Most are by authors who are yet to be published, and some are by authors who have published nonfiction and want to break into fiction. The genres vary, but one of the common statements I hear from all these authors is,
“I’ll start blogging and get a website when my book is published.”
If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good that you are already a blogger, so forgive me if I’m preaching to the choir. But based on several recent posts I’ve read in the blogosphere, fiction writers are beginning to ask themselves (and others) if blogging and other types of social media are really worth the time they take. Will a blog really help an author sell more books? Will a website really make an author look more professional—and does that even matter? Isn’t success really about writing a good book?
I’m not a marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do read dozens of articles everyday about everything and anything related to publishing, both traditional and self-publishing. (Shameless self-promotion: check out my Facebook page for links to articles of interest to writers.)
One point that those “in the know” (agents, editors, and traditionally published authors, as well as successful, self-published authors) drive home is the importance of building a platform as a means to building a successful writing career.
What does that platform do for a fiction writer? In her blog titled “Are You a Fiction Writer Building a Nonfiction Platform?” blogger A Writer Inspired writes,
Are you like me, in the middle of building a platform that only a non-fiction author can stand on, without even knowing it? I’ve been writing on this blog for almost a year now. . . . Not everything that non-fiction authors do will work for us but not everything is a complete waste of time either. . . . We’re the creatives, the artists, the ones thinking outside the box, blowing up the box. We need to use our creativity to do something different.”
I totally agree with her: creative people need to be creative in their approach to their careers. Creating blogs, websites, and Facebook pages that do nothing more than shout, “I wrote a book and you should buy it!” is a waste of your time and money.
And I’m not suggesting authors should become slaves to social media, posting nilly-willy about what they ate for breakfast and the dog’s latest antics. That’s another point I see driven home a lot. Platform is about engagement, not about being on every social media site known to man for the sole purpose of hawking your book.
New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer writes about the importance of engaging with your audience:
The number one thing I did wrong in my traditionally published career and now focus on in my indie career is network. This business is made up of people. Those people make decisions that affect you. If they have to make a decision between an unknown name on the internet or someone they’ve met face-to-face, guess what? It goes against my nature to do this, but I force myself to.”
Author and social media coach Jonathon Gunson writes:
The bottom line is that a change of psychology is needed when using Twitter, or any social media. Instead of ‘I need to sell my book’, think ‘I need to grow my readership and community’.”
And author and founder of Story Cartel Joe Bunting writes:
Your blog, social media accounts, the Internet itself, they are just tools. Your platform is bigger and more important than any of them. Platforms existed before these tools, and they’ll continue to exist after they’re replaced by newer, shinier tools. . . . Your platform isn’t your blog. It’s the trust you have with your audience.
Don’t confuse story sharing tools with your platform. Your platform is too important for that.”
Selling books is all about discovery, and when you’re an unknown author, how will anyone know to look for your book? A platform is about visibility and people who connect with you, who feel they know you, who care what you have to say.
Creating a platform is trickier for a fiction writer because you aren’t lecturing or teaching classes about your area of expertise—but the social networking aspects are the same. I’ve purchased books by writers I’ve met through blogging (or Facebook or Twitter) because I discover them, like what they have to say, like their writing style or genre, and they’ve hooked me. I’ve purchased several books written by writers who follow this blog (reviews coming soon, I promise!), and you can bet I’ll be one of the first to preorder books from several other writers I’m come to know through this blog. I’ve shared my enthusiasm with friends outside of this community—and that’s what connection and discovery mean.
As Authoress writes at Miss Snark’s First Victim,
I marvel at the ability of the internet to offer true connection. Despite the noise factor, that ability still exists. . . . So do yourself a favor. Don’t use social media to pass idle time or medicate or lurk incessantly. Use it to CONNECT. I’m pretty sure that’s what the SOCIAL part means.”
Do fiction writers need to blog and maintain websites? That’s a loaded question because a sporadic, unfocused blog or a website that doesn’t engage the reader won’t do anything to further your career as a writer. But I’m a firm believer in building a community of friends who are genuinely interested in you; that kind of connection doesn’t happen overnight, but if you begin today and make social interaction the focus of your blogging, tweeting, pinning, and other social media, I think you’ll find a small army of supporters when you need them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the value of a social media for writers. Do you think there is value? Can a writer build a platform in today’s world without the Internet? Author Laurence O’Bryan writes, “I get tweets from people who have bought my books because of seeing me on social media.” I’d love to know if that’s been your experience, too—or not.
If you enjoyed reading this and want to improve your ability to self-edit and revise your work, please subscribe by entering your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!
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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.
- Four Fiction Marketing Fallacies (wordservewatercooler.com)
- When Is It Time to Start Building an Author Platform? (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- 6 Reasons Writers See No Value in Facebook (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- Do You Need a Website? (blog.triciadrammeh.com)
- Are You A Fiction Author Building A Non-Fiction Platform? (awriterinspired.wordpress.com)
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net