Digital Self Audit

Back in 2016, publishing industry expert Mike Shatzkin opened Digital Book World by saying that publishers need to help authors in their marketing efforts. “At the very least, every house should do a ‘digital audit’ for every author they sign that includes concrete suggestions for filling in gaps and improving discoverability and engagement. To my knowledge, not one does.” Today, some publishers do this but the majority do not.

I hear from authors again and again that one of their biggest frustrations is that they feel their publishers aren’t doing enough to support their books. In today’s digital landscape, it’s unrealistic to think a publisher will be able to help every author build an online platform. Remember, your publisher’s marketing team is busy working with the sales department to get your book into the hands of retailers. It is your job to promote yourself. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I wrote Online Marketing for Busy Authors. Knowing the industry as I do, I think authors need to be their own advocates and take charge of their brands.

For almost 25 years I have been promoting books online, and our publicity campaigns usually start a couple of months before publication date. More often than not, it is at that time that authors learn that they should have a website or that their current website does not work. We have a conversation about social media and blogging and mailing lists. I ask them why they have not been thinking about these important online marketing assets and they say, “No one told me”. Or they knew to build a platform was important, but no one gave them the steps to actually do something.

So what’s an author to do? I encourage every author to start thinking about their own platform as soon as they can. At the very least, evaluate your digital platform at least 6 months before your book’s release. This way, you’ll have time to make changes ahead of publication date. 

Here are 3 steps for a quick digital self-audit:

1. Start by looking at your website. Do you have one? If so, is it set up for you as an author, not an individual book? This way you can build on your existing site with future projects. Is your site mobile friendly? Is it secure? If you don’t have one, get one set up! Include information on your book and links to pre-order or purchase. Pub Site is a quick and easy platform to build an author website without coding or design experience. 

2. Now, look at your social media. You don’t have to be on every platform, but think about where your readers are, and then build out your presence on those platforms. Are you a cookbook author? If so, then Instagram may be your platform of choice. Do you write serious non-fiction? Think about Twitter as your platform of choice. The important thing here is to not only have a page but to engage. 

3. Next, let’s think about your outbound efforts. Do you write a regular blog or newsletter? Do you have a mailing list you can communicate with? Come up with a schedule you can commit to and stick with it. Even if you only blog once a month, commit to that schedule. Share book news, any upcoming events, and media hit once they start coming in. This list will become even more important when you start thinking about your longterm marketing efforts for future projects.

For more help, check out this Assess your Situation worksheet.

It takes years to build an online platform as an author, and much of it can be done while you’re still writing your book. But even if you’re only months away from publication, there is work you can do to help get ready. 


I’d love to hear your thoughts, please join the discussion on my Facebook page.

© 2020 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.