So let's say you've decided on a way to focus your web presence. You've joined a group blog and are planning on incorporating some of your research material into your website and quarterly newsletter. What is next?
These points of contact between you and your potential readers are only the starting place. Next, you might give some thought to how you will present yourself through those channels.
If you're not sure how to do this, try this. Ask your critiquing partners to give you three adjectives to describe your manuscripts. Are they thoughtful or funny? Moody or upbeat? Dark or light?
The answers can help you find the right tone for your online presence. Chances are, your books take on a certain tone that's consistent with your native personality, so this won't be too hard to do. But thoughtful, sober people can sometimes turn out to be incredibly clever and funny on paper. The point is not to pinpoint your personality, but your book's personality.
This will also be part of your author brand, so it's good to understand this even if you end up not using it in your PR. (Why wouldn't you use this in your PR, you ask? What if you write ultracreepy, ultragory horror novels? You might not want your readers to think you're equally creepy in person. There's a difference between a serial killer and the person who studies serial killers.)
Why ask your writing partners? Why not just figure it out for yourself? Because you might not have a perfectly accurate handle on how your work is coming across. Getting an independent (but skilled) observer to reflect it back to you might enlighten you as to what you're actually accomplishing on the page. And it might lead you to shift your PR efforts in some subtle but important ways. For example, what you think is uproariously funny might be clever and witty (more cerebral, that is) to others. By all means, continue to laugh at your jokes, but think about the difference in tone when you're choosing graphics. Avoid cartoonish or clownish graphics -- which might work very well for another writer -- and try for something that captures the tone of how people will respond to your books.
Now that you have your three key words for your brand personality, the next step is figuring out how to translate that into a web presence. So, in the comments, let's play with an example. I'll give you two to choose from.
Your books are witty, intricate, and charming.
Your books are edgy, compelling, and tense.
For these options, consider the following questions.
- What color scheme would work well for the website?
- What kind of extras or add-ons might work on such a website?
- Are there any experts who might make for good guest bloggers there? Any to avoid?
- How do the adjectives influence your choice in graphics?
I can't wait to hear what you come up with.