Thursday, 1 October 2015

Build it and they will come; Building your online author platform

I have been doing a lot of research about authors developing a platform on social media as I will be chairing a panel at GenreCon in October and I want to make sure I've got my facts straight.
Well, it's official. Isle Pilsener, who works for Hachette Australia, confirmed via twitter #askHAU that publishers do google prospective authors to make sure they have an online following and it does play a part in whether they are offered a book contract or not.

The internet gives us a platform to showcase our work like never before, including the ability to cross international borders. We have the ability to create our own buzz by social media and word of mouth. Our blogs are a breeding ground where we can exchange ideas and styles and develop author/reader realtionships. We are the first generation of authors to have this opportunity.

It sounds quite magical and ethereal. Build it and they will come. But even Bob the Builder couldn't get his head around just how much building an author needs to do to create the kind of social platform that publisher are expecting from us mere mortals.

Why do you think so many celebs are getting book deals? Are we turning from a culture that used to value innovation in literature into who can win popularity contests online?

I value the relationship I have with my readers online and our connection is visible, measureable and able to be built upon either organically or financially. What is not visible and measurable, but where I enjoy building most of my relationships with readers is the meet and greets, the school visits, the market stalls, the face to face interactions that turn a stranger into a friend. How can a publisher determine how good you are at building an audience if the only criteria is that you have already built one, no matter how. I totally understand that stories can no longer be published on their own merits alone, but i'm just not sure how fair the new criteria is, considering the myriad of ways an online presence can be built and not always through real, genuine connections with readers.

That being said, I am working my little tooshy off to build my online presence in the only way I know how, because I don't want to miss out on opportunities to be published by the bigger houses. I just need to trust that given time, and honouring my authentic voice, I will get enough 'likes.'

Talk soon
x Michelle