Before the Book: Why You Need to Create an Online Persona
I 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:
- 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
- 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 Internet
- 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?”
Because 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!