It’s a daunting prospect to start out as a self-published writer. Who is going to take you seriously when you don’t have a publishing track record? If you don’t have a mountain of book sales to point to, or don’t have any work already published in reputable literary journals, how will you gain the attention of bloggers, media influencers, and others who can help you launch your career? How do you build a reputation as a professional self-published author when no one knows who you are? Self-Publishing Relief has the answers.
Five Simple Ways A Self-Published Writer Can Build A Great Reputation—Fast!
One: Join National Self-Publishing Writing Organizations
Joining a professional organization that focuses on self-published writers is a smart way to connect with other indie authors. And your membership shows you’re a savvy self-published writer looking to bolster your skills and reputation. Check out these three organizations geared toward indie-published authors:
- Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI). This UK-based professional organization was started by author Orna Ross as a nonprofit networking group for writers who self-publish.
- Association of Independent Authors (AIA). Founded in 2010, AIA strives to create a culture of excellence and professionalism and to make indie publishing a first choice for many authors.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). The mission of the ASJA is to be a resource and a voice for independent, freelance nonfiction writers.
To jump-start your reputation, consider offering your time and energy in supporting the goals and events of the organization you’ve joined.
Two: Build Your Social Media Platforms
A writer who doesn’t have a social media footprint is going to be viewed with some skepticism. Bloggers, reviewers, and colleagues want to connect with you and get to know you better before committing to book marketing. And there’s no more convenient place for that exchange than on a social media platform.
Rather than trying to develop a big following on a bunch of platforms, however, focus your efforts on the platforms where you think your readers are. Better to have a solid following and a lot of interaction on one or two platforms than very little interaction on many.
For example, self-published cookbook writers may want to focus on Pinterest or Instagram, where graphics rule. Fiction writers may find that Facebook reaches a large portion of their readership. Twitter may work better for topical nonfiction writers and young adult fiction authors.
Three: Create A Professional Author Website
While social media is a vital element of book marketing, no author should be without the “virtual business card” of a professional website. Your author website acts as the central source of information about you and your books and writing. Without this hub, you look like a greenhorn. But with a smart, well-designed, SEO-optimized site, you’ll be recognized instantly as a pro.
To build a solid reputation, make sure your author website includes:
- A vivid, catchy bio
- Clean, uncluttered design
- Smart use of color and elements
- An easy-to-read font
- A blog, so you can drive traffic to your website
- An email sign-up to build your following
- Contact information for media and book marketers
- Information about your writing
- Social media icons so visitors can connect easily
- Testimonials or review blurbs about your work
- Smart SEO to maximize exposure
Four: Strive To Make A Personal Connection
It may not always be possible to meet face-to-face with the individuals you most want to impress, but keep an eye out for their appearances at readings, workshops, and writers’ panels. Attending other self-published writers’ events is a great way to create goodwill and build a reputation in the self-publishing community. Writing conferences are a particularly good place to network and build a reputation for you and your work.
Reputations take time to build but can be destroyed in a moment. Make sure when meeting colleagues and influencers that you spend time getting to know them, and don’t spend all your time pushing your books.
Five: Submit Work For Publication In Literary Journals
You can build your publication credits and enhance your author bio by submitting excerpts from your book for publication in literary journals. Having an excerpt accepted by a literary editor offers proof that your writing is good quality,will interest readers, and that your book has an audience. You don’t have to limit yourself to excerpts from your book: short stories, essays, or poetry published in literary journals still show that you have noteworthy writing skills and should be taken seriously as an author.
Question: What genre do you write, and on which social media platform have you found your readers?
I gave up on social media when I couldn’t convince my family to read my books. I self-publish because it’s a sure way to get them into print. Slow sales don’t bother me enough to quit, and keeps the price down to a reasonable level.