Web-Building: Creating an Engaging Online Presence

Author photo-2Maybe you’ve grown up in the internet age, with a tablet in every room of your house. Or maybe you suspect the “World Wide Web” your nephew keeps telling you about belongs to the same realms of fantasy as Spiderman. Either way, there’s no denying an online presence helps authors reach fans, connect with agents and editors, and ultimately, sell books.

  • Pick Your Battles. Another day, another new social media site rises from the deep. Don’t feel you have to start an account on every platform to be noticed—this will only lead to you never posting on any of them. Select the site that matches your style and level of commitment. Are you always on the go and love texting? Try Twitter. More of a snail mail enthusiast? Maybe a blog is your place to shine. Keep your audience in mind, too—a YA author is more likely to find new readers on tumblr than Facebook.
  • Practice Makes Perfect. Heed the warnings of those who have gone before you. Google “Best practices for (insert site name)” to find useful advice on when to schedule tweets for maximum audience exposure, and whether shelling out for Facebook post-boosting will really boost your bottom line. If a site is only at its best when you’re paying for it, this may help you narrow down your choices, too.
  • Be Your Happier Self. You will have to decide whether to have separate personal and professional accounts. Some writers, like Maureen Johnson, Jenny Lawson, and Chuck Wendig, have built an audience through their blended personal/professional Twitter accounts, while writers like Kelley Armstrong use Facebook strictly for novel release updates and giveaways. If you do choose to spice up your posts with some real-life magic, try to keep it humorous and upbeat. Your Fancy Author account is not the place for political vitriol or that drunken live-blog of the Grey’s Anatomy finale. (Unless that’s what your readers are clamoring for….)

There are hundreds of rules for life on the interwebz (don’t pick fights, spellcheck, don’t post anything incriminating/nude, spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck), but in the end it is simply another tool for talking to other people. So sound like yourself, however weird your self is. Act as you’d wish to be treated. And remember to turn it off every once in a while so you can get back to writing.

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Leah Merrill is a Kansas City native and author of more than six impossible things. She is the facilitator of the LGBT writers group QUILTBAG Writers, and can be found avoiding work on Twitter @la_mer92

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