Each year many indulge in the traditional habit of making resolutions for their forthcoming futures. However, as a majority will acknowledge, well that is if they are honest, this has really become no more than a party game for most. Of course, there are the handful of determined souls who persevere and do see results. Well done to them.
There are a variety of topics, in truth an almost endless list, that could be selected for the resolution process however, for this discussion, the aspect of social media presence and marketing has been chosen.
As has become a general trend in this website, the issue will be considered from the perspective of an independent (indie) author. Mind, having said that, the content would probably also be relevant to traditionally published authors because their publishing companies now expect authors to do much of the publicising and marketing work themselves: how matters have changed in such a short time.
Marketing is a practice a majority of indie authors, if not all authors, do not readily take to and struggle to succeed at. Most likely due to most being quiet introverts who just want to be left to get on with their creative writing. But, unless they are fortunate enough not to have to seek an income, marketing is a necessity. Therefore, in this article, how to enhance this practice will be considered, perhaps in a limited way but it is hoped what is shared will prove beneficial for some.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to indie author marketing and social media. One set consider an author should have a presence in as many social media applications as possible while the other thinks it best to limit it to a few, sometimes even just one, two or perhaps three. What lies behind these two ideas?
Everywhere: These reckon to gain the widest possible attention, authors need to be active on all recognised popular sites. That if they are not, they will be missing opportunities and are more than likely to disappear into the ether of the internet.
Limited: (It is generally accepted an effective social media presence is reliant upon regular and continuous interaction.) This group consider it is not possible to maintain the necessary level of sharing, chatting and commenting if the author ‘spreads themselves too thinly’. It must be acknowledged they are probably correct. Besides everything else, it should not be forgotten authors also have daily life to contend with: family, employment, finances, etc. Everyone will acknowledge how there seems to be far less time in modern day society and how it is therefore necessary to prioritise.
The writer, though they understand the ethos behind both the above opinions, currently falls into neither category. Nevertheless, as may be seen, there are favourable arguments for both.
Resolutions may, generally, be a waste of time and may ultimately result in guilt trips, which have their own negative impact, but there is something to be said for occasionally taking stock. Some seasons readily lend themselves to such activity.
To commence the process it is first worth looking back to assess what has, or has not, worked for the author in the realm of publicity and marketing: Which, if any, sites have they found most beneficial? Where have they had most interaction? Where have they found readers who are interested in their works and/or genre? Etc.
All authors when they proofread and edit a manuscript they have carefully and painstakingly written find it hard to cut time consumingly developed prose. However, if the book is to be the best it can be it is inevitable some parts will have to be removed, perhaps never to be used again. Painful but necessary. To some measure the same principle needs to be applied to their developed online, internet, presence and to the building of their author platform and profile. Again, this may be painful and they may be reluctant, after all the time and effort invested, to abandon any part of it. Nevertheless, if something is not working, is it worth continuing in the same vain?
The following are just some thoughts that hopefully will assist fellow authors as they move into the next stage of their life and career.
Should authors consider changing which sites they use or at least which they spend most time in?
Facebook v Google Plus – Instead of Facebook consider G+. (Not forgetting the communities aspect of G+ that are equivalent to Facebook’s groups and communities).
Twitter v Instagram – Instead of Twitter consider Instagram. (Need to be aware of differing demographics: Instagram attracts a much young audience.)
Goodreads v Wattpad – Instead of Goodreads consider Wattpad. (Should take into account Goodreads users tend to be mostly stay at home mothers with young children whereas Wattpad users are far younger: many are still at school. Nevertheless, some have found success through Wattpad even though it requires a time investment to write and post essay/book content.)
Pinterest v You Tube – Instead of Pinterest consider You Tube. (The different nature of each site should be taken into account: Pinterest is primarily static whereas You Tube is principally video oriented. Though, of course, it is possible to create a video from static images.)
The above are just some ideas to get the cogs turning. There are many other social media options readers of this article may favour, have a preference for, or consider more appropriate. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Naturally, it would not make sense for an author to abandon a site they have found useful but it may be worth experimenting with others if they have the time and inclination. But, if a site really is not working for them, they should seriously consider trying another. Initially, it may be preferable not to abandon a site entirely but to reduce time spent in it thereby allowing themselves quality time for trying out a new one.
As indicated at the start, this discussion is primarily focused upon social media nevertheless, as part of an online presence, it makes sense to mention websites and blogs. If an author finds their website/blog is not achieving their original aim(s) should they think about utilising a different host provider? Some may well ask if this would be worth the effort considering, in essence, there appears to be little difference between the most well known providers. However, there can be differences in the demographics. For example: It appears Tumblr users tend to be younger than those who gravitate to the more familiar providers such as WordPress or Blogger. Obviously, the decision must be based upon an author’s target audience. Again, this may be a matter of experiment but it should be born in mind the creation of a website and/or blog is, initially at least, time consuming and of course there is the time element of keeping a blog active. It should also not be forgotten there are many other host providers though many of those require the payment of a monthly or annual fee that may be beyond the resources of many indie authors.
Naturally there is much more that could be said and discussed within this topic however, as stated, the intention is simply to help authors get their thoughts moving upon alternatives to their current, possibly unsuccessful, activity.
Experimentation, trial and error, etc., are the focus. Best practice; not to abandon a site entirely while trying out others.
There are a mind boggling number of choices available, not just those most well known or favoured. Authors must chose for themselves which to try out.
Target audience should always be born in mind and consequently, the demographics for each site considered. It may also be worth bearing in mind some sites are more active in different locations/countries.
A sensible amount of time should be allowed for testing because the author will need to build a presence that, as anyone who has had any experience of social media knows, takes time.