Why an Online Presence Can Help Every Kind of Writer

Writers are told to get online because that’s where the population is hanging out, and that’s where we’ll engage our readers. But what about those who write for children? Most children aren’t blog hopping or hanging out on Twitter. My six year old sure isn’t. Other than playing Webkinz occasionally, he doesn’t have much interest in the internet.

Rachna Chhabria asked this great question: How does blogging or online interactions help writers who write Middle Grade, Chapter, Picture Books, or Early Readers? How do these writers connect with their readers who will be in school?

I think the heart of Rachna’s question is this: Children’s writers usually aren’t going to connect with their readership online. So, does a web presence really matter for them?

If done correctly, I think an online presence can help every kind of writer—no matter their genre. And here are several reasons why:

1. When we actively and genuinely participate in online communities, we gain a team.

Some call it a “tribe.” I personally favor “team.” We’re all in the game together and we’re cheering one another on. When one person succeeds in landing an agent, we rush over to congratulate her because we know what an accomplishment that is. When a friend lands a book deal, we set off cyber fireworks .

We become invested in seeing our teammates succeed, no matter their genre. In the long run, the people on our team will be our strongest supporters and promoters. And ultimately promotion is more successful when it comes from the mouth of another rather than our own.

2. The friendships we form online can lead to further opportunities.

As we begin to develop a web presence, those connections often lead to new opportunities. For example, I have a list of online interviews and guest posts lined up over the next several months during the release of my debut book. Almost all of them are from people who offered to host me. I didn’t have to go knocking on cyber doors trying to sell myself and asking for interviews. An online presence can open doors in a natural way.

3. “Word of mouth has become World of mouth.”

We’ve all heard it said, “Word of mouth is the best marketing.” One person raves about a book to five friends, who then each tell five more, and the numbers begin to spiral exponentially. Internet connections make this sharing possible on a worldwide spectrum in a much faster way. People around the world already know about The Preacher’s Bride, even before publication because of the power of the internet.

4. Maybe we won’t mingle with our readers directly, but the indirect connections can still have an impact.

Not all my internet friends are fans of inspirational historical romance. But some online friends have told me they’re buying my book for their moms, or wives, or friends who like the genre I write. In other words, maybe not all my friends will read The Preacher’s Bride the moment it comes off the press, but they’ll still be able to talk about me as an author and recommend my book to others who DO like my genre. And the same is true of children & youth books, maybe even more so, because usually parents are the ones buying the books for their kids.

5. In online marketing, relationships count the most.

In We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide for Social Media, author Kristin Lamb says this: “Social media will capitalize on what is known as relationship sales. People will generally buy your book not because they are being pitched to and hounded, but because they know you and it makes them feel good to support who they know.”

Kristin’s statement is true for me. I’ve purchased books of authors I’ve met online for no other reason than because I like them and want to support them. When an author is genuine, approachable, and kind, we’re drawn to them even more. Likewise, when they’re cold and distant, using social media as a billboard for their glory, we’re often less likely to want to support them.

My Summary: The key to social media success doesn’t rest upon the genre we write. Whether we’re writing picture books or memoirs, science fiction or cookbooks—online success has to do with being able to harness and use social media outlets effectively.

What are your thoughts? Do you think a web presence can help any author if done correctly? Or do you think there are some writers—like children’s—who won’t benefit as much from developing a web presence?

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