As someone who entered the publishing industry when MySpace was still a thing, it’s hard for be to believe where we’ve landed with social media. The sad truth about the publishing industry is that talent alone no longer matters. If talent is not paired with some kind of metric proving that people already resonate with your message, I'll be honest, you could be introuble.
I cannot tell you how many sales meetings I’ve sat in on where the sales team has talked one another (and publishers) out of green-lighting a fantastic author with a ton of potential based simply on the fact that this or her social following wasn’t there. Furthermore, I’ve seen potential authors with millions of followers be rejected because their social following was not engaged. What these sales folks are looking for is a combination of numbers and engagement, which indicates a good chance at sales conversion.
So what’s a hopeful author to do?
I advise my clients to first come up with a plan to begin increasing their follower numbers on relevant social outlets. And relevance is key. Find out where your readers are and focus energy there.
In addition to the plan to increase followers, I encourage them to come up with a plan to engage with these followers by posting work from other authors in their space via snip.ly (which allows you to add a CTA at the bottom of the article driving traffic to your own site), to blog once a week, giving you original content to post, and to engage in rich, meaningful dialogue with followers.
Increasing social following is tough, which is why I always suggest that clients who can afford it engage with a service or individual who can implement growth tactics on your behalf. If that is not possible, just remember these key things:
- Create an author page and invite your personal friends to like the page.
- Use original content to populate your feed.
- On days when you don't have anything original to post, use Snip.ly to curate articles by others that your audience will enjoy, and add a custom CTA to the bottom.
- Plan to boost each post, particularly those about your blogs for $10-$25; if you do not do this, even those who “like” your page will not see it.
- Plan a combination of advertisements to draw “likes” to your page and to drive traffic to your website.
- Lookout for my next post on how to effectively grow your email list as you increase traffic to your site.
The bottom line is that in the publishing world’s current climate, one hard fact remains. The exact same thing you need to do to become a desirable acquisition target is what you’d need to do to sell books on your own. Ultimately, the choice is yours. However, I wonder, if you’re already working your butt off to build a following and a list of warm leads, why hand that off to a major corporation who will just take a (huge) cut?
Remember: marketing guru and author, Seth Godin, went independent with his publishing process years ago. Think critically about what this decision means for the industry as a whole.
- Decide, based on your ideal reader, what platforms need your attention (for example, if your readers are motivated by art, you’d want to focus on Instagram and Pinterest).
- Consider hiring a firm or an individual with a proven track record to facilitate social growth (pro tip: ask for a portfolio and proof of growth achieved for other clients. Bonus points if he or she has experience in your space, but it’s not required.
- Strive to post great content and to facilitate meaningful dialogue.
- If you plan to go mainstream to publish, remember, in your proposal, seeing a time and/or financial investment in growth can be just as valuable as seeing large numbers themselves.