I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic as of late. I’ve also been reluctant to join the social media sites for years, partly because I don’t like to “jump on the bandwagon.” The decision to join in on the craze happened when I realized that most of the authors I liked had profiles on things like MySpace and Facebook. As an aspiring author, it only made sense that if I wanted to be a successful author, I should be doing what other successful authors do.
So I’ve slowly gotten my feet wet and set up a profile on MySpace and Facebook. I didn’t spend too much time on either site, but I did post book reviews. Then a friend of mine, Tanya Parker Mills, encouraged me to set up a blog and post my reviews there. I followed her advice and that’s how I got my start in the social media world.
From there, I’ve taken classes on networking, creating platforms, and had another realization. The social media websites, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and all the other sites out there, are all ways of creating an author platform as well as networking with other writers and readers around the world. And let me tell you, it works.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned, mostly from Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE—which I highly recommend to anyone who is wanting to make a name for themselves in the cyberspace world, which really is any author out there, self-published or traditionally published. Stay tuned for my review. :)
One—you have to be online. You can’t just have profiles and update them once in awhile. Be consistent. If you have a blog, make sure you blog at least once a week. Try to make it on the same day so followers will know when to come visit you. As Elana Johnson said in one of her classes, the internet world is very forgiving, but also very forgetful.
Two—return the favor. I’m working on this one. If someone follows you, follow them back. (Twitter, FB, Blogs) If someone comments on something you said, return the favor. I had someone ask me how I keep getting Twitter followers. My answer: follow people. I go out and find people with similar interests and follow them, and if someone follows me, I be sure to follow them back.
Three—choose a few social media sites to participate in. It seems like every few months a new media site pops up. My head spins just thinking about all of them, and if I tried to keep up with all of them, I wouldn’t have time to write. So don’t feel like you have to be on all of them. Pick a couple that work for you and stick to them. Personally, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. Am I active on all of them all the time? No. I keep FB and my blog regularly updated. I’ve also linked my blog posts to FB and Twitter. There are ways to do that and it makes life much easier.
Four—create a brand name. As authors, we want people to recognize our names, not just the title of our books. When at all possible, use your name. For example, my Twitter account is @bonnieharrisaz. My blog is www.bonnieharris.blogspot.com. You can find me on FB under harris.bonnie. When I get my website going, it will have Bonnie Harris in there. That way, people will know my name and when I am published, they will recognize it when they are looking for a good book to read. :)
These are just a few things I’m trying to implement to help build my author platform. I’ve had a few author friends ask if having an online presence really does any good. My answer to that is a resounding YES. I know it takes time and I know it can be a time waster, but if you allot a few minutes a day, you’ll be amazed at the results. We live in an internet world and our readers are closer than ever. I know, as a reader, I get really frustrated when I go to an authors website and the information there is years old. As fickle as this sounds, it makes me not want to read there stuff anymore. If I feel that way and I’m more lenient toward authors, how does a reader feel that wants the information, but can’t find it?
In the end, we want to share what we do. In a world that has everything at their fingertips, we need to be willing to share it by letting people know what we do. Take a look at Kristen Lamb’s blog. It has tons of help on it. Her book helps authors navigate the social media world. And here’s another article by Aimee L Slater about some do’s and don’t’s for authors. In the meantime, Happy Writing!