Navigating the Network | The Art of Self Promotion (part I)

Ten years ago, self-publishing was by and large the province of wishes and dreams, and its successes were so rare that they warranted national attention.  In the early 2000s, authors like Christopher Paolini (author of the Inheritance cycle of fantasy novels) performed exhaustive regional trips to promote their books, visiting schools, libraries, and local coffee shops in a sometimes-desperate attempt to build a market base.  As the traditional publishing industry has struggled to overcome both infighting and growing competition from digital retailers––and as new avenues have opened up for authors looking to publish outside of these traditional structures––all parties have turned to a parallel revolution in hopes of finding assistance.  That revolution, you will have already guessed, is the tangle of startups, failures, and increasingly pervasive communications networks that we call, collectively, Social Media.

Fast forward to the present day, and you find yourself witness to the rise of these two new revolutionary forces––a self publishing industry with a substantial slice of the present ebook and print publishing market, and the aforementioned popular social networking platforms, typified by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on.  It would be easy to link these two forces together, and to assume that a successful presence on the one side will equate to equal success on the other, but this isn’t strictly true.  Many new authors find themselves lost in the complications of navigating this network––so how might one make it safely through the white water? 

The task of building a brand, or finding a tribe, is tricky––but not impossible.  It is important to keep five points in mind from the very beginning.  Today we’ll examine the first of these points:

1. Social networks are fantastic tools.

Tweets can outdistance sonic waves, as the Daily Mail reported in May, and Facebook has proved invaluable in linking dissidents, outmaneuvering government censors, and supporting revolutions.  Social networks combine the appeal of a grass-roots movement with enormous computing power, a vast sociopolitical reach, and instantaneous delivery.  Authors like Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking have become internet sensations (and self-publishing success stories) in part because they are so intensely engaged with their readers online.  You can use Facebook to build a fan page and coordinate events in cities across the world.  You can utilize Tumblr’s built-in question function to respond to readers’ queries about purchasing details or the more obscure details of a character’s backstory.  And with its 140-character limit and endlessly useful hashtag feature, Twitter is the ultimate paradise for spreading news and reviews.  While it might be a bit of an overstatement to say that social networks can do everything and anything, they can certainly do a great deal for the burgeoning author.

Check back every Wednesday to read more about the art of self promotion!  Next week, we’ll be looking at the analog social network––that is, what you can do to build your platform as an author even before you plug in to Facebook and Twitter.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

4 thoughts on “Navigating the Network | The Art of Self Promotion (part I)

  1. All true but here I find is the dilemma for me – Time. I have two blog sites one promoting me and my adult novels/short stories the other is a joint venture promoting an illustrated book we are working on, and they alone take an hour or two out of my day. So for me Twitter is a haven, I can post or pre post a number of tweets and continue on with what I love doing – writing.
    I wonder how other people rate each social media site?

    1. Maria, your point is definitely a valid one––in large part, evaluating which social networks are effective is going to be an individualized process. I, too, find it easy to overextend myself with well-intended efforts at promotion, only to burn out when I’m juggling too many. If you find that Twitter is a haven, then I think that’s a key sign that you should structure your other social platforms *around* Twitter rather than creating a plethor of separate, individually-maintained sites. A lot of blog sites will allow you to host a Twitter feed on your home page, and I know you can integrate Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr into your Twitter feed fairly easily. If you choose to do so, then it doesn’t matter so much if you only update these other pages infrequently––the updates will show up in the same location that your followers are used to finding you, and there’s less pressure to add new material to each individual site. (While still allowing you to explore them, or play with them.) But I absolutely, 100% recommend using the platforms you’re most comfortable with … and finding ways to optimize your use of those sites only. I have a lot of thoughts on Twitter … hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll be able to dig deeper into the individual strengths of each social media platform!

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