Last time, we discussed the idea that publishing a book was like giving birth to a child. It’s a hugely important (and sometimes difficult) occasion — but it’s just a beginning. A book has to be nurtured and grown, in much the same way as a child: it needs attention, directions, purpose and encouragement, to name just a few requirements.
An author who wants success — and that includes income — must gather lots of great proof of what his or her writing is all about. Themes and messages must be clarified first, and the book built around them. Once it’s published, the writer must focus on gathering proof for the book and then keep on gathering it. This builds author personality and reputation over time and gives writing careers life and energy.
But proof comes in many forms, including, as we examined last time, snippets from your work appearing where they can be read, ‘grass roots’ feedback from readers, and media appearances. If you’re lost as to where to begin, here are some very specific steps you can take right now:
1. Get your own domain.
This means owning your own ‘.com’ right now. Securing that as a minimum step — or at least making sure that someone else doesn’t buy it — means you have achieved ‘ground zero’ as far as social credibility is concerned. It means you have taken on the appearance of someone who is serious about what they are doing. If you can’t invest in the way you look — at least to a very basic level— why should anyone else invest in you?
2. Get a Website
Similar to the above, this is a modern basic. If you’re can’t invest the time and money into building a personal website, you can at least spend an hour to set up a page. Plenty of services offer this, including me. Make sure your site has a professional photo of you, a bio of your writer persona, and contact information for anyone who wants to buy your book(s) with links.
3. Get Your Social Media Aligned
You need consistent messaging and the same ‘look’ if possible. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and all the rest should have the same picture of you and the same bio and message. If this is all beyond you, get someone to do it — there are plenty of people around who will do this for affordable prices.
‘But why do I need all this?’ some may ask, feeling backed off and anxious. To which I reply, ‘If you want to sell your book(s) you have to be visible, you have to register at least minimally on the perceptive spectrum of your potential buyers.’ Without these very basic elements, you will remain almost invisible, a phantom, a ghost who haunts the internet howling for people to come and buy your book. Only those few with extra-sensory perception will even detect that you exist. A personal domain, website and aligned social media presence is your virtual ‘body’ — with these, people will ‘see’ you and be able to engage with you in some way. People might even buy your book — though these are only the foundational components that you need.
4. Get Blogging
Writing articles on your website is a must to boost your authority and presence online. Share your ideas and experiences, give readers insights into how you write and what you are saying through your writing.
‘Oh no!’ say some. ‘I have to blog too…?’ To which I reply, ‘See the above reply.’ Your book is a standalone communication. It’s fabulous, it’s an achievement, it’s a piece of encapsulated beauty and wonder, no doubt — but how many single communications get through, first time, to everyone who needs to hear them? Exactly. You have to say something (through your book) and then repeat it in various ways (through your blog and along other channels) until everyone who needs to hear it gets it. That takes time and persistence.
Need help with blogging? I have a free e-booklet How to Blog Every Day, Possibly Forever — available here. My own blog has been running for almost five years now, without missing a single day — so the e-book is based on experience, not just wishful thinking.
5. Get on a Guest Blog
Get spots on anyone’s blog to begin with. Appearing here and there and everywhere vastly increases your visibility and credibility. Plus it can be fun.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is — but not as much as you might think at first. Building a successful career as a writer is like building a successful career as anything else — though some writers seem to think that a writing career begins and ends with writing one book and getting it published. As with any job, one has to produce worthwhile products and get them into the hands of those who will consume them. One ‘appears’ as a real person through domains, websites and a social media presence; one communicates through blogs and similar channels.
Think of it like this: whenever you appear and speak (through a blog or other venue) you are creating a channel for your readers to find you and your book(s).
That’s the route to success.
Let me know if you need any help.