A recurring conversation I have with editors and clients is about the importance of building online communities that engage with fellow writers and readers. I bring this up again and again because writers in the earliest stages of their querying and publication process need to know how to navigate this unchartered territory.
Here are 12 reasons why you need to be captain of your digital ship in a big way:
Manage your own brand
First impressions make the difference between someone clicking the ‘buy’ button and someone navigating away from your site. Websites and blogs need to be: cleanly designed; clearly communicate your name, book, the hook, and sales links; have an up to date author photo; link to social media platforms; and be updated frequently. Do not make the mistake of putting something up just to save your domain name. Make it count. Get a fantastic graphic or website designer and never let them go. Be objective: is this an author site you would buy a book from and/or be inclined to find out more?
Increase discoverability of your work (and thus sales)
With smooth linking between Facebook, Twitter and your website/blog you can seamlessly guide readers from one experience to the other and lead them to buy your book. Clunky navigation and unclear purpose leave visitors confused. Some visitors may overlap between your platforms, but some visitors might be unique to each platform. What information do they each need to know? How will each type of visitor be able to find your book? These are the answers:
- Good hook
- Great cover photo (when it’s available)
- Links to e-commerce sites
- Links between your platforms to increase engagement
Unique visitors is one way of measuring online success, however editors and marketers are increasingly interested in the community you’ve build in recurring and engaging visitors. How do you keep your readers coming back? Consistent and frequent posting? Are you known for your writing tips? Find out what is making your visitors come back and grow in that space. In time they’ll feel like they’ve grown with you and this leads to communities that promote via word of mouth and feel like they are championing one of their own.
Once you’ve secured your visitors and build that community how to you keep them loyal?
- Exclusive content
- Cover reveals
- Pushing information out yourself rather than have your publisher feed the information to you
Again, this makes readers feel like they are on the inside instead of the outside. Everyone wants to be the first to discover a cool new band, right? Think of how new readers are going to discover and promote you in an indie way.
Virtuous circles of engagement
When you learn to engage your fans, deliver what they want, make them feel included and cross promote in the community this brings in new fans. Reward them with exclusivity, bonus content, and contests.
Social media is not for broadcasting, it’s about individuals interacting around content that is meaningful to them. Never forget that. That should be the biggest take away from this post. Take the opportunities to do guest posts and be open to new platforms because you’ll never know which will take off and which will lead to new opportunities and connections.