6 Sites For Authors To Make An Online Presence

Trying to create an author ‘platform’ has been daunting. The word itself is daunting. Platform. What the heck does a platform have to do with writing? I don’t know, so I won’t use it. Rather, I’ll call it creating an online presence.

No one told me where to be as a new author. The possibilities are endless. It was tempting to shrink back and hope readers would find me just because I’ve written the most amazingly awesome book ever! :) But, thankfully, I’m curious enough about new things that I decided to take the leap and jump in.

I jumped in big time.

I’ve tried many different websites, social networks, and even online bookstores to see where I reach the largest audience. Different websites attract different viewers, but obviously I didn’t have the time to be everywhere all the time. No one does. So I’ve worked to maximize my output while minimizing my effort.

So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

I have six suggested sites you should join if you are an author. At the bottom of each suggestions is the main audience the site reaches (so far as I can tell).

  • (NOTE: This list is obviously just my opinion. You don’t have to do what I say. )
  • (If you have any thoughts to add, PLEASE do. There are a thousand ways to skin a chicken, or a cat, or whatever the morbid phrase is. Share your ideas below.)

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6 Author MUST-HAVE Sites

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1) Website 

Have a website. Seriously. We live in the internet age. If you’re hoping to reach any reader under the age of 80, you need to have an internet presence.

A website is the BARE minimum.

If you have the skills (or are willing to acquire them), create your own. There are plenty of hosting sites that let you create a site for less than $10 a month (some are even free). Most have great designs to choose from. I use Wix.com and have been quite happy with it.

If you don’t have the skills or time to design your own website, hire it out. It’s worth it. First impressions matter, so don’t think you can scrimp on style and make up for it with your fabulous writing.

Everyone judges a book by its cover — those that say they don’t are lying. In this case, the book is your website, not your book. :) So make it professional.

Your website should include:

  1. Links to your books
  2. Your bio
  3. Contact info
  4. Links to other places you’re on the web (facebook, blog, twitter).

But be organized. Everything in that list above should be easy to find. Just because you happen to have accounts on twenty different sites doesn’t mean you should list all twenty in a row.

Then keep your website updated. Seriously. Seriously, seriously. It’s a pet peeve of mine to wander onto someone’s site to read out about their newest book and there’s no latest book listed.

If you don’t care enough to have up-to-date info on your books, why should I?

  • Website main audience: Anyone on the internet

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2) Blog

(Some authors use their blog as their website. That’s fine as long as it provides all the pages and links a good website needs to have.)

A blog is the best place for people to sample your writing style and personality.  It’s also where you talk more in-depth about your writing adventures, editing woes, and any upcoming events. If people enjoy your blog, chances are they’ll read your book(s).

Some popular blogging hosts are Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr.

I recently switched from Blogger to WordPress. I can’t say which I like better.

Once you have your blog created, make sure you have a feedburner.com set up. RSS. It’s an easy way to make your blog more versatile. But then, don’t stop there. Start following other blogs. And don’t be a silent follower either. Weigh in on their posts, laugh, or just let them know you appreciate what they’ve shared.

Blogging is a powerful way to network in the writing community, especially for up-and-coming authors. I’ve met some amazing authors in the blogging world, people I now consider my friends even though we’ve never met in person. So get out there. Have fun.

  • Blog main audience: other authors and avid readers

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3) Facebook 

Again, if you’re hoping to attract readers in any age category less than 80, I would strongly suggest getting a facebook account. Most people (as much as 80% of US internet users) are on facebook. It’s a great way to reach out to the casual reader.

There are at least two ways to handle facebook as an author.

Option #1:

Use your personal account to double as your public account. Meaning, anyone can “friend” you and see what’s on your wall. There is even an option to “Follow” a personal page. In a way, this is the simplest way to do it.

The problem comes if you have reservations about the world seeing your personal stuff — which you should.

Thankfully, there are ways to make things private vs. public, even on your personal account. I know several authors who do this quite well.

The bottom right hand corner of your posts has a drop-down menu that lets you choose who will see your post/picture/link. If you only want your closest friends and family seeing the picture of you sunburned in a skimpy bathing suit on the beach in Hawaii, just designate it for friends when you post. Anything author-ish can be made ‘public.’

To me, this is still too much invasion of my (and my family’s) privacy. Or maybe it’s just too much work. So I’ve chosen the other option.

