Apart from creating a good website, there’s one great online marketing tool available to authors in particular: activity in social networks. Not in all of them, but specifically in those frequented by the target audience of your books. You should feel comfortable there, but you also should never forget that you’re there for business; it’ll eat time.
Your goal will be building a presence by way of interactions, regular posts and interesting content in order to create contacts and fans and to generate links pointing towards your website and your novels. And you do all that without annoying anybody, keeping in mind that shameless advertisers generally aren’t popular people.
How to pick your poison? The Internet is full of demographic analyses of almost all social media networks, so make sure you show up where your audience resides. If you want to create business contacts, say with publishers, agents, or even printing companies, you may want to consider LinkedIn or the European-German XING. As a lesbian novelist, check any gay social networks, forums, mailing lists or blogs. There are also plenty of such platforms around for romantic fiction, historical novels and all the other genres, and you might even find the occasional straight reader there.
Everybody is on Facebook, and chances are your audience is too, but that also means you will have to search for those people actively, they won’t just materialize; it’ll be like entering another Internet altogether. Some countries’ journalists do Twitter.
Most authors predominantly sell text. That can make life harder on platforms geared towards visual content, such as Tumblr and Pinterest. (But if you like making cheeky diagrams, it might just become your new home.) A blog, on the other hand, is an ideal tool for text production, but consider that writing blog articles will add additional deadlines to your writing schedule.
What’s most important to remember is that social media activity doesn’t just happen; you have to keep working on it. You don’t start a blog and suddenly readers will be showing up from out of nowhere; the same is true for all the other networks. You can only establish yourself in a social network if you actively participate in conversation, if you create your own content, if you claim topics and themes and if you offer yourself to other users as a reader and fan. You advertise your novels subtly, only when it’s relevant. You remain helpful and polite.
In the German version of this article, I said never ever fight with anybody about the negative review they left; in this one, I’m going to add that as a lesbian author, you should prepare yourself for flaming up front and come up with a method of handling homophobia that will make you look good to your audience—my first instinct would be, show you have a backbone but don’t be a bitch. Remember that your audience will be inclined to take your side rather than the homophobe’s; you can afford to stay calm, letting the situation work in your favor. You might get some exposure out of it.
Just as importantly, watch your language, always. You’re a writer. If you’ve obviously got no idea what to do with a semicolon, I’m not going to buy your book.
If you’ve made a decision to not do social media at all, because you don’t have enough time or just think that stuff is really weird, you should still remain aware that you keep existing on the Internet in absentia even if you aren’t present personally. Every author should always know where and how people are talking about her. Googling yourself and your novels once a week is a good start; start using social media monitoring tools once you’ve exploded into the next Fifty Shades Of Grey, when it starts getting more complex than that.
About the Author
When not working on a PhD in German literature, Angelika Niere is a director at BIEG Hessen, an office established by various Hessian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to help small companies improve their online marketing. She is in charge of writing and publishing marketing guides, specializing in content marketing and social media marketing in particular.