1. Plan to spend an hour each day on building a platform. Think of it as pre-published marketing. You may as well get used to it; once you do get a contract, you’ll be spending hours marketing. That’s in addition to writing the next book.
Editors will look for your online presence. Besides your website or blog, you want them to find a large Internet presence. Spend time web surfing and commenting on blogs. Each time you leave a comment or publish a blog entry, you leave a Google stamp of your name.
2. Find something no one else is doing. When I first started writing, not much was online about how authors got published. Most interviews were in print magazines, and no one blogged about their writing journey. In 2005, my critique partner, Gina Holmes, decided to chronicle her first novel journey. She soon realized for all the work it demanded, there were three readers, and she and I were two of them. We talked about it, and she decided to interview some authors. Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) was born. She quickly brought me and Jessica Dotta on board so we had fresh articles every day. The rest is history.
3. What can you do to make yours unique? Combine interviews with a favorite hobby or charity. Have you wanted to fund a home for retired cloggers? Perhaps you love Olympic curling. Find novels that have athletes in them and interview the author. Do you raise bees? Feature a video from The Sting.
The point is to integrate your hobby, other job, and/or passion into your blog to draw another segment of the market. You’ll have a built-in fan base when your debut novel releases. A great example is Visual Arts Junction. Author Aggie Villanueva combines her love of photography with her writing and marketing savvy.
4. Set how often you’ll blog and keep to it. Best is every day, but if that won’t happen go for once a week or partner with a few other writers. Find authors in your genre and start a genre blog, like Kill Zone where some great thriller authors blog.
Author Michelle Griep does short blog posts every day. On Friday she does a vlog (video blog post). Her blog, Writer off the Leash, is informative and her wry humor shines through.
5. If you can join with other writers, it splits the workload. We split the work between three of us when we started Novel Journey. We posted new interviews each day. Then, we added teaching posts by authors we had previously interviewed but who had new novels to promote. Now, we have a crew of sixteen and our own writing contest.
5. Follow other blogs. Another way to build your Internet presence is commenting on blogs. Lots of them. One very clever author, Bonnie Calhoun, realized the potential for marketing through blog tours. She amassed a large contingency of bloggers and contacted a number of publishers, who supplied the books for reviews posted. Most of these bloggers are writers and building platforms for themselves too. You can get advice from other bloggers too, like how to promote your book more effectively or learn about different dialogues to make your writing flow better. Either way, you can build strong relationships with other writers and learn a lot from them! They can also learn from you too.
6. Trade links with other writers. Offer to swap posts, do guest posts, and even ask what they’d like to see on your blog. The more links to your blog, the higher your Google ranking. Speaking of google ranking, it may be worth checking out sites like Gotch SEO to help you get a better understanding of this aspect of SEO.
Similarly, it is also very important to acknowledge your sources. If you’ve used an image, a quote or some statistics from another writer, it is custom to link back to the website where you originally found what is being referenced. Overall, knowing the ways to cite a website can give your blog a more professional feel.
7. Social media. Choose two or three and be active. There are several great sites for writers. One of my favorite social media sites is unique. Started by Nora St. Laurent, who isn’t even a writer, it’s called The Book Club Network (TBCN). Most of the members are book club leaders. TBCN connects them with authors. She has them share what works and doesn’t in their book club. Besides offering a tremendous resource for book clubs, one of these days, she’ll write a book and will already have a platform in place. Don’t forget about time management, a lot of people find it a little difficult to keep up with their time management, especially when it comes to social media which can be a daunting experience for them. Others find that using the best instagram bot or other types of automation tools could help their time management when trying to keep up with social media.
So get creative and get busy so when your book is completed, you’ll have your marketing platform in place.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. Sr. editor of Novel Rocket, she’s a playwright, humor columnist, 3-time Genesis finalist, a mom and grandmother. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her husband and two very large dogs. Connect with Ane at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.