Over the last decade the internet has changed the lives of writers dramatically. It has tested the publishing industry to the max, and is still consistently changing, forcing publishers, authors and marketing professionals to adapt, in order to make the most of what is probably the least expensive, but most effective form of promotion.
As an independent author, it is imperative that you have a plan in place to showcase your work online and get noticed. The single most effective way to achieve this is by building a strong, professional and branded online platform. By planning in advance and ensuring you have ample amount of content to keep your visitors genuinely interested, your author name will gain vital visibility.
There are plenty of ways to achieve this, but I am going to go through the easiest and most prominent five that will ensure you have the knowledge to start building your platform effectively.
There is little to no point marketing online and getting yourself noticed if you have no focal point to send interested parties to. A well designed and branded website is the perfect place to host your marketing material as well as detailed information that readers and those in the industry may be looking for after your promotional efforts have paid off. It should also include a way to contact you, so that future opportunities may develop. A website should have static, easily navigable information that provides detailed information effortlessly, and should be designed to appeal to your target audience.
A blog helps writers connect with their readers, the industry and those interested in the topics you write about. A blog can be used to display your expertise in specific subjects that relate to your work, or in writing itself, further legitimising you as an author. The posts should be written in a professional manner, much like your books, so that visitors can assess the quality of your work. Unlike a website, a blog doesn’t necessarily supply static information, and therefore should be updated regularly to keep readers returning, and also providing a link to your website, where potential readers can find out more about you, and purchase your work.
With advances in technology, book trailers and video media are fast becoming a popular medium to promote your work. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast. It has been found that the average internet user will remain on a website around eighty percent longer if there is a video to view. Videos have also seen the largest rise as a piece of sharable media, meaning your book trailer can be shared all over the world 24/7.
An ever increasing amount of people browse the web via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text may be too daunting and perhaps too small to read. Book trailers are great ways to gain instant attention, tempting visitors to look further and stay longer, as well as share with ease on social media. There are other options for video media apart from book trailers that authors can also consider. Anything from website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.
Following on from video media, podcasts are another effective, interactive way to promote online. Audio interviews, reviews or discussions with authors and industry professionals can all stir up interest, giving you a voice in your field of work. It is also another highly shared form of media, meaning that you can reach a far wider audience than would ever be achievable in isolation. It is also very easy to produce and doesn’t require much technical know-how.
Connecting with readers and others in the book world online gives you valuable visibility and enables you to network in a way authors from the past would have never imagined possible. You can use it to share your work with readers, discuss being a writer with other authors, as well as opening the door to new opportunities. Agents and publishers freely admit to searching for potential new authors online, and in some cases, such as Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh, even accept pitches’ via Twitter.
There is an etiquette with social media that many authors are yet to grasp. Although it is a valuable promotional tool, simply shouting ‘Buy my Book’ and providing a link is a poor marketing strategy. Instead, providing snippets and links to reviews, links to your blog and video media is a much less demanding, but effective way to gain genuine curiosity.
As with any marketing, too many authors make the mistake of producing poor promotional material, with little design or production experience. It’s always good to remember that being an independent author isn’t necessarily about doing everything yourself, but about surrounding yourself with experts and creating a strong team and investing where it counts.