You’ve Got Presence

With your brand all set, you’re ready to begin building your Author Platform, which is simply your online presence. The main components of the Author Platform are various social media accounts and your website. Utilizing these will establish your brand in multiple places across the internet, thus increasing your searchability and giving your fans (and potential fans) an easier way to find you.

Nowadays, social media is the be-all-end-all of marketing, especially for do-it-yourselfers, like independent publishers. In no other way can you get so much free publicity as with social media. That said, social media marketing is different than other marketing, in that its primary purpose is to establish a relationship with your audience that will encourage them to buy your product. Basically, it’s about the relationship. You should approach social media with the goal to build your following and connect with them, rather than primarily marketing to them.

There are several social media platforms, and the ones you choose to be on will depend on your audience. If you write for teens, you’ll want to be on Snapchat and TikTok. But if you write for millennials, you’ll want Instagram and Facebook. And pretty much the rest of adults are on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Some of these platforms cross over, as you can see, and there are several more that may work well for you and your brand. You just have to do your research to find out where your audience is and then establish a presence there.

The number of social media accounts you want will depend on your personal preference and time constraints; just remember that maintaining too many social media accounts can become a strain that will affect your relationship to your fans. It is far better to have a balanced and consistent presence on one platform than a patchy, slapdash presence on several.

Now, there are some social platforms that are especially for authors, including Goodreads, Bookbub, and your publishing provider (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) that are super important to be on. These offer interfaces for reviews and other feedback, plus opportunities to build a following (think, more free chances to market your book). It is totally worth it to get an account on these sites. Bonus: they are less interactive than traditional social media sites, so they are less of a time commitment with the same or better return. (They also provide paid services to market your book, which can be incredibly effective, but we will talk about that in another post.)

So you’ve chosen your social media accounts, what now? You have to show up. You can’t just be on these social media sites and then magic will happen. You have to have presence, or there will be nothing to keep your fans from coming back for more. And what is presence?

Think of hundreds of people who love your work getting onto social media every day. If there is nothing in their feed to remind them of you, day after day, they will forget you in all the other stuff they have thrown at them. That would be BAD.

But think of these people, scrolling through their various feeds, and BAM! there’s a post by you, or WHAM! there’s a comment by you, or Glorious Day! there’s a response from you to their fan comment! WOW, now they’re excited, and they share it with their friends, and you get new followers, and they all love you. Then, that happens every few days, and you’ve got a steady buildup of rabid fans who can’t wait to buy your next book, because you’re a real person who they can’t and would never want to forget!

That’s presence.

Every time you post something on Instagram, it will show up in your followers’ feeds, but that’s only the beginning. Every time you comment on their review or something they say on Amazon, they will get notified. Every time you update your reading progress in a book on Goodreads, they will get notified. Every time you like something they say or post on Facebook, they will get notified. Every time you recommend a book on Bookbub, they will get notified.

See what I mean? Never was the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” more wrong. In social media, it is all about being there. But you can overdo it and be there too much, taking up all your time that you should be creating more products to satisfy your readers’ insatiable appetites. There has to be a balance between connecting with readers and actually producing stuff for them to voraciously read. Try setting aside a specific time each day or week to work on social media and marketing, and then stick to it.

Different social media platforms have different tools for businesses (that’s you), many of which are free to use. Facebook has events that you can schedule and host (think: contest or giveaway) or groups that you can create (for lovers of books in your genre, for example) to help gather people and build awareness of your brand. Just remember that the main point of social media is to engage your readers, not to sell to them, so make sure you are providing interesting and relevant content about 3/4 of the time, and marketing to them only 1/4 of the time.

There is a learning curve to getting the most bang for your time-buck, though, so find out social media sites fit best into your schedule, then discover what tools your chosen social media outlets offer, and research the best means of using them to your advantage. Your time is too precious to be running inefficient events, but with a little effort searching YouTube or Google, you can become a pro in no time.

So get out there and find your place on the interwebs, and send those little love pats down the line every few days, so your people know you care—and will reciprocate by buying your next book—which you are hard at work writing!