Option #2: Create an facebook author page

Pages are free and easy to set up, and it uses your same facebook login to keep life simple. Once you have an author page, it’s easy enough to switch between your personal and public page in the upper right hand corner (another drop down menu that says, “Use Facebook as…).

Not only is an author page a great place to post news, links, and pictures for my followers, it also allows my family and friends, who aren’t necessarily the most enthusiastic fans of my book, to avoid constantly hearing about it. I post maybe one in twenty book-related posts on my personal wall.

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(Does that make sense?)

One last note on facebook pages. Because I have an author page, I changed my privacy settings on my personal page. Now people can’t find my private account unless they’re a friend of a friend.

*demonic laugh*

Just kidding.

I did this so when people go to facebook looking for Rebecca Belliston the author, they won’t end up finding Rebecca Belliston, the frazzled mother/wife/homemaker/crazy-lady-next-door.

  • Facebook main audience: anyone on facebook (nearly 80% of US internet users)

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4) Twitter 

Twitter is a beast that took me some time to love. But I love it now.

Personally, I think Twitter is in its early stages of popularity, where facebook has leveled out. For now, my posts on Twitter are mostly seen by other authors and public figures. Not many casual readers. But that’s okay.

Since networking is important to me, Twitter is great. I love chatting with cool people.

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Plus I love the immediacy of Twitter.

When the fire broke out on the mountain behind my parents’ house, I heard about it first on Twitter. Of course, I called my parents to make sure they were okay. They were, but they were busy scrambling to pack up their house. I was stuck 1600 miles away, helpless. So for the next two hours I watched the live progression as people snapped fire photos on their phones and uploaded them to Twitter instantly.

Twitter is better than the news.

  • Twitter main audience (at least for now): more established authors, other public profiles, and teens

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5) Amazon’s Author Central

I didn’t know this existed until a few months after publication of Sadie. Since then, I’ve used it regularly.

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Amazon’s Author Central lets you, the author, control things about your book on Amazon. Synopsis. Editorial reviews. Not only that, but you can track the sales week to week (not all, but some).

It also lets you link your blog and twitter accounts to your Amazon author page.  Even if you are not a fan of Amazon, the reality is it is the world’s largest online retailer, as well as one of the largest book sellers.

So get an account set up, and maximize the info on there.

  • Amazon main audience: book buyers

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6) Goodreads

My last suggestion is to become a Goodreads Author. Goodreads is a website for readers to rank books they’ve read, as well as share favorite books with their friends.

Many authors don’t enjoy reading the negative reviews on Goodreads. Quite frankly, neither do I. However, what better place for an author to be than surrounded by a bunch of readers?

Goodreads has some great features for registered authors, including the ability to add videos, events, quotes, or even linking it to your blog.

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  • Goodreads main audience: avid, book-loving readers

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Those are my six suggestions.

Being in so many places can feel overwhelming. But if you set it up correctly, it’s actually easy and fast.

For example, after I publish this post, I’ll share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and probably Pinterest just by clicking the options at the bottom of this post. That takes me less than a minute. Then, because I’ve set it up to do so, this post will automatically show up on my Amazon and Goodreads pages.

Basically, I write one post here and share it six places, reaching all those different audiences in less than a minute.

Easy as pie.

You might think it’s redundant. It’s not. At least not completely. Many of my followers only follow me in one spot. My blog followers aren’t always facebook or twitter followers. People have their preferred method of getting information. I’m trying to make it most convenient for them.

One last note:

Because it’s possible to be in so many places at one time, try to be consistent.

I use the same picture of me on EVERY site. I use the same color scheme when I’m allowed. You might recognize yourself everywhere you go, but your readers will get whiplash if you and your designs are different site to site.

The only thing that isn’t entirely consistent site to site is my bio. I tend to change that up depending on the audience.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What are yours?

What sites do you love? Which do you hate? Which are a waste of time? Which are easy to use? I say this often, but I learn something new everyday in the writing community. So if you have more ideas, please share!.

6 websites for authors to create an online

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MBM: 10 Marketing Tips (what not to do) with JoLynne Lyon

MARCH BOOK MADNESS is something where people share their thoughts on writing and books and we’ve had two awesome posts already (see the links below).      

