by Karen Dodd
From the perspective of a newly published indie author (the glow hasn’t quite worn off yet but I’m expecting to see it on my pillow, scowling back at me, sometime soon) I want to share with you the single most important activity to engage in before you publish your book. Okay, I should say the most important activity besides writing a great book.
Is it having beautiful graphics designed for your website and social media presence? No. Is it having fabulously flashy business cards or bookmarks? No. It’s in engaging with others long before your book goes live.
Seriously, just over a year ago I had nothing to sell, promote, or market. For the first time in my adult life.
I’ll admit it felt a little weird but strangely, it was also kind of Zen-like. So, as I was writing my first suspense/thriller, I thought, what could I do early in the morning before I start writing or last thing at night when I’m brain-dead? I know! I’ll look for people with whom I resonate and I’ll just help and promote them on Facebook and Twitter. Those two platforms were all I felt I could manage at the time.
And that’s what I did. Over the course of a year I made incredible new friends in all corners of the globe, I helped a lot of people without expecting anything in return, and I inadvertently garnered a following of several thousand people. Curiously, without an agenda or those pesky little marketing deadlines, I’d accomplished more than I ever did when I set out to market and promote myself. And I did it my way.
You might be asking, “Did you have a plan, or were you just out there speed-dating?” Yes, I had a plan. Kind of. I searched for other writers who I believed in and felt authentic in promoting. I looked for readers, primarily who read the genre in which I was writing, but not always. If someone looked and sounded interesting, and they supported others and posted helpful information, I would engage with them.
Now, here’s where it got fun. My best beta-readers came from that group, and later, others came from Goodreads. I was referred to great cover designers, formatters and editors, (hello, Rich Meyer and Laurie Boris) and many other fabulous professionals who I never would have known.
Then came the day of reckoning; I was finally ready to publish DEADLY SWITCH: A Stone Suspense. Suddenly, I had all these amazing people who I had supported and encouraged, helping little me. Do you think I had to ask them to share the links to my book? Not a one. They all did it out of the goodness of their hearts. To me, that is social networking in the truest sense of the word.
Here’s what stymies me. When I speak to writers about doing what I’ve described, while they’re writing their WIP, invariably they say, “But I don’t have anything to offer or talk about on social media.”
Yes, you do! You have the unique perspective and experience that makes you the writer that you are. You have everything within you that you’re putting into that “book baby” you are about to birth.
Let me leave with you with this question. If you had just pulled a yummy batch of double chocolate brownies out of the oven and the delicious aroma alerted everyone in the house, would you then take them into a corner and scarf them down all by yourself? Okay, I know it’s tempting and there are days when I would too. But, no — you’d share them and probably take great delight in knowing that what you made with your own two hands was providing others with such joy.
So, next time you groan and think about having to market yourself, as well as write your great masterpiece — just think about sharing your brownies!
[Note: for more on setting up author platforms prior to publication, check out this article.]
Karen Dodd combines three decades of marketing experience with her passion for writing. She has spoken, taught, and written hundreds of articles focused on helping emerging and as-yet-unpublished authors to create their platform while writing their books. Karen’s first suspense thriller, DEADLY SWITCH: A Stone Suspense, was published November, 2013. She is currently writing the sequel, which is due out in June, 2014. Learn more about Karen on her website and her Author Central page.