Why Authors Need a Genuine Online Presence

When I first ventured into the writing business professionally last year, the advice I heard most often went something like this: get online, build your website, use social media, and develop an online presence. Naturally, I took that advice to heart, and I thought it would be


Guess what?

The story of my life!

The story of my life!

Just like I had learned about setting goals and creating my brand, I also learned that fostering an online presence wasn’t so easy. Just like with everything else that is worth doing and doing well, it requires time, effort, and finesse. And if you know me, I like to speed through projects and often do so with the grace of a bull performing the Nutcracker in a China shop.

That's not quite what I meant

That’s not quite what I meant

Now that's a bit more accurate!

Now that’s a bit more accurate!

Why is an online presence so important for an author?

It’s important because in this fast paced digital world, an online presence can generate word-of-mouth advertising. Naturally, when people really like a product, such as a book,

See how much she loves that book!

See how much she loves that book!

they will discuss that book with their friends

You have just GOT to read this book

You have just GOT to read this book

Their friends may even buy said book on that recommendation, and if your writing is good, all these readers will soon want to



Readers have voracious appetites. They know it, and they freely admit it! 

Well, if an author has an online presence, then more readers are aware when new books by that author are out. If readers are unaware, how are they going to find a book, much less buy it? Sure, they might stumble across the book.

Go ahead. Find your book.

Go ahead. Find your book.

Readers have tons of authors and books to choose from. Just hoping they stumble across it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble isn’t very efficient marketing. Is it?


Before genuine online presence

Take me for example. When I self-published my first book, I had a less-than-zero online presence. Book sales reflected that. Even though the book received some great reviews, people just didn’t know about it. Why? Well, I hadn’t done the advance work of creating an online presence.


After genuine online presence

When I built a better social media presence, the sales for my next book 3 were infinitely better! By the time, my next two books, The Gifted One and Moral Authoritywhich was a second edition of my self-published book I mentioned earlier, were released, sales were even better because my social presence was that much stronger.

Because of my online presence, more potential readers were aware of my books.

Because of my online presence, more readers were talking about my books after they read them.

Because of readers’ word-of-mouth, other potential readers heard about my books and became aware I existed. In turn, they started buying my books.

See how that works?

It sounds easy. Right? Well, it’s not. There is a catch, and it was a lesson I needed to learn–an author’s online presence must be genuine!

What does a genuine online presence mean?

It’s quite simple really. Authors need to interact with their readers, fans, and other authors in their social media networks, and those interactions must be sincere.

Let me explain

Let me explain

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen authors blast their Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or other social networking site with their self-promotions.

Yeah, it can sometimes feel EXACTLY like that!

Yeah, it can sometimes feel EXACTLY like that!

While touting our books is part of the profession, it cannot and should not be all the author does with his or her social media.

Self-promotion isn’t genuine at all, and it can be annoying. Think about the constant advertising you see in print or online. How much attention do we pay to those?

That about sums up my reaction too

That about sums up my reaction too

That’s why authors have to do more than just blast their social media with their latest release, review, or blog stop.

If that’s all, an author gives, they will likely not see much in return.

How does an author establish a genuine online presence?

It really comes down to these five tasks:

  • Share tidbits about your life–What’s happening in your life? What movie did you just see and love or hate? What photos would you not mind sharing with the public? What made you laugh today? What did you hear in the news that made you angry? Offer the reader parts of your life that show you are a real person. Readers love that, and they respond to it
  • Comment on your readers posts/updates–By doing this, an author involves her/himself in their readers lives. Is a reader upset about something? Offer some words of comfort. If a reader is celebrating some milestone, offer congratulations. If readers say something funny or touch upon a topic you enjoy talking about, join the conversation. This builds rapport and helps readers remember you. Just keep in mind that you can’t only talk to the same five people all the time. You should diversify who you talk to. If you have a huge list of friends, there’s no way you can reach them all, but if you cycle through the list, especially those who post constantly, you can reach a good number of them.
  • Join online writers or readers groups–This helps increase your presence substantially. A readers group puts you right with the people who you want to be with. Find a group that loves the genre you write and join. Get involved in the conversations. Explain why you love this book or that book. That will also put you on a reader’s radar, when they are contemplating what book to buy next.
  • Promote other authors–When you promote other authors, you show that you are a part of a community. It shows that you are not just looking out for yourself, but that  you genuinely care about the success of your peers. Also, when an author promotes other authors, those same authors will remember you and will promote your latest release, review, or blog tour. This means you will reach all their friends and could garner some new readers.
  • Be real–Readers and authors can spot a fake quite easily. They can tell when an author is simply going through the motions instead of taking a real interest. That is why all authors should work to foster sincere relationships online. Be yourself and be polite. Remember, social media is not the place for authors to air their drama or attack other readers/authors/review sites. If you must vent, find a loved one or a good friend. Authors shouldn’t broadcast their discontent for all to see. Doing so has a way of coming back.

