Writers Need a Web Presence. Here’s What That Means
A web presence extends an author’s reach beyond the realtime world into the cybersphere. Why is that important for the 21st Century writer? Let me see if I can explain it without getting into the weeds:
- If you have a contract with a publisher and you’re not Tom Clancy (correct me if I’m wrong, Tom. I know you read my posts), you are expected to market your book. In fact, I’ve been told that today’s Query Letters should define the author’s current online promotional activities. I, for instance, have a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter handle, a LinkedIn profile and am an active participant in my subject’s social networks–all to curry interest in my books.
Marketing and sales is literally more important to the author than the publisher. If any one author’s books don’t sell, the publisher moves on to greener pastures. Not as easy for the writer. If you’re like me, those books are your babies. In my case, they took longer to deliver than an elephant’s calf and I need revenue coming in to write the next. I need them to work.
- If you’re self-published, you are the go-to guy/gal for marketing. You can attend conferences, give speeches, have book signings, but the cheapest, easiest and arguably most effective method is the internet. More on that later.
- If you’re in-between–sending queries out seeking an agent, trying to attract the attention of the person who will love your writing as you do–what better way than for those gatekeepers to see how well you write and how many people follow you. Today’s agents want to see your web presence as a precursor to giving you a chance. It helps them decide how serious you are as a writer.
There are many ways to make your presence known on the internet:
- A blog showcases your writing skills and allows you to interact with potential and current readers. It gets them excited about your writing so they spread the word until you’re like the sun only hotter (such is my dream).
- A website (or a page on your publisher’s website) tells readers about your book, including the location of your blog, twitter account, Facebook, and more. The downside is it’s static. Readers can’t ask questions, and you can’t respond to a trend or personalize it to the uniqueness of individual readers.
- A Twitter account gets you out there in real-time, chatting with readers as well as other writers, spreading your good word in a personal, down-to-earth way. Each tweet is a quick insight on your thoughts, having a mandatory limit of 140 characters. No, Twitter accounts need not be mundane recitations of daily activities. The ones I follow are full of relevant information happening in my industry. When people without that single-minded focus subscribe to my Tweets, I don’t follow back.
- A Facebook account is similar, but has more depth. You can post pictures, blogs, other reader comments.
Here are a few books to help you through the steps required to go live on the internet:
- Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider’s Guide to Promoting Your Book on the Internet!
- The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won’t
- We Are Not Alone: Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb (review coming soon–so far it’s great)
Here’s what I do on the web:
- I host several blogs, each on one of my books
- I contribute weekly columns to ezines, e-newspapers, PLNs, Nings, to reach people my blogs don’t
- I have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account, a Scribd account, and a few more personalized to my interests
- I have seven marketing outlets for my books, most with their own ‘about the author’ page
- I have a Goodreads account, highlighting my writing expertise
I’m happy to say that sales increase every month so I’m doing something right. Truth be told, I’m not sure which of my many marketing efforts is paying off, but that’s a topic for another post.
Have I told you enough? Now get going!