As authors, we often hear about the importance of social media. We’re supposed to establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tsu, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, and other sites I probably have never heard of. Overwhelmed yet? I am. The idea of being in all these places is daunting, especially if you’re new to social media and are still trying to find your way around.
In addition to being told we need to have a profile set up on all the platforms listed above, we’re also told we’re supposed to have a snazzy website. We’re instructed to blog X number of times every week and to engage with other bloggers. We have to Tweet X number of times per day, but not too many Tweets about our books, or we’ll run the risk of being labeled “spammers.” YA authors are encouraged to be active on Wattpad. And in addition to all the social media sites, we’re also told we need to set up profiles (and engage) on reader-oriented sites such as Goodreads and Library Thing. Oh, and while we’re at it, there are also a whole host of writer-oriented sites and author databases we need to visit so we can register our author profiles.
And, as if all this Tweeting, blogging, Pinning, and profiling isn’t enough? We have to do it well. We can’t just set up a profile and abandon it, right? No! We have to be everywhere, all the time, because if we don’t do it perfectly, no one will know we exist and they won’t buy our books!!!
The idea of doing all these things every single day is exhausting. I’ve seen a few authors who seem to juggle all this social media stuff, but I can’t do it. Not if I want to pay my bills, feed my kids, and still have time to write.
So what is an author to do?
If we can’t be everywhere at once (and let’s face it, few of us can), we need to pick a place to be.
An author platform is a cool thing to have. I think every author needs SOME sort of author platform. In my humble opinion, here are the places we need to be and the stuff we should have.
In my opinion, everything else is cool, but optional. I’m signed up and registered in lots of places, and I’ll be darned if I can remember where. On Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr, my attendance is sporadic. On some of the other sites, I’ve forgotten my password because I haven’t been there in so long.
I signed up for Authorsdb several months ago. I didn’t go back to the site until recently, and since I hadn’t been there for so long, all my information was outdated. Really outdated. I know there are other sites I’ve signed up for that are probably even more outdated than this one, but I can’t remember where.
Personally, I think it’s better to have no profile on a site than an outdated one. Don’t sign up for more sites than you can keep up with. If you really, really, really don’t want a Twitter account, don’t get one! If you don’t want to be on Pinterest, don’t do it.
You can’t be everywhere, but be somewhere. It’s up to you where you want to be.
I’ve been working on a blog post off and on for hours. Not this one, but a different one. A really rambling, ranting one that seemed like a good idea when I started it, but turned out not to be such a great idea after all. Actually, the concept behind the blog post isn’t such a bad idea – it’s my delivery that needs some work. I’ll probably rewrite my post later when my mind is more settled.
As a blogger, I feel pressured to blog more than once a week. After multiple reblogs, I feel like I should post something original. Which led to the aforementioned rambling post I almost published.
Thank goodness I didn’t.
Rambling rants are never a good idea, even if they might seem to be at the time. It’s great to be fired up and passionate about a topic. Sometimes that passion leads to a great blog post. Sometimes it leads to something that’s argumentative. Other times (like in the case of my rambling post), it leads to something that is disjointed, nonsensical, and borderline snotty.
I’ve seen authors almost ruin their careers over a blog post. I can think of at least two authors who ended up shutting down their entire blog and pulling their books off Amazon all because of a blog post that probably seemed like a good idea when they posted it, but ended up being a complete disaster.
If you’re feeling fired up, it might be a good idea to cool down before you hit that “publish” button. Sarcastic or ranting posts don’t always come across the way we intend. A bad post can alienate readers. It can destroy our online presence.
So, before you hit the publish button, re-read your post. Set it aside for a day or two. Do you still want to post it? Does it need a little tweaking? Does your online attitude need a slight adjustment before you share that post with the world?
Blog carefully, everyone. And have a great week!
Last week, I discovered a broken link on my blog. This might not sound like a big deal to you, and in reality, it probably isn’t – unless my broken link directed a potential reader away from my blog. A broken link can cost you a book sale. It can cost you the opportunity to connect with readers and other authors.
I don’t want my blog and website visitors to encounter broken links and pages that lead to nowhere, nor do I want to send them on a treasure hunt to find the buying links for my books. I want to make things as easy to navigate as possible. I’ve blogged about creating a Reader Friendly Blog in the past, so I probably need to practice what I preach, but when you’re juggling multiple social media sites, sometimes things fall through the cracks.
On certain websites, a slight change in the page name can change the URL. So, if you’ve shared a link to that particular page, it’s no longer valid once you’ve made that change. If you make changes to the name of your Facebook page or Twitter handle, the link changes and you’ll need to update this on your website and social media pages. You’ll also need to update the media kit you send to bloggers when you’re interviewed or featured.
Here’s another thing to look out for: Sometimes, when copying a URL, letters or slashes can get deleted or changed, resulting in a “link” that leads to nowhere. It’s always a good idea to double check your links just in case.
I’m not the only person who might have missed some opportunities due to broken links. Here are some examples of things I’ve stumbled across recently:
No contact information on an author blog. Authors should have an email address posted on their site or at least a contact form. Sure, I can search for them on Facebook and try to send them a private message, but does the author really want to make their readers (or potential agents, publishers, film makers who want to offer them a multi-million dollar deal) work that hard to find them?
No buying links on an author’s website. While visiting an author’s blog/website, I liked what I saw and wanted to learn more about their books. Only two of their three books were listed on their “books” page, and there were no buying links. I looked around from page to page, and all down the side panel. No buying links anywhere.
Incorrect or incomplete links. An author was offering a free book on Kindle, so I clicked the Amazon link provided on their Facebook post. The author didn’t set this up properly, and the link went to Amazon’s home page.
Broken links on a Facebook Page. I found an author on Facebook who I really liked. One of their posts caught my eye, so I clicked on the link to their website because I wanted to learn more about them. I guess it was an old website or something, because the link gave me a 404 error message.
Twitter Validation Service. I wanted to follow an author, but couldn’t because they use a verification/validation service. I suppose I could have filled out all the stuff they wanted me to fill out, and given this service access to my Twitter account, but… wait! No way. Sorry, but I don’t do Twitter validation services. Of course, each author must make his or her own choice when it comes to using or not using such services. I’ve decided to avoid validation services, even if it means having to miss out on Tweets from some of my friends and favorite authors.
When it comes to missing or broken links, I suppose it isn’t a huge deal. If I’m really interested in a book or a website, I’ll try to find it. (Well, unless I get distracted by something else during my search.) A broken link isn’t the end of the world, and forgetting to update your site when you release a new book is probably not going to affect your sales significantly. If you choose to use a validation service, does it really matter if it drives away a few potential followers? That’s for you to decide.
I hate the idea that people have to work extra hard to find something they’re looking for, especially when the solution to this problem is as easy as me double checking my website and links periodically just to make sure everything is working the way it should.
While a broken link certainly won’t chase away your friends or fans, it might prevent potential readers from discovering your book. Regularly check your links and sites. Make sure buying links are clearly displayed and that there’s an easy way for people to contact you if they need to. Don’t miss out on any opportunities!