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Writers Tip #48: Have a Web Presence

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Writers must have a web presence.

A web presence is your reach beyond the realtime world into cybersphere. Why is a web presence so important for today’s writers? Here are three reasons:

  • If you have a contract with a publisher, s/he is too busy marketing books for popular, well-known authors to worry about you. That means sales and marketing is up to you. The worst situation I can imagine is after you give away the rights to your baby (maybe you sold them–no matter the price, it doesn’t compensate for the hours or years of labor that went into writing your book), the guy who bought them (the publisher) allows your story to languish–selling a couple of books a month. That’s not uncommon. The only way to fix that is you marketing your books.
  • If you’re self-published, you are the go-to guy/gal for marketing your novel. You can attend conferences, give speeches, have book signings, but another tried-and-true method that can reach exponentially more potential buyers is the internet. More on that later.
  • If you’re in between–sending queries out seeking an agent, trying to attract the attention of the person who will love your writing as you do–what better way than for them to see how well you write and how many people follow you. Today’s agents want to see your web presence as a precursor to giving you a chance. It helps them decide how serious you are as a writer.

There are many ways to make your presence known on the internet:

  • A blog showcases your writing skills and allows you to interact with readers and potential readers. It gets them excited about your writing so they spread the word and you go viral (I’m still waiting on that step).
  • A website on your book (or a page on your publisher’s website) tells readers everything you want them to know about your book, including the location of your blog, twitter account, Facebook. The downside is it’s static. Readers can’t  ask questions and you can’t respond to a trend or personalize it to the uniqueness of individual readers.
  • A Twitter account gets you out there in real time, chatting with readers as well as other writers, spreading your good word in a personal, down-to-earth way that appeals to many. Each tweet is a quick insight to your readers, having a mandatory limit of 140 characters.
  • A Facebook account is similar, but has more depth. You can post pictures, blogs, other reader comments.

There are a few books to help you through the steps required to get live on the internet:

In my case, here’s what I do on the web:

  • I host several blogs, WordDreams on writing and one on my field of interest and a few more
  • I contribute weekly columns to several ezines, online newspapers, blogs, to reach people my blogs don’t
  • I have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account (a discussion for a later post) and a few more aggregators and social media personalized to my interests
  • I have seven marketing outlets for my books, most with their own ‘about the author’ page
  • I have a Goodreads account, highlighting my writing expertise

I’ve gone on a bit too long, but I want to motivate you to set up a web presence. Now get going!

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog,Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is  editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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9 thoughts on “Writers Tip #48: Have a Web Presence

  1. I’m wrestling with this stuff all over again. Reading, reading, experimenting, reading… I’ve come to realize it’s not as simple as just having a website or a blog. It gets into your brand and product. For a novelist, for example, the author is likely the brand and the genre might dictate the feel of the website. But a non-fiction author, on the other hand, is marketing the product and the information dictates the feel of the site. I’m having the darnedest time with this issue. I also manage multiple blogs, each with pretty distinct, niche audiences (writers, families affected by Cerebral Palsy, folks interested in theological perspectives on social issues, and I’m considering one for student athletes). Using my website – http://www.ryansprague.com – as my landing site isn’t ideal because it currently hosts my social issues posts which are uninteresting at best, offensive at worst to potential readers of my book(s). So now I’m reworking my site as a traditional author site and moving those posts to a unique blog. The challenge now is to get the various audiences all aware of me as a whole person and brand, so… I’m making each of my sites look the same with identifying characteristics that allow a reader to know it’s still one of my sites, but also that’s it’s not the same as the one they might have been reading. The header is my primary tool. You can look at http://www.discoveringwriting.wordpress.com and http://www.nobodysnormal.wordpress.com to see what I’m talking about. We will see how it goes :)

    • I have the same issue. I’m more of a non-fic writer than fic and my non-fic topic won’t appeal to my writer audience. Plus, one of my books is way off the chart of everything else.

      I use jacquimurray.net to collect all my disparate parts (as you do). This also hosts my freelance writing. I keep my non-fic and writer blogs (and my blog that supports another book I published on the USNA) completely separate, except for the tab at the top for ‘Published’ and ‘WIP’. I think most people don’t know about the other me’s.

      Of course, when I get requests to write reviews etc., I send those people to jacquimurray.net so they can see the breadth of my experience.

      Too complicated…

  2. Um, did you put a photo of my face on top of your computer while you wrote this article?

    I feel the sting of your pointy toes on my backside – ouch!
    Good advice. I know I know. Gotta get busy.

  3. Pingback: 2014, I Resolve… | WordDreams...

  4. Pingback: Sure, Let's Do a Twitter Project » Cities of the Mind

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