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Tips to Start a Newbie Author Platform

Building an author platform requires a multifaceted approach: social media, an author website, blogging, mailing lists and an author newsletter—and that’s just for starters. When you see how much work is required for each of these areas, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the time and effort required to learn and master these platforms. I’m no Twitter expert—just a regular writer like you guys, who figured out how to eke out my little niche in the vast Twitterverse.

Breakdown of my Twitter Tips for Newbies Blog Series

  • Maximise engagement

  • Direct Message (DM) etiquette

  • Managing notifications

  • Identifying bots

  • Building a following

Handy tip: I block bots. Many folks don’t because it takes time and effort. But I had a nasty experience with a scammer behind a bot account who tracked me down on Skype, trying to call me. He then tagged me on Twitter to complain I wasn’t answering his calls. It was a very unpleasant experience. Since deciding to block bots, I haven’t had one single creepy DM.

  • What is a pinned tweet

  • Following pitfalls

  • Engagement ideas

  • Reasons you may find yourself unfollowed

  • Soft blocking vs Hard blocking

  • My own rookie mistakes

Handy tip: Make sure your pinned tweet is something worthwhile, like your book, or blog, or sign-up to your newsletter. It’s the first post your followers see when they look at your feed. It’s also the post they’re most likely to retweet—so make it count.

  • Bookmarking tweets

  • Tagging others

  • How do I get Twitter to ‘see’ me?

  • Misusing ‘Retweet with comment’

  • Common #WritingCommunity Acronyms

Handy tip: Twitter’s algorithms are unpredictable. You can give them a nudge to catch hold of your post by retweeting it at different times in the day. Your tweet will hit different audiences in different time zones and the more activity the tweet gets, the more likely Twitter’s algorithms are to push your post onto folks’ feeds.

  • Why you should capitalise each word in hashtags

  • Use hashtags appropriately

  • Twitter analytics explained with regards to ‘Retweet’ vs ‘Retweet with comment’

  • Cyberbullying including flaming, critical tweets and sub-tweets

  • How to handle being cyberbullied

  • What Twitter’s #WritingCommunity has to say about cyberbullying

Handy tip: A general rule of thumb for online etiquette is basic manners. We all appreciate a simple please and thank you in real life, and it’s no different online.

  • Choose who you see content from

  • Mute selected words from your feed

  • Stop unwanted DMs

  • Customise your Twitter handle and name (so you don’t look like a bot)

  • Use Twitter lists to organise your followers

Handy tip: Tightening your settings can reduce the noise and activity in your notifications and on your feed, but keep in mind that you may miss comments from people if you rely solely on your notifications. To see all the comments, click onto your post and manually scroll through the comments.

A question I see a lot: It’s all very well building an author platform, but will I be able to sell more books using social media?

Jane Friedman explains this best in her book, The Business of Being a Writer. She gives this example of how having wider connectivity with her audience funnels sales:

Attention: A writer searches online for how to get a book published and finds my blog on the topic. Interest: The writer reads the post and perhaps a few related posts at my site. Decision: The writer sees my book referenced and decides he should read it. Action: The writer makes a purchase on Amazon. This is for non-fiction, but there’s no reason the same theory can’t work for fiction: Attention: A person sees you recommended by others on Twitter and decides to follow you. Interest: The person likes your Twitter feed because you’re engaging. Decision: The person sees your post about your author newsletter and decides they’d like to subscribe to find out about your book release. Action: The person will receive your direct email about your book release, or pre-release or advanced reader copies, and put their hand up to buy it or review it. Having a presence on social media will not necessarily sell more books but it will increase your audience and networking opportunities.

But What’s the Point?

In my guest post for Jane Friedman, I highlighted the benefits I found about How and Why to Have to Have a Twitter Following While Unpublished.

Additional networking opportunities I’ve experienced since writing that guest post includes:

  • connecting to a local author who I met in person, sought direct advice from, and asked to guest blog for me

  • exposing me to publishing opportunities like PitMad and other pitch fests, and giving me a taste of how much interest my historical fiction novel is potentially generating

  • giving me a closer insight into different agents and how they respond to others on social media—just as agents watch us authors. It’s hugely beneficial to see how agents act on social media to decide if they’re a good fit to represent me and my work.

Build Your Author Brand

While you’re at it, keep in mind that you should be building an author platform to build your author brand, and not one specific book—as explained by literary agent, Eric Smith in this tweet.

For more info on author branding, this easy-to-follow guide, The 10 Commandments of Author Branding, by Shayla Raquel is a great place to start.

Before You Go

I aim to keep a blog packed full of helpful information for writers, especially newbies.

Here are some of handy posts, including guest articles:


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