Instructor Spotlight

Shennandoah Diaz is an Austin-based writer and freelance Branding and Communications expert. She has taught numerous workshops focusing on social media, marketing, branding, publishing, and website development for authors. You can find out more about Shennandoah by visiting her website.

Shennandoah will be teaching a class on these topics for WLT on September 13 at St. Edward’s University called “Marketing on the Web: Building Your Online Presence.” Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.

shennandoah 2013Scribe: How important is having an online presence to the success of one’s work?

Shennandoah Diaz: No matter what stage of the publishing process you are in—be it just starting your book or already published–It is absolutely crucial to have an online presence. Publishing is a business, and although the quality of the manuscript matters most of all, at the end of the day it comes down to which author can sell books. Many agents and publishers are looking at more than just the manuscript, and will do an online search to see if the author has an established online presence or not. If your manuscript is in need of work, but your platform is rocking, agents and editors will take a chance on you, but without that online presence they may pass you up for a stronger manuscript or an author with a larger platform.

Even if you do have a publishing deal, you may not realize that you are responsible for marketing your book. Publishers have limited budgets and reserve their marketing and PR dollars for the established bestselling authors. You also have a VERY narrow window of time to prove your book is a seller. Many bookstores and publishers will give a book 3 months from launch to prove whether or not it’s going to sell. It’s crucial that you connect with readers, build an audience, and secure reviews and pre-sales to keep your book from getting backlisted. It also takes time to build an audience. If you wait until 3 months before launch, you risk the chance your book will die before it gets to take off.

We also have to realize that we are deep in the digital age. Recent research has shown that over 80% of book purchases are influenced by or made online. People go online to read reviews before they buy, to get recommendations from friends or trusted sources, and to find good deals. They also expect to connect directly with the author, and to learn more about the mind behind the masterpiece. The days of hiding out in a writer’s retreat with bottle of bourbon and an anti-social attitude are dead. But it’s a very good thing. The internet puts the power back into the author’s hands and allows you to connect with readers all over the world without leaving your home. It allows you to control your fate as a writer and determine how you present yourself to the world and give you a boost when it comes time for that publisher to make a decision on your book.

Scribe: Do you think marketing online works better for some genres or markets than others?

SD: The internet is an equal opportunity environment. All genres and markets need to be online and the basic strategy is the same. The key though is knowing who you reader is, what they are looking for, what interests them, and where they hang out online.

Scribe: You are a writer, a novelist, and a media expert. How do you manage & present your different personas online?

SD: Good question and one that I am actually in the middle of addressing. For a long time I maintained one presence for all of my endeavors. I did this because of the time concerns and because my day job required that I maintain multiple presences for all of my clients. That left me mentally and energetically drained and unable to handle multiple presences for myself. I have consolidated my daytime endeavors, and am now working on splitting off my online markets. This is because who I connect with and serve as a consultant is completely different from the people I connect with as a fiction writer and publishing expert. I am currently in development on this and plan on launching my reorganized profiles the end of the year.

I will say for those people who are debating on whether to consolidate or split their online personas please consider the following:

  • How much time do you have and are willing to invest in marketing each profile?
  • Who are you trying to reach and are they related or unrelated markets?
  • What are your long-term goals and does having more than one persona online help you meet those goals?

Marketing online is largely an investment of time, and although there are many tips and tricks that allow you to multiply and leverage your efforts, it’s important that you have a realistic idea of how much time you have to invest in online marketing. It’s also important to balance that time with the activities that will yield you a finished book and other writing opportunities. It can’t detract from the main goal—a published book. But if you are clear on your goals, your resources, and manage your time well, every investment you make into your online presence will bring you closer to your dream of becoming a published author.

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