As the submission coordinator, I find numerous queries each week that state they have no social media, no website, or online presence whatsoever. This may be fine on a day-to-day basis, but it’s extremely important to have some sort of online following when searching for an agent or other publishing partnership. I do not think some people realize the impact an online presence can have for a debut author, so I listed a few of the benefits below.
A great part of being online is the social interaction, which will also boost an author’s readership. What is one of the best feelings in today’s social media-driven world? Being noticed by a celebrity or, more specifically, a person’s favorite author. People react positively to authors that take time out of their day to interact with their fanbase. Talking to readers is a great opportunity to learn of their expectations or receive constructive criticism, which can be especially helpful for debut authors or those who are in the market for unbiased beta readers. It’s also just fun to have conversations and joke around with those who want to get to know their favorite author a little more. Not only will it attract new readers, but it will also create a loyal fanbase that will buy your books.
Additionally, social media is a great networking source. Twitter and Facebook can be essential tools for finding other authors that have similar writing styles or genres, or finding editors and agents that are interested in a specific topic or genre. Joining online writers groups, especially for writers who are not located in a big city, can be a good way of finding respectable beta readers who may have a fresh perspective on the same idea. Editors and agents also use social media to participate in online pitch parties or request submissions for genres and topics they are interested in at that moment. While an agent may not mention “craft beer” in their topic interests list on their website, they may mention it later on on their social media if they find a sudden longing for craft beer content after dinner. The networking opportunities are worth creating social media, even if only for work.
Possibly the most important benefit to an online presence and social media is the marketing aspect. Especially for debut authors, it can be hard to find an audience that hasn’t been exposed to their writing. An online audience has the potential to translate into future sales. Therefore, it’s important for authors to make a website or blog that includes a newsletter. The blog doesn’t have to necessarily connect directly to their book, but it has to be interesting enough to gain a following and for the following to take action. For example, an author writes a book full of symbolism focused on quilts, but writes a blog about sewing or fabrics. Their following is interested in sewing and is therefore more likely to read a story about quilts. Typically, authors have a website with some sort of newsletter to update their audience about events in their life, which is the perfect opportunity to plug their book or include an excerpt to get their audience interested. Social media can also be a great tool for marketing, as it’s easier to spread information through retweets and sharing with friends. Friends of friends will be exposed and share to their friends, etcetera.
As you can see, authors can easily use their online presence to their advantage. Even if they choose not to use social media to connect with friends or family, they should still consider researching how to create new websites and social media accounts to reach out to other authors or potential business partners. Social media is the first step to an author’s platform that can be used as a sort of resume for writers when looking for editors or literary agents. As an author gains a larger following, they also make a bigger imprint on the publishing world and on their fanbase.
Sabrina is a submissions coordinator at Holloway Literary. Follow her @SlbBerndt.