         

    Lynn Wiese Sneyd: Thurs, March 8, Querying 
          Tobi Summers: Tues, March 13, Plotting vs. Plodding
          JoLynne Lyon: Thurs, March 15, Marketing
          Cassie Mae: Tues, March 20, Editing
          Jessica Khoury: Thurs, March 22, Editing
          Tricia Pease: Tues, March 27th, Reading
          Sharon Belknap: Thurs, March 29Reading
          (if it’s blue, you can click on it to go to that post) 

Fun stuff. Great people. I’m totally lovin’ this! 

Today JoLynne Lyon is talking about marketing and social media for authors. I must say, I really appreciate JoLynne’s sense of humor. Her post made me laugh which is always a good thing. So here it is:



JoLynne: Using social media to build a bestseller in 10 easy steps

Step 1: Start before you are published. Set up a blog with a name that reflects your self-confidence like, Destined for Greatness or Seeds of Glory. Use your corner of the Internet to vent. Writing is hard. The publishing world doesn’t get you. Everyone should know.
 
Step 2: Leave comments on other blogs inviting readers to visit yours. Don’t waste time reading their posts. “You are invited to visit my blog” and a link is enough.
 
Step 3: Stop working on your manuscript and build your platform. Bestsellers owe their success to marketing, not plot and character development.
 
Step 4: When you are published or self-published, it’s time to move to Twitter. Use the word “ninja” or “guru” in your profile. Follow absolutely everyone. Direct message them about your book as soon as they follow you back. Tweet hourly, and only about your book.
 
Step 5: Ask fellow bloggers and Goodreads friends for a review. If they didn’t give you at least four stars, blast them in the comment section and ostracize them from your personal and professional life.

 

Step 6: Shock people as you interact in social media. Drop the F-bomb. Everyone loves an edgy writer.
 
Step 7: Don’t neglect your Facebook friends as potential customers. Stop posting about anything but your book. Your writing is your life now.
 
Step 8: Be on every social network that exists. Don’t wait to get a feel for a new platform before you start commenting.
 
Step 9: If your book is in a contest, go to the website or blog that’s hosting and diss your competition.
 
Step 10: Now that you’re networked, spend all your time blogging, tweeting, pinning, chatting and updating. There will be time for going to kids’ events/cooking dinner/exercising/persuading your family not to disown you after you’re famous. Which should be any minute now.
 
Follow these tips to fame and wealth because social media is the new multilevel marketing. 
 

Bio: JoLynne Lyon is the public relations specialist in a unit in a college in a university on a hill in a mountain town. (Utah State University wants you to know that her opinions don’t represent her employer.) She’s never sold a book, but she’s observed all the strategies presented here. You can find her at www.mountainlyon.blogspot.com and on Twitter, @jensenborger6.


Rebecca: The first time I read JoLynne’s post I laughed. It’s awesome! I think we’ve all been there, seen that. The annoying self-promoter. They’re everywhere with an in-your-face kind of approach. But I have to say the second time I read it, I thought, “Oh shoot! Have I done those things?” If so, I’m very, very sorry to all of you. It’s hard to remember that other people aren’t as excited about my book as I am. (By the way it’s called Sadie, and it’s about this girl who . . . just kidding.) 

Like everything else in life, I think it all comes back to balance. You want to get your name and product out there because you believe in it. Otherwise you wouldn’t have created it. And the reality is that in today’s publishing world, most of marketing falls to the author. So how do you do it without bugging the snot out of people? I love the suggestions JoLynne gave of what not to do. If I had to add one thing to do, I would say: Be nice. That’s it. Everything you ever needed to know you learned in kindergarten, or something like that. Just be nice. 

I’ve become a people watcher of late, especially an author watcher. My favorite ones, the ones I look up to, are genuinely nice, classy people. (Classy. That’s a word I’d love to be some day.) These authors mention their product, sure, but they also mention others they love and believe in. They’re always grateful for their readers and supporters. When praised, they’re humble and acknowledge that they didn’t get to where they are solely because of themselves. I love that! When they talk to people they’re appreciative. They’re real. They’re nice. That goes a long way in my book. In fact, I’ve met some authors who impressed me so much I’ll buy anything they write for the rest of their lives. How’s that for reader loyalty?

So that’s my marketing tip. Be nice. And please don’t do the things JoLynne mentioned. It really bugs people. :)

What do you think? What marketing strategies have you seen that you like? That you hate? What authors do you respect and why? What are you having for dessert? (Sorry that last one crept in there. Craving chocolate right now.)