I recently received something unsettling in my inbox. Mei Pak has experience making crafts, but I find that her videos have some crossover appeal to creatives of all types, including authors. I’ve been on her email list for a couple of years now. Long story short, in this email, she said that Instagram shut down her account. This is a lady who makes scented food jewelry. Her site is here. She was using Instagram to promote these items. I have never seen her do a post or video that is the least bit controversial. I’ve been hearing about content creators of political commentary getting their accounts removed on various social media platforms, but this time, a jewelry creator has been hit. She said she followed all of Instagram’s rules, and I have no reason to doubt her.
This got me thinking about what we, as authors, can do to help buffer ourselves in case we find ourselves being removed from a social media site, too. I’m not saying this “will” happen to us, but why not build a wide net?
The first thing I recommend is being on multiple platforms.
Diversification is a strength. Fortunately, Mei Pak is still on Facebook and You Tube. She still has a website. She still has her email list. She was smart. She laid a foundation across multiple platforms.
I’ve always believed the best practice is to “never put your eggs in one basket”. You just don’t know what the future will bring. While you can’t prevent something bad from happening, you can buffer yourself by diversifying. I realize you can’t be everywhere. There isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. My advice is to pick the marketing platforms that most interest you AND the ones you have time to maintain. There are plenty to choose from. Facebook, MeWe, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Gab, Gettr, You Tube, Rumble, Bitchute, TikTok, Odessey, Minds, Patreon, Substack, Goodreads, Blogger, WordPress, Live Journal, Booksprout, BookFunnel, and (last but not least) selling books in person. I’m sure there are more marketing venues out there, but these were the ones that came to mind while writing this post.
If you wake up one day and find out that one of your accounts has been removed, at least you have other sites where people can find you. I know that’s not much consolation when you put a lot of time and effort into building a following on a certain platform, but it’s better than not having a presence on other platforms at all.
The second thing I recommend is having an email list.
The way I found out about Mei Pak’s experience was through the email list I subscribed to. There have been times I questioned whether it was worth having an email list or not. My list never gets that big, and only about half of the subscribers ever open it. Well, after learning about what happened to Mei Pak, I’m convinced an email list is a must-have in an author’s arsenal. This is your direct line of communication to your readers. You can use this to notify your readers if one of your accounts gets removed. Then you can point them to other accounts that are still available. Maybe they’ll follow you to another social media site. Maybe they won’t. But at least they’ll know where they can find you.
I don’t do anything fancy for my email list. I only let the people know when I have a new book out. This is because I’m swamped with all of the other things I have on my plate. What you do with your email list is up to you. Some authors like to send emails about once a week and share personal stories, some do giveaways, some run cross promotions with other authors, some offer free short stories, and some ask their readers questions. The key is to pick the things you can commit to.
The third thing I recommend is having some books wide.
I’m not in KU at all, but I can understand why some authors are in KU. My advice, for what it’s worth, is to have some books wide. Amazon is one retailer. I realize it’s a large retailer with a large following, but what if they remove your books? I’ve heard of authors losing their accounts at Amazon. The reasons vary, but sometimes innocent authors who have done nothing wrong will get the “your account has been deleted” email. For whatever reason, their accounts got flagged. Then they had to go find a representative who could help them restore their accounts.
Wide authors can get hit as well as KU authors. This isn’t specifically a KU author’s problem. But if you have some books wide, at least you have a readership on other retailers to fall back on while you’re fighting with Amazon to restore your account. I sleep much better at night knowing I have books on other retailers. If Amazon hits me, it will truly suck, but the suck won’t be as bad because I’m not dependent on Amazon for all of my writing income.
Again, this is just my advice, but if you’re all in KU and would like to put some books wide, I would pull the books that aren’t performing well in KU. If you have KU books that are making you good money, you don’t want to rock the boat. You have a right to make the money off of your work. But if there are a few books that aren’t moving on KU, why have them there?
I want to add a side note about having direct selling. Some authors are doing well with a personal storefront. My personal storefront sucks. I make (maybe) $2 a year over on Payhip. But I do like having it there for a “just in case” moment. It’s just another part of the net.
The fourth thing I recommend is creating an author page on as many retailers as you can so that people can “Follow” you to be notified of new releases.
To date, I only have an author page on Amazon, Smashwords, and Bookbub. I believe authors can request one on Google Play. I’m not sure if the option is available anywhere else. But I am happy to see that I’m slowly gaining traction on these sites. (It’s not huge numbers, but it’s still an extra avenue that I don’t have to actively work for.) The perk about these authors pages is that the sites will send the email to your followers to announce your new release. You don’t have to collect emails yourself. With Bookbub, you have to remember to add it to your book list within a week (I think) of your book’s release date. But that’s an easy process. You just search for your book, it comes up, and you add the book. Bookbub does the rest.
The fifth thing I recommend is having a website.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but a place that showcases all of your books in one place is a good idea, whether you worry about having an account removed or not. Your website should be clean and easy to navigate. My website isn’t perfect. I’m still working on it. You can keep tweaking it to get it the way you want it. The main things you want on the website are the genre(s) you write, what series or standalones you have, and where people can buy them. Other stuff is nice, but those are the basics.
I have seen some authors post a pdf file of their entire book list that readers can print out. This is a good idea that I want to work on in the future. I can see how this would be a helpful sheet for people who are interested in your books. A brief description of the books may or may not be necessary, but it probably would be neat if you do series to list out where key characters show up in other books. I’ve learned that readers love to reconnect with past characters by seeing them in another book, and they want to know what other books they’ll find those characters in. If you only do standalones, you could divide those books up by the “type” of books they are. For example, “fantasy romance”, “psychological horror”, “technological science fiction”. That way, readers can go right to the books that interest them the most.
Having books in multiple formats is probably a good idea.
This isn’t a “recommend” really, but it’s a final thought I have on this topic. Ebooks are dominant in the indie author world, but it’s probably a good idea to also have paperbacks, audiobooks, and/or serial formats, too. Paperbacks are simple enough, and the cost of making them is pretty much the cost of printing the book. Serials are digital, so really all you have to do is divide the story into episodes. While that takes time, the cost is nothing. Out of the three on the list, those two seem to be the easiest option to spreading the “net” on the formats you have available. The audiobooks, however, are a bit more difficult, and some of us aren’t gifted with voices that can hit a wide range for different characters. With AI technology, this could simplify the process.