Whether you aspire to self publish or traditionally publish, make no mistake, you will be responsible for the lion share of the marketing efforts to sell your books. And if you aim to get in the traditional game, I have heard two, count them TWO horror stories of fiction authors being rejected because of their lack of a presence and following online. One of these stories was about an author being passed over by an agent, and the other was about a publishing company that passed on an agented manuscript.
That’s right, as it relates to becoming traditionally published, despite all the current rhetoric across countless blogs that high social media numbers are only a prerequisite for non-fiction authors, the times, they are a changin’.
I can’t predict how quickly this will become the norm, but now that you’ve been forewarned from a new author who has her ear to the ground, the question is, what are you going to do about it?
Because I happen to be a brilliant marketer *polishes nails on shoulder*, I can tell you what you’re going to do. First, there’s no need to stress. Rather, a take-it-in-stride approach is most effective.
Whether you’re new to social media and blogging or slightly further along your journey toward building an author platform, the key to avoiding that I-wanna-run-my-smartphone-through-the-microwave moment is to take it slow. My experience is that every social media platform is overwhelming until it isn’t, meaning sign up one at a time, take some time to learn how it works, and all of a sudden, it’s built into your routine, and you don’t even need to think about it.
But why would I take advice from you, Raimey? You’re not even published yet. Good point. But by the time I hit send on that first query letter, my social media numbers will be added incentive for agents and publishers to sign me, I can tell you that.
Good. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the next step is creating engagement. It’s one thing to create social media profiles, but if you want people to like/heart/interact with you online, you have to encourage them to do so by engaging with them first.
That sounds like a lot of work, Raimey. Are you sure you know what you’re talking about? Let’s put it this way: 1) I am in the middle of hosting a 400-participant author blog and social media hop, which is, in it’s essence, a follow-back campaign of engaged authors across all social media platforms, and the hop blog post received 5,000 page views in the first week; 2) In the past two months, I received two requests to guest post on other author’s blogs (including the wonderful host of this blog Mr. Tony Riches); and 3) I have increased my Twitter following by 5,000 in the past eight months.
Fiction authors need to be aware that in addition to the quality of their manuscript, agents and publishers are starting more and more to judge candidates on the size of their online following. Don’t wait until you finish writing the book to get your social media profiles together. Start slow but start now, and like me, you’ll see dividends soon enough.
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