Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Branding Checklist, Part 2

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The Branding Checklist, Part 2

By Lucy Leiderman

The Long Haul is a monthly column by Lucy Leiderman, the author of the forthcoming book A Past Life, the first book in a young adult trilogy published by Dundurn Press.


Part 2: Web Presence

Maybe you want to be writer. Or maybe your dream is to land a job as a literary agent or editor. Whatever your aspirations, chances are that your success hinges on someone somewhere noticing your many letters/emails and deciding to take a chance on you. The arts have always been a competitive business, but getting a foot through the door is probably tougher now than ever before. Luckily, handy things exist that can help you create a brand out of yourself to get yourself noticed and look professional.

While the first part of the Branding Checklist focused on social media, this portion focuses on web presence. For most people, having a web presence is synonymous with social media. But there’s more to it than that. Anyone active on the Internet has probably already figured out that marketing yourself is just as important as marketing your product, skills or other offerings. So what other channels can you use to get your message out there?

The Website

Do you need a website? I always say yes. If the Internet is like one big community board, then having a website is a great way to make sure your advertisement is always up. It’s a permanent business card and a promotional tool. It’s also not as expensive as you may think. A website can cost you nothing, actually. There are tons of tools to help you build complete websites for free, like Weebly, while other tools exist to give you a single, compact page you can direct people to, like About.me.

The standard rules apply when creating a website: be professional and don’t post anything you don’t want the entire world to see. Simple etiquette includes not taking content from other sites and posting it as your own (whether intentionally or not), saying thanks to anyone who mentions your website online and posting only appropriate pictures.

How do you track if people are coming to your website? Free tools like Google Analytics show you not only who is coming to your site, but also who is leaving it, after how long and from which country. The Internet is pretty great.

A Blog

What’s the difference between a website and a blog? Well, on a blog, you’re expected to post something new on a regular basis. A blog also lets you interact with other bloggers — something you can’t do on a website. There are lots of free blog resources, including Blogger and WordPress.

Like social media, blogging is really an exercise of “you get what you give.” When you list other people’s blogs on your blog and comment on their content, you’ll usually reap the rewards. But beware! I often advise clients that having an ill-kept blog is worse than having no blog at all. You don’t want people to search for you only to see you have a vague online presence on Blogger from two years ago. A blog is kind of like a Tamagotchi pet — you have to take good care of it for it to grow.

Forums

These are my favourite. I love interacting with people on forums because you get instant replies at all hours of the day and night. But again, beware! Sometimes walking into a forum is like stepping into a shark tank. Not all forums are nice, and not all users want to help. Always make sure to read forum guidelines and participate in a few threads before creating your own. When you do create your own, it can be a great way to get conversation going.

Forums exist for all kinds of topics — from being a writer to fixing your computer to being new in town. A lot of forum groups now include a physical aspect, offering meetups where like-minded individuals can get together and converse in person. You can learn more at www.meetup.com.

Collab Sites

I don’t know if that’s what these sites are actually called, but I call them collab sites because they are websites focused on collaboration. For authors, there are lots of outlets that let peers criticize, promote and comment on your work. You can upload parts of or your entire story and get reviews, tips and suggestions from other authors. HarperCollins runs one of these called authonomy, but there are many others, including Figment and Wattpad.

These sites usually feature a forum and allow you to link back to your site or social media so that you can promote yourself and your work. Win-win.

If you want to get into book rating or promoting, Goodreads allows you to build a following based on your reviews (as do Amazon and other booksellers).

The Internet provides lots of information and opportunity. Don’t shy away and don’t forget to take your time. Great sites aren’t built in a day, and (usually) neither are reputations. Do your research, think ahead and feel free to utilize all that the web has to offer.


Lucy Leiderman is a person interested in far too many things. She writes about getting inspired, writing and trying to get published. She likes to compare the whole murky process to the swamp planet of Dagobah. She also likes to make pop culture references. Lucy is the author of the upcoming book A Past Life (Dundurn Press). Follow her on Twitter via @lucyleid.

Want more writing and publishing tips? Visit Open Book's archives for more articles by Lucy Leiderman.

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