Week 1: Welcome to ‘Develop Your Online Presence’

What the Internet Can Do For You – UPDATED SEPT 2015



These days, all writers need to build a platform of readers, which means (at some point) creating your own website and/or blog, posting excerpts of your work, creating a FaceBook page, tweeting – basically putting good stuff out into the world so that people can find and follow you. It’s a great opportunity to build interest in your work, and readers are much more likely to buy from writers they feel they know.

Why is this necessary? Because, whether you self-publish or publish with traditional publishers, readers expect authors to have a digital presence. So do publishers. It may be a while before you actually start to get comments on your blog or website from the public but, if you send work out onto the world wide web, people will read it, and they will click the links to learn more about you and your writing, the same way most of us have looked online to read more about an author who intrigued us. And, although publishers may be loathe to admit this, they are currently rejecting books they would previously have accepted if those books’ authors have no social media presence. Authors with no media presence cannot support the publisher’s marketing efforts, thereby increasing sales. And these days, publishers need all the help they can get with sales since their profits have been so undermined due to the digital revolution.

When you browse the web and see what authors are doing today to market their work, the range of options can be overwhelming. Sometimes, writers complain, it can be hard to find enough time to write, never mind marketing ourselves as well. That’s true, and it’s easy to resent the changes that we’re all experiencing, but there’s good news here: Once you have created a blog or a Facebook page or a Twitter account (or one of the many other choices that are right for your demographic), it’s very simple and quick to keep it updated. By the end of this 11-week course, as you complete the assignments, you will have established a simple, effective way to build your platform slowly but surely.

It’s also possible to ensure that any (and all) posts are enriching to you, the author. There is a way to post an update, once only, with information that you would be learning or engaging with anyway so that, in fact, your social media activity upgrades your skill set and enhances your daily life.

We will explore Twitter and Facebook and the other platforms in greater detail later on, but for now, decide what you want your official author name to be. Ideally you want to use exactly the same name (or as close as possible) on all platforms. If your name is taken, don’t worry, there’s always another variation that can be created. In fact, that’s one of the best things about this new, digital environment: whenever we hit a road block – when the technology fails or the site we became familiar with gets updated or something doesn’t work – there’s always another way. It’s one of the things I love about this brave new world; there are many ways to get things done and all the websites and services we will encounter are designed to be as simple as possible. Web designers want everyone to be able to use their sites and the need for professionals with specific training is diminishing daily. That’s great news for writers!

There are other websites you might like to engage in, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Amazon, and we’ll talk more about that too, later on.


It’s always helpful, if possible, to start with the end in mind. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and that’s okay, but if you can define your ultimate goal or at least have some idea of your desired direction, you can save yourself time in the long run. This is because, in our new, hyper-connected world, there are lots of possibilities for getting our work out there, and it’s easy to spend hours executing something that may not support our long-term goals. Some people have no idea of their goals in the beginning; it takes a while to achieve clarity, and that’s fine too. We’ll revisit this topic as we move forward in the coming weeks.

When defining a strategy, a good place to start is by going back to basics. The more self-knowledge we have, the easier it is to define how we might move forward most effectively.


Answer the following questions:

1. What sort of writer are you?
That is, how many different types of writing have you done? (Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, long-form, short-form, poetry, etc)?
2. What do you write mostly – short stories, novels,etc?
3. What do you feel is your strongest work?
4. What would you most like people to read? Why?
5. What do you think is most likely to sell in today’s market? (If this is not a concern for you just now, that’s fine too. It’s great to get started on building your platform early. if possible).
6. What writing are you excited to do in the future?
7. What is the most fantastic writing achievement you can imagine for yourself?
8. How do you feel about social media?
That is, are you excited by the possibilities or just exhausted by all the extra work? Do you love to conquer a new website and feel a thrill when a brand-new technology or service appears, or do you wish you could go back to the age of the Brontes and pen and ink? If you aren’t keen on engaging online, once you’ve completed this course, you might want to consider hiring a local college kid to help you out.

When you’re ready, email your answers to tessa @ bookgirl.tv and I look forward to reading them!