Growing A Web Presence

Much is made over developing “a platform” these days. By “platform,” marketers mean a body of people who are interested enough in an author’s work to run out and buy the book on the day of release, thus securing a good launch and a likelihood that more books will be forthcoming from that author.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

But how does an author accomplish this? The standard answer is to “brand” ourselves and have a vibrant “web presence.” This used to mean a website, but now it’s expanded to include blogging and social media. However, since an author’s main job is to make things up and craft engaging stories, I have to wonder how much time on the web is too much.

And how does the reading public perceive the way authors reach out to them on the internet? Do we come across as needy? (“Friend me!” “Like me!” “Read my blog!”) Or are we simply making ourselves available to readers who are interested in the type of books we write and want more background info? Are we offering help to other writers in our reaching out or are we so self-focused people will stay away in droves?

Another marketing catch-phrase is “point of difference.” If we do what everyone else is doing, how do we stand out? No one seems to know what causes a website, blog or book trailer to “go viral,” but when they do, it’s like marketing magic.

Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my wand.

So I fall back on the one thing I can control: my writing. I have to believe if I write an engaging tale that moves a reader, they’ll tell their friends about it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not open to suggestions on how to develop a more effective “web presence.” I have a placeholder website now. It’s functional, as far as I can tell, but I’ve engaged WaxCreative to design a beautiful one for me. We’re still in the preliminary stages, so if you have suggestions about what you like to see on an author’s website, I’m all ears.

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

So, I’m working on the web presence. I’m doing less well on the “branding” part. My books are a commodity, but I am not. I’m a person who writes, not a brand. When I’m online, I want readers to realize there’s a person on the other end of all the ones and zeroes, not a box of cornflakes. One of the the things I truly love about blogging is that unlike my books, this is a chance for a two sided conversation.

I know there are some savvy marketers out there. I welcome your suggestions. And I’d also love to hear what readers think about how authors come across online.

Ok, it’s your turn to talk. ;-)

12 thoughts on “Growing A Web Presence

  1. MiaMarlowe says:

    Thanks, Nynke. The best thing about cyber-stylettos is that they always fit!

  2. Nynke says:

    Cyber-stylettos, I love that! It sounds like a blend of great shoes and razor-sharp wit, delivered in style. That#39;s quite something to live up to, though. I can promise to wear my regular stilettos while posting sometimes, provided the weather is good ;).

  3. MiaMarlowe says:

    Penelope–Well, as long as I don#39;t open with quot;Quando m#39;en voquot; whenever I give a writing workshop, I guess it would be ok. I#39;d just hate to give off a snooty or pretentious vibe.

  4. Penelope says:

    Mia…YES! I really, really think people would be interested in your past life as an opera singer…it totally ties in with the historical part of your writing career. It is interesting and unique. And it#39;s a great way to brand yourself…the opera singer/historical romance author. No one else has that angle but you!br /br /Good luck with everything…br /Penny

  5. MiaMarlowe says:

    Nynke–Stop, I#39;m blushing! Seriously, thank you. And I am planning another whirlwind tour through cyber-space leading up to the release of TOUCH OF A THIEF next May. Strap on your cyber-stylettos next April. The Blog Touristas will ride again!br /br /There might be a mini tour prior to the launch of the new Mia site in February as well. I#39;ll have to see how the writing schedule is going. It#39;s possible to overcommit, and my contractual obligations come before fun, darn it!

  6. MiaMarlowe says:

    Marcy–Writing is a fairly solitary occupation, so the blog is often my best way to connect with someone other than my family each day. I enjoy the sense of community we#39;ve got here and I#39;m so glad it means something to you too. Thanks, my friend.

  7. MiaMarlowe says:

    Cluttery–The quot;Big Movequot; is coming. I#39;m cooking up a week-long moving party, featuring lots of guests and giveaways, and will be consolidating my blog here on the Mia site. There are a few business type things that have to happen ahead of time, so I#39;m not completely in control of when it will be. Sorry for the confusion in the meantime. I really appreciate you for making the extra clicks to find me. ;-)

  8. Nynke says:

    I#39;m with Marcy – I honestly don#39;t know how anyone could build a better web-presence than you! Barring the shift from Emily to Mia, which is slightly schizophrenic, but that#39;s a temporary thing, if I understand it correctly.br /br /I would also like to go on another blog tour sometime soon – that was so much fun last year, and I#39;m sure I#39;m not the only reader who got hooked to your blog through that!

