THE BLOG
01/16/2015 03:43 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2015

The Dos and Don'ts of Digital Marketing for Authors

We all complain about social media because it takes so much time, but there is nothing we can do about it. It's the way the world has changed and we have to adapt. We can adapt enthusiastically because social media gives authors an unprecedented opportunity to build a brand and create community--especially when authors connect with their audience effectively. Here are some dos and don'ts for authors creating a digital marketing plan.

Don't get attracted to the first shiny object. I tend not to get attracted to the first shiny object online. I consider: Is it the right thing to do for my client? Will it be effective? Does it work? I like to look at it from every angle. Authors should do the same. Don't do something just because other people are doing it. Make sure it's right for you, your brand and messaging.

Do follow the data. Data-driven marketing is a trend we all should be focusing on. In publishing people will say to authors you have to go and tweet. You have to have a website. Or you have to be on Pinterest. Without a plan, those efforts become unsustainable. Everything we do now has a data footprint. We can look at Facebook insights and see traffic to our blogs. There is data and analytics to everything we do in social media. We can see what's working and what isn't and adapt accordingly. We don't have to work in the dark and we can do the things that are effective, efficient and are worth our time. Data helps us do that.

Don't forget it's a privilege to talk to people. We can connect with our readers and audience like we never could before. It's an intimacy and privilege to be able to talk to people. It's an amazing opportunity.

Do go for engagement. You can't be a bullhorn. You have to go for engagement. You want people to talk on your page. You want a smaller community that's engaged as opposed to a large audience that's not engaged. Look at ways to engage the audience you do have. Take very good care of the people who have given you their permission to talk with them--whether that's through a newsletter, blog, or on Facebook. Give your followers your best.

Do write about what flows naturally for you. Be you. Don't write because it's the thing you think you should write about or post. Look at the numbers, see where people are commenting and sharing. Where is your engagement? Evaluate the data. Be natural, but ask: What is your audience telling you?

Do be authentic. When you share things about your life, it resonates. When we share ourselves, when we are more alert and present (authentic) we attract people more.

Do have your digital house in order. Have a website. Consider sending out a regular newsletter. Engage with your community. See what works and what doesn't work. Remember that people who sign up for your newsletter are your super fans. They deserve a special place in your community.

Don't get overwhelmed. You don't have to be on everything, but you need to invest in one or two or three social media platforms. Double down on things that are working and ditch the things that aren't working.

Do know your audience. Internet publicity is customized. Don't do this or that because it worked for someone else. You have to know your audience and what works. Write down everything you know about where you are getting business from. Take a step back and assess what you need to do.

Don't spam. Don't send unsolicited emails or tweets ... none of those efforts work. We all delete them.

Do personalize. You might feel like you accomplished something by sending an email to 100 people but then there is data that says no one opened it up. Maybe it feels like you got it off your checklist.

Don't forget social graces. On LinkedIn people think it's okay to just email people. You have to have permission before you bombard people with things. "The time to build a relationship is long before you need it." - Lois Frankel. It isn't okay to forget social graces because of the anonymity of online communication.

Don't have a website that is not updated or current. For a business author, a lot of times when we are pitching them, the media will look at them and they aren't looking at the number of followers, they are looking at the content they are sharing. Everyone is looking at our websites. Build social capital. Give first. Have a helping mentality long before you need a favor.

Do have a website that is mobile-friendly. Our websites should be where people can learn more about us. And they have to work on mobile devices. Is your website well-functioning?

Do realize there is no everyone.com. Your audience is specific and determined by your shared values.

Do target your pitching. You can't write one pitch for everyone. I learned this the hard way. It's far more effective to email each person individually. We all want to be spoken to, respected, and heard. No matter how easy mail merge is, at FSB everyone is pitched individually. I learned that lesson through my own mistakes. Customize your pitch for an individual audience.

Do embrace the new normal. Really think about your digital plan holistically. Think about your online branding on an ongoing basis. It is well worth the time and investment. Learn it, enjoy it and amazing opportunities will happen. Take the journey.

Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, a digital publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. For online publicity, book publishing and social media news, follow Fauzia on Twitter: @FauziaBurke and Facebook. To talk with FSB and ask your book publicity questions, please join us on Facebook.