How to build your online author profile: A guest blog by Tahlia Newland

Today I have a guest blog by emerging writer, Tahlia Newland. Tahlia gives tips on how to build traffic and interest in your new novel, even before you’re published.

How to build your online profile
by Tahlia Newland

I’m a new author waiting for my young adult fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance to be published. A friend who publishes non-fiction told me it was important to build an online profile, so I did.

When I started, I knew nothing about building an online profile. So I researched to see what authors should be doing and how. This post is designed to create a short cut for you by summarising what I’ve learned.

So how do you create an online profile?

  • Create a blog that records the number of visitors (WordPress.com  does.) If you already have a blog without stats recording, Google Analytics and Site Meter are free services that can do it for you.
  • Make pages with easy-to-find information about the novel: blurbs, reviews, info about you, a sample first chapter (or partial chapter) and so on. I think the sample is important, because it’s harder for people to get excited about something they can’t taste.
  • Make regular, well-written blog posts — at least two a week. Try to make them no longer than 800 words. Your posts should be about your book and anything related to it. Don’t get off-topic, and use your own voice.
  • Create a fan page for your novel on FaceBook and add a button on your blog to direct people to it. Search in the help part of FaceBook to find out how to do this – it’s just a matter of finding the instructions and following them. You need time to set it up and an ‘can-do’ attitude.
  • Twitter is another option. If you’re into it, go for it. Personally, I haven’t gone there yet.
  • Visit other people’s blogs and make comments, find like-minded souls, subscribe to your favourite blogs, support them and  become part of a community.

Now you have to get people to visit your blog. You also need to get a significant number of fans on FaceBook. It’s time-consuming, but you have to reach out to the rest of the world. Here’s how:

  • Ask your friends and family for their support.
  • List your blog on the blog listings. Make sure that your description of your blog sounds interesting. I’m on the free ones: Blogcatalog, Bloggernity, Networked blogs, blogarama, blogflux, blogsites, Toplist, Bloggapedia, Bloggexplosion, Bloggernity. Remind your readers to go there and rate your blog.
  • List your blog with Google  Add your URL to Google to maximise your rank in Google’s search results, make your posts’ headlines and tags clear and on topic.
  • Visit the blogs of people whose interests are the same as yours. Post comments using one of the options that links your name to your blog URL. Make your comments relevant to the posts, but when you can, let the readers know what you write and that they can read a sample. In other words encourage them to visit – gently.
  • At sites where you can’t make a comment, but you think the owner would be interested — find their contact and send them an email.
  • After participating in your favorite writers’ blogs for a while, ask if you could share a guest blog. That means that you post on their site and they on yours. It increases traffic to both your sites.
  • Post links on your site to other sites that you like. Let the blog owner know what you’ve done. They’ll probably reciprocate.
  • Remind your readers to click the ‘like’ button at the bottom of your posts ( if you have one).
  • Remind your readers that if they like a post, they should and add it to sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, or Reddit.
  • Add your URL to your business cards, tell people about it etc.
  • Ask your readers to help spread the word.
  • Remember that if you support others, they will support you.

Now watch the stats page on your blog and see the hit counter rise.

If this all seems technically daunting, relax. You can google anything and find out what you need to know. For example, ‘How do I put a FaceBook button on my blog?’

All this takes time.  When I don’t post or visit other’s sites, the stats go down. It’s as simple as that. If we want people to know about our work, we have to get out there and tell them.

Weblinks

Click here for Tahlia Newland’s Lethal Inheritance blog.

Some of the following sites are self-explanatory and straightforward to use. You can also find out more about them on Wikipedia.

Google Analytics

Site Meter

Digg

StumbleUpon

Reddit

Blogcatalog

Bloggernity

Bloggapedia

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How do you promote your work? Part 2 of an interview with rhyming poet, Jackie Hosking

Today, I talk to poet Jackie Hosking about the ways she promotes herself and her work.

