Your author platform
In the digital age, no writer can ignore social media. It’s a must. If you haven’t done so already, you should register a domain name for your website. This should be in your writing name – so if you’re using a pseudonym, this is the name you should try to register.
You don’t have to create a website right away; all you have to do is ‘park’ this domain so that no one else grabs it when you become famous. Depending on your country, this is relatively inexpensive and easy process.
At this point, you can also think about starting a Facebook author page separate from your private Facebook account, as well as creating a specific Twitter handle. You don’t have to be on every social media platform – so think about the platforms that will suit your genre.
For example, Young Adult novelists will probably do well on Instagram, while women’s fiction may lend itself to Pinterest.
It’s probably a good idea to invest in some really nice pictures of yourself for your social media and PR. A selfie or a picture of you in shorts and t-shirt at the beach are probably not the best images you wish to portray. Choose something that reflects your personality and the type of fiction you write.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer and spend a lot of money. A friend with a good eye and a decent smartphone could probably do the job. And your pictures don’t have to be posed and artificial – they can be relaxed, but professional.
For example, I love the pictures that Nora Roberts used on some of her J.D. Robb hardcovers — the author is walking across a bridge in New York at night, in jeans and a leather coat. It gives the edgy crime flavour that comes across in these detective stories.
Build your brand, reveal your personality
I know that some of you may shudder and grimace when people tell you that an author has to become a brand. I know. I used to be one of them. ‘Brand’ sounds so cold, commercial, and even a bit artificial.
You’re not a bottle of cola or a new watch; you’re an artist, right? Yes, you are – but even artists have a persona, a face they show the world. Picasso, more myth than man, was probably the best PR for his art – his personality and private life was almost as colourful as his art.
Thomas Pynchon, literature’s most famous recluse, is also making a bold statement about who he is and what he writes by not revealing his hand.
So … don’t think of it as a brand. Rather, think of it a bridge between you and your readers. You want to invite them into your fictional world and give them a snapshot of who you are as a writer – in the digital world, writers and readers have never been closer. Use that to your advantage.
Having a clear brand is a way to introduce yourself and your books to your readers. You want to invite them in; not shut them out.
Picture your ideal reader in your mind. What would they like to know about your books? What genre do you write in? What is the promise you’re making to them when they pick up one of your books? What inspired you to write your books?
For me, branding isn’t about selling books. That’s far too blatant. It’s about It’s about making an emotional connection between the reader and the author – creating trust, intimacy, and a shared value or belief. Fans love strong personalities; they love quirks, humour, boldness.
Timelock — 3 to 5 hours
Draw up your Facebook page or website on a piece of cardboard, using sticky notes or cut-outs from magazines. Make it as visual as possible.
Write a press release announcing yourself as an author and your new book just for fun. Get over your shyness about talking about yourself.
Find five author websites you like. What do they have in common? Why do you like them?
Speak to design students or photographers looking to create a portfolio of work. Often they’ll be willing to help you for a smaller fee than professionals.
Write out five ideas for blog topics if you’re going to have a blog on your website.
‘Be so good they can’t ignore you!’ — Steve Martin
Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!
If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course.
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