(or Things I wish I'd known When Starting Out - part 3 of 4)
In my short series of hot tips for authors just starting out, otherwise known as "things I wish I'd known," I thought I'd share a few insights that I've gained.
Choose Your Platform
When choosing, bear in mind where you are likely to find your target market. For example, if you are writing teenage fiction, will you bump into your readers on LinkedIn or will they be on Facebook?
Consider also whether you already have some form of presence that you can build upon. Are you already on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter, for example? Even if this isn't the platform that you ultimately want to be on, you'll receive encouraging feedback and mastering it will teach you how to interact and build.
Once you have chosen, get into it and master it. So if you are on Twitter, get the hang of hashtags, gaining followers and so on. Do this before moving onto another platform. That way, your learning curve on the new one should be less challenging and you should find it easier to master.
Make sure that you learn how sites interact. For example, can you post from your website straight out to Twitter or Facebook? If so, to what extent can you use this approach to optimise time used? For example, posting blogs or news can be structured this way, leaving you time to interact and converse in follow up to what you and others are doing.
To Pay Or Not To Pay?
For example, you may decide to have a Facebook business page for your book. You feel very confident about using it. You decide to research whether you can be sure that you will reach all friends with each status update as you've heard that Facebook limits such updates to only a portion of friends.
Perhaps you are interested in establishing whether you will own the content of what is on the site (posting from your own website to social media is considered by many to be a great way to establish ownership). Essentially, you are evaluating whether you want what is on offer and whether it will meet your needs, and doing this for each opportunity seems to make straightforward sense.
Equally, make sure that you are optimising all of the places where you can have an Author Page for free - this is often where your readers will meet you for the first time, so work out what kind of biographic statement and picture you want to give out and get it out there! Amazon's country sites often have Author Pages, for example, so if your eBook is available across Europe try to set up an Author Page (using your own language for biographic data if need be) on each one. So, if you notice that folks in, say, Germany are downloading your eBook, maybe you should get onto Amazon.de and set up your author page?
The Law of Diminishing Returns, 'The 1 In 4' Rule and Not Being A Social Media Pest
Some people meet that challenge by automating posts to social media platforms, eg from their website. By all means do this - as a way to get out news it is hard to beat. For each platform, though, you need to ensure that you are interacting with people in a meaningful way. By all means automate some posts but make sure that this isn't all you do. In fact, adhere to the 1 in 4 rule as far as you can, so contribute ideas to discussions, offer thoughts, blog information, converse, for 3 out of every 4 posts, and bump out news for 1 in 4 (trust me, if you start whumping out a plug about your book on Twitter or LinkedIn every hour, you will rapidly alienate people).