Creating an ‘author platform’….
April 18th, 2012
This week’s virtual visitor to the very blustery and blowy Little Blue Hut on Tankerton beach is Ali McNamara, and we’re talking about creating ‘author platforms’ (or how you promote yourself as an author via the internet). Ali is one of the most lively and innovative authors in terms of web presence and her novels From Notting Hill…With Love Actually and Breakfast at Darcy’s have both been best-sellers. It’s impossible to tell how much of their success is due to Ali’s bubbly internet presence and steady promotional effort, but she gets alot of feedback so she is certainly connecting brilliantly with readers and building their expectations for the next one…..From Notting Hill to New York Actually.
‘The social networking sites I use are Twitter (@alimcnamara), Facebook (ali.mcnamara.author), Instagram (@alimcnamara) and Tumblr (mainly because my website (www.alimcnamara.co.uk) is hosted by Tumblr).’ she says. ‘Tumblr lets me link all my social media together. For instance if I take a photo on my iPhone I can upload it to my Instagram account, and from there I can then choose to post it to my website, and automatically to my Twitter feed and Facebook page. The same with updates and blogs. It just makes everything easier.’
‘It’s difficult to say which works best in terms of promoting books, as different people prefer different formats. I get a similar amount of feedback through Twitter and Facebook. Personally I prefer Twitter, as it’s quicker and easier to use. Also I have met some lovely friends through Twitter, two of who later inspired a couple of characters in my third book! I went over to New York to meet them initially for research purposes but they ended up giving me an idea for a storyline in the novel which is out at the end of this year.’ I agree that Twitter is much more of a two-way conversation – most writers I know really do make new writer friends or get invaluable research tips, as well as promoting their books.
What impresses me most about Ali’s internet presence is the way she uses everything and anything, and does so much of it herself. When From Notting Hill…With Love Actually’ was going to be published, she floated an idea to her publishers (Sphere) about keeping a six month video diary as a countdown to publication. I remember noticing it at the time when she was doing her ‘visit to the printers’ to see the book actually come off the presses, and wondering how she’d managed to get an entire film made about her. But, in fact, the ‘film crew’ was just her and her then 14 year old daughter, Rosie., who did her editing. For Breakfast at Darcy’s she did a 30-day Twitter challenge of asking people to suggest different breakfasts every day. She posts on her website at least once or twice a week, even if it’s only a photo of Easter bunnies, and keeps readers involved with what’s going on – from the launch of the Italian edition of Breakfast at Darcy’s to a first peek at the blurb for the new novel.
Her top 3 tips for social networking are:
1) Whatever platform you use, use it regularly. There’s nothing more off-putting than if you go to follow someone on Twitter and they haven’t tweeted for weeks.
2) Don’t do too many or you won’t be able to keep up with them. There’ll always be something new coming along trying to muscle in on the Facebook or Twitter action.
3) In the process of updating your pages, don’t forget to interact with others. It’s a two-way process. But above all, enjoy it!