Today I'm pleased to welcome Jonathan Auxier for Day Three of his After the Book Deal blog tour! Jonathan is the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, and The Night Gardener, which I'll be reviewing closer to its May 20th release date.
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL - Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier
The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!
DAY THREE - I Hate Networking
Yesterday we discussed how to craft your online identity, and today I want to look a little more closely at how to navigate the world of social networking. There is no shortage of advice about online marketing, so I won’t waste time trying to convince you that it’s important. Instead I’ll just list a few things I have observed that might be helpful.
TWITTER – The first thing you should do is read author Nathan Bransford’s excellent post on how to use Twitter. Twitter is an invaluable tool for connecting with strangers. It was through Twitter that I discovered my favorite bloggers. It was through Twitter that I met authors, booksellers, teachers, and librarians who shared similar interests—in short, it helped me find my tribe. Case in point: when I was registering for my first ALA conference, someone shouted my name from across the room. It was an author I knew from Twitter who introduced me to a whole group of other authors, who ended up becoming friends (more on that in Week Two).
FACEBOOK – Now that I’m a bit more established, I have found that Facebook has become a more valuable tool than Twitter—it’s a way to maintain and deepen the connections that I made through Twitter. Think of Facebook as “phase two” of your social networking plan. The easiest way to do this is by accepting friends on your private Facebook account. I would recommend that you NOT make a separate “author page.” Managing two different pages can be a hassle—plus with new changes to Facebook, author pages no longer reach a wide audience (unless you pay an advertising fee!). If you worry that your current Facebook profile might turn off potential readers, then this is a good time to examine the sorts of things you’re posting. While it’s fun to vent about politics or a neighbor you hate, you should probably save such things for real-life interactions. Keep Facebook friendly, but professional.
GOODREADS – Goodreads is a unique tool insofar as it is designed specifically for the publishing world. Before Peter Nimble came out, I reached out to a group of family and friends who had read my book and asked them to review it on Goodreads—many of them obliged, which resulted in my book having a strong star rating right out of the gates. That was nice, but along with those strong reviews, I got a few zero-star reviews from total strangers who had not read the book. Why did they decide to give me zero stars? I don’t know. All I know is that it drove me crazy. I learned when talking to other authors that my experience was pretty much universal. Every new writer spends a dark week where they obsess over star ratings ... ratings over which they have no control. So here’s my advice on Goodreads. Don’t do it. Stay away. It will make you crazy. Beyond rallying a few troops to give you reviews, it’s not worth your time. Goodreads is designed for readers, not writers.
YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE – A few years ago, author blogs were a fairly important part of online marketing. Things have changed in recent years, and author blogs are no longer essential. (Some of this might be the death of the Google’s Reader, which results in fewer blogs being read overall). When I was preparing to launch my first book, I spent a LOT of energy in crafting a thoughtful, well designed website. I was posting four times a week, which may not seem like much, but I am a SLOW writer, which meant I was spending 25+ hours per week maintaining a website. While I won some early fans and am proud of the work, the time commitment was exhausting and unsustainable.
These days, author websites seem to serve two basic functions. First, they provide a place for readers to visit and learn more about you (and about your other books!). Second, they provide a way for schools/libraries/bookstores to screen authors before booking them for events. (I know this because when people contact me for an event, they always mention that my website sealed the deal for them.) So, by all means, make an author website that is professional and reflects your platform—but don’t feel pressure to update it more than once a week. That time is better spent elsewhere—mainly in starting your next manuscript (more on that in Week Three).
That’s it for day three of AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! I should mention that you should follow me on Twitter and be my friend on Facebook, and visit my awesome website. Tomorrow I’ll be at The Lost Entwife discussing the pros and cons of book trailers!