Reach out to Readers
As a new author, you can take advantage of social media to get your writing out in the world and find new fans.
Social media are websites and applications where users create and share content and participate
in social networking. These platforms are a great place for readers to discover you. You can share your author life, your progress on your book, and other “authorly” tidbits about writing and the challenges you face.
You are probably on one or more social networks now as an individual. As an author or soon to be author, your focus is business. Your author shares on social media are about writing and you as an author. Your best strategy is to have separate accounts for your writing life. That way you can continue your personal shares but focus your professional shares on your writing.
Social Media Platforms
Each social media platform has a unique audience and a different way of sharing. You’ll need to experiment to find which platform gives you the most traction.
An author page is the place to focus on your works and anything about your genre. This is a Facebook business page and tends to be the choice for most writers.
Later on, when your book is published, your author page gives you control over marketing and using Facebook to promote your email newsletter list and your book through advertising.
In addition, your page allows you to create a group for your fans where they can meet and chat with you and other fans.
The twitter feed moves fast. Tweets are short. Use hashtags to target readers interested in your genre. Twitter posts do best with an image, so stock up on your images.
Twitter is also a great place to meet other authors and editors.
Instagram is imaged based. And, you can use multiple hashtags to garner new followers.
If you have a Facebook author page, you can connect your Instagram account and your page. You’ll give both an added boost.
Instagram attracts young people. If your book is targeted
toward younger readers, it’s a great social platform.
Instagram is a mobile app, you’ll be posting and responding on a mobile device like your phone or tablet.
Yes, YouTube is a social platform. If you like making videos or going live to chat with your readers, YouTube is the second largest search engine. You can connect with readers with tags for every video and share information in the video description.
These four social media platforms are the most productive for authors. Other choices include Goodreads as an author and Pinterest.
How to Choose A Social Media Platform
If you are already on one or more social platforms, you have an idea of how comfortable you are working with posting and responding on those platforms. You also know that social media can be a time suck. You could spend all day on any one social media platform.
Starting your author social media life can feel overwhelming if you spread yourself over several social media platforms. The best way to begin is to choose one and focus your writer promotion there. Remember that you are promoting your business. Have fun, but keep the focus professional.
Consider how you are most comfortable. If you like
sharing text Facebook is your best social medium. If you love sharing images, you may want to focus on Instagram or Pinterest. If you love video and connecting with viewers, YouTube or going live on your Facebook page may be your preference.
As a writer, you want to spend your time writing. Social media takes time. Use discernment and discretion to steward your time. Yes, marketing is part of being an author, but don’t get caught in a social media
Photo by Merakist on Unsplash
Connect with Your Readers
While you are writing your mystery novel, your work on your author platform improves the success of your book launch once the story is finished. Your website gives readers a place to discover you and your work. An email list gives you a way to communicate with these readers and build enthusiasm.
When you send an email to a reader, it’s a personal note from you to that particular reader. You want to bring them in on the story of your book success.
There are quite a few steps to setting up a successful email connection with your readers. Take them step-by-step. You don’t have to do them all in one day.
Create A Giveaway
Create a giveaway for readers who join your email list. This is your gift to them for connecting with you. You give the reader a free gift for signing up for your email newsletter. You want to make it something related to your mystery. You will build interest in your story, before it is completed.
Make your giveaway as a first-time author simple. The main objective is to build a stronger connection with you and your story.
Format your giveaway to make it easy to send as an email attachment. For short pieces use a PDF. If you wrote a novella, use BookFunnel to distribute the story in the reader’s preferred format. BookFunnel distributes your book in .mobi, .epub and PDF files according to the reader’s choice.
Set Up Your Email Provider
An email provider does the heavy lifting of sending emails to subscribers. Using an autoresponder, the email provider automatically sends a sequence of emails and delivers your giveaway. This saves you the time of responding to each reader individually.
When you start out there are email providers that are
free for small lists. Many authors use MailerLite which is free for up to 1000 subscribers.
Set up your email list. Add yourself to the list to check that all your emails go out. Write a sequence of welcoming emails for your autoresponder.
Create your invitation to join the list (landing page). Most email service providers also offer a landing page. Entice people to join with your free giveaway. Send people to your landing page from your website and social media.
Create a sequence of emails to go to people who join your list. Write a sequence of welcoming emails for your autoresponder (MailerLite, MailChimp, Aweber, etc.). Here are prompts for creating your sequence and the timing to send out.
Write to One Person
Always compose your email message as if the reader is the only person receiving the message. The more personal you are, the better your email reader feels about your message. You care about your readers. Let your email messages show you care about the person who is reading the message.
Decide on a Communication Schedule
Once you have created your autoresponder introductory messages, you want to keep in touch with your subscribers on a regular basis. Consistency is critical. It’s better to write one message per month every month than promise weekly updates and skip a couple of weeks.
Timing is up to your personal choice. Every day is too often. Readers will feel overwhelmed and unsubscribe to stop receiving your messages. Consider all the time you have and make a commitment to including your regular messages.
What To Include in Your Email Newsletter
Keep your regular newsletter friendly and informative. Share your something of yourself as a person as well as writing progress.
