Thursday, 6 February 2014

(In)visibility - Debbie Bennett

I'm on Facebook, lurking in a writers' group, reading a few posts and making the occasional comment. I spot something interesting and I read further. It's a comment by a member of the group I don't know well and it sounds interesting - he makes a valid point and I like the way he says it. His name is Joe Bloggs Author, so I click on it to see who he is. 

He has a cat as his header picture at the top of his page. Cute. Or maybe it's a picture of his wife and kids - whatever. We're not friends on Facebook, so if I message him to say hello, what kind of stuff do you write? it won't end up in his main message box and he'll probably never see it. So I click on the ABOUT link to find out a bit more. Hey, he's an author and I have nothing lined up to read next - maybe his book is worth checking out?

But ... nothing. No link to Amazon, no link to a website or blog. Not even an email. I could google him, but Joe Bloggs is a common name. I could hunt on amazon, but I don't even know what genre he writes in. I could ... hey, a comment from somebody else has just flashed up on my screen - let's go see what that's all about ...

Lost potential customer. Lost potential sale.

Later on, I remember Joe Bloggs, Author. He's not really grasped the basics of marketing, has he? Maybe he tweets, or maybe he posts links to his books occasionally. I don't know and I probably never will. But he doesn't understand that the worst thing - the biggest problem us independent authors have - is invisibility. It's not about spamming or bullying or in-your-face promotion. It's about building a platform, one brick and blog at a time. So you don't have a website/blog and you're not tech-savvy enough to build one? Blogger and wordpress are easy to set-up and even if you can't manage that, Amazon has given you an Author Page where you can upload a few words about yourself, maybe provide an email address so readers can get in touch, and link to your books. And then you can put a link to that page on Facebook and any other social media sites you haunt. You can put it on your business cards or your book postcards or bookmarks if you have them.

And then you put your links on your Facebook profile. Or on Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever corner of web you lurk. You don't lurk online? You have little choice these days if you really want to sell books as an independent writer.

Joe Bloggs, I don't know who you are and I'll have forgotten you by tomorrow. But today - right now - I might have bought your book, if only I'd known where to find it. 


21 comments:

madwippitt said...

Interesting poat. I remember reading a review from one of my readers (or maybe I should say my reader :-) ) saying she was off to hunt for more books I'd written, and it helped spur me into action, like your post might do to others! Having said that, the whole supporting FB/website/blog thing is incredibly time consuming so loins will need girding: and doesn't necessarily help to increase sales. I did three months worth of it for Haunting Hounds and it sold just a handful of books. Much more helpful was the promo from Your Dog magazine who printed an excerpt - so authors might consider seeing if a magazine might print an extract when trying to do a bit of publicity?

madwippitt said...

Doh.. Post, that should read post. In a hurry and didn't check!!!!

Dennis Hamley said...

I am Joe Bloggs.

Jan Needle said...

I am Spartacus
(But I'm dong to think hard about what you say, Debbie. I've never ever got round to doing my Amazon author thingie. Few people realise that Spartacus was the idlest slave of them all)

Jan Needle said...

But I'm going to think, as well. I've caught Madwipittitis. Gong. Doh and double Doh!

Jan Needle said...

I've never EVEN to round to, etc, either. Treble Dohs all round....

Jan Needle said...

I've never even GOT round to.

I'm going back to bed

Chris Longmuir said...

In the process of writing my non-fiction book I've had to read loads of indie authors. I usually do a search for the type of book I'm looking, maybe noir, maybe something else and when I find a possible book I look at the author page, and a lot of the author pages only have a list of the books - nothing about the author. And you're right, Debbie, it's a real turn off. I like to know something about the person whose book I'm reading, particularly if it warrants a mention in my book! Watch this space to see how many of you are in it!

Jan Needle said...

Right Chris and Debbie - I'm on it!

Susan Price said...

That's taught me something, Chris - you really want to know more about the writer? So, I suppose, lots of other people must too.
I have to confess, I've always been pretty indifferent to who, what or where the author might be, so long as I like the idea of the book, and I've always supplied author bios in a grudging, dutiful sort of way, because publishers and others kept telling me I ought to. But I am an anti-social scroat, so should stop assuming that everyone is like me!

madwippitt said...

Sue Pr - now I'm grown up I'm not that intrigued by who/what/where an author is and sometimes find it a turn-off - especially when you see a photo that doesn't live up to the image you had in your mind: but as a child I did want to know more. And was thrilled to find that CS Lewis came from Belfast, a fact that made having to live there feel a bit more bearable.

Nick Green said...

Make that two anti-social scroats, Sue.

I am most fascinated by the author bios that say, "David Mitchell lives in Japan." For instance.

Or merely, "Sod off, who I am is my concern. Read the damn book."

Never seen the second one, so might use it myself.

Debbie Bennett said...

You don't even need a blog or website. Just a simple link to your kindle book placed on your facebook page will get you sales. It's not rocket science even for the technophobes... ;-)

Jan Ruth said...

I couldn't agree more, Debbie. When we use author groups or book groups or whatever, we move around using our personal profile. Anyone mildly interested should only need to perform a couple of clicks to find a link to your books, including your author name. It's so simple to have this information on your page somewhere, I can't understand why authors don't use it. Like you Debbie, my interest has been aroused maybe in a discussion about a book but can I find it? They may call themselves Peekaboo Paula on here so no point in searching Amazon for that! No link to an author page or website... if you hover over my personal profile on a post it tells you everything. Click on the cover picture or go to the about section and every link to every book or feature is there... My son works in the Internet business and he says the 2-click rule applies with sales. Any more than that and you've lost them.

Debbie Bennett said...

Peekaboo Paula, eh? :-)

Debbie Bennett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie Bennett said...

"This comment has been removed" Now it looks like I made a salacious follow-up comment, but I didn't. I just double-posted, honest!

Lydia Bennet said...

good post Debbie, reminder to us all to check our double-click status all round!

Kathleen Jones said...

Laughing myself into a fit just reading the comments!
Great post Debbie. Didn't think about FAcebook, since I use it mainly for my family and friends and Blogger for publicity.

Pam Howes said...

Good blog, Debbie and so true. :-)

Lee said...

Nick, you obviously don't look at my website. Here's my 'about' statement:

Welcome to the place where I publish my fiction. I’m not going to tell you all sorts of fascinating things about myself, because it’s far too tempting to make stuff up or to boast, and I reckon you’re not going to believe that I won a grave-digging contest at age fourteen anyway. Besides, what good are those bios? They’re a smokescreen. Either you like what I write, or you don’t.

So make that three anti-social scroats.