Writing Tips: Why Writers Need an Online Presence Before the Book

Before the Book: Why You Need to Create an Online Persona

type and ink penI recently conducted a workshop at the Southern California Writers Conference on this topic. Here I was in front of a room full of writers and I can guarantee the majority of us could honestly say, “We don’t want to spend time on Social Media. We don’t want to write blogs. We just want to write our books.” Including me.

Many writers bemoan this situation, saying things like, “Isn’t it better that I spend my time writing instead of the time suck called Social Media?” Or the ever popular, “I’ll wait until I’m a published author before I even worry about this.”

So, even though what I’m going to say will sound like common sense, once it’s out there, I think we have to talk about it —honestly. Because as brave as we all are at doing the hard work of writing, we tend to find excuses why we don’t have to do things that aren’t comfortable or take us away from the writing, right?

We have to stop these excuses and face some cold, hard facts.

So, let’s talk about why we, as writers, need to have a presence (a persona) online before we even think about getting our books published.

Biggest Reasons You Need an Online Presence

Let’s look at the publishing world of today. We all have two things in common, whether we are traditionally published, indie published or self-published:

  1. With the proliferation of online markets and the closing of brick and mortar bookstores across the nation, where do you think most readers look for their next book to purchase? Online
  2. No matter how we are published, we are expected to do our own marketing. Even if a person is traditionally published, unless that author is Stephen King or Dean Koontz, said author will be expected to carry the burden of the marketing. And where do you think the majority of marketing is taking place today? Online

So can we agree that as an author, if we want readers to find our books and read them, we will need an online presence?  Okay then.

Biggest Reasons You Need an Online Presence NOW

But here is where writers will avoid my gaze and mumble something about waiting until their book is published and then simply upload it to Amazon and say, “See, now it’s online.”

There are two facts that prove this is the wrong tactic:

Personal Computers and the InternetLine art of guy on a laptop
  • Because of personal computers and the Internet, it is easier today than any other time in our history to be able to get our books out to readers and have them read our stories. This is great news! I’m guessing we all like having options when it comes to getting our books in the hands of readers.
  • The flip side to this is…because of personal computers and the Internet, there are now millions of writers doing the exact same thing we are. Our books can easily get lost in a sea of voices. How is a reader ever going to find us in that vast sea?

Because we will have already created an online presence and have an audience of readers waiting for our book to be published—that’s how.

Okay, this is all making sense now, right? But there will still be some who are thinking, “But I’m years away from having a book ready for publication. Why should I have to start this now?”

Chart on Internet MarketingBecause this all takes a lot of time. It takes time to figure out who our audience is and connect with them. It takes even more time to grow that audience once we figure it all out.

And when it comes to websites and blogs, we can never get started too early. It takes years to build a volume of content for a blog/website. It takes years to build and grow an audience of readers. Even the technical aspect of building your page status and having your blogs come up in online searches takes time. Getting hundreds of viewers on a daily/weekly basis takes years of hard work. This process takes time and energy.
It’s not an overnight process.

 

But the good news is once we’ve done the hard work and built that audience, they will already be there, waiting for our books to be released out into the world. Eager to purchase and read our stories. Isn’t this why we write?

So can we all agree that it makes sense to have an online presence long before the book?

In my next Writing Tip blog we’ll tackle the next big question:
How do we create an online presence when we don’t have a book yet?

Don’t despair. Stay in touch—there will be answers!

Does this encourage you to consider creating an online presence? 

8 Comments

  1. Laura Taylor

    Applause! So glad you’re addressing this topic, Indy. Thank you! LT 🙂

    Reply
    • indy

      Thank you, Laura. After chatting with so many writers at the conference about this topic, I decided I need to spend more time on it. I appreciate your support!

      Reply
  2. Sheri conaway

    I completely agree that we need an online presence. But I disagree that blogging is a waste of time. It’s through my blogging regularly that I’ve written regularly and extensively. Ive been told over and over that my writing has improved as a result. Sure, it’s not novel writing (though I’m notorious for writing long posts) but it has definitely had a positive impact on my memoir writing. That being said, I already have someone with better social media skills than I lined up to kick my online presence into high gear. I can handle the content but need help with the marketing. I think it’s important to know where to invest, not only our time but our money to best support our own platform.

    Reply
    • indy

      First, thank you so much, Sheri, for taking time to share your experience. It’s much appreciated. Although the majority of writers I talk say they don’t want to blog, I personally agree with you 100%. I too have enjoyed finding my writing voice (vs. writing fiction voice) while blogging. And I’ve found a large and growing audience for my writing this way. A few years ago I even wrote a blog about it. ;0) Building a Blog Base Before Publishing I’ll be covering this topic again in the near future. It’s that important. You also make a valid point about how important it is to understand our own weaknesses and strengths and asking for help where we need it. Marketing for ourselves is at times difficult and time-consuming. Any time we can save more time for writing – all the better! Write on!

      Reply
  3. Judy Reeves

    Hi Indy,
    I heard how fabulous your workshop was and how practical and informative. Of course, I’m with the writers who say…. “do I have to?” But I’m also a writer who has gained so much information and made so many connections and even friends/colleagues via online Social Media.

    Thanks for all this. Keep telling us. We need to hear it!

    Reply
    • indy

      Thank you for your kind words, Judy. You are an inspiration to me — always. And your comment encourages me to keep up the good fight of trying to help writers help themselves.
      Hugs to you, dear friend!

      Reply
  4. Ariel Morales

    I agree with you that in today’s field of writing, one must be updated. However, at 82 years of age, I don’t have that much time, having just completed my historical/biographical 19th European novel, am going to pursue the fun search for agent/publisher, or publish it myself and put it with the infinity numbers of Amazon where it will get lost. No matter all the above, I do it because I love the process of creativity. When my stories are done, I have few readers in magazines and contacts of contacts, but one has to love the process of writing more than anything else.

    Reply
    • indy

      I love it that you are writing and being creative–no matter your age. We should never give up on our dreams and you are proof of that! And yes, I agree with you that the main point of writing should be because we have to write. Thank you for sharing your experience here, Ariel.
      P.S. – I apologize that your comment did not show up sooner, but for some odd reason it went into the spam folder. I’m so glad I discovered it!

      Reply

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