Your message doesn’t need to be long. Readers are busy. Always ask a question at the end, like what books are you reading? Or who is your favorite detective? Encourage engagement and communication with you.
Most authors agree that getting responses from readers is exciting. Reply to each communication you receive. Build rapport and trust with just a simple reply.
Your Treasure Trove of Readers
People who subscribe to your email list, want to hear from you. They care about your writing journey.
Your email list belongs to you. Email is the best way to stay in touch with readers and build your fan base.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
You As An Author
It’s never too early to start your transition from writer to author. Once you start writing your mystery, spend some time establishing your presence as an author. You’ll be building your author platform where you tell readers about your book. Once your novel is published, you’ll have your author platform well in hand.
You’ll want basic marketing materials with information about you and your books to share in as many ways as possible. When you start early you’ll give yourself time to create a solid professional message about you and your books.
The Business Mindset
Business mindset differs from your creative writing mindset. You’ll be learning about creating your author identity, marketing strategies, collecting and managing information (data) about your readers and sales, and other business details.
Learn from other businesses, including other authors. Set aside time in your schedule to focus on the business side of your author life. Be willing to start and willing to learn. Authors who embrace the business side create success. The basic principles of an author business mindset will get you started on your author business journey.
With a business mindset, you don’t give up creativity. Instead, you use it in a different way
Create Your Marketing Platform
Your marketing platform is essential to your author business. Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, you need that platform. Creating your author platform takes time. Don’t try to do it all at once. Take a methodical, step-by-step approach to get the details right.
Agents want to see your platform before they represent your book. Many agents will not accept a book unless you have a platform designed and in place. A good reason to start early.
You will co-promote with a traditional publisher. The reason the agent wants to see your author platform is that publishers want to know you put energy into promoting your book(s).
If you are self-publishing, you will spend time weekly if not daily promoting your work.
How to Start Your Author Platform
Creating your author platform takes time. Don’t try to do everything at once. Give yourself a month to set up your author platform activities. Setting these things up now teaches you a very useful skill for authors: dividing your time between writing and marketing. If you are serious about your author career, you need to learn this time management skill.
Before you establish your platform you need to prepare some basic materials. Keep these on hand for guest blog posts, podcast invitations, and media like print, television, and radio.
1. Write a description of your book. You will probably revise this many times but write one. Pretend you are writing the blurb for the back cover.
2. Write an author bio for yourself. You will need several. A short one, 25-30 words, to post at the end of articles or on social media that does not allow for a long description, like Twitter. Then write at least two more, a 100-word bio and a 300-word bio. If you hire a publicist or decide to do your own publicity, you may want a 1000-word biography as well. You will probably rewrite these many times but start with something now.
3. Create a formal portrait of yourself both color and black and white. You can do this yourself with a plain background or hire a professional photographer.
4. Create a cover image for your book. You’ll want this for your website and any promotions you may do.
Once you’ve created the content for your platform, you are ready to build your platform where future readers can learn about you and your books. Start with an author website.
Create Your Author Website
Your own author website is the foundation of your author platform. It’s your author base camp. Any sharing you do later on social media or with email campaigns will direct readers to your website.
You can use free website services like WordPress.com or Wix to get started. If you have time and resources, you can become more involved and intricate with a self-hosted website using WordPress.org. You will need to monitor and update the self-hosted website for updates or hire someone to manage the site for you. If you have a large budget, you can hire a website designer to create a site for you. If you do, make sure you have access to add and change the content.
Basic Pages for Your Website
Your website will have several pages. You can add more, but here are the basic pages you’ll need to get started.
As you can see, there’s a lot of work in creating an author platform. But, there’s more. Next week, in Part 2, I’ll talk about connecting with readers with email. And, in Part 3, we’ll look at social media.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
The Roman Heir is due for publication on July 22. The book went out to advance readers over two weeks ago, I’m getting feedback. That means I’m doing some editing like rewording or fixing those gosh darn typos. I’m extremely grateful to these advance readers who give me early feedback.
This is just the first round of final editing. I have two more steps before I upload the book on July 15. Aside from checking any other feedback from advance readers, I listen to the entire book read aloud. I did that chapter by chapter, but one last check. Then I read the book aloud myself to hear and feel the words as I speak them.
I’ve heard most of the story read aloud by members of my writing group as the story progressed. But, I’ve made numerous changes, especially since I presented early chapters to the group.
Spread The Author Word
Two days after the book release on July 24, International Thriller Writers is publishing my article for mystery writers, “Ten Ways to Hide Clues in Your Mystery” as a guest post in their publication The Thrill Begins.
The World of Argolicus Event
On July 22, the day The Roman Heir comes out, I’m doing a special live event on Facebook. I have slides and an overview of the historical background for the stories. The reign of Theodoric in Italy (493–526 CE) is a short time span in the vast spread of history. I’ll be zooming in on the highlights. After the presentation, I’ll answer general questions from the audience either about the background or writing or the stories.
The live event is July 22 at 9:00 AM. Use the Time Calculator to determine the time where you are. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Writing Doesn’t Stop
With the work on getting the story ready for publication, I’ve not lost track of the next story, The Vellum Scribe. I’m creating character background studies and filling in plot details. I’ve even written a bit of the beginning. Of course, as I dig deeper into the story, the beginning may change.
