Pondering blog ideas while observing the blizzard of 2010 outside my window, I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about authors and their commitment to social networking, and in particular building and maintaining a loyal audience that continues to grow long before and after a book's publication date.
For nonfiction and fiction authors alike, the importance of connecting with your audience is crucial at every stage of an author's career. At the beginning, it's about finding your readers -- identifying who they are and where they hang out online; then it's about building and growing that fan base, but also about maintaining fans' interest and keeping them coming back for more. It's not helpful to put up a website or blog, or start a Facebook page or Twitter account, and only keep them active right before and right after publication. It's about building a long term relationship, and it has to become a part of your daily routine. Seriously, none of this is new information, but it bears repeating because the results are clear and in many cases quantifiable. A recent example worth noting is my client, Shreve Stockton, whose book the Daily Coyote stems from her popular blog. An author who is intimately connected to her fans has the ability to stay close to his or her audience, and as a fringe benefit can even sometimes generate national publicity (and not necessarily directly book related, but that's the point) months after a book's publication.
There are a lot of resources available for anyone's use on the web, and a long term commitment to building your name, creating ongoing content that is fresh and engaging, and creatively thinking of new ways to connect with readers are some of the ways to ensure a successful career that has longevity. Books have become only a part of the bigger picture of an author's platform, and staying focused on these efforts will pay off in the long run in expected and sometimes unexpected ways. If you have any stories that illustrate this point, please share.