For a new author, an online presence is essential. You must be active in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), maintain a blog, market your published book, and still find time for writing. Face it—being an author is hard work. We all get busy with life and forget to blog, fail to Tweet, and slack off on our marketing efforts. I have a hard time balancing family, work, promotional efforts, and writing, and often find it’s been two weeks since I blogged, or discover I haven’t posted to my Facebook author page in a month. Life gets in the way. It happens. We’re human. We don’t have to be perfect.
While there’s room for mistakes when it comes to how often we blog or engage in social media, there are a few mistakes that can destroy your career as an author. While there are exceptions to every rule, there are a few guidelines you should always follow when it comes to maintaining a favorable online presence.
Rule#1 Curb those angry rants. Everyone vents on Facebook and Twitter, and that’s okay. We all get frustrated or annoyed occasionally. Not every day can be a good day. Venting frustration shows you’re human. We all need to rant sometimes. But, how often do you rant? Are all your posts venomous and angry? Are all your Tweets negative? Do you spew curse words that would make your mother blush? Don’t post when you’re furious. Think before you hit the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button.
Rule #2 Never argue with a reviewer or rant about a review. This rule is an extension of Rule #1. Arguing with a reviewer or complaining about a review never ends well. If you must complain about a review, complain to a trusted friend or family member. Vent. Get it off your chest. Just don’t do it online. You’ll come off as a bad sport at best—or a raving psychopath at worst.
Rule #3 Steer clear of politics and religion. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. If you’re a political writer, discussing politics is part of your author platform. Likewise, if you’re a Christian romance author, religion is an essential part of your author platform and your life. For many of us, religion and politics are very important. Having an opinion is okay—belittling someone else’s opinion is not. Be sure to celebrate your beliefs without trampling on someone’s else’s.
Rule#4 Proofread. As authors, every post or Tweet we make is an example of our ability to use the written word. A horribly misspelled Facebook update is NOT going to make people want to buy our books. It only takes a few moments to self-edit your post before you publish it.
Rule #5 Pay it forward. When someone does something nice for you, you can’t always return the favor. I can’t begin to list all the nice things my fellow authors have done for me. I couldn’t begin to pay them back, nor would they expect me to. So, I pay it forward. I try to help people when I can—not because I hope they’ll do the same for me, but because it’s a nice thing to do. Paying it forward creates a sense of community among writers, and since writing is largely a solitary endeavor, we all need to stick together and help each other out.
Rule #6 Be nice. This is an extension of the last rule. Be a nice person, whether that’s sharing a link for a fellow author’s new book, tweeting about a blog post you enjoyed, or just liking someone’s celebratory post on Facebook. The click of your mouse or a quick, encouraging comment might mean the world to someone else. We’re all busy, but never too busy to spread niceness. Doing nice things not only helps other people, it makes us happy. Happy people are creative people. Spread niceness everywhere!
As most authors will tell you, writing your book is just a small part of becoming a successful author. Whether you choose a traditional publisher or self-publishing, there’s lots of work ahead for you. Editing, choosing cover art, more editing… it’s a long process regardless of what publishing options you choose. But even after all that work, a book launch can make or break your book’s success.
Authors (whether self-published or traditionally published) must try to make the biggest splash possible. Creating a buzz around your book is essential if you want to sell more than a handful to family and friends. If you were lucky enough to land a major publishing contract with a big publisher, you might have a marketing team behind your book. But, for the rest of us, we have to promote our books on our own.
After publishing two books (one with a small press and one self-published), I’ve learned a thing or two about launching a book. My first book was tricky to promote. Though we had a paperback-launch/book-signing, the Kindle version was not yet available, so it put a damper on promotion. In a way, I felt there were two mini-launches (one for paperback, and one for Kindle) instead of a big blast.
With The Fifth Circle, which I self-published… well, let’s just say I failed to make a splash. And, now I’m here to share my mistakes with you so you can learn from them without having to make your own.
Elements of a Successful Book Launch
I’d love to hear any suggestions. What did I miss? Was your book launch a success or an epic fail?