Last year I went on a social media course lead by Chrissie Lightfoot. I started a blog, got a Facebook page and learnt how to tweet. The focus of my blog was my journey of getting that first 'proper' publishing deal.
Well I managed to the first part of my master plan. I have secured a couple of educational resource book publishing deals, and become a member of The Society of Authors.
Now it's time for my next step.
Getting my writers platform co ordinated and off the ground.
I spent yesterday creating my own website. The first problem I was forced to overcome was the realisation that my IT support person - my eleven year daughter - was at school.
Alone in the house I gave battle with the dreaded technology.
I've had to think long and hard. Although proud of my non fiction book, do I use my website to advertise it? In the end I decided no. My books are filled with lesson plans, AF Levels and specialised information for a small niche market. They are on the publishers web site and are advertised to school by them via mail shots and specialised marketing.
I've heard from aspiring authors who tell me they haven't bothered with a website yet because they don't have a book to sell. When they get a book published, they tell me, there will be plenty of time to build a website. But according to The Society of Authors they have it backwards. You don't need a website in order to sell published books, there are plenty of bookstores willing to fill that function for you, including Amazon.
Unpublished authors need a website to help sell their manuscript so it can get published, and then to help market the book so the publisher will oblige them with royalty checks and new contract offers.
The strategy behind building an author website is not about selling more books today, or next month. It's about having your own strategic marketing asset for years to come. Most professional authors lead a hand-to-mouth existence, living from advance to advance, always trying to line up the next book contract, and the one after that, even before they finish grinding out the title they're working on at the present.
But most authors, if they want to keep writing for a living, have limited choices. They never create an independent marketing platform so their main professional qualification as an author is the books they have in print. When those books disappear from the shelves, the authors become yesterday's news. A well conceived website platform doesn't have an expiration date. Unlike online stores and social networking sites which live in fear of the next big thing to come along and destroy their business model, websites based on content retain their value as long as the content remains relevant.