What is it we shy writers have in common? We aren’t comfortable being “out there” promoting ourselves and we’re happy being at home alone with our books and our writing. And perhaps some of us are not so comfortable with social media in general. Not “tech savvy” as one of my author friends says. But we can’t afford to remain ignorant. And, if we have trouble promoting ourselves, would the same be true if we were talking about our children or our grandchildren? Perhaps not. So, why not consider your books your children? After all, you endured pain to bring your stories into the world just like children and you love them. I’ve no doubt about that.
These days, publishers expect you to promote your own books. You can’t afford to bury your head in the sand and just hope your new “child” will sell. You have to show the world why they should buy your book. What makes your novels interesting? What research did you do to write them? What is so fascinating about your characters?
I suggest the minimalist approach for a romance writer just stepping her toe into the world of social media. Here are my short steps to what you might want to try at first as you step one toe in the water at a time:
1. Pick your name. Decide what your name and persona you show to the world will be as an author. You don’t want a Facebook page that is full of your personal life. So, assuming you have a pen name, that will be the name you use to set up Facebook and Twitter author accounts, the two I recommend you start with. You can still have a separate personal account where you share family news but best not to combine them.
2. Get a good picture taken. I suggest a professional picture—a headshot. I like the ones with dark backgrounds highlighting the author’s face, but whatever you do, keep it uncomplicated. It will be the photo you use for all promotion, Facebook, blog tours, etc. so make it a good one.
3. Get an email address that has your author name in it. You want publishers and other authors to recognize your message as coming from you. I have five email addresses, each for different purposes. The one I use with my editor and publisher and with my website has my author name in it.
4. Set up a Facebook account. It’s not hard. Facebook has lots of help in the short steps to your new Facebook identity. Try starting here: http://www.facebook.com/help/345121355559712. Once you have an account, you can “upload” a picture and banner picture. It is not hard to do this and online tutorials are available. Here’s my Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104.
Once you have an account, you can search for and connect with other writers, even friends and those who support your writing. There is a “search” box on Facebook to do this. Once you’re connected with others, watch what they post and see what you find interesting. Sometimes it’s just a pretty picture, or words of encouragement.
The point is you are making friends one by one in the cyber world. And to make friends you must be a good friend, encouraging and complimenting others. Also, comment on the posts of others; let them know you agree with them or like their book cover or just found what they said helpful. That will “introduce” you to them. Eventually, you can do your own posts. On Facebook, pictures are better than just words alone.
Do not over post or over promote. And don’t post where you and your husband are having dinner unless it is really interesting and others would want to know. A post or two a day—at most—is enough. I have “unfriended” people on Facebook and “unfollowed” people on Twitter who overpost.
5. Set up a Twitter account. Again, there is a lot of online help to tell you how to do this. You can start here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter#. If you are not yet published, describe yourself as an aspiring writer and active reader, perhaps indicating the genre you like. Then you can search for those interested in the same genre. “Follow” everyone who “follows” you so you’re connected. Then watch what people post. Eventually you can use Twitter to promote your work but in the meantime, look at the Tweets you find helpful and why—that will tell you what you’ll want to Tweet when you get around to it. Here’s my Twitter: https://twitter.com/RegansReview.
6. Even before you have a book published, I recommend setting up an author website. You’ll need a domain name that can be had for about $10 for the first year. Make sure your name is in it. Mine is reganwalkerauthor.com. There are sites like Weebly.com (the one I used) and WordPress.com that have premade, beautiful design templates all done for you and very user-friendly tutorials on how to set them up. And you can get your domain name through them but I got mine at Register.com. Best of all, Weebly and WordPress are free. Might be a Saturday project but you can do it. Of course, if you can afford to pay a technical type to do it for you, great. But I like the fact I can update my own site—and it’s free. Here’s mine:http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com.Publishers want to know you have a presence on the Internet… that if they publish your book, you have some ability to promote it.
7. Join some email loops. If you’re a member of Romance Writers of America or other writers’ group, they’ll have an email loop that will have your inbox full of their chatter. You can see what’s of interest to you and delete the rest. Your local chapter will also have a loop. Join them and be an active participant. One I recommend for romance authors is Savvy Authors. They are very supportive of aspiring and new authors.
8. Should you have a blog? Ok, I left this till last because I know for most shy writers and busy people this is the most daunting. The premade website designs usually come with a blog option, making it easy to add one. Before you consider it, however, decide what you would do on a blog. Would you promote other authors? Would you post interesting articles for readers? authors? What? Every blog has a personality.
I have an author blog connected to my website that basically just shouts out “news.” My real, working blog is my Regan’s Romance Reviews site. I had this blog long before my first book was published. I love helping other readers of historical romance find the good ones. My site is dedicated to doing just that. It’s a labor of love. Yes, you can see my books on the site but that is not its main function and my followers and the 4000 folks who look at my blog each month are looking to find something of interest to them. If you don’t want to do a blog on your own, you can always go together with a few other authors to do one together. There are many of those and it makes it easy to share the work.
9. Appear on the blogs of others. Even if you never have your own blog, you will want to be on the blogs of others to promote yourself or your books, but you have to find something to say more than “buy my book.” Comment on the posts of others; be encouraging. Develop some interesting posts of your own. I am a member of the Beau Monde Regency authors chapter of RWA and they have a blog—not to promote books but to provide information on the Regency era. I have made good use of my research for my novels by writing articles of interest on Regency Theatres, Valentine’s Day in Regency London and most recently, The Last Revolution in England—the Pentrich Rebellion of 1817. When the Beau Monde blog posts one of my articles, I “Tweet” it and post a link to the article on Facebook.
I hope this has helped you. While none of it is new, I tried to provide some simple steps that will get you “out there” to tell the world why they should want to own your books!
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Blurb for Against the Wind:
A night in London’s most exclusive bordello. Agent of the Crown Sir Martin Powell would not normally indulge, but the end of his time spying against Napoleon deserves a victory celebration. Yet, such pleasure will not come cheap. The auburn-haired courtesan he calls “Kitten” is in truth Katherine, Lady Egerton, a dowager baroness and the daughter of an earl as elusive as she is alluring. She flees a fate worse than death. But Martin has known darkness, too, and he alone can touch her heart–as she has touched his. To the English Midlands they will steal, into the rising winds of revolution.
Regan’s bio: As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.
Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.