• Esther Harder

Getting the Word Out

You might think that writers are natural content creators, and so the social media presence would come naturally. Perhaps it does, for some. I am not one of them.

Around the time I was studying for my MFA, professionals in the creative writing field were lauding “the platform.” We were asked to consider and identify our platform, which is essentially the shingle we'd hang, if we were still hanging shingles outside our businesses. In a soundbite/shingle/finger painting, what interests do you represent, and how many people already pay attention to your insights about these interests?

Um...

When I was first learning about “the platform,” I had no online presence whatsoever. Search for me, and you would have found a smattering of articles and essays I had published in a number of news sources, but no shingle. With this website, I have turned that around to some degree, but inspire people to pay attention to my insights? I don’t think of myself as the Pied Piper, wandering around with an enthralled throng in my wake. I’m one of those writers who would like their words to stand for themselves. But that's not enough, with our bombardment of content these days; the push is to join the flow, or go unnoticed.

I haven't yet honed my interests into a single image that would fit on a shingle. If you've met me in person, you might know me as one or several of a variety of things: a commuter biking enthusiast, a parent, a development worker, a soccer coach, a recorder player, an urban gardener, a multilinguist, a math tutor, and so on. This is why hanging shingles or picking a tattoo is an unsurmountable challenge for me. I haven't distilled myself into a single thing, and we're all more interesting that way.

So this is, essentially, the marketing post that isn't. What do authors do after they’ve self-published a book? The answer varies greatly, depending on what they had set up beforehand in terms of platform and presence, and whether this is book #1, or one in a stream of many.

Quarantine Kids was my first, so, prior to having hard copies in hand, I set up this website, my Amazon + Goodreads author account, and a Facebook page to generate some attention. I also created a book trailer as a way to give a little more of a demo feel to the book before purchase, since I was coming into the market as an unknown author.

I decided not to go too broad with my social media because I didn't have enough time to figure out how to use multiple social media streams to my advantage, nor did I have the ability to hire someone to manage my accounts. I did dabble in various social media ad markets, to get my book trailer and Facebook page in front of people. Learning how to maximize pay-per-click advertising was another whole area of growth. The biggest help I found came from joining author groups who were actively running ad campaigns and learning from them.

My recommendation for others like me is to dabble in content creation and decide what works best for you. This is certainly a moving target as your needs, available time to contribute to content creation, the life cycle of your books, and a whole host of variables will impact what may be best at any one time. And somehow through it all, maintain your primary focus—writing BOOKS—as that place where you channel your most creative energy. Slap that shingle up and get back to work.



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