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How to Establish an Online Presence As an Independent Author

Like so many other things in the advent of the digital age, the choices of an author just starting out have changed dramatically. The big publishing houses are not quite as strong as they were in the past and e-books become increasingly popular each year. It is not at all hard to see why more and more authors choose to take the independent route, but with this comes responsibility. Without the help of a publisher, the job of marketing a book now sits very squarely on the shoulders of the author and it is this point I will attempt to briefly address.

As a novice myself I have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks attempting to get to the bottom of which are the important areas to concentrate on and have summarised here what I found to be the key points.

Even if you are taking the more traditional route of working through an agent - or are even already published, it is a modern-day necessity that you develop an online presence.

Let's quickly take a look at the most important areas, to begin with.

1. Social Media Accounts

These can work in tandem with your website which I will come to further on. I would say first up you want a Twitter account and a Facebook page. Once you have created profiles it's important that you keep posting on Twitter in particular (even if you're re-tweeting other interesting posts).

There are a number of popular tags for writers to remember but probably #amwriting and #amediting are the two I have come across the most, so add these to your own tweets. Facebook is very useful too - not to mention the many marketing tools that you can use that are highly selective regarding the target audience.

You may choose other platforms - perhaps if you have a trailer for your book you might want to add a YouTube account in there too.

It's worth a mention at this point that it really is not good form to continually post sales links to your book. Write something interesting or repost something you found interesting but nobody wants to be bombarded with spammy sales messages.

2. Your Own Website

This may seem a bit daunting at first but it really is essential. I would strongly recommend putting up a proper site rather than using some of the free options that are now available. You can get a domain and host package for less than $100 a year and it looks professional. Use a free site and anyone with the faintest clue can see it's a free site and it screams unprofessional.

There are numerous hosting companies, I personally use HostGator. As regards building the site, it has to be WordPress. Over 30% of the internet is WordPress with 17 posts a second being published. Even the top one hundred sites which as you would imagine are mostly looked after by company development teams - nevertheless WordPress still has its name on 14.7 % of these. The framework is very simple to use and you have full control of your content.

If you can afford the little bit extra, get a decent theme and you will soon be looking like the best of them. If you find yourself struggling with anything just search the query online I can guarantee there will be a forum discussion that has dealt with your question at some point.

You probably heard the expression SEO (Search Engine Optimization) somewhere along the way. One of the most effective ways to build your online presence is back-linking, and a very simple way of doing this now you have your website is to include the link on those Twitter and Facebook pages as a start.

Many authors use the website purely as a landing page but to be honest I do not imagine it will do you too many favours in the long run. Include a blog and post articles (you're a writer). Whatever it is you write about, if it finds an audience you suddenly have that chance of a sale that did not exist previously.

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