August #AuthorTip: Author Websites

Continuing this post series with a tip for author websites:

Yes, you do need one. Here’s why…

Social media controls content and visibility. It’s not just Facebook hiding your posts; it’s Facebook deleting posts it deems unacceptable. It’s your tweets getting buried beneath a flood of millions of others happening every second of the day. It’s Instagram freezing or deleting company accounts. You are never in control of your content on social media.

And before you think your author profile on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords or your Publisher’s website is good enough, or that you can post blogs on Goodreads just as easily, think again. Those are all good things to set up to enhance your online presence, but they are not sufficient. Why? It’s still someone else’s sandbox, and you only get to play there as long as they let you. And if for some reason they stop playing nice, you could lose your content, whether it’s one post, or five years of posts. Forever.

You cannot control content on someone else’s website, no matter who it is, or how much you trust them. You can only control it on your own platform, and that is a website or a blog. Unless you post something that’s against the law, or a major catastrophe destroys the hosting company or servers, whatever you post on your website will stay there until you choose to remove it.

And now you will say that websites and blogs are dead, that everything lives on social media now. Even if that were true (which it isn’t) you can still share content from your website all over social media. The only difference is that if your social media post is removed, the original content is still live on your website. So instead of posting that image of the Birth of Venus (which FB might delete because of nudity) you can post it on your blog and share a link to it.

But websites take time, you say, and cost a lot of money! Actually, no they don’t. You can get free hosting on sites like WordPress, Blogger, or similar hosting services, and every one of them will have dozens of pre-designed templates you can use, so you don’t even have to be a coding genius to make a beautiful website in minutes (or hours, depending on how much content you want to post). My advice would be to pick one that gives you room for expansion and upgrades, and invest the $5-$25/year in a custom URL. Those babies are worth their weight in gold for an author. They move with you wherever you go.

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August #AuthorTip: Plan Out Your Book Releases

Continuing this post series with a tip for making sure your new book makes the proper splash:

The biggest reason new book releases flop: No one knows about them. The absolute worst mistake you can make with your new book is to hit publish out of the blue and hope for the best. A proper book release takes planning, forethought, and a detailed strategy.

Things you should consider before you come anywhere close to uploading your book to a platform:

  1. REVIEWS: Have you sent out ARCs? Do you have eager fans ready and willing to flood your book listing with lots of enthusiastic reviews? Do you have a blog tour planned? Blogger reviews waiting in the wings? You should.
  2. SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS: You’ll want to let people know about your book early and often. The best way to do this is to utilize platforms like Hootsuite to schedule your posts ahead of time so you have continuous coverage leading up to and following your book release. You want to keep people aware without beating them over the head with it.
  3. ADVERTISING: If you can afford it, you should plan out at least two or three ad campaigns on different platforms to get more exposure. These should always link directly to where people can pre-order or buy your book, and you should monitor the statistic carefully to make sure you’re not wasting your money. Read up on how to do this before you plunge in. It’s an expensive venture to go into without preparation.
  4. GUEST APPEARANCES: Whether they’re in-person or online, you’ll want to get in front of people to talk about your book somehow. This can mean author readings in libraries, group takeovers on Facebook, live podcast interviews, panel discussions, newsletter swaps, etc.

Your promotional campaign should start several months before your release date. It should ramp up about 1-2 weeks prior to release to get people excited, and carry through 1-2 weeks after the release to keep your book visible. Those first two weeks after release will be crucial. This will be the time that will count the most toward bestseller rankings and future sales. Those early reader converts will help you spread the word going forward so you don’t want to miss out on capturing them.

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Social Media Etiquette 102: The Personal Side

Hope you all enjoyed recess. Class is now back in session. This is Rant 2 of 2 on authors behaving badly on social media, and thank you again to everyone who wrote to me with your experiences and pet peeves. It’s really put this into perspective for me. If you missed Rant 1, check it out here: Social Media Etiquette 101: The Business Side.

And now we commence Rant 2 of 2…

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Social Media Etiquette 101: The Business Side

It started so innocently… A fellow author sent me a private message saying, “You should write a blog about people behaving unprofessionally on social media!” And because I have seen more of that than I ever cared to, I thought it’d be a great idea. But I didn’t want to be airing just my own grievances, so I asked for input from my network. Boy, that was one scary can of worms I opened… But it showed me that this is an important topic that no one seems to want to talk about because it might ruffle feathers. Well, I have my feather ruffler in hand and, by George, I am going to talk about this!

*slaps ruler against teacher’s desk*

Everyone back in your seats. That means you, Charlie. And Theresa, put that away; no one wants to see that. Joe, I swear, if you don’t pull your pants back up right now… That’s better. Boys and girls, class is now in session. And yes, all of this will be on the test.

Commence Rant 1 of 2…

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