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?


  1. Another thing to consider - as a 5th grade teacher, my kiddos might not be getting online searching our their favorite authors, but I sure am! I love when I find a MG fiction author with a website or blog!!

  2. Thought-provoking, as usual. I'm surprised how many readers DO lurk on my blog--because at book signings, they ask a question about a post or something.

    So...never assume, writers, that readers aren't there because they don't comment.

    Now as for those kids, I'll just bet they'll be blogging soon.

  3. This is a great post!

    I have to say it's my blog readers who have really encouraged me to spend more time on my fiction. I'm grateful for the way they've supported me and offered feedback.

  4. My children might not be visiting blogs of c hildren's writers, but I do. And I'm the one who buys the books. Plus, word of mouth at school is more important than online buzz. I think online buzz might initially get word out there but a great book will get out there regardless. I blog for community, an online presence, to support other writers/authors, and the ability to press "publish". :)

  5. Yes an online presence for writers who write for the young is important. First of all, parents I hope are the reviewers of their children's books and buy them. Secondly, librarians and teachers read blogs. And what about those of us that are young at heart who love to read children's literature.

    There are great advantages to a writer's online presence no matter what we write.

    Great post!

  6. As always, a great post!

    The web presence is important no matter who you write for or what you write. People refer people and the web is the first place they search for information.

    For example, I'm not much for sci-fi, but if I were looking for an author's book on that genre, I'd be here visiting you all to find suggestions on who to read and go visit their blog/website.

  7. I am a children's writer and do feel like I am forming a team. Even with their encouragement alone I am connecting. :O)

  8. I get excited when I find book on shelves from authors I've met online--it makes me want to read them for sure!

  9. I like how you have added a specific page to your website especially geared toward writers who might be interested in more facts about the historical periods you write about. It seems childrens' book writers might do something similar - adding items to their website geared toward children (things parents might need to help children with), while keeping a blog geared toward their writing life. Or their blog might be written with parents of their targeted age group in mind. That's the beauty of blogging - there are endless possibilities and ways to reach potential readers. But it's also a great way to stay in touch with other writers and a potential network of marketing helpers.

  10. If I'm to believe what I'm told, an online presence is important for all writers. I drag my feet because the online commitment can be so time-consuming. But I love the idea of belonging to a team of like-minded people.

  11. Oh, yes, Jody. A web presence helps any kind of author, simply for the exposure to people they would never have met otherwise, and the support of other writers.

    I've said many times that I've learned as much about excellent writing from reading blogs than I have in conferences or books.

    And the friendships we make are priceless.

  12. My thoughts: I think you are spot-on correct about everything in this post. There's just not too much more for me to add. Thanks.

  13. Kids and early teens aren't the ones buying their books. It's the parents. And if you're connecting with parents, or people who can spread the word to parents, then you're getting out there. Yes, your book has to appeal to the kids, but if the parents know about you they are better able to steer the kids in your direction.

    That's just my thought. Online presence can benefit every author, just in different ways.

  14. I like your last comment. I've bought books solely becuase I like the author and want to support their efforts. It is being part of the tribe.

  15. Thanks for the shout-out, Jody. And you are so correct. My mom just recently got on to Facebook and she befriended you because you were in my network. Without any prompting, I was suddenly being hounded about when your book would come out and where she could buy it. It just still amazes me the power of networks.

    Those who write for children definitely need to be on-line and blogging. There are all kinds of "experts" out there forging the tastes and preferences of parents...why not join in and pitch for your own work? Leaving it up to luck or chance is risky at best. In my book I tell writers to profile not only the reader...but the PURCHASER. Social media allows us to influence the positional influencers--the people who will influence or buy for others. For instance, we can influence the wives on what to buy for a husband or moms on what would be great for a child.

    Thanks for mentioning me, and for another outstanding blog.


  16. You have such wonderful insight. I agree with everything you've said. I've met some awesome writers and made great connections that have helped my writing and book sales from my blog.

    Great post!

  17. The kids may not find an author online but their parents will. I just purchased three books blogger buddies wrote.

  18. I truly believe that having an online presence can form "organic" relationships that are based on things we as writers have in common.

    No one wants to support a writer who is only online to promote themselves and their books.

    But most people will help a writer they've met online who shares the same struggles and offers support.

    These are the writers who I cheer for when they get their success and books that I buy.

    Great post, Jody.

  19. Another great post, Jody. Marketing is like an onion--there are so many layers. You've managed to peel back a few more of them and explain them beautifully. Hopefully this will inspire more authors to get past the fear of self-marketing in order to mingle in social media and make the connections which can help them build a successful career as an author.

