What authors need to know about reputation management

You may have heard of reputation management perhaps as a part of an SEO tutorial but do you know it can be an important part of self marketing for authors?

When it comes to online marketing the search results for your own name or brand are your reputation. Ethically questionable activities aside, the primary aim or online reputation management is to ensure that your unique name or brand reflects is chiefly positive. At least for the first few pages of the search results.

As an author with very little budget, how do you manage this?

Assess your current reputation (and competition)

Unless you are very fortunate, you will quite likely find that other people with a similar or the same name exist. Some might have sites. As an author – a person that trades on their name – you will eventually want to out rank them for searches on your own name.

For example, my name is very common and I am still working on this.

Check Google

Start by typing into Google your name, perhaps your home city, and any handles you are known by. If you see anything that reflects badly on you, see if you can remove it. Assuming, you still control that content.

Hopefully, you may see things that reflect well on you. In which case, promote those things where and when it is appropriate to do so.

Now you have an overview of your own online reputation and how much (or little) work is needed to enhance it. That’s where the rest of this online reputation management guide comes in.

Bookmark this search and revisit it every few months. It is tempting to check it weekly but there is very little benefit in doing so.

Set up search alerts

I use Google’s search alert system to tell me about new items that show up for search terms I actively write about. Set one up for the search for your author details. That way, you will know when Google finds something new.

There is a limit to this advice. It is considered unwise to read your own reviews. Many authors advise that you stay well away from those. Which means as you start to gain traction, you might want to cancel the alert.

Simple (online) reputation management techniques

Get a blog

The first and most obvious thing that an author can do is register a blog with their public pen name or author handle.

As blogs can easily form the conerstone of an author platform, this is something you should be doing already.

Ideally, you should register a domain name which closely matches your pen name or official author name (middle initial, etc.). Speaking of which…

Register a domain name or two

At the very least, you should consider getting hold of both the .co.uk and .com names that most closely match your brand or pen name. Due to the similarity of real life names, this might take a bit of searching.

Many years ago, I registered as an OpenSRS reseller and set all the extras to free. You could use my domain name portal to start your search. The alternative suggestions are generally quite helpful. It is up to you where you finally register it. There are more domain name registration sites than you can shake an unfeasibly long stick at.

The important thing is that you get a domain name. A good place to point it to is your blog.

A word of warning about registration lengths. It is not widely spoken about but longer registration periods tend to be given more weight by search engines. They also cost more money.

If you register two, your best bet may be to redirect one to the other. Use the .com as you main one if you wish to reach an international audience but stick with .co.uk if your audience is primarily in this country.

Get an Author Buzz (UK) profile

Registering for Author Buzz will create a profile with your name on it. Register with your author pen name or prefered spelling.

You can link your site, and other important social media profiles (more on those in a moment) from your profile.

Active accounts, that interact on forums and in public groups will probably gain better search engine traction. I would love to say that they certainly will but as I do not run Google, I can only say what I would expect to happen.

Set up an Author Buzz group

While you are at it, set up a group for your fans. Again, use your author name or pen name so that they can find you easily.

If you already have a blog, add the feed to the “external blogs” section. That way, your updates will populate into your group.

If you do not have a blog, you can get one as part of setting up your group. The address will be your name followed by our domain. Like this your-name.authorbuzz.co.uk. Updates to the blog will automatically populate to your group.

Create social media accounts

Using Twitter

Register for all the leading social media sites you can find. Take the time to fill out all the fields and write about yourself. At the very least, point people back to your blog, website, or favourite social media account.

Most social sites – many forums too – provide you with a public profile that includes your name in the link. With a little luck (and assuming that there are not too many other people using a very similar name), you should soon find that the first few results pages on a search for your author name are largely content you control.

It is almost impossible to be productively active on more than a few social media sites. Pick your favourites – ideally ones where your target audience might also be found – and prioritise those.

When you set these up, if you already have a private account, consider a public account for your author name. Unless your account has only been used to talk about your writing work, the chances are there will be stuff there that is best kept out of the public eye.

At the very least you should have an account with most of the following:

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Facebook – get a page for your author name, keep your own profile private
  • Tumblr
  • Author Buzz (this site)

You might also consider registering a channel on Youtube. It is unclear if doing so will help but once you have it set up, it will be there waiting should you have some content to share. At the very least you can put together some playlists to listen to while you write or some collections of helpful tutorials.

Have positive and friendly interactions with others

The last thing you want to show up in search is you having an argument with someone else. What you want instead is a long record of possitive interactions with others.

This one is easy – make friends and help people out. Be social on social media.

Read our guide on mastering Twitter in three easy steps.

Promote your book, the right way

Now you have all these social media accounts (and few followers) you might start to think about using them to promote your book. That’s fine – do that. Selling books is how we authors pay the bills. Just sell your books on social media the right way.

The worst thing you can do is spam your new followers with endless posts begging for readers. Trust me, that gets old really fast.

Read our guide on using social media to sell books.

Create some press releases

Whenever you have something newsworthy – for example a book signing, a new release, or some charity fundraiser you are undertaking – put out a press release.

Make sure to include links to your site, blog, and best social media channels.

Not only should you circulate these to local and niche press agencies but to interested bloggers too. You have no idea how hard I have found it to get hold of press releases about UK authors. This is an underused promotional tool.

While you are at it, find those press release sites that allow you to list the press release for free. If nothing else, you will have put your name and possitive content about yourself on pages in other sites.

Don’t worry about the odd poor review

Every author is going to get a poor review sooner or later. After all, not everyone is within your target audience. The people that matter are the fans of your work.

In reputation management generally but for authors especially, a 100% positive, squeaky clean reputation, is not the end goal. As long as what people find is authentic, and reflects reasonably well on you (to your core fan group), that is plenty good enough.

Create great content

This one tip trumps all others. Great content is the king of the castle when it comes to maintaining a good reputation. People will forgive a certain amount of controversy if you are interesting, informative and/or entertaining.

Therefore, above all else, put out good quality content. Your online content is the only first impression most of your readers will ever have of you. Make it count.

That means great blog posts. It means have interesting Twitter interactions. Be the sort of author that people want to talk about, talk to, and read.

About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.

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