Blog-off Entry Commentary: Internet Presence

Posted: May 29, 2015 by Writer Dan in Editorial
Tags: ,

Like all of the other reviewers here at EBR, I have a day job. It’s not one that I tout all that much as it’s a fall-back job that I kind of transitioned into after not being able to find a job in my field (rocket science). I’m a web programmer. So, I kind of feel obligated to say a thing or two about this relatively important part of the self-published author’s job.

My thoughts on the topic can be boiled down to something that is pretty simple (TL;DR):

Have an internet presence.

Ask yourself a question: what’s the first thing you do when you find a new author that you like? I don’t know about you, but I don’t pass go, I don’t collect $200, I go directly to Mr. Google. In that search, I look for a website, a blog, a Facebook page – something that will give me three distinct things:

  1. A listing of more stories by the author and possibly access to them
  2. Some kind of idea that they’re an active author
  3. A timeline looking forward to their writing activities/goals/publications

There are also a couple of things that turn me off rather quickly when I find them:

  1. No internet presence at all for the author
  2. An author-oriented site that is several months, or even several years, old

As a fledgling, self-published author what is the one thing that you want to do for someone that has very recently read one of your stories and absolutely LOVED it? You want to keep them coming back. Why is that? Because they are willing to exchange their hard-earned dollars for some more of your particular brand of story magic. And even though you love crafting stories, and having others join in the goodness of those things you create, let’s face it: a guy’s gotta eat, yeah?

As a primer to putting this write-up together, I did a little research on the internet presence of the authors that we received stories for in this first round of The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off. Of the twenty seven stories we received, I was able to find twenty four of the authors on Amazon, fourteen with some kind of active website outside of Amazon, and two more that didn’t have a website but did have pretty impressive Facebook pages.

If you’ll look back at those first two numbers for a second, you’ll quickly notice that there were three self-acclaimed, self-published authors who submitted stories to the blog-off that weren’t available on Amazon. Coincidentally, or not, I also couldn’t find any kind of internet presence at all for those same three authors or the stories they submitted.

So.

I need take a moment and ask everyone to put on their big-kid panties for a few minutes while I get a little bit overbearing.

If you, as an author, cannot find it within yourself to publish your story to Amazon, easily one of the most recognized venues of ebooks on the internet today, then you have no right to call yourself a self-published author. Going one step further, you should not have submitted your story to this contest. The slot you got in this contest belonged to someone else who actually had the wherewithal to complete  this bare minimum requirement but didn’t get in because you stole it from them.

And from our perspective? We are not your freaking beta readers.

Phew. Okay, now that that’s done…

From our small sample size, sixty percent of those stories submitted had some kind of internet presence that I could find. Huzzah! Kudos to you. Keep up the good work. Even better, spread the love. What have you found that your reading public wants to see in a website? I mentioned above a few of the things I like to see. What else are your audiences clamoring for? What brings them back to you? What helps you engage with them? This kind of information is what the little guy needs.

I’d love to see this post become a permanent resource for the self-pubbed community.

And while, we’re at it, what resources do you use for building your websites? Some of the major ones I saw in the group and know about are:

  1. WordPress
  2. Wix
  3. Blogger
  4. Facebook

The best part? Those options are CHEAP. There’s basic packages for WordPress that are free or in the $10-$20 per year range if you want a custom url and are both upgradable, Wix has free options that are upgradable for when you start getting lots of traffic, Blogger and Facebook are uber-free. What else have you seen? What else do you use? In general, we’re looking for easy-to-use stuff here. Self-pubbed authors don’t have a lot of extra time to be hassling with website upkeep. If you know of other resources, chime in with a comment and I’ll update the list here.

The point is, having some kind of solid internet presence is IMPORTANT and relatively easy to implement. So, if you don’t have something going right now (I’m talking to you 40% especially), just do it. Dive in. Do something. Give frequent updates (even every week is good).

Don’t fall into the trap of spending too much time though. You’re a writer after all, right? So write. We know you know how to do that. You’re part of the elite few who have not only actually completed an entire novel, but also (for the most part) have put that novel out there with your name on it for others to read and enjoy. You deserve all the applause in the world. You’ve accomplished what so relatively few do. Just don’t stop there. If you really want this, want it bad, then take another few steps so that once your craft is honed, and you’re pumping out the story goodness, you’ll have the ability to keep the readers that come your way. Those that stumble-into, fall-across, wander-down, or succumb to the temptation of your story. You want them to stick around. And the best part is that they’re all looking for someone to stick around with. Don’t let them down. You can do this.

Have an internet presence.

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Comments
  1. D. Moonfire says:

    I’d also add that some of these sites will also let you “cross post” over to Twitter, Faceback, etc. That way, you have a way of building up the community on the various networks with the same post. Even for free sites, you can use If-This-Than-That (https://ifttt.com/) to do the cross-posting.

    WordPress is dead simple. While I don’t use it anymore, I do have my wife, writing group, and support two publishing companies on it. The categories and tags are wonderful, not to mention posting, scheduling posts, and the like. Plus, you can start with the freebie and then later move to a hosted domain if that suits you.

    One minor quirk for me. If you have a custom domain (@bob.com for example), please use an email with that domain (bob@bob.com). It always throws me when someone has an awesome site at bob.com but then has a @hotmail.com or @gmail.com address. You can usually cause it to forward to your hotmail or gmail (or whatever is out there now) but having that branding is awesome.

    Like

  2. J. Cormier says:

    Reblogged this on Evil Toad Press and commented:
    Excellent advice from Elitist Book Reviews for self-published authors: have an internet presence. Seems simple, right? Apparently it’s not for a lot of writers. #SPFBO

    Like

  3. authorshirilunanott says:

    Great post. Also something super important for us indie authors is to establish a MAILING LIST early in your publishing career (perhaps even before you hit the publish button for the first time). Mailing lists are crucial to reminding your audience that you exist and are actively putting out new material.

    Like

  4. Is googling the author the first thing you do because you’re a web-programmer and web-based publisher, rather than the first thing you do because you’re a reader, and that’s the first natural connection you’ll make?

    I wonder, because the first thing I do, when I find a new author I like is hit Mr. Library and see what else I can get for free, or failing that Amazon.com to check reviews and see what else is published. I might toddle around to looking for a web-presence eventually, but that’s usually after all the other avenues of getting my reading fix have played out (I still have never googled David Weber’s website or Lois Bujold’s)

    Which isn’t to say I haven’t found an author’s website: Sarah Hoyt, for example, or Dan Wells, as a result of doing something else on the ‘nets, found that I quite liked their writing on it, and gone to the library / amazon.com to find one of their books.

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