  20. Great post. It gives us a lot of information to utilize as authors, published or not.

  21. You're so right about our writing friends online forming a team. I really love the introspect here. Lord knows I've bought my fair share of author friend books and have pass them on after reading them. I love cheering on my team. And I can't wait for the publishing fireworks, whether they're for me or my friends it feels great to be a part of it.

  22. If my grandchildren are any indication, adults may be buying books for many pre-teens, but the younger teenagers are buying for themselves or using their library cards.

    I don't think we can discount children as site visitors. They can navigate to a author's website faster than I can if they have a reason to go there, and parents will refer younger children to an author's website if there is interesting age-appropriate material on the site. (Think J.K. Rowling's website.) IMHO, it makes sense for every author to have a website, or at least a page on it, aimed at the intended readership.

  23. From my own experience, I've heard about all kinds of books and new authors through the internet I might not have heard about otherwise. And I've passed it on to others who I think will like it. So sure, I think a web presence can help any author in some way!

  24. I love this post! I am just now wrtiing my first novel, and I actually started my blog back in May as a way to get myself out there and make that community work. Your post is very inspiring...thanks for writing this! Also, you have a new follower in me :-)

  25. Great post.

    I don't write for children, but other bloggers out there would be good motivation for any writer. I have a progress bar on my blog to show how far through I am in writing my first novel, and just knowing it's out there where people will see it makes me so much more likely to try and hit my targets.

    So...other bloggers can be a great kick up the backside!

  26. As a parent of young boys, I notice the blog posts about books geared towards their ages. If I hear of a book, I try to check it and/or the author out online. Even if the kids aren't reading, the parents are. We've also found some authors of children's books have interactive sites. Such as... Kids can earn stamps for their "passports" with each Magic Tree House story via quizzes on the website. I do believe an online presence helps every author.

  27. I love how you keep saying that developing relationships is really important.

  28. I think it's an exciting time to be an author. Rather than the gloom and doom that many are shouting from the rooftops, I believe the writer who understands the business and social media can achieve more than we could just five years ago.
    Highly recommend Kristen's book.

  29. Definitely it helps anyone in the 'game' no matter who their market is. I only joined the online community this year but I've learned so much from it and gained so many friends. Thanks for another great post :)
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

  30. Hi Jody -

    While a children's author might not be able to connect with their readership, they can connect to parents and others.

    I make it a practice to purchase books for my honorary nieces and nephews for Christmas. They get so many toys that a book is a refreshing change. Parents are the gatekeepers for the younger set. Hang out where they are, and you've reached your target audience.

    Susan :)

  31. Jody, I write for children, so I read this with great interest. I now have an online presence, but it wasn't only to gain readers.

    Like you said, it was also to build relationships. And not only that, but I'm amazed at how much information is floating around out here. I learn something new from another blogger every single day.

    Plus, I like the way I have a place to discuss writing. My husband is so supportive and humors me when I talk about it, but it's not his own passion. When his eyes glaze over, it's time for me to let him get back to CSI and I can chat with my writer buds.

  32. Jody, thanks for answering my question. I did wonder how children's authors would connect with their readers, as most children do not blog or read blogs. But, we can certainly connect with their parents and teachers online; these people influence children's reading habits.

    As for me, I have forged several wonderful connections with my blogging buddies spread all over the world, hosting them on my blog when their books were launched and lighting cyber fireworks at their successes.

    I have made several writing friends who send me links and email me details about online conferences and workshops and other events not available in India.

    And, there is so much to learn from all the bloggers. They all are eager to share their wonderful experiences with others.

    So, to answer my own question, yes an online presence can help any author if done correctly. But we all must remember that we are building relationships, and not just indulging in a hardcore and aggressive marketing of our books.

  33. This is interesting! I agree with your conclusion, that it's important to cultivate the online presence.

    Recently, I had the privilege of meeting a friend I first found in the blogosphere - Jeanette Levellie! What a blessing it was to meet another writer and such a warm-spirited girl! It's given me fresh fire, new inspiration I haven't felt in a long time.

    Online = new relationship. Awesome.

  34. I like the idea of having an online team. That's so cool.

  35. Hi Jody,
    I've been off-line while moving to NM. The Internet is now up, and your blog was the first I headed to.

    Things look great around here! I'm so excited for you and am proud to support you.

    Now I'm off to read more of your posts...

  36. I am normal visitor of one’s web site, maintain up the excellent operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a long time. RightAndroid


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