  9. Marcy W says:

    You#39;ve brought up a whole Pandora#39;s box of issues here, Mia/Emily! I#39;ve been surprised at how much of the marketing of a book is up to the author … in my innocence, I assumed the publisher did that! Of course, you#39;re also building your career during a time of incredible upheaval in that industry … timing is all, right?! :0 br /As much as I enjoy reading your blog(s), I#39;m always aware that this takes a lot of time from your quot;realquot; writing. But, I learn so much from your blog, about writing and lots of other things (authors new to me, especially), that I#39;d miss it a lot. I#39;m also learning to recognize the names of some quot;regularquot; commenters, and really kinda like being part of the community of people who read your books (and others, and some of whom write, too).br /br /I think you#39;re great at coming up with good ideas for keeping the momentum going … your free novella, written with reader input is genius; your #39;bucket list#39; is great fun and quite inspirational. To me, it#39;s about who you are and sharing that very successfully.br /I#39;m too old to really #39;get#39; the Facebook and Twitter stuff (and resent the making a verb out of #39;friend#39;!), but your blog comes closest to making your readers feel that you WANT to be friends with them of any I#39;ve seen.br /br /IMHO, your #39;brand#39; is just you … and that takes care of the #39;point of difference#39; thing, too, because you are YOU, your unique self. You#39;re so good at sharing yourself (without going too far, says this kinda old-fashioned girl) that I can#39;t see how else you could make your web presence more different from others#39;. Keep on doing what you#39;re doing! And, by the way, unlike some blogs, I never get that quot;me me mequot; feeling from yours — mostly because you are so generous at having other writers on, your Red Pencil Thursdays, and other frequent entries that are so helpful, either practically or psychologically, to your readers. I almost always come away with either a smile (fashions of the Victorian age) or having learned something that I find myself thinking of through the day, about writing, or living, or both. br /And, I love the way you respond to each comment. That#39;s one of the things that makes it all so YOU: the courtesy and interest and genuine caring that makes that dialogue something that people come back for.br /br /As for what to include on the website, I#39;d say keep it simple, easy to navigate, and focused on your books. To me, the blog is more about you as a writer, but the website should be more about the product. So, lists of your books, perhaps with a blurb for each; where to purchase them; upcoming releases; and a big WOOHOO celebration when one comes out! :-)br /Okay, that#39;s my, well, quite a bit more than two-cents-worth …

  10. @cluttery says:

    Do you feel pulled in two directions? I do, as a reader. I don#39;t want to stop by two blogs for one person. My time is limited. I#39;m not sure why your two selves can#39;t have the same home (or even the same name). I don#39;t understand this business at all, I guess. br /br /That said, you#39;re a great blogger. Give it time?

  11. MiaMarlowe says:

    Great ideas, Penelope, but opera is sort of an acquired taste. Do you really think people would be interested in that? I confess I did post a pic of me in one of my corseted roles on my a href=”http://www.emilybryan.com/Bio.htm” rel=”nofollow”Emily Bryan/a site. Maybe this is something that should travel to the new a href=”http://www.miamarlowe.com” rel=”nofollow”Mia Marlowe/a website too.br /br /There#39;s no question the stories in opera are tremendous. One of the reasons I was drawn to it was the depth of passion. Guess that also translates to romance…br /br /I#39;ve been having fun with the bucket list, but not making as much progress with it as I hoped. Still, having the goals posted here is keeping me focused. br /br /Guess I must have a brand, a presence and a point of difference whether I realize it or not.

  12. Penelope says:

    I love your bucket lists on the side bar….great, fun idea….and original and different….sets you apart from the crowd. Hmmm, I think you are doing a good job promoting yourself even if you don#39;t realize it! Also, in my mind you do have a quot;brandquot;—you#39;re the opera singer turned romance writer who pens fun, sexy historicals. I can#39;t think of one other writer who was an opera singer in a former life. It#39;s totally cool, totally interesting. I would capitalize on that by including it somehow on your website. Maybe, snippets of lyrics from different operas….history of different operas, costumes, sets, etc etc….cool stuff about training as an opera singer…it#39;s another facet of your creativity and readers love learning about this stuff, particularly readers of historical romance.br /br /By the way, your new cover is absolutely gorgeous! Fabulous! Congrats!

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