Writing is mostly a private, solitary activity – but being an author is not, necessarily.
There is a lot that goes into being a successful, published author. A big part of becoming established and becoming a household name is having a strong digital presence.
Marketing for the publishing industry, just like many others, has moved online, and relies firmly on tools, such as personal websites, blogs, and social media pages.
As an author, you are a product, and the most efficient way of selling is to strengthen your digital presence. Here are some thoughts on why you should be focusing your efforts on improving this aspect of your marketing plan and how you can build a stronger online presence.
Why is your digital presence important?
Just why is your digital presence so important? What’s in it for you? Well, a strong, consistent online presence can help with several different aspects:
- Better chance of being picked up by publishers
When deciding what authors to invest in, publishers will take a variety of factors into consideration. Your book is the most important, obviously, but so is your personality and marketability. They will also look at your website and your social media presence, if you have them. This can make the difference between being published or not.
- Branding & brand awareness
Brand awareness goes a long way when building your audience. Ensuring that you become a household name and a recognizable “brand” is crucial. The more often people come across your name and recognize it, the more likely they are to become interested.
- Marketing & audience building
Putting out a good product like an excellent book is only half the battle, and marketing is a crucial part of that process. If you take marketing into your own hands, you can, over time, grow your audience and readership organically.
- Search Engine Optimization
What Search Engine Optimization (SEO) does, in short, is to make sure when people look for relevant keywords, your name and content will pop up. It takes effort and a good strategy, and it is all based on your digital presence.
How can you strengthen your digital presence?
Let us talk about what you can do to make sure your digital presence is strong and effective. There are two main areas that you need to focus on: 1) your website & associated blog, and 2) your social media platforms.
- Personal website & blog
One of the best things you can do for your personal brand is to set up your own website. When people come across your work, they will want to look you up and see who you are and what you are all about.
You want to make sure that they come across your personal website first, so that they get an opportunity to learn about you.
- Your domain name domain name should be the name that you use to publish. Whether that is a pen name or your real name, make sure they match. That will make it easy to find you.
- Remain consistent and true to who you are – that goes for the content and general look of the website. You want these pages to represent you and be “on brand” visually, as well as in keeping with your voice and genre. If you write romance, your website should reflect that. Same if you write thrillers, or children’s books.
- Featuring content on your blog is a good way to keep people interested or intrigued. For example, if you’ve got a new book coming, offer a sneak peek – a chapter, or a few pages, to entice your audience.
- Your site should be optimized for SEO purposes. That includes excellent content, but also carefully chosen keywords. This will ensure that people are able to find you easily, increasing your traffic, which translates into sales.
- Website optimization for mobile phones is another aspect you must not forget. It is easy to overlook, but most people will be Googling you on their phones, so they should be able to access your website and content seamlessly. That will also contribute to traffic and sales.
- Setting up a newsletter is still a valid method of building your audience. This way, you are present in your followers’ inboxes on a regular basis. You can offer incentives such as free content, exclusive content, a discount on their purchase of your releases, etc.
- Social media platforms
Nowadays, unless you are on social media, you might as well not exist. A lot of your online presence revolves around being on social media and maintaining a constant presence there. Being present on social media can help boost your popularity, your credibility, and make you seem more approachable and relatable.
In the past, opportunities to communicate with a favorite author were slim to none, but now anyone can reach out to them and express their views. That could be you!
- Engaging with your audience is an extremely important aspect of your presence on social media and your marketing strategy in general. Liking and replying to comments shows your audience that you are an open, engaged person who is eager to communicate. People love reaching out to artists they admire, so your availability is a real bonus.
- Making an effort to post regularly is important. That way, you will show up on people’s feeds and remain relevant, even if it is just a photo, a reminder about your book, an excerpt, a question, etc.
- Following, engaging, and networking with fellow authors and other people in this industry can be one of the crucial steps for building notoriety, credibility, and popularity. This way, you gain “clout” and become a household name. If there are any fellow authors you admire, do not hesitate to contact them.
- Build anticipation by posting about upcoming news and releases. Building excitement within your community is a key step to convincing them to buy and love the “product”. If you’re excited about a new book, for example, this will carry over to your audience and build excitement with them.
- Don’t be afraid to advertise – you are using this as a platform to increase your following and sales, so don’t be afraid to market your releases. Feature information about publishing dates, pre-orders, links to where your books can be purchased, paperback editions, discounts, events and book signings, etc. It will make an enormous difference.
It takes more than just being a good writer to become a successful author. Your books will only take you so far – you need more to become a marketable product, and that is at least partially ensured by a strong digital presence.
Building a strong online presence involves careful planning and strategizing. Building your audience, gaining popularity, increasing traffic, boosting sales, and ultimately ensuring that you become a household name is often a concentrated effort of a well-planned social media strategy and an impeccable and attractive website.
Remember that all of your online channels should represent who you are as an author, and should work towards supporting the online persona you are cultivating. Keep your audience informed and entertained and you will begin to see growth.
About Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson is a long time marketing executive and freelance author who has a passion for teaching others how to engage with their clients and grow their business. When not writing and working, she enjoys gardening, CrossFit workouts, and dabbling in oil paintings.