It used to be that a publisher promoted an author’s book. If an author wanted to do more, they hired a PR person who made phone calls and sent out copies of the book for review.
How times have changed! Now, an author has to do nearly all of their publicity themselves! After all, you can’t exactly hire someone to tweet for you.
In 2010, it’s practically taboo for an author not to have a website, a blog, a Facebook profile and a Twitter account. That’s among other things, too. But the purpose of this blog post is to give you a brief overview of these four marketing tools and the purpose of each one.
1. An author website: This is what I do for a living, so I could write for days about this. But to make a long story short, the purpose of the website is to give yourself an online presence. People who read your book or hear about you from a friend need to have a place they can go to learn a bit more about you, see a list of books you’ve written, and get some special features … like book outtakes. The author website is essentially like an encyclopedia of your work. Just a bit more interesting.
2. An author blog: Every author should be blogging. And the blog should be closely tied in to the website. The purpose of the blog is to keep your site fresh and updated. Authors should blog at least once a week. The subject matter really depends on what kind of writer you are. Nonfiction authors should blog about the subject matter of their books. Fiction authors should get more creative and blog about their characters. Or about their writing for the next book. But a blog is your chance to interact with readers, let them know what’s on your mind, and give them a place to post comments.
3. Facebook: There are many social networking sites. Some specifically for authors (which I will blog about another time). But Facebook is the one that will get you the most visibility, since nearly everyone under the age of 60 (and some over, too) are on it. Create a Facebook profile or group. “Friend” people you know, and invite friends of friends to join. Make sure to include a link to your Facebook profile on your website and blog. You can also have your blog entries automatically feed in, so that whenever you post a new entry, it shows up on your Facebook profile without you doing a thing.
4. Twitter: You’ve probably heard of “tweeting.” You may even follow other people’s tweets. But for those of you who don’t know, Twitter (and its posts, called tweets) is a way for people to stay updated on what you’re doing. Tweets are short messages (less than 140 characters) that go from you to everyone on your list. They’re a quick way to let people know what you’re doing, or share a new feature/blog entry on your website. Individual tweets can be as simple as “Going to meet with my agent now.” Other tweets serve to link to something bigger, such as a new blog entry you’ve posted. Again, this can be automated so that the first 140 characters of your blog entry automatically go out to everyone in a Tweet. As with Facebook, you should have links to follow you on Twitter on your website and blog. Many people receive these tweets on their phone or other mobile device, so they can stay updated even when they’re not by the computer.
Whew! That’s a lot of information. But I hope you got the basics of it. All four of these things serve a different purpose. And the key is to properly integrate all of them, so that people who find your blog will come to your website. Website visitors will friend you on Facebook. Everyone will receive your tweets! And all of it toward the ultimate goal … selling your book, and maybe even getting the next one published.
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