by Kerry McAvoy
Since attending my first Writers Conference, I have heard numerous times about the importance of having a solid platform and using social media to build it.
As an indie author of Christian devotionals, I am on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. My Facebook author page mostly attracts friends and family. My Twitter account makes me feel as if I’m trying to gain attention in the wide open fields of the Wild West. And finally, my GoodReads author page, although an excellent place to meet new people, has proven to be a difficult way to meet Christian devotional readers since they are a quiet lot who prefer to read over hanging out in online community groups and chatting.
Now I have a new problem. My next book, a memoir, will need to draw a different audience. This is potentially a good problem since autobiographies appeal to a broader audience, yet I still will have to start over. (Sigh)
So the question is now: How I do connect with potential but unknown readers and turn them into followers of my work?
As I pondered this dilemma, I came across a Q&A social media forum, called Quora and subscribed to its daily email digest of the latest popular posts of my favorited topics. Quora readers ask one-sentenced questions on a myriad of topics, ranging from how to knit, where to antique shop, what are good time management skills, how to write a novel, even how to find the best diapers for newborns. If someone wants to know more about a particular subject, then Quora is the perfect place to ask that question