Are you on the start of your journey to publication?
Authors’ names are their brands, and satisfied readers exercise brand loyalty. They shop for titles by author name, and when they come across a real find, they recommend it to friends. Those friends do the same, and the chain continues. But a book is more than a cover or jacket. It is the embodiment of a human voice to which the reader seeks connection. Thus, loyal readers attend book signings, subscribe to newsletters, and use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to make contact with favorite authors.
The deeper the social connection between reader and author, the more likely the reader will act as the author’s sales agent. There is nothing better than word-of-mouth advertising for a book. Cultivating an audience for your writing is something you are expected to bring to the table when you have a manuscript for them to consider for publication.
In creating your author platform and establishing your name as your brand, you want to be consistent and constant. If your name is Amy Anderson, your professional contact email will be email@example.com; your gmail will be firstname.lastname@example.org; your website will be www.amyanderson.com. Your Twitter account will be – drumroll please – @AmyAnderson.
Do not use the title of your book. Do not use any catchy taglines or slogans. Use your name. But first check that your name is available.
Since Amy Anderson is a common name, you may need to use a legal and customary variation of your name to make it distinctive: AmyEAnderson, AEAnderson, Amy_Anderson, A.Anderson, AndersonPh.D., AndersonAmy, AuthorAmyAnderson, and so on and so forth.
One: Enter your name in search engines. You want to be the only one with links to this name. If that is the case, move on to the second search. If not, determine whether anyone using your name is conducting business in that name. If there is someone with your name doing things which you would not readers to be confused by, then consider using a variant of your author name until you find most of Google search results with links to you and your work only. While searching yourself, take note of how many links there are to you. Googling yourself is not an exercise in vanity as an author. It is like checking your credit report to make sure there are no errors. Or checking in the mirror to make sure there’s no spinach between your teeth before you go out the door to a meeting. It’s possible there aren’t any links related to your name – that’s fine. If you don’t do any social media and if no one is acting professionally online under your name, you may not find any Google hits that pertain to you. If this is the case, you are in luck. You have a clean online slate to start your online platform. If you’ve got a lot of search hits under your name, hurrah! It will make demonstrating to a publisher that you can get found.
Two: Find out if the domain name for your author name is available. Determine if the domain name you have selected is available for your author name: AmyAnderson.com [no spaces]. You only want a domain with a dot.com suffix (no “.me,” “.net,” “.org,” “.us,” “.biz”). If someone already has your author name with the dot com you’ll struggle to get found online by search engines.
You don’t have to buy your domain name from GoDaddy.com; you only need to determine if the domain name is available for purchase. Registration of your domain can be done by many vendors today. You want your own real estate on the internet, so be careful who you rent space from in terms of getting free domains and webhosting where the domain looks like yourname/blogspot.com or yourname/wordpress.org or wix or some of the other factory web farms. I recommend you find a webhosting company with their own servers and good customer service. Expect to pay $20/month for webhosting and under $20/once a year for domain registration and registration.
Once you have chosen an author name, use it across all your social media platforms you plan to use in marketing your book to readers. Use your name consistently and constantly in all circumstances.
If you’re considering getting your book published, we hope you found this free advice helpful. Next week I’ll offer more advice on best practices for building an author platform.