Promoting yourself as an author, and not a bookseller
Selling books is hard work and also a very good way to alienate yourself as an author. Social media is full of self-published authors trying to flog their ebooks and all most of them achieve is to be ignored or unfollowed. Learning how to promote yourself as an author is a far better way to be successful.
I have received many comments and messages asking about the difference between promoting and selling and how to build a social network and following, so I thought I might share some of my ideas and approaches to author and book promotion here.
I have to say from the outset though that these are methods that work for me, and are not necessarily a set of rules that you have to follow. The other point I must make is that they all involve a lot of time, patience and hard work.
Original social profiles and bios
I see so many badly written author bios on social media. This is almost always the very first thing people read about an author, yet so many give very little thought to this short piece of text. All too often, they are full of clichéd expressions and quite honestly, boring. Author of a book, International Bestselling Author, Award Winning Contemporary Romance Author, and so on. Quite honestly, who would want to follow? And are they honest?
However, this one does attract attention: Will eventually grow up and get a real job. Until then, will keep making things up and writing them down. This is the short Twitter profile of Neil Gaiman.
Think carefully about the short profiles you use on social media and the longer version used on retailers, websites and blogs. Tell people why you are interesting and why you are worth following. Forget the clichés and be original.
Blogging is a must
For me, this is the most important part of author promotion. Blogs take a lot of time and effort, but the long-term rewards are far, far greater than any other means available. Every post tells a story and exposes your character and personality as well as your knowledge and opinions. It also opens the door to discussion and debate.
But the key benefit is in an often forgotten fact. Every single post adds to your Search Engine listings. My personal author blog now has over 1,000 posts that are all listed on Search Engines and almost 65% of my blog visitors come from Google, Bing or Yahoo. Over the years it has built from almost no visitors to a current average of around 4,000 page visitors per month.
The mistake a lot of author bloggers make though is to view their blog as some kind of daily diary with posts about family, pets, rants and raves and then from time to time, something interesting and relevant to their books or writing.
Successful blogs are clearly focused and build a reputation on a particular topic. Keep your blog articles focused on your writing and books, and the themes that are in your books.
Good blogging is about posting articles regularly, often and on topic. As a tip, Search Engines prefer articles that are longer than 1,000 words, so avoid writing very short posts.
Use a Facebook Page
A must of course. However, using your personal Facebook profile as your author image is not wise. Again, you want to be known for books, not babies. Use a dedicated Facebook Page and like your blog, keep it informative and on topic.
Use multiple Twitter accounts
Yes, Twitter really is a monster, but indispensable now as a means of finding new followers, bringing traffic to a blog, attracting interest in your writing, as well as building a useable social platform in itself.
Keeping on topic again is key. One of the benefits of Twitter is that you can have multiple accounts and I use this ability to separate my personal account from ones I use for writing and book promotion. Each one is focused on different topics. So when I do want to do some book promotion, I have a number of possibilities and don’t need to litter my own personal Twitter account with my book links.
Use a website to list your books
Old fashioned now perhaps, but still very important as it is the place where you can have pages of information and buy links for your books.
I direct all my book promotion back to my website because it has the full book description, reviews, book trailers and multiple book retailer links.
I never link back to one retailer such as Amazon. What if the person interested in my book doesn’t have a Kindle but has a Nook or iPad? Or what if they are only interested in a paperback version? Linking back to a web page allows for all of these choices for potential book buyers. You can also use universal book links to ensure potential book buyers are offered buying choices.
Always be on your best behaviour
The last item, but probably the most important one. Ranting, raving, arguing, SHOUTING and generally being a pain in the neck, even just every now and again, are all great ways to undo all your hard work. When one thinks about the image of an author, these are not what people expect. Ignoring bad book reviews, idiots, trolls and all manner of provocation is the only way to retain a good image.
All of the elements listed above are the means to help you build a credible reputation as an author. That, in the end, is what self-promotion is all about. Sell yourself first, build your authority, and book sales will follow.