Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)
There is a lot out there from various people about marketing and engaging with your fans. Done right, you can build a serious fan base and enjoy the process. Done wrong, you'll hack people off and feel depressed and disenchanted with the whole thing.
So, here's what I learned so far.
Third party, "free," services can't be trusted. Some platforms will pull at a moments notice. Others will sell out, like Good Reads did to Amazon, and now the service appears to be running in to the ground. As someone who already pays for hosting and owns a number of domains, I decided to re-purpose one of them and host my own site. It is still a work in progress, but the "cross" at the top left should function - http://msknight.co.uk The front page hasn't been designed itself yet, but I have to put in a splash of colour (probably past book covers) and a functional news section ... stuff that people can just visit once and get the latest news.
Much is made of keeping people on your site as long as possible ... personally, my view is, give them what they want, with ease, and they'll come back for more when they're ready. Hack them off ... and they could be gone for good. A lot of this is subjective and at the end of the day, when no one is actually giving you any feedback, it's all a stab in the dark.
I've got a writing history, so I had material to put up there already. I asked friends who have read the books, to put the first FAQ questions of me. I asked them what they wanted to know, as if they didn't know me. Other things that will go up there later include the equipment I use for writing and also the Casual Read project as well. Something to both keep my mind whirring and to bring people back for news while I work on the longer books.
It is turning out that mailing lists seem to be a good marketing method; happy customers/readers/fans are the best marketing tool that one could ask for, so a good service that keeps them happy, seems to be what does the job. However, for a small person like me, running a mailing list means opening up my address as part of the, "Can Spam," legislation, so I have a lot of work still to do on this. Maybe the publisher will let me use their PO Box or something ... I don't know, but that's the overall direction that I'm going in.
Could I run a mailing list service myself? Well, it's possible but that means registering for maintenance of personal information; and a whole different can of worms opens up as a result.
How to get feedback from the fans? Well, that's a nut I haven't cracked yet. Running a forum is a serious time overhead. Maybe if I get enough fans, they might run a forum themselves and I can play a part in that ... it is all a balance of where I spend my time and, with a 9-5, that doesn't leave much time for writing as it is. I don't have it on the urgent list, because most people are consumers and don't want to engage; so the mailing list is more important I believe.
Web design? Statistics? Well, I've been on the Internet for twenty-plus years and have been designing and coding pages for a while. People appreciate fast pages, so the site is tuned for that. No flashy, "snow," on my site come Chrimbo! Adverts and trackers slow response down as well. People are turning to mobile devices and, while single transmission speeds are going up, the contention ratio is also; so I still want to keep the design lean. Also, at the moment, statistics aren't important to me. Of all the statistics I've gathered, they've just ended up being ego fodder; so I can happily run without them. There are bigger fish to fry than knowing how many people from Far-Far-Away spent looking at my F.A.Q.
I don't actually expect anything to take off until at least book three is released, and even then, fame and fortune remain a, "maybe." People like the story, so once there is sufficient story line out there, with a well written journey of ups and downs ... then I might get some serious bites. Fortunately, that buys me time to get the site right and all my fan support aces lined up in a nice row.