I write a lot about the importance of web presence for businesses and individuals, how to create it and how to sustain it. But right now authors are in a uniquely powerful and also potentially hazardous position in terms of their web presence, and in this post I want to speak to those issues specifically.
As a result of Amazon's aggressive moves in the publishing industry, independent authors now have the book distribution system of our dreams. It couldn't be easier to publish on Amazon (well it could, but why quibble), and it is now possible, if you have a quality product and are willing to work hard, to actually make decent money writing. Maybe even a living. (Cue authors sobbing for joy.)
Amazon gives authors a powerful publishing platform (other e-reader platforms do too, though Amazon is unquestionably the leader). They also provide fantastic opportunities to interact with readers through lists, forums, and Author Central pages, and allow easy control of pricing and promotions for all your titles.
Many authors have huge audience interactions on their Facebook fan pages as well. There are tons of readers on Facebook, and you can really build a buzz for your books using this amazing free platform. The downside? If your web presence is solely on Amazon and Facebook, it's not really yours.
John Battelle writes compellingly about the independent web and how that commons is shrinking due to the rise of "walled gardens" such as Facebook and Amazon. Both platforms are interested in keeping the value of your transactions for themselves, and both are focused on long-term strategies to grow their own turf, not on helping you with your writing career. Facebook can already use any of your content for its own purposes, however it chooses to do so. In exchange for exposing our work to vast numbers of readers, we help Amazon and Facebook in their long-range plans to dominate the Internet.
What to do? The solution isn't to ignore Facebook, or refuse to distribute your e-books through Amazon. I would like to see authors make money and adopt some of that long-range strategic thinking to tend their own gardens while conditions are ripe. Using Battelle's apt metaphor, authors need to anchor their taproot on an independent website or blog.
There are several ways to do this that come readily to mind. Have I missed any? Please let me know in the comments.
A version of this article was originally published at Creative Content Coaching.
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