A Digital Day for Authors

in Author Resources, Books, Digital Publishing, Professional

Of course it started with a hashtag — #AbramsDigitalDay. What better way to get everyone on the same page about our goal for a day in which we brought our local Abrams Books’ authors together to discuss best practices for their digital platforms.

The “day” was actually only about five-and-a-half-hours, because there’s nothing I hate more than all-day sessions. That’s one of the benefits of being the organizer — you can make decisions like that.

Since our allotted time for #AbramsDigitalDay was rather compact, we had to make a point of not overwhelming our authors with too much information, which is something that can happen really easily when you are attempting to provide strategies for the rather broad concept of an author digital platform. And so that became a key theme of the day — to not get overwhelmed. And I wasn’t just speaking to the packed schedule — I was talking about all the various website options and social media profiles and to-do list items that inherently come with an idealized version of an author digital platform.

This was the message: Do not get overwhelmed. Establish a hub, start with one social media profile, and build from there. Know about your options, take time to study the established platforms and keep abreast of new options that regularly pop up, but take it one step at a time. Along the way, you will establish what you like, develop your authentic voice, and find that those next steps will come naturally. I also made a point of saying that you may need just ONE social media profile. You do not necessarily have to be on every single platform.

Of course the main events for the day were the excellent speakers we brought in to make presentations:

Dan Blank of We Grow Media came in and did an insightful presentation on developing an authentic voice with their website and social media profiles. He wrote an extremely thoughtful summary of the day, which I really encourage you to read.

Rachel Fershleiser, Literary Community Organizer at Tumblr, showcased all the cool stuff going on with Tumblr, focusing in on how the blogging platform works, and how authors can use it to connect to the thriving community and interaction that goes on the tumblrverse.

And Ami Greko, Book Marketing Strategist at Goodreads, came in to discuss opportunities for authors at Goodreads, chief among them to make sure to take advantage of their status as authors by converting their member profiles into author profiles (noting that an author profile provides access to additional features, things like the ability to post videos).

I was also able to sneak in various tips and best practices for running a website, as well as for the major social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, throughout the day.

But overall, I was most excited about the fact that our authors got to meet each other IRL. (I’ll make the same assurance here as I made at the event: I’m not about to get carried away with the use of digital acronyms). We had a range of authors — children’s book authors, cookbook authors, YA novelists, authors of design books. Some were established, others are going to be published for the first time in 2014. I believe that relationships forged in face to face gatherings are the key to building a strong, long-lasting digital platform, one that can grow and be truly meaningful. Even if all the nuance of the various digital strategies we went over didn’t hold, or never got put into practice, the day would still be extremely worthwhile, just by knowing those connections were made based upon meeting in person and learning together.

I really look forward to putting together more digital days for authors. Yes, authors should be spending their time writing books and essays and articles. But they should also be spending time on their digital platforms, which isn’t just about marketing books. Digital platforms are creative spaces, and provide meaningful ways to connect with readers, friends, teachers, librarians, fellow writers, colleagues in the publishing and arts industries, and more. The more creative the platform, the more engaging this experience is for all involved.

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