Is the internet really all that important? You bet it is! Especially for those whose books are not handled by the traditional big five publishers. If you are an Indie author and/or publisher, your books appear in two formats: Print on Demand and electronic editions. They are seldom to be found on the shelves of a traditional book store, so where will your readers go to purchase your book? The internet, of course. Your readers are people who use the internet. They have Amazon accounts, or Apple iBooks apps. If they look for your book in a Barnes & Noble storefront, they’ll end up looking in an electronic catalog. Make no mistake. Without the internet, you won’t be selling many books unless you spend your time going door to door or hosting wine and cheese parties.
The formula is simple. You go where your readers are. And your readers are sitting in front of a computer, or using a tablet or smart phone to find and order their reading material. Your readers are people who send e-mails or text messages, keep track of their friends’ birthdays on Facebook, make snarky comments on Twitter, send out job applications on LinkedIn, and turn to Pinterest for ideas for tonight’s dinner.
Some of them – the most dedicated readers – will turn to Goodreads for guidance on what to read, check all the reviews of a new book on “Ask David,” and play silly matching games on Freado in hopes of snagging a free copy. They will Google your name to find out who you are, and they will expect to find a website featuring your books.
There’s no way to avoid this. You need to start right now to build your internet presence. This may not be exactly what a big-name publisher means by demanding that an author have a “platform,” but it comes close. You must become active, friendly, and clever on the social media sites. You need to join Goodreads (which is now a part of Amazon) because your readers will expect to find you there. You need a great website – attractive, appealing, easy to find, easy to use, and full of interesting tidbits about yourself and your books. And finally, although possibly most important, you need a blog -- one like this, where you can talk directly to your readers, offering them quality information they can only get from you.
You won’t become an overnight internet sensation. It takes a long time to break into this latest club, which is why it is vital that you start right away. My blog started with 75 readers a month. After the first year, that number increased to 200 a month. The third year it jumped to a thousand, then ten thousand. Now in its fifth year, I regularly get 1500 readers a day. Do they all buy my books? Of course not. But lots of them do.
If you have to choose between establishing your internet persona and writing your book, I suggest you hone your writing skills on internet posts. Save the book manuscript until you know readers out there are waiting for it.