Okay. Now that we’ve covered the very first step, Logistics, it’s time to talk branding.
And these days, you can’t talk branding without talking social media.
As I detailed in Step 1, it’s best to register yourself as a self-publishing company that’s publishing your book. The same reasoning goes for social media.
Make profiles for your publishing name versus your name or your book name.
This way, all the effort you’re putting into building an online presence will be general enough to extend beyond one book, should you get the bug and create more books in the future. (I certainly hope you will!)
It’ll also keep your author presence professional enough to keep some things private, like your address or pictures of your friends’ kids.
Register your company on the platforms you’ll actually use.
Note the actually use part of that sentence. There are a lot of social media options out there, each with its own benefits, but if you’re not going to use all of them, what’s the point of setting up empty store fronts?
I’d recommend picking two when you’re just starting out. Then see how it goes for a few months and add or delete as needed.
A few key points to reiterate and note:
- Don’t use your personal accounts. Professionalism lends legitimacy and allows you to keep some things personal. Establish separate accounts for your company and yourself on whichever platforms you prefer.
- Create a page for your publishing company versus you or your book. Bonus: You can use your first project’s following to market possible subsequent projects to, too!
- Whatever sites you choose, don’t make it all about you. Comment on, like, and repost within the community that you want to be a part of. No one likes an egomaniac. However, people do appreciate a mutually supportive friend.
Here’s a few social media platforms to consider.*
*I’m sure there are probably much hipper haunts out there that I don’t know even know about yet. If you have one you’re particularly enamored with one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you already have a personal page (as I’m assuming you probably do), just look for the “Create a page” link on the left, and it will guide you through the process of setting up a business page for your self-publishing company.
The SEO gurus all recommend this one for bubbling up your info in Google searches. Frankly, I don’t get much community interaction this way, but it’s worth posting here to help establish your brand, as far as accessibility via Internet searches is concerned.
Ah, Twitter. I don’t really get you. But plenty of others do, or else Twitter wouldn’t be such a well-loved marketing tool for authors and publishers. In the words of Daniel Tiger, “Try it. You might like it.”
So far you can’t post links in the descriptions, making Instagram purely a presence-building tool… which can be a good thing. Use your Instagram pictures and “likes” as a chance to attach a look, feel, and sentiment to your brand. I think of it as my brand’s physical presence in the world beyond my book. It’s not a place where you sell; it’s a place where you see and be seen.
Like Instagram, this is another fun way to visually build an online personality for your publishing self: your likes, inspiration, related fields of knowledge, helpful tidbits for fans, related people you support, etc. To be honest, the one page on my publishing blog that has gotten the most hits for years now (sometimes as many as 1000 per day!) is via Pinterest. So this option isn’t just easy and fun; it’s effective.
Okay, this is the one case where you’ll need to use your personal/author name (so the site will be able to connect your author name on book pages to your profile), but you can still use your publishing name as your user name.
If you don’t already have an account, create one and start doling out rating and reviews to books in your related field or genre.
Once your book is published, you can either add the book to your profile manually under the “My Writings” tab or click on your author name when your book is available online (and therefore listed on Goodreads). That will then lead to a bunch more cool stuff you can do to promote yourself and your book, from blogging to giveaways to publicizing events like book readings.
Other popular social media opportunities include a StumbleUpon, Tumbler, and YouTube. Those aren’t my cup of tea, so I can’t really speak to their benefits, but plenty of people use them, so they’re worth looking into as well. Again, if you have another favorite not detailed here, please share in the comments below.
Okay, so you’re all set up on your social media platforms of your choice. Now you need to create your publishing “face” for the world.
You’re going to need a logo
You can create it, or you can pay a professional to do it for you.
Your logo will serve as your profile pic. Why not just use your face? You can (especially until you have something else to use), but logos tend to perform better and lend more credence.
I opted to have mine professionally designed because I’m pursuing a picture book market, which is highly visual. Thanks to a callout to friends on Facebook, I received several illustrator leads and found someone who really clicked with my vision for the brand.
She and I collaborated until we had four strong logo contenders. I circulated them to our followers to help choose their favorite.
This experiment was really quite successful… and fun! (Come on, who doesn’t love giving their opinion?) At the end of the day though, remember that no one knows your brand better than you. Use the feedback you receive to inform your decision, not make it.
We ended up going with this one, which was both my gut pick and the favorite on Facebook and Instagram:
In the months to come I’ll focus on branding your specific book, but in the meantime, here are a few more helpful posts for setting up your self-publishing empire.