The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

When should an author begin setting up social networking profiles / blogs / websites?

Yesterday I spoke at an AAR / Association of Authors’ Representatives panel together with Connor Raus (who runs digital advertising agency CRKWD) about understanding social media and how to use it effectively — as you know, a favorite topic of mine here on The Book Publicity Blog.  I don’t have time to summarize the entire panel here (and you don’t have time to read a summary of the entire panel), but I did want to tackle the issue of timing, a common question among book publicists, authors, agents and others in the publishing industry, and one that we discussed last night: in order to most effectively promote a book, when do you begin setting up social networking profiles / blogs / websites?

It occurred to me that creating an online author platform — aforementioned social networking profiles, blogs and websites — is much like training for a marathon.  (Unfortunately, the marathon analogy only came to me during my shower last night — historically, my good ideas have all arisen near water — rather than during the panel, but fortunately, I now have the opportunity to share this with you now.)

If you have ever run a marathon — or if you know someone who has — you (may) know that typically, runners train between two and six months for the race.  Of course, it depends on your fitness level, how much you’ve been running, what your time goal is (if any), but the majority of runners will end up training between two and six months.  Which, coincidentally, is about how long before a book’s publication many would suggest authors start developing a web presence.

You may be thinking that if one can get into good enough shape to run 26.2 miles in six months, then imagine how much better shape one would be in if one trained (blogged / networked) for a year!  Except for the crazy ones, however, no marathoner does this (running, that is).  The reason is simple: there are only so many 5 a.m. 20-milers you can run weekly before completely burning out.  Likewise, (most) authors find it is simply not feasible to generate an unlimited number of blog posts or tweets or status updates for time eternal.

Just to be clear, I’m not discouraging an author from starting to blog a year before a book comes out — after all, unlike with marathoning, blogging and social networking is unlikely to result in injury (one hopes) — but I am saying that realistically, given the vast number of personal and professional commitments we all have, most authors probably will end up tapering their online activities after a few months.

That was my epiphany for the day.  What do you think?

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | , | 19 Comments