It used to be that an author could just be an author: sitting at home and doing what they love. That’s no longer the case.
Whether today’s authors are self-publishing or going through a publishing house, one thing is a given. They have to do their own promotion. Publishers will only put time and money into marketing some of their known quantities (i.e. people who have already been bestselling authors). Everyone else is pretty much on their own.
In fact, if you’re a new author, you have to do a fair amount of marketing even before you get published. A publishing house generally won’t even consider you unless you’ve already proven that you can build a fanbase, are well-spoken, etc…
Most authors today are aware of this fact … but that doesn’t mean they like it. I hear from authors all the time who say things like, “I’m a writer. Not a marketer,” or “I don’t want to be spending my time doing these things.”
With that in mind, here are five ways that you can get your name out there and build a fanbase with minimal time, effort, and discomfort.
1. Build an author website. By having a professional website designed and developed, you will create an online “home” for yourself. If you choose the right company to develop it, you’ll be guided through the process and you won’t be forced to make decisions about colors, layout, content, etc.. After all, that’s not your specialty, so you shouldn’t be having to do it. Click here to learn more about our web development services.
2. Start blogging. I’ve written many posts about the benefits of blogging. But here’s all you need to know: Write at least one post a week. Have a specific theme that your blog posts follow. Make sure your posts solicit responses. Don’t blog about your personal life — you don’t want to do that and nobody wants to read it. Instead, blog as a professional and start building a following of readers. And it’s not as tough as you may think: Get some ideas on how to make blogging easier.
3. Join conversations. Browse Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, etc… and find groups that are relevant to your book’s subject matter or genre. Then create a professional profile on these sites, join these groups and start talking. Again, there’s no need to be overly promotional or share things that are personal. Instead, just share your two cents, ask questions of other authors and readers, and become a part of the community.
4. Reach out and contribute. There’s nothing as valuable to an author as links/references from other websites that speak to a similar audience. Find bloggers and webmasters who seem to touch on the same subject as your books, and reach out to them. Ask if they’re interested in cross-linking, reviewing your book, or having you write a guest post for their site.
5. Keep people updated. You can do all of the above, but there’s no point if you’re not going to keep things going. There’s nothing worse than a website that isn’t updated, a blog that doesn’t have new posts, or a social networking profile that never comments, “likes” or recommends other pieces. Dedicate a few minutes each day to updating your website and social networking profiles with news and events (book signings, publishing details, etc…) and commenting on other people’s posts.
At the end of the day, all of this relatively-painless work will help you to do what you love: write. Maybe someday, you’ll be successful enough to hire someone else to do your marketing. In the meantime, the ball is in your court.