Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Self-publishing And Web Presence

Since I've been maintaining the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, I've been noticing an odd little quirk regarding the web presence of some of our local self-published authors. While it is common for self-published authors to have websites and blogs as sophisticated as anything you'll see in the world of traditional publishing, as well as Facebook pages, Google+ accounts, and Twitter feeds, it's also not unusual to see some self-published authors who have done nothing at all to market themselves on the Internet. I'll see authors making appearances at bookstores and when I try to find some information on them to link to within the CCLC, there is nothing. If I make a big effort (and I shouldn't have to--really, I shouldn't), I may find a small article in a local paper about Joe/Josephine Blow having published a book. And that's it. But sometimes I don't even find that.

What's going on here? you may ask. I certainly did.

In some cases, we may be talking about very inexperienced writers who are living the write-it-and-they-will-come fantasy. They may not realize that writers need to do something more than publish a book in order to find readers.

In other cases, we may be talking hobbyists, people who just want the experience of seeing their names on a book. Though why those folks are then making an appearance at a bookstore is a mystery. 

In either case, if they sat down and tried to come up with a plan to make it difficult for readers to find them, they couldn't do better than what they're doing, which is nothing.

I, of course, am interested in children's and YA writers for my children's literature calendar. I have occasionally come across writers who have chosen ambiguous titles and covers for their children's books. Unless the bookstore clearly labels these authors' events for children, and sometimes they don't, potential visitors/buyers can't even tell what age group the book is for and, thus, whether or not they're interested. If, on top of that, these authors have no web presence, there is no way to determine what their work is or who it is for.

Now, yes, traditionally published authors may not market themselves professionally, either. But the situations I have stumbled upon have all involved writers of the self-published persuasion.

I've had to put in some extra time and effort tracking down these people this past year. For the sake of my own work, I've recently made a couple of decisions: 1. If I can't find an obvious children's author's website immediately, I will list the event with no link for the author. 2. If I can't determine from the bookstore's marketing that an author has written a children's book, I can no longer justify taking the time to hunt down that information. That author's event just won't be listed.

Not only do these authors miss opportunities to connect with readers because they haven't put in the work to market themselves on the Internet, they also miss opportunities for professional networking. It isn't necessary to do every single form of Internet marketing, but it's hard to understand why someone wouldn't do at least one thing.

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