The planets aligned for me to be in Trinidad & Tobago to get a taste of the 2017 Bocas Literary Festival. I attended day one then caught the rest of it through Facebook Live and by following the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.
First-time author and New York Times bestseller Nicole Dennis-Benn was one of the presenters in a workshop for aspiring and new writers. Her first novel Here Come’s the Sun is a New York Times Bestseller. She shared a few nuggets on how she used social media to help with promotion.
It’s a pet peeve of mine to see people who are professionals with private accounts on Instagram. The whole purpose of Instagram is to show people your life and what you do so if you want to connect with would-be clients, readers, fans of your work, then change your settings to public please.
This was something the author noted that her agent had to convince her to do. Authors today do not have the luxury of remaining recluses while publishing houses do all of the work. It really is important to be visible and connected to your fans.
Once the book was released Dennis-Benn said she “still had work to do. I had to connect with readers, media, literary bloggers.” To promote her book she had to be willing to be more public and increase her visibility.
She advises authors to be sure to Retweet your reviews.
As Jamaican woman, the author understands a challenge for many Caribbean women. We have been “socialized to not promote ourselves.” That is something we “must unlearn,” she added. “You must sell yourself.”
One of the ways the author says increasing her social media visibility has helped is by connecting her with young people who are dreaming of writing and who don’t normally connect with authors. In this way, she is able to be an example to them of what is possible, even for Caribbean writers.
I will share more tips from the workshop in a separate post.
(Note: Here Come’s the Sun deals with some LGBTQ and other sexual themes.)