Five things every prospective author should do if they want to be published

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So you want to get a book deal?

Because of my work helping some of the bestselling authors in the world with their social media strategy a lot of prospective authors ask me if I have any advice for them.

The most important thing to understand is that more than ever publishers are looking for authors who have an existing tribe or platform in place.

Here are five things every prospective author should do if they want to get published:

  1. Listen
    A good social media strategy starts in the same place as a good marriage…with listening. Start by using Google Alerts to receive notifications when anyone mentions your name or topics in your area of expertise (you can graduate to more advanced tools like Scout Labs later).  Find out who the thought leaders and influencers in your field are and follow them closely.
  2. Engage
    Take part in the conversations that are already happening.  If you're listening (see step #1 above) you'll have plenty of opportunities to leave comments on blogs and become a regular contributor to the larger conversation that's taking place.  DON'T use this as an opportunity for self promotion.  Instead, add value to the conversation.  Over time this would build your reputation as a valuable contributor.
  3. Blog
    This seems like it should go without saying, but it's amazing how many authors and prospective authors aren't blogging.  There are lots of good reasons to be blogging.  First and foremost, it'll make you a better writer.  As importantly, it provides a "home base" for your fans to gather, follow your writing and connect with each other.  This isn't a post about how to write a blog, but one piece of advice, engage in the comments like it's a conversation with your biggest fans…because it is.
  4. Connect with fans on a Facebook Fan Page
    Why facebook?    Because this is where everyone is.  Of course, if you're not on facebook yet, start as a regular user before you launch your fan page.  Think about it this way, if I'm a publisher and I'm choosing between one person who has a few hundred friends on facebook and another person who has thousands of fans, who am I more likely to publish?
  5. Twitter
    If your not on twitter yet, start with Michael Hyatt's excellent Getting Started Guide.  I won't try to explain it here.  But trust me.  Give it 30 days and you'll understand.

Bonus: Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuck both landed great book deals last year in part because they followed this strategy and built loyal online tribes.  They share exactly how they did this in their books, Trust Agents and Crush It.  If you want to really understand how this works they're both must reads.

What else should authors be doing to engage their tribes?

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