Two books are sitting on the shelf (physical, digital – whatever format you prefer). Both authors are new to you, but one of the names looks vaguely familiar – you can’t remember why though. You pick up each of them in turn, scan the back covers, and you think both of them might be worth a shot. They’re the same price, but you can only afford one.
Which one do you choose?
Personally, all things being equal as outlined above, I’d go with the one where the author’s name sounded vaguely familiar. Who knows where I heard it – might have been twitter, or facebook, or a forum somewhere, or even just people talking in a restaurant. But for some reason, the name stuck in my mind, and that’s enough to sway me, or at least make me take a closer look (ie, open the book and check the narrative). I have to say, going to a bookstore these days after all the contacts I’ve made through social networking is really difficult, because I recognize so many author’s names as someone I’ve either conversed with or watched conversing with others…and I want to support them all. An unfortunate impossibility what with books costing money and all.
My point in all this is that name recognition is important, no matter what you’re selling. It’s marketing 101, and something that takes time to implement. Selling books is no different – you want your name (whatever name you’re writing under) to be recognized by as many people as possible, so that even when you’re releasing your very first book, someone, somewhere will walk into a bookstore (or surf through a web site), see your name, and be drawn to it even if they can’t remember where they saw/read/heard it before. The wonderful thing about the internet is how easy it is to start getting your name out there, and making sure people know who you are *before* your book goes to press.
The easiest thing to do is use your name – whichever name you’re going to publish under – everywhere you go on the ‘net. Twitter, Facebook, your blog(s), forums, *everywhere*. You need to be an active participant for it to work, of course, but it’s a very easy way to just get your name noticed. The more active you are, the more your name gets out there.
I’ve been considering doing a series of posts on social networking – specifically tips on how to *seem* like you’re everywhere online with minimal effort. If anyone’s interested, I’ll replace either the Weds. Round Robin posts or the Thurs. Wildcard posts with those for awhile. You can vote yea or nay below. The poll will be open through Sunday night.