When should you set up your FB page, Twitter account, Instagram, website, mailing list? This question is asked enough that I felt it warranted its own blog post.
The simple answer is as soon as you decide writing isn’t just a hobby, when you know you will share stuff with the world, and before you become such a big deal.
Seems counter-intuitive to have any or all of that before you’ve got a product, but there are a few reasons.
I don’t know if you were like me growing up, but I rearranged and painted my room almost every year. Sometimes I did it in response to my book collection, or I just wasn’t happy with the paint color.
The same thing happens when you’re becoming familiar with a website builder, a social media account, or using programs like Mailerlite. You might spend a day building it one way, see inspiration the next week and rush to tweak it. If you’re not comfortable with a program, you might become overwhelmed by it and frustrated, leading you to not use it in the best manner.
Most of the author’s exposure comes from networking. If all anyone sees is your shouting about your book, they will tune you out. But, if you’ve got various authors who write in the same genre saying, “check this out,” readers are more likely to check it out.
Until your book is ready, share other authors’ works and strengthen the bond you have within your community. Share on your page, take part in Sharing Sundays, post funny memes that readers and writers alike will love, and begin finding the style of the newsletter you’ll want to craft each month.
Should I even bother with a website?
Yes. Plain and simple, you have control over your website and mailing list that you do not have with social media.
Do you remember MySpace? For those under 30, probably not. It was the big social media site that died out quietly once FB arrived on scene. MeWe is trying to become an established forerunner of giving people an option over FB. You can’t dictate or predict which social media platform will be the next big thing or die out practically overnight.
You have no control if FB deletes your page—OnceUponATee, a place I’ve ordered anime, cartoon, gaming, and movie shirts from, had a page with over 300,000 active followers and FB removed the page for whatever reason FB wanted. They have an active fan base and yet it still took months to rebuild the traction they had.
Your website is the hub-station for you. It contains links to all your social media accounts, your works, your contact information, your newsletter sign up form, your bio, and anything else a reader may want to see at a glance instead of wading through thousands of posts on social media. And the only requirement to keep all of that is don’t be doing any Black-Market things and pay your providers on time.
Your website also helps with searchability on sites like Google. A properly SEO oriented site helps get your name and your books in the reader’s hands when they search instead of stumbling through the dark.
P.S. You don’t have to blog. I know there’s this huge perception of it, but repeat after me, “It’s okay not to blog.” Spend that time you’d spend hammering out a post and use it on your social media and networking with others to create friendships. If you’re that worried about it, most websites will even let you stream your social media sites thus giving visitors a glimpse of some witty things you’re posting on FB or Twitter and hopefully entice them to follow you on there.
Do I need to do all the social media sites?
No. The platforms you choose should be the ones you enjoy doing. If you try for all the platforms, you will spend more time marketing than writing. Never let the marketing overpower your writing time.
People use programs like Hootsuite to posts on all the platforms, and while for important information like a new release that’s a great idea, spreading the same posts across all the platforms at the same time/day decrease engagement because they tire of seeing the same thing and just scroll on.
One recommendation on avoiding “burnout” from fans is to alternate what you post. Your Topless Tuesday on Instagram last week becomes the Topless Tuesday on Tumblr this week and that post you really enjoyed on Tumblr last week becomes a share on FB today. Working off a 28-day spread and shifting each platform by a week gives followers the chance to see something they missed without being beat over the head with it. Don’t forget to use the built-in schedule feature that most sites have. Sites like FB prioritize organic posts—even scheduled ones—over those ran through a 3rd party app.
For the best advice on social media, follow the authors you network with that have great interactive posts. Don’t focus on what the big name/traditional publishers are posting. To be fair, they are well established, and by the time you’re well established, you’ll be able to post whatever you want. This is about building a routine that you’re comfortable with.
**I recommend watching videos from Adventure Social to gain an understanding on Instagram and FB. They do cool things like 30 Day challenges with specific ideas to help give you a well-rounded month.
There are a few cons to social media that I want to address:
Social media has made everyone available immediately. This constant state of being reachable can stress you out, so please set up the auto messages on your page(s). Here’s a link to FB’s auto message set up.
Social media also brings out the best and the worst of people. Be prepared for the feedback and comments on posts that you may or may not agree with, and use the built in block buttons to remove those who harrass you.
Other thoughts on Platforms
You should become comfortable with the products and sites you’ll be using before trying to entice people to come visit.
Whether you set your website as a “set it and forget it” and only update it when you have your new release or you’re so active on social media that no matter the time of day anyone can reach you, they are an extension of you.
With nearly 2 billion users and holding no. 1 app in the app store, FB is a no brainer, but don’t let the ease keep you from putting all your eggs in multiple basket. Branch out, experiment, see what else is out there for you, and find a balance that works for you.
It is smarter to have your domain name and social media reflect your author name and not your book title. You are the brand, your books are the product. You will, 99% of the time, write more than one book, especially if you want to make a living at the whole writing thing.
If you find that the social media is overwhelming or that building your website is a monster of a task, there are people you can hire to help take some of that burden. Ask the authors you network with whom they’d recommend because a well established PA that gets results in the same genre you write is more valuable than the one who doesn’t do your genre.
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This post was edited/proofed by ProWritingAid.