FAQ: Building Your Online Presence as an Author

Building Your Online Audience as an Author: FAQ

A couple months ago, Pacific & Court’s President, Kourtney Jason, had a fun and informative chat with author and productivity expert Paula Rizzo on her LinkedIn Live show, Inside Scoop, where they discussed how building an online following will support your book launch.

Kourtney and Paula first met years ago when they sat next to each other at BookExpo. Paula was signing copies of her book Listful Thinking and Kourtney was managing the booth for independent publisher Ulysses Press. They’ve since collaborated with author media training and so much more!

To expand on their conversation, we’re answering some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to your digital presence as an author.

Question: Do authors need to be active online and on social media?

Answer: Any creator, writers included, needs to be active online and on social media—from having a personal website to showcase your work, to active social media accounts where you’re connecting with others. If you aren’t present online, you are truly missing opportunities to connect with, engage with, and grow your audience as well as colleagues in your specific communities.

Q: What platforms are most important for authors?

A: Social media can be overwhelming. There are so many platforms and very limited time to do it all. That’s why companies have full-time roles for social media managers. Of course there are pros and cons to social media, but at the end of the day, it’s an extension of your brand as well as an extremely important communications strategy.

Many people ask for the quickest ways to grow your following, and when we say there are no shortcuts, we mean there are no shortcuts. It takes time, it takes authenticity, and it takes consistency. To grow your following, you’ll also need to:

  • Make sure your profiles are 100 percent complete with a profile pic, a short bio, links, contact info, etc.
  • Understand each platform
  • Analyze your competitors
  • Know your brand voice
  • Share useful content
  • Engage with both your audience as well as other influential thought leaders, creators, etc.
  • And lastly, use appropriate hashtags. 

As a PR and marketing agency, we’ve recently been using #writingcommunity and #writerslift on Twitter. Do your hashtag research, find what is popular in your area of expertise/interest, and has good engagement.

Q: What does social media strategy look like for authors?

 A: We offer both publicity and digital marketing (which includes social media content creation as well as digital advertising), and we have clients who hire us for only PR, only social, only advertising, or a combination of it all. When we’re working with clients who are interested in the social media strategy for their book launch, we provide a timeline detailing when and what to post throughout the campaign for maximum impact. From a cover reveal to an unboxing video with your author copies, our digital strategy will drive pre-orders and sales for your book.

Following the standard social media rule (70-20-10), the content you share should be adding value and building your brand 70 percent of the time, sharing others’ posts and ideas 20 percent of the time, and should only promote yourself or your business 10 percent of the time.

Q: I have an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account. Do I need to get TikTok too? And what should I share?

A: Social media can be overwhelming! Each platform does something different, so you’ll need to find what works for you, what you enjoy most, and how to diversify your content for each platform. In general terms, here are some parameters based on each platform: 

  • Instagram: Share photos/videos of yourself, behind-the-scenes of your personal and professional life, day in the life content, giveaways, engaging conversations via Instagram Live
  • Facebook: Share links to your work and work from others that’ve your enjoyed, share your media coverage/press hits, create calendar event listings for any book signings/readings/talks you have planned, and test out advertising on Facebook.
  • Twitter: the microblogging site is great for sharing bite-sized thoughts, asking questions of your audience, sharing links to stories you’ve read or written, and again your own media coverage and press hits.
  • TikTok: Quickly growing, the short-form video platform is now allowing videos up to 10 minutes long. It’s extremely unpredictable regarding which videos will successfully garner views. BookTok has exploded, with an engaged audience sharing book recommendations. TikTok is also popular for sharing adorable pets, tasty recipes, dancing, crafts and more. However, many TikTok stars get pigeonholed, and can’t easily diversify their content on TikTok. 

Q: Do I need a newsletter?

A: In general, yes, go for it! But first, you’ll need to understand the pros and cons, including the amount of work it takes to create a good newsletter. For many writers with newsletters, it’s offering another revenue stream that is completely theirs, and allows ownership of their audience. 

Newsletters are tricky to do, we’ll be honest. It takes time to grow your email list because it takes time to build trust with readers, who will need time to decide if they want to receive regular emails from you. Additionally, you’ll need a detailed editorial content strategy for your newsletter.

You may second guess yourself—maybe you aren’t sure what to write about, maybe you don’t want to write for free, maybe you worry that no one will care or want to read your musings. There could be a million reasons not to do it!

But platforms like Substack and Bulletin are incredibly popular and easy to use, and many journalists are turning to newsletters to grow their followings, share their work, make a little extra money, and even find sources for their articles. A few newsletters we’re regularly reading are written by Elizabeth Holmes, Atoosa Rubenstein, Alicia Kennedy, Lindsay Tigar, Kelsey Ogletree and Julie Vadnal.

With a newsletter, you can:

  • Use the space to position yourself as a leader and expert in your industry
  • Dive deeper into your brand, your passion, your expertise and what you stand for
  • And stay in front of past, current, and future clients, reminding them (without directly saying it!) of what you’re doing, what you’re selling, etc.

Speaking of online presence, make sure to say hi to P&C on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn! We’ll see you there. And if you’ve got more questions about building your online brand, schedule a call to talk about social media strategy!

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