As a Copywriter and Brand Designer by day, and a novel writer by night and weekends, I’ve realized how many writers would prefer to stick to writing and avoid marketing themselves at all costs. Marketing might as well be a four-letter word for many writers, and just the mere mention of the word marketing sets most writers into a state of stress or even panic. Even I recoil at the thought of marketing myself, and I spend my days working on brand and digital marketing strategies for my corporate clients.
So, I’m going to presume—if you are reading this article—that you too hate the idea of marketing yourself. With that in mind, I’m just going to dispose of the word marketing. I’m not going to mention the word in this entire series. You’ve seen the last of the marketing word. From here on out, I’m going to refer to it as The Bare Minimum. Why? Because that other word is misleading. It leaves writers with the belief that somehow it’s optional. And, any writer who believes the word starting with “M” is optional is doing themselves a great disservice. But, we aren’t going to talk about that anymore. Instead, in Part 1 of The Bare Minimum, I share the strategies I’ve implemented for our big clients pared down to address the individual needs of a writer.
The Bare Minimum: First things First
1. Buy Your Domain Name
I’m going to assume you know what a domain name is (ex. stephenking.com). Every writer should attempt to get their name with a .com at the end. Worth mentioning – if you use a middle name and it’s long, consider trying only your first and last name. With domain names, shorter is generally better, as you will see later during the Twitter setup. If you happen to have a popular name and someone has already snapped it up the next best domain is your name with a .net ending. If that is not available, try yournamebooks.com (ex. anthonyfranzebooks.com or terrypratchettbooks.com).Now for the actual purchase of the domain name: There are plenty of sites to buy a domain name, but in my company, we prefer to use namecheap.com. For writers, they also offer inexpensive web hosting. (We’ll get to that later.) Domain names are inexpensive and an absolute requirement even if you have no plans in the near future to have a website. Take my word for it, once you are published, you will wish you’d purchased a domain name with your name in it.
Quick How To Buy a Domain Name: Go to namecheap.com. In the big search box in the center enter your name with a .com ending. If you receive the response, “This Domain is not available.” Then retype your name with a .net ending and search again. Still not available? Retype with yournamebooks.com. Once you’ve found an available domain click the cart button next to your name to add it to your cart. Click View Cart and go through the checkout process. My suggestion for privacy sake is to also select the WhoIs Guard option, free for the first year. That way no one can see your home address. No need to select the SSL option. Just domain and WhoIs Guard. This will set you back $12.88 per year.
2. Set up a Facebook Business Page
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, it’s time to go out and secure your name on Facebook. Let’s not confuse a Facebook Business Page from a regular old Facebook account.What’s the difference between a Facebook account and a Facebook Business Page? Well, a Facebook account is a place to connect with people you know, usually in a more intimate setting. People request to friend you in a Facebook account, and you must actively choose to accept them as a friend.They interact with you on a personal level and like and comment on your posts. Many people keep their Facebook account private (I do) so only their friends can see what they post. A Facebook Business Page, on the other hand, has a “like” button versus “Add as Friend.” Anyone who searches for your name can see your Facebook Business Page (it’s public) and like it without your approval. They will also see that you are a writer (more on this in a later post).
Quick Tutorial on setting up the Bare Minimum of a FB Business Page: Log in to your Facebook page (if you don’t have one, make one). Then go to another writer’s FB Business page (J.K. Rowling’s is a good one). In the left hand column, underneath her profile photo and links, you should see a green button, “Create a Page.” Click that. In the new screen choose Artist, Band, or Public Figure and select Writer from the category. (Quick note on Author vs. Writer — If you’ve completed and published a novel you are an Author. If you haven’t, choose Writer. You can always change it later, once your book is published.) Enter your name – this will be the name you plan on seeing on the book cover, ex. Stephen King, and create your page. Facebook will transport you to your page and provide you with some Page Tips to get you started. The fourth tip is Create a Username for Your Page. Do that first. Try your name first. The one you want to see on the cover of your book. If that’s taken try it with the word books at the end. Other options include writer or author at the end, but if you used books for your domain name stick with books. Finally, until you are ready to show the world, you might want to unpublish your page. Do this by clicking Settings in the upper right bar. It will default to General. In the right column, second item down, Page Visibility, click Edit link. In the new window, check Unpublish Page then click Save Changes. Voila, page unpublished. Now click back on the link Page in the upper left corner to go back to the helpful tips and explore at your leisure.
3. Set up a Twitter account
Some authors only use Facebook, but I’d suggest at least a second platform, and for writers that is Twitter. You don’t have to understand Twitter for now. Let’s not even think about that. Let’s just do the Bare Minimum on Twitter for Part 1 of this series, secure your username. We’ll talk about following writers and participating in a community later on in this series. Drop by Drop we’ll get there. Okay.Quick Tutorial on setting up the Bare Minimum on Twitter: Go to the Twitter Sign up from your computer. Enter your name as it will appear on your book cover in the Full Name field. Enter a phone number or email address. (This information is not public. It’s only for Twitter.) Enter a Password. (Please make sure you use a secure password. Secure passwords include at least one capital letter, one number and ideally a character such as a “-” or “#” or “*.” Uncheck Tailer Twitter based on my recent website visits. Then before you click Sign Up, click on the Advanced Settings link below the Sign Up button and uncheck Let others find me by my email address and Let others find me by my phone number. You can change those settings later but better if you decide when your ready to be found. Okay, now click Sign Up. Time to choose a username. Twitter only allows 15 characters for your username. Start with your name first (including middle if you used that in the domain name). If that’s taken try your name with books on the end. If that’s taken or too long try firstname_lastname or firstinitial_lastname. In a perfect world, your domain name, Facebook Page username and Twitter username will all be the same.
Okay, if you’ve followed The Bare Minimum: First Things First steps so far, you should have a domain name and the bare bones of a Facebook Page and Twitter account along with a solid grasp of the name you will be using across all touchpoints. (Touchpoints is a fancy branding word for all places where someone can connect with you.) For now, you have made great strides toward creating your platform so give yourself a pat on the back and get back to what writers do best, and write.