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 | , | 17 Comments

Why a *pre-publication* web presence is important

At this point, pretty much everyone is convinced of the value of an author’s web presence.  Yay.  But I’ve seen too many authors shoot for the book’s publication date (or a couple weeks before) as the launch date for their website.

This is about four months too late.

Typically, four to six months before the hardcover publication of a book, the publicity department sends out galleys to magazine and newspaper book editors as well as to some broadcast producers and online journalists.  When I follow up with galley recipients, I’ll include some information about the book in the text of my email message, but it’s helpful for me to be able to link to more information online — links are an extremely effective and unobtrusive way for book publicists to provide the media with the additional details that could sell a writer or editor on a book.  They are also vital tools for bloggers whose posts are lent credibility by links that direct readers to further information.

I’m not saying the complete author website needs to be up and ready six months before the book’s publication date.  I’m not even saying the author has to have a web site at all.  But I am saying it’s a really, really good idea for *something* — a website, a social networking profile, a blog — to be accessible when galleys are mailed out.  An author without a web presence is a bit like the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one around.

The more information a website has the better, of course, but it’s also okay also to add to the site in stages.  Realistically, busy authors may simply not have the time or the money to create beautiful websites at this stage in the game (or ever).  Here are a few quick and cheap suggestions for getting online fast:

Create a website with basic information first: If you don’t have or don’t know a lot of information (blurbs, book tour dates, etc.), first create the website with the basic information that you do have: a JPEG of the book cover, an author bio and a summary of the book.  Make sure to mention both the publication date of the book as well as the publishing house and include contact information for the author and / or book publicist.  Your publishing house can suggest web designers that work within a variety of budgets, but you can also put together a website yourself for free.  (Of course, these sites look like they’ve been put together for free, but because all the hard, program-my stuff has been built in to the templates, all you need to do is follow a few basic instructions.)

Add the cover and a tag line to an existing author website: Many authors who already have websites will initially post just the cover of their upcoming book and its publication date.  This is a simple and effective way to get the word out about a new book.  (Just don’t forget to go back later and add more information about it!)

Create a Facebook fan page for the book or a profile for yourself:  If you don’t have the time and / or money to create or update a website, create a Facebook book fan page / author profile for free.  You should post the JPEG of the cover as well as your bio, a summary of the book, and contact information.  Make sure to mention both the publication date of the book as well as the publishing house.

For authors who can invest the time in a robust web presence (which is almost always a good idea these days), you can find more information about social networking on this site or you can check my blogroll (on the right side of the page) for other helpful blogs, but the suggestions above cover some of the basics.  Anyone have other ideas for how authors can establish a web presence quickly and cheaply?

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Online Marketing | , | 34 Comments