Today's post is by guest speaker Rosie Milton, enjoy:
Whilst it might be appealing to imagine that you’ve written such a wonderful book all you need to do now is list it on Amazon, kick back on your recliner sofa and wait to become a bestseller, it sadly doesn’t work that way for anyone.
Even the most well-established authors still have to put the time and effort into promoting their books so that readers know it’s out there for them to buy and read, so if you're just starting out in your writing career, you've certainly got some work to do.
When you make the decision to go down the self-publishing route, you should know that this means you must also become your own publicist. Of course, if you’ve got the funds to hire an expert, that’s great. But the majority of aspiring self-publishers won’t have that kind of money and will have to do some DIY platform building.
You’re probably already familiar with the basics of platform building on the internet. Most of us have a Facebook account, maybe a Twitter account, etc.
If you use Facebook, you can create an author’s page so that people who aren’t on your friends list can ‘like’ you and follow your updates. This is a good idea if you don’t want to add just anyone to your friends list. Many writers like to keep their personal online presence separate from their author’s presence. To create a page, sign into your Facebook account and follow this link.
Many writers also have a website or a blog which they use to promote their work.
Joining writing communities such as Critique Circle and Authonomy is a wise idea too.
Basically, any way in which you can create a stronger web presence is a good thing.
Yet there’s an important element to platform building which is often overlooked.
You Reap What You Sow
A lot of new authors make the mistake of thinking that all they need to do is get the word out about themselves and their work as much as possible. But there’s more to building a platform than endless self-promotion. A big part of the process is making friends and connections with other writers, not just so you can tell them about your work, but so you can help to support them with theirs too.
Its common sense – if all you’re focussing on is getting your name out there and expecting everyone to come to you and buy your book, and every other author is doing the same thing too, not much is going to happen.
It’s easy to talk about yourself all the time. Lots of people are doing that. But it’s important to get involved with what other authors are doing. Read writer’s blogs, leave comments, join forums and read other self-published books. Talk to other writers on Twitter and Facebook. Post links to writing you’ve enjoyed. The more involved you become in the online writing community, the stronger the platform you’ll be able to build. If you can make friends with other authors, they will be more likely to help you promote your book. Many authors write book reviews or post blog entries from guest bloggers, so build relationships with people you can share those processes with.
It does take time, and you need to approach online networking with authenticity, because it will be obvious if you’re just commenting on someone’s blog to earn back-scratching points from them.
Connect with authors whose writing you’re interested in, rather than simply targeting anyone and everyone. If you spread your net too wide, you’ll end up having to trawl through a lot of stuff that isn’t helpful, let alone enjoyable.
Authenticity is also important in a wider sense. Your online presence needs to reflect who you are. If you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not, people will see through that. It also creates more work for you if you’re having to ‘keep up appearances’.
Have Fun with it
Although it requires some work, try to relax and enjoy the process. Remember that you’re making new friends, not just promotion buddies. Writing is often a lonely profession, so it’s nice to talk to other like-minded souls. Connecting and communicating with other writers is also bound to help improve your writing anyway.
Overall, the best advice for any author trying to build an online platform is: Be yourself, and be sociable; just as you would need to be in real life.