aren’t your overall audience. Readers are, and social media can be a fabulous way to connect with them.
Hashtags like #amwriting, #amediting, #WIP, #wordcount, etc are fantastic for keeping in touch with the writer community. Using more hashtags aimed at the reader community, however, will help increase your visibility there. Whether your reading the latest release from a big name author, the debut novel of a writer buddy or a classic that’s older than you are, share it.
Don’t make posts with reader hashtags all about “Ohh, I’m an author, look at me!” or sneak buy links to your work into them. Firstly, it’s rude to put your buy link on a post about another author’s hard work. Secondly, it’s annoying.
Engage with the reader community as a reader. We, after all, were most likely inspired to the author path by something we read at some point in our lives. I know I was. We made friends and gained followers in the author community by engaging as such, same applies here. You may not see an instant increase in sales, but by building a presence in the reader community, you increase the visibility of your work. Each person who reads your work, tweets/posts about it, (hopefully!) reviews it helps boost its visibility, thus leading to sales. Slow, perhaps, but sales nonetheless, and with hard work and persistence, they will grow over time!
I want to end by saying that I wholeheartedly believe this advice applies to indie authors acting as their own marketing team, indie authors who can afford to pay for marketing and authors building a platform in hopes of being more appealing to agents, editors and publishers on the traditional route. We are all lovers of words, no matter the path we take to see them on the page.
Thanks for reading!
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