Here’s the scenario, and tell me if it sounds familiar:
You’re a writer. You love writing. And you’re super excited to be published for the first time… if you could ever get around to finishing something. Whether you’re stuck finishing a first draft or you’re stuck in an endless cycle of edits and redrafts, you’re still stuck. After a while, your motivation starts to lag and your writing slows.
Need your motivation back? Experts say that imagining the future you want will help it happen. It’s all mental! Imagine it. Daydream about it. Seriously think about your novel on bookshelves. And then get excited about preparing for that.
THEN, to get yourself into the zone and really get pumped, procrastinate from writing in a good, productive way: Set up your author accounts.
Being a successful author is more than finishing and publishing a book. No matter HOW GOOD your novel is, you simply won’t succeed unless you’re noticed. This means a lot of marketing, which means you’ll need social media accounts and a website.
Publishers will put YOU in charge of this—they’ll rarely set up/run your accounts for you. Without a website and other author accounts, your sales will take a hit and publishers will be less excited about taking you on in the future. So why not get started early? You might even boost your chances by impressing potential agents/publishers and getting ahead on your follower count!
If you don’t already have a twitter, make one! It’s fairly easy to get followers, just by posting regularly on writing/reading-related topics and using popular hashtags (#amwriting, for example). I sometimes post cat pictures or cool recipes I see, too.
You can occasionally talk about your own work in progress, but keep it minimal. People will unfollow you if you’re acting like a sell-bot!
Facebook is another essential way for fans to find you. Since it can take some time to fill out your bio and information, there’s no reason why you can’t set up your author page now. You don’t need to create a brand new account, either. Facebook has a tutorial for setting up a free “business” page as well as tips to build your audience and create effective posts, which you can manage from your normal Facebook login.
Even if you’re not published, anyone can set up a Goodreads account and connect with fellow readers. What better way to bond with fans than over shared favorite books?
This one gets trickier, since tumblr is arguably less mainstream than other social media platforms. Just like a standalone website, your tumblr can include pages with WIP descriptions, links to your other social media. Here you have more space to give information, unlike something like Twitter.
If you’re a more artsy type, why not set up a book-themed Instagram? Take those fancy pictures with stacks of books next to a cup of coffee, or with a festive/outdoorsy background. Post regularly and you’ll gain followers. Then, when you’re published, you can post your own novels in those artsy poses. Just make sure not to spam your book over and over. Casually slip it in among all the others, especially books that are similar in genre/style to your own!
I’m not going to lie, a lot of the books on my shelf were purchased because I’d seen them on Instagram or Pinterest so many times. When the cover looks interesting, I start to wonder what it’s about!
Ever considered blogging? Like, actual blogging on WordPress or Blogger. Tumblr works too, but a standalone blog that posts exclusively your content is a great way to focus your audience on YOU.
It doesn’t have to be a writing advice blog or book blog. You can blog about anything. Things somewhat related to your novel might help attract potential fans. For example, you might blog about gardening for your mystery cozy starring a florist gone part-time detective. Or if you write more along the horror genre, maybe post your thoughts on the newest horror films.
Author sites are ESSENTIAL. It’s the hub of activity for you and your fans—it’s where you can link to all your published novels, promote giveaways, post announcements… everything! Every author should have one, in my opinion. Granted, they do cost money to set up and run, depending on how much knowledge you have about it. But with a little research, you can set up your own author page.
Other social media accounts are free for you to explore, too. Whatever you’re comfortable with, and wherever you think you can reach more readers. And remember, you need to get into it. Don’t just create the account and call it good. Start filling out information, writing novel back-of-the-book summaries, posting pictures, choosing themes. It helped motivate me to continue working!
Here are a few extra pointers for succeeding:
General Tip #1: Look up your favorite authors and take notes. See how often they tweet about their WIP as opposed to other topics. See what information they include on their author site, and how they organize it on different pages.
General Tip #2: Link everything. Your Facebook should have links to your Goodreads, Twitter, author site, and so on. Likewise, your author site should link to any and all of your social media accounts. It should be easy for fans to follow you on every type of media, if they choose to do so!
General Tip #3: Don’t feel like you need to make accounts for everything, on every social media site. If you’re not into Instagram, then don’t force it. Do what you feel comfortable on, and do what you do best. Interaction with your fans should feel natural, otherwise you might just scare people away. For example, the publishing house where I interned tried to promote on Tumblr. Except they would post BLOCKS of solid text with no paragraph breaks, and no useful tags. It was painfully obvious they had NO idea how Tumblr functions. Then again, since you’re starting now rather than when you’re a known author, it’s a great chance to experiment and learn your way around other social media.
It’s never too early to start! Have you started building your platform yet?