How does an author do all this and keep up with his/her writing?

I won’t lie. Fostering a genuine online presence takes time and dedication, but it is a must. Thirty minutes to an hour every other day can do wonders. Yes, it takes time away from writing, but if all an author does is write and doesn’t get involved with her/his social media, then who will read the finished product?

Believe me, I have noticed a difference.

10 thoughts on “Why Authors Need a Genuine Online Presence

  1. Point 1 – I enjoy reading tidbits about authors and you’re right, it does make them seem more real. Unlike tabloid reports about celebrities, these tidbits are real (Thank you)

    Point 2 – From a readers point of view, you have hit the nail on the head. A reader wants to know that their reviews and/or comments are being read. All it takes is maybe a thumbs up, a smiley face or even a “hang in there, things will get better” response. It makes us feel special, even if it’s just for a couple of seconds out of a very long day. Believe me, it definitely puts a smile on my face when I get an acknowledgement.

    I have found that I would rather read an author’s work, whether good or bad, because I felt that my views/comments meant something to that author. I am more likely to “prowl” Amazon for works from an author that will say Hi to their readers than for an author who ignores us.

    Point 3 – I have found many really good author works by joining online book clubs and social media sites. Promoting there really works!!!

    Point 4 – I admit, I have favorite authors that I can’t wait to read their next book. Quite a few of these authors have endorsed other authors when promoting their next book, I have been introduced to many new authors that I would otherwise have not seen or heard about. Thank you to the authors that are confident with their works to be able to promote other authors.

    Point 5 – I’m sure there are authors out there that really don’t care about their readers and I hope I am naive enough to not recognize them. There are a lot of readers that would “see” through the ~just barely making an effort~ author but from your posts, I don’t feel you are one of them YEA!!!!

    Keep up the great writing and staying in contact with your readers.


    Sorry this is so long, I guess my inner persona was in a talkative mood ^_^

    • JoAnn, I’m often in a talkative mood, so don’t worry about it. I found your comments very encouraging. They also tell me that I’m on the right track. It’s so important to reach out to the readers. It’s not only good for an author, but it’s good for the soul. I’ve grown as a writer by listening to readers’ comments. I know I can’t please everyone, but hearing feedback from people who I’ve grown close to and who aren’t afraid to be honest with me has helped me a great deal. Authors would be nowhere without the readers. We’d just be writing for ourselves, which is a mistake some authors make. At least in my opinion. I know I was guilty of it at one time.

  2. Great post… as were the other two links leading me to your blogs on Branding & Goals. I’ve been pondering the question of my goals as an author for a while now… maybe it’s time for me to answer the question? Or not… LOL

    Hugs, Z.

    • You can answer it, Z. I know it. You like the undead. That’s part of you who are. You can work that into a brand. For you, love surpasses death. Love reanimates! 🙂

  3. Great post Jacob, thank you for sharing!
    As a reader I have to say I like learning about my favourite authors outside the books, the person behind the story is just as important to me as the story.
    I think that is why some authors get into s*** list, when they do not understand how to interact with the readers.
    Being respectful of each other spaces, that’s important too.
    Back to your post… I like the interaction, I like talking with you on twitter, I drool all over your tumblr eye candy, and go all awwww when I see pics of you and Bruce on FB, all in all I like “knowing” the Jacob Flores behind the books.
    So Than You! and keep up the good work 😉

    • I agree, Connie. Readers like to see snippets of what’s going on. It makes us more approachable, and that’s fine by me. I love when readers reach out to say hi or share what’s going on in their lives. 🙂

  4. This is really good information for authors – thanks! I’m a pretty private person, so grappling with how to “be” as an author is tricky for me. I love talking to others… just not about myself! You’ve given me a lot to think about here.

    I love the new look on your blog, by the way 😉

    • It’s a tough one, Alex. I’ve wrestled with it too, but all you have to do is be yourself, no matter how private you may be, and you will find that readers will respond. 🙂

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