Your online reputation can be your most powerful marketing tool and beacon for your author brand, as long as it’s properly monitored.
Once upon a time, authors could hide behind the pages of their books with no one knowing much about them aside from the name on the front cover. We now live in a very different age.
Many readers want to know as much about the person writing the story as they do about the content. For better or worse, the Internet has provided a platform for exploration that makes it easy for fans to delve into your background, and if you aren’t properly vetting what a Google search of your name brings up, it could lead to disaster for your career.
Representing your author brand
Representing your author brand covers more than just going on book tours and signings. A plethora of online platforms can be harnessed by authors as promotional tools. However, sloppy practices when producing websites, working on social media, or messaging your mailing list could cause more harm than good.
If a prospective new reader, or even a long-term fan, doesn’t like the way you present yourself online, it’s highly likely she won’t pick up another copy of your work ever again. The author brand you chose to promote is up to you, but there are questions every author should ask when considering his or her online reputation.
1. Are you marketable?
Even though the product you’re looking to sell is yourself – or at least your talents as a writer – it’s still important to consider the marketability factor of the personality you’re promoting. To begin with, it’s essential to have a comprehensive grasp of yourself as a writer; consider what themes, ideas or message you’re trying to portray with your work and what emotional response you’re trying to elicit.
After this has been established, it’s time to check whether your online reputation reflects these ideals. Consider colors, graphics and font type when setting up webpages, and be stringent about the wording and emotional weight of the things you post.
2. Are you authentic?
There’s no rule stating your online reputation has to be a positive one; plenty of public figures have found notoriety through controversy and scandal. However, if you are endeavoring to be a provocative online figure, it is important to ensure that your author brand has been properly planned and considered.
It might seem fun to play the femme fatale or outspoken critic on the Internet, but if that sort of personality is far detached from who you are, then it’s only going to be a matter of time before your readership sees through this. “Fake” is a buzzword that pops up regularly on the Internet, usually inspiring a cutthroat response.
While your online presence as an author may be more carefully fabricated than your personal social media profiles, you’re still trying to present an authentic front. Audiences want to know who you are, not who you are pretending to be.
3. Are you engaging?
It’s not enough to post a single tweet or only update your website around the time of your book release or other significant event. The key to growing a fan base is to provide regular, engaging online content. This is why so many writers have set up personal blogs.
Writing relevant posts about topics related to your work or your goal as an author means your name and face are potentially popping up in the feeds of your fans and new readers. Staying active in this way also does a lot to increase your Google ranking. Both of these things are essential to a good online reputation and continued success in your career.
Look into Google Adwords or other SEO strategies in order to better structure your blog posts to attract more traffic.
4. Are you trustworthy?
For anyone who religiously uses the Internet, there’s a constant balance of trust and risk. You’re sharing your personal information with people you don’t actually know, so, by default, a presumed level of faith between you and those you are interacting with has to be established. However, this is fickle and can easily be broken.
There are many harmless hacks that are common for regular users of social media and blogging platforms. Most often, they manifest as spam links sent without your knowledge to your followers. Although they pose no real threat, many Internet users will avoid an infected domain once they’ve seen a problem.
There are lots of simple strategies to overcome this – password management, use of secure networks, etc. – but by far the best solution is the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). As one of the leading security programs on the market, a VPN encrypts all of your data and makes it very difficult for hackers or malware to gain access to your accounts.
Your online reputation can be your most powerful marketing tool and beacon for your author brand, as long as it’s properly monitored. Ensuring you always have the questions outlined above in mind when setting up online accounts means you are positioned to get the biggest promotional benefit.
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