Looking forward to seeing you at The World of Argolicus event.
Enter a world in ancient Italy when Roman and Ostrogoth laws made murder a private matter. In a time when murder was not a crime, Argolicus helps solve crimes for individuals when politics and murder collide.
Your author bios are an important part of your book marketing package. Your bio is your introduction to the world as an author. Think of it as a news story not a memoir. The main point of your author bio is to get new readers for your books.
Your bio will be read by a number of different audiences.
Each of those audiences is looking for information in a different way. Having a set of author bios is the best way to address the needs of those varying readers.
Author Bios not One Bio
Every author needs four biographies of different lengths.
Norman Langford grew up spying on the neighbours and taking notes in a little black book. No surprise that he ended up writing spy novels!
2. Short: 50 word bio - Used for guest blogging, at the end of your own blog posts, or a press release for a new book. Who you are, your genre, and a title or two.
3. Medium: 100 word bio - Contributor pages in a print publications, social media profiles, etc. Who you are, your genre, a title or two, and a pertinent to your writing fact.
4. Long: 400-600 word bio - About me on your website. This is your opportunity to illustrate the theme of your writing as well as list your all your books and literary achievements and awards.
Author David Amerland uses a theme based bio on his website written to intrigue readers with his line of books.
You can augment the about me biography with videos based on your protagonist. Crime writer Adrian McKinty mixes the favorite drink of his character, Sean Duffy.
If you plan on speaking either before large groups on on radio or television the best bio length is a 250-300 speaker introduction. Put in the basics and a few intriguing details (why people would want to hear your speak) but not as much detail as the Long bio. This length also works for your publisher author pages like Amazon, Nook, iBooks and the like.
The Malleable Bio - Change the Bio to Meet the Audience
I was chatting recently with award winning thriller writer Laurence O’Bryan about various places writers use their biography. I told him I have what I call my Malleable Bio. It’s the one I use most frequently which is the short 50-word bio.
Your bio is a marketing tool. In all marketing the buyer comes first. Using the base biography you can tweak it to the audience. For example, if you are guest blogging, take a look at the blog’s author’s readers. The target message for general book readers will be much more generic than for a thriller or romance oriented audience. You can add just a couple of words to zero in on that blog’s reader audience. The same goes for a bio for journals or newspapers in a press release. Or an audience for a speaking engagement.
As long as you have the base bio written, a few minutes and a few words will help your bio hit home with readers.
The Instant Marketing Tool
Modern literary criticism is based solely on the work itself without any details about the author. But readers love to know about you, the author. Give them a taste of your talent and personality. They don’t have to like you as a person, but they do need to be intrigued.
Wherever you are in your author journey, your author bios help you connect with your readers. If you don’t know where to start, read several bios by authors in your genre to get an idea of how to represent yourself. If you write in pen names in several categories, you need to create a set of bios for each of your names.
If your book is not released yet, now is the time to create your bios.
Get all your bios written. You can go back and tweak later. The main idea is to have those bios ready when someone asks.
Zara Altair writes mysteries set in ancient Italy. Argolicus thinks he has retired, but he and his tutor, Nikolaos are drawn into puzzles, politics, and murder.
Invite Global Readers to Get Your Books
Geni.us creates links that send someone to the Amazon store nearest them. If you have a reader in the U.K., and they click the link, they will be taken to Amazon.uk not the U.S. store. The same for Japan, or Germany, or India, etc.
For example, people in 21 different countries have clicked my link to The Used Virgin.
Just grab the amazon link to your ebook and geni.us will create a unique url link for your book. Advanced features offer A/B testing or just identifying links for Twitter, Facebook, or your website.
Any way that you can make it easier for a reader to get your book is a great convenience for readers all over the world.
Watch the tutorial to see how the link works.
Geni.us provides data on each link so you can track countries and clicks for each book. Although my book is written in English, it has appeal for people interested in Italy. Readers have clicked the geni.us link and received the book straight from Amazon.it.
Features just for authors
Geni.us has recently upgraded. One of the new features is just for authors. You can link to your books and your author page.
If you are interested in broadening your readership, a link that goes to the readers nearest country makes it super convenient.
Create and Share Free Books for Author Promotion
Hook potential readers with a free book giveaway. Book Funnel stores PDF, .epub, and .mobi files so they can read your book in their format of choice. Scrivener users can compile a manuscript to each of these formats. Once you have created the files, simply upload each file plus the book cover to Book Funnel.
Here's a quick tutorial on how to set up your book for distribution.
Increase Your Exposure, Gain Readers
Your free book is an invitation to readers to get to know you. Make sure your put some of your personality in the free offer. It doesn't matter if it a book or a one-sheet. For most new readers your free offer is the first chance they get to meet you. First impressions count. Make your book look professional. Create a personable introduction to you and your writing.
Zara Altair, Author
The puzzle of politics, the mystery of murder in ancient Italy. After Rome, before the Middle Ages, Italy belonged to the Ostrogoths.