Thursday, 24 January 2013

Create Your Own Community.

I know I keep banging on about it like a drummer from a punk band but independent authors simply have to promote their own work. How, is the problem. There are so many ways a writer can dissipate his/her time for very little reward that could have been spent on our primary function of writing. Some of the promotional activities can also be costly and largely ineffective. Time spent writing never is, as that is how we develop our craft.
Sadly, if you want to make a living and get yourself noticed you have to promote. Last week we took a look at teaser videos that don't have to be hi tech to be very effective. This week let's consider a new opportunity being afforded by Google+ that we can turn to our advantage - the Google+ Community. I believe this feature has enormous potential for the writer.
Ok, so what is a Google+ Community and what opportunities does it offer?
First let's look at Google's definition of a community:
"Google+ communities are places for people to get together and talk about the interests that they share."
Joining a community is easy. Simply click on the community icon and a list of communities that have already been created will come up.  I have already joined several that are of interest to me. I also wanted to see how others organise the communities they have created and what they did to engage with members. For authors wanting to build a readership the key word is engagement.
If we can engage effectively with a potential readership while in the process of writing our book think how powerful a motivational force that can be. Dickens wrote his novels almost as 'soaps' with an engaged fan base just waiting for the next episode. He didn't simply sit down and decide to write a classic. So that's one possible way we have thought of already - what about offering our book to our community in instalments. First of course we have to create an engaged community!
We may be jumping ahead of ourselves a little. One of the communities I joined recently was Indie Readers and Writers. The trouble with these kind of communities and forums is that they  can often be overwhelmed by people who use them simply to promote their own work and not to engage in any sort of meaningful way with other members. "But", you may ask, "isn't that what you said we must do, promote our work?" TRUE! Unfortunately blatant self-promotion can often be a complete turn off.
Following the example of W.H Gaines I decided to create a community for my book 'Billy and The Pit of Shadows'. Obviously creating a community for your book will not initially attract as many members as would a more generic title but it has the advantage of :
  • Being up front about your intentions

  • Forcing you to be more innovative in engaging your membership in a meaningful way.

  • Is more manageable and enables your community to grow as you write your book.

Creating a community is the easy part. Click on the communities icon and a page like this will appear giving you the opportunity to Join or Create a community.
You need to give some thought about how you will engage your community as this will be the key as to whether your community will thrive or shrivel.

Billy and The Pit of Shadows is a paranormal adventure for children of all ages set in the South Wales Valleys. The main character Billy is nine years old. One of the first things I did was identify points of contacts within the story that people might genuinely find interesting because they can relate to it themselves. You must genuinely seek and want interaction with your members.

For example one chapter is set around a school assembly. This affords me the opportunity to engage my community by asking if they can remember any assemblies that stand out in their memories for whatever reason. The most embarrassing, boring, funniest etc. The point is I genuinely want to hear about them so I can feature them on my blog. Hopefully I will be able to provide more ideas as I wrestle with the task of creating a vibrant and involved community.

IMHO there is no point in seeking members if you do not have a plan of engagement mapped out. Once you have it is time to start inviting members to the community. Invite friends form Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and, wait for it. . . your blog. This is where YOU get the invite to join. If I am going to conduct a meaningful exercise in assessing the potential of Google+ communities as a promotional tool for authors I need your involvement.

What does this entail:
  • Join the community.

  • Interact and respond to initiatives. e.g the school assembly.

  • Give feedback and suggestions.

Together we can create a model that can become an effective promotional tool for everyone.

I will send you an invite to join Billy and The Pit of Shadows community and look forward to engaging with you. Sincere thanks in anticipation of your co-operation.

One word of warning. The only danger in creating a community around your book is that if it's not that well written or it doesn't grab the reader then the exercise will be counter productive. But it's probably better to discover that sooner rather than later!



  1. This is the most useful post that I've read for some time, Phil. Thanks. I already want to find out more about Billy. Engagement is the key, I agree. As Indies, we need to look at what really works and this facility appeals because it's about more than promotion alone. We all enjoy feedback, but that needs to be collaborative if we wish to ultimately engage with our readers.

  2. Couldn't agree more Eiry. As indie authors we have to be prepared to give as well as take.