10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before
by Rachel Thompson
When I first started writing my author blog (about four and a half years ago), I had NO idea the extent of marketing I would have to do once I published my first book.
Now that I’m three books in (all bestsellers), I’ve developed a system that works for me. It’s not brain surgery, it’s not impossible, but it is hard work.
And it all starts with having an author platform.
Lots of people have written about author platforms; but back then, I had no comprehension of what that meant (and while I have a fairly extensive sales and marketing background, publishing was all new to me). So what is an author platform and how can knowing this help you? I’m drawing on my own experiences, what I’ve read and learned, as well as the business clients who do what I recommend.
The primary components of any platform include:
I’ll break down each one with an additional tip on how I do things.
Social Media: Everyone knows you have to be on (at the very least), Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. That’s kind of a given. What people don’t tell you is that you need a Facebook page, separate from your personal Facebook account (however you can manage it from there). Why? Facebook personal accounts (where you ‘friend’ people) were not created for selling. Also, they limit you to 5,000 friends, which sounds like a lot, but once you get more well-known? Not so much.
Success: For the best chance at success, be sure to not go into social media thinking, ‘Hey this is awesome! I’m just gonna link to my own books all the time, in every share, message, and tweet!’ Not only will people unfollow/unfriend you, it’s also extremely counterproductive to doing any actual selling. Tip: Use keywords that connect to your subject/genre. Glean articles from the Net and share those. RT/share others. Be generous in supporting people. Add visual formats like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. And above all else, have a presence on G+. Google owns it. Google is the largest search engine in the world. You do the math.
Website: I had NO idea until I finally convinced myself to switch from blogger to WordPress.org that my SEO/SMO was in the tank. Why does this matter? Paying someone (not a lot) to optimize my site (and then coaching me on how to do it) has made a huge difference in my Google ranking and Alexa.com score. What does that mean? I’m more visible, more exposed (in a good way!), and I’ve made it easier for people to find me.
Optimization: It’s okay if you don’t understand what it means. Hire someone who does. I truly had no clue how important it was to optimize my site or what all was involved. I’m grateful to @SugarBeatBC for her knowledge and patient help.
Blog: A natural extension of any author is your blog. Again, use your keywords to come up with subjects or a theme to your writing, and update your blog at least once per week. Google’s algorithms look at how fresh your content is. If you don’t post often, your ranking goes down. Boo.
Topics: Confused on what to blog about? Find blogs you really like, and see what their focus is. Write about what you know. Share excerpts from your book(s). Have guests (remember, be generous?). Tip: post on the weekend for more comments, during the week for more shares (Source: Dan Zarrella).
Ads: Many authors don’t want to tangle with the beast that is Google AdWords. I didn’t either! I tried to learn many times but looking at cost per keyword makes me think of algebra class and hey, writer here. Math is NOT my forte. So I make my husband do it. Ha! (In fact, he’s become so proficient at doing AdWords, he hung up his shingle at The AdWords Guy, and helps other authors learn, or manages their campaigns for them.)
Keywords: Yes, again. Even if you don’t get how AdWords works, at least you can use their Keyword Tool to run your words through (ie, I use relationships, grief, loss, love, romance, etc.). It’s free and fairly easy to use.
eBook or Digital Copy: Is it really necessary to have an eBook version of your book? In a word: duh. Of course it is! Report vary, but anywhere from 50-70% of all books purchased over the last year were in eBook format; of those, 50% were purchased from Amazon.
(People are still somewhat confused about this. You CAN purchase eBooks from Amazon without a Kindle. All you need to do is download their free apps for smartphone, computer, tablet, or cloud. It’s SO easy! Even Nook readers can read Amazon books (not on their Nook of course. Barnes and Noble isn’t stupid.), but from the free apps.)
10) Embrace Technology: No matter what your personal opinions are about eBooks, digital content is our future – right now. As baby boomers age, purchases made from home have skyrocketed. Younger people have become used to the instant gratification from gaming and social media, which makes eBooks perfect for your younger demographic.
Okay, that’s it! Almost every single one of these points I learned during the process of publishing or after. I hope they help you to be successful but remember, first and foremost, write a terrific book first!