Poet, Jackie Hosking

Rhyming poet & Pass It On editor, Jackie Hosking

Jackie, do you have an agent?

No I don’t have an agent but then again I haven’t really looked for one. I actually enjoy the submission process, though I imagine that an agent would be extremely useful if you found yourself strapped for time. As I tend to write short and sweet, my time is not as scarce as it might be for others.

Have you spoken on radio?

Yes I have – I did an interview with Elaine Harris (ABC Tasmania) a few years ago and a local Melbourne radio station.

Have you performed your poetry in public?

I’ve done a few public readings of my poetry and as far as I’m aware, they went pretty well. I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Have you spoken to school groups?

I have spoken at small local primary schools, usually because I’ve been invited – I don’t tend to seek out this type of work but am happy to do it if asked. My talks so far have been about the art of rhyme and rhythm where we use a rhyming dictionary. I’ve also taught children how to write limericks.

My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

Do you market yourself to teachers, librarians or any other groups?

This is my next big challenge. I’ve not taken this road yet I think because my internal editor is being too strict. I’ve started to look at designing some workshops but the perfectionist in me is being very restrictive. I need to put it in a box and leave it outside for a while.

Tell me about your online strategy. How did you decide what components to use?

I used to have a website though GeoCities but they closed down this year so now I use a WordPress blog. For me it’s all about networking, getting your name out there and connecting with like minded people. I think of the ones you’ve mentioned above, I use Facebook the most. I only really tweet once a week to let people know that I’m editing the next issue of PIO. Facebook is a bit more casual and very friendly. It is full of useful information and allows you to befriend people in the industry that you may not be able to otherwise. Like all online sites though you have to be careful what you choose to share – once you’ve hit the send button it’s out there for a long time.

These things can also be big time thieves if you’re not disciplined – I like to have them buzzing in the background as I work because being a writer can be a very lonely profession and they remind you that you’re not the only one staring at a computer screen.

I use the internet to promote the newsletter, to ask for news, to find things of interest, to search for artists to profile, to research – the list goes on and on.

Do you target different audiences with each of the online channels?

No not really. The children’s writing/illustrating industry is mostly where I spend my time and my blogs reflect this. The wordpress blog gives information about PASS IT ON, my writing and my rhyming manuscript editing service. The versatility blog gives examples of my poetry and the CBI blog showcases children’s illustrators. Facebook covers everyone, while Linkedin acts as more of an online CV.

What method have you found to be most effective in promoting yourself as a writer?

Well I guess having a list of publications is helpful – I have a page on my blog that shows where I have been published and the type of writing that I write for both children and adults. When I get an acceptance I like to share it with my colleagues – it’s always nice to have your work validated. And like I said earlier, if I’m asked to give a talk or something similar, I usually do.

I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write?

I think most writers are full time, in that they are constantly thinking of things to write about. My days however are pretty unstructured except when I’m editing the newsletter. Entering competitions is a good way to keep me writing or editing things I have already written. I definitely have a one track mind – if I have to do the accounts for hubby’s business then I can’t work on my writing. I’m very black and white – all or nothing.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as a writer?

I am a rhyming poet. My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Knowledge is power. This advice will save you lots of time and money. Be sure that you send your work to the right people. Be informed.

Thank you, Jackie!

Bio

Jackie has been writing for children for about 5 years. She likes to write in rhyme and runs a manuscript editing service where she helps others to  write in rhyme. She is also the editor/publisher of PASS IT ON, a networking newsletter for anyone interested or involved with the children’s writing/illustrating industry. PASS IT ON has been in circulation for over 6 years.

Links

For information about Pass It On and Jackie’s Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service, click here.

VersaTility – Rhyme & Rhythm: Jackie’s blog about poetry for children (including samples of Jackie’s work).

Children’s Book Illustrators – A Showcase. This blog showcases the work of children’s illustrators who have appeared in Pass It On.

This weekend, I’ll be posting a list of resources for beginning writers. The list was compiled by Jackie with the assistance of Pass It On subscribers.