Finding it difficult to make contact online with certain indie authors, the highly successful historical novelist Helen Hollick, now self-published, urges writers to stop playing hard to get.
Is there anyone there? Are you easy to contact? I was recently one of a number of indie authors (several of them ALLi members) listed in the UK Guardian newspaper's “Readers’ Recommended Self Published Authors” list with my UK indie-published novel Harold the King. Needless to say, being selected out of 3,347 entries I was thrilled, but not just for myself. This sort of support is fantastic for all indie writers who want their books to stand alongside mainstream published novels. It is wonderful to know we are getting the recognition we at last deserve. Indie does not mean rubbish writing: it means hard work and great pride. As long as it is done properly, with good writing, and mainstream quality production. No left-justified text or use of Comic Sans or italic font throughout!
Testing Top Indie Authors' Discoverability
I decided to follow up the list by contacting all the authors mentioned, primarily to say congratulations, but also with a view to possible reciprocal guest posts etc. After all, marketing our books is all about networking, isn’t it? In some cases, apparently not. Quite a few of the listed authors were not easy to contact. A couple I could not find at all. I googled each name.
- All had their books listed on Amazon (.co.uk and .com) but not all had corresponding Author Profiles.
- Most were on Goodreads – but again, not necessarily with details of who they were, information about their book/s, and no e-mail address or website link.
- Ditto Twitter, and for one person even their blog did not make it obvious this was an author with a published book!
- More than a few did not seem have an informative website or blog.
I was amazed to discover that several of the listed authors had no easy to find and use “Contact Me” link. So how could I contact them to say “well done”? And more important, how do potential readers give feedback or ask about a next book? Without an easy-to-find contact method, how do these authors create a fan base following? I guess they don’t!
One person even had their Facebook page set to private. This is all well and good if you do not want to be noticed, but useless for selling books. I did find a couple of names on Facebook, but had no idea if this was the right person I wanted to contact.
I have two Facebook pages, a personal one, which I use for my own posts, about my books, things I’m doing, amusing images – anything of public interest related to me or my public life. My Author Page is more like a shop window; I am happy to advertise other writers’ books, and links to various guest posts. My tag line is ‘A sort of Readers' and Writers' Meeting Place.’ And my headline image is very clearly about my books!
Two of the people on the list I gave up trying to trace. So, if you want people to respond to your networking, make it obvious who you are and what you do. Make your blog, Facebook and Twitter pages public so anyone can see your posts and can contact you easily. This means, of course, you do not post anything personal. If I want to say something in private to my friends, I e-mail them. Facebook and Twitter are not the places for inviting people to a private party! If you would rather have a personal social network page, that is fine, but have two: one for private, one for public.
Top Tips for Easy Reader Contact
Putting a contact link on a website or blog is so easy – add it to the top menu bar, make it clear you want to hear from your readers because you value their feedback and friendship. And if you do get an email from a reader, answer it as soon as you can. If you don’t, that reader might not buy your next book, or recommend you to other readers.
Selling books is not about reviews and high ranking on Amazon – it is about friendly, on-going contact with your readers.
Editor's note: Helen Hollick is not only easily discoverable herself – she also generously helps other authors become more discoverable by hosting fantastic blog hops (a topic for another post another day. But in the meantime, here's an example – her Winter Solstice Blog Hop, which I was fortunate to join. Helen opened this 30-author-strong hop with an entertaining post of her own about 1* reviews – well worth a read!