We all make mistakes with our published books, right? And we learn from them – well most of the time.
Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com frequently tells me that when he talks to new authors about what they should do once they publish a book, he usually tells them something to the effect of, “You should have prepared for your first book two years ago.”
Ouch. But he’s right, of course.
When I published my first book in 2013, I’d had a website and two blogs for two years. And I’d been using social media for two years. Sounds good, right?
5 Things I Completely Blew When I Published My First Book
While it appears that I prepared for my launch, like many authors I was focused on writing my book. Here’s a summary of five things I did wrong.
- The domain for my website was ACT Communications. Not a very enticing business name for writers, now was it?
- Although I’d been blogging for two years, one blog was for businesses. The second blog started out as a blog catering to nonprofits. I didn’t switch the theme of the second blog to writers until I published my book. So again, I wasn’t doing much to build my platform or prepare my audience, authors.
- The username on my Twitter account was ACT Communications. Worse, I was tweeting about social media for nonprofits and small businesses, and I wasn’t following many people, so my account was stagnant. My story gets worse. I was using a verification app that required anyone who followed me to use and be verified by the app, TrueTwit.com. If you’re using this type app, your Twitter account is basically frozen and will never grow. Therefore, your platform will stagnate.
- I followed the advice of a search engine expert and created a Facebook page for my book instead of an author page. His theory was that writers should have a Facebook page for each book they write. Now I know better. If I’d created a new Facebook page for every book I’ve written my audience would be divided, and I doubt that someone who liked my first Facebook page would like subsequent pages. Why would they? Several years ago, when Facebook first allowed pages to change their names, I switched my Facebook page to an author page, and I’m much happier. Now people can find my page by searching for my name instead of the title of my book.
- I signed up for the Kindle Select Program on Amazon and made my book available for free several days. But guess what? I failed to add my free book to a myriad of lists that exist to publicize free books. Relying only on my social media, I had 800 downloads but think of the thousands of downloads I could have had if I’d signed up for a variety of services that publicize free books.
What I Do Differently Now
In my case, I did learn from my mistakes. Here are five things I do differently.
- I ditched the website ACT Communications and started SocialMediaJustforWriters.com.
- I focused my efforts on writers, especially indie authors.
- I sought speaking gigs, teaching social media to authors. So far I’ve taught through Stanford’s and UC Berkeley’s Extended Education program, I led a workshop at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference and the Redwood Writers Conference (twice), and I’m a regular presenter at the San Francisco Writers Conference. I’ve also spoken to a variety of other author organizations and at bookstores.
- I seek guest blogging opportunities. I’m a contributing writer for TheBookDesigner.com, was until recently a blogger and the social media expert at BookWorks, and I’ve written for a variety of other blogs, including Joanna Penn’s, Jane Friedman’s, Nina Amir’s, and Susanne Lakin’s.
- I expanded my brand on social media. I switched my username on Twitter from ACT Communications to Frances Caballo. Plus, I got rid of the TrueTwit application and started following 100 people a day. As I mentioned earlier, I corrected my error on my Facebook page. On LinkedIn, I always mention my newest books in my headline now, and I’ve expanded my brand further by joining Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. (Note: I don’t recommend that all authors use this many social media networks.)
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