Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Website, Facebook, Twitter, Oh My!

I submitted manuscripts for more than twenty years then contracted for three books this spring. Suddenly the half-hearted website I'd thrown together five years ago then never touched, and my stubborn refusal to participate in social media, had to be reconsidered.

I don't have anything against blogging, tweeting and status updates, but with a full-time job and a family, finding time to write is hard enough without the distraction of author loops, reader groups--reading! (I swear my New Year's Resolution is to learn to read again.)

With my own books coming out, however, I could no longer disregard the importance of establishing a web presence. I was terrified. Where would I find the time? How does the mythical 'integration' of social media tools happen? How could I still find time to write while keeping up with it all?

Once I stepped off the panic train, I found my way and have come out the other side with a blog full of signposts I hope will guide you, no matter what stage you're at, with establishing your place online. Here's a quick checklist for initial outreach with suggestions for more. Feel free to pick one or two and add slowly as your career develops:



Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter

More: Amazon Author Profile, Goodreads, Wattpad, Kindleboards, Wanatribe, Storylane


Website:

Consider this your storefront. I personally believe, and heard this backed up at a conference, that when people go online to search for an author, they're looking for his/her website. If you do nothing else, secure your domain name and consider putting up a Home Page with basic info and a contact link.

Bonus Points: Secure your name on all to popular platforms even if you don't participate right away.

The advantage to a day job: I was able to hire someone to design my site. They chose Wordpress so I could update the content myself. The Seed Studio had never worked with a writer, which brings a fresh look to my site, but doing it yourself with a free Wordpress template still gives you a polished end product and a foundation to build on.

About working with a writer for the first time, one of their developers, Chris, said, "The advantage of working with you as a writer, is that you understand a team creative process. To create a website, there's a conversation of creation and revision, just as between a writer and editor there's a process of creation and revision. You have the patience and good eye for detail that bring out the best in a project."

This is true. I wasn't able to hand off the design and forget about it. I was still involved, but that doesn't mean I could have done it all myself, and not just because of time restrictions. One of the my other contacts, Jenna, pointed out that programmers are not designers so even if you are good at the coding side of website design, find some extra eyes to critique your site before going live.

Blog:

The other reason for choosing Wordpress was to make my blog part of my site, rather than clicking away from it as Blogger does. I'm still here with TWV, but some say Wordpress is more user-friendly.

I contracted a case of stomach cramps every time I thought about 'having' to blog. It scared me off taking a spot here the first time it was offered. I was talked off the ledge by a workshop, then blogs and a book, all by Kristen Lamb. Once I quit expecting my blog to change the world, it ceased to intimidate.

Facebook:

I thought I'd hate it and at first I did. All of these tools are a bit like learning a language. You have to persevere until comprehension dawns. Don't accept all the friend requests right away; they'll be there tomorrow. Start with half a dozen close buds who won't care if you do something goofy. Google the difference between a Profile and a Page and you'll be away to the races.

I took a month-long course offered by this amazing lady: Lisa Pietsch. Check out her website, read her articles, sign up for her extremely affordable How To Be A Social Media RockStar course. It works!

Twitter:

I literally just checked it, saw someone had a movie deal and tweeted congratulations. I don't know her, but I've received random 'good job' tweets and it feels awesome. Twitter is a fast, fun mixer. Don't over think it.

Integrating:

Once you've got a base, you can start to connect one thing to another. Take care to ensure you're happy with things like your Twitter handle because once you start linking things, you don't want to have to do it all over again (as I did after switching from Blogger.)

Here's were the smarter not harder part comes in. My tweets feed to my website homepage, my Amazon Author Profile and my Facebook page. My blogs update on my homepage, my Goodreads profile, Amazon profile and Storylane. A notice of the new blog also posts to Twitter and Facebook.

Suddenly, instead of my modest nineteen blog followers, I have potential for, I don't know, twenty? Maybe it's not exponential, but if it's one more than I had, that's progress, right?

It is a lot of work putting all of this in place--like moving furniture, it's heavy lifting at times. But the final product is something I can maintain and you could, too.

What social media tool gives you the best bang for your buck?

3 comments:

Big Mike said...

I have not found any of them work for me, though I know some authors swear by 'em. I spent 6 months evaluating every SN outlet I could find yet when I looked at the stats on hits to my site none translated to hits or sales. Wish they produced for me, but they don't. Maybe its that ugly old profile of mine, scares 'em away at first glance (g).

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I am still trying to figure out how Anthony Weiner got into so much trouble. No one would notice if I was nakkid on Twitter.

Dani Collins said...

I don't know if I can attribute any sales to SM, but I've had some very nice fan comments.

I also had some nice retweet response when I was giving away my freebie.

Julie, you actually have to post the photo of you nakkid before people notice. Whether THAT translates to sales... well, you go ahead and experiment and get back to me ;o)