Marketing Yourself First

Say you’ve written a book or two, maybe even three. That’s it, right? Get it into the hands of an agent or publisher and you’re home free.

Wrong.

With the heavy rise in social media over the course of the last few years, people in the publishing industry are often looking for different ways to get necessary information and announcements to the public. While Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are quick ways to get short announcements out, they are also heavily trafficked sites—it has become much harder to find content on those sites unless you are specifically looking for it. But if social media isn’t the answer to your marketing dreams, then what is?

At this point, it may seem like an age-old concept, but it’s one that will never retire: create your own website. An author website is a good step for any writer because it presents a space entirely about YOU. There is no fighting for attention or worrying about your followers missing an important post because you have the ability to control the content people see. Your posts won’t get lost in the sea of people shouting their announcements across the internet.

But how do you make a website, you ask? Although it’s tempting to opt for a design-heavy site, it is possible to gain traction and a following from a simple template. Dongwon Song, literary agent at Howard Morhaim Literary, posted on Twitter about what authors must include on their site. He said, “If you’re a writer you need to have a website. Here’s what goes on it: your name, your beautiful face, a list of books you done wroted, a bio (shorter is better), an email contact form, newsletter signup. THAT’S IT.”

While it’s tempting to place a lot of extra information on a website—you’re excited and the site is shiny and new and you have so many ideas—it is important to keep in mind how you want to brand yourself for your career. Starting out with the basics allows people to get to know you and gives you free reign for your brand when you feel more established in your career.

Keep in mind: page rank doesn’t matter. With the standard Google algorithms, you’d have to pay a good chunk of cash to show up as the top result regardless. However, if you make your site clear, concise, and accessible to the general public, especially when it comes to where they can find information about you, they are more likely to engage with your social media content and (eventually) buy your books upon release.

Instead of thinking of your website like an all-expenses paid luxury vacation spot, think of your site as the coffee shop on the corner with the always-reliable vanilla latte. Before you expel a bunch of effort into your website’s aesthetic, understand the basic concepts and how they can further your professional career goals.

In the words of Dongwon Song, “Think of your site as a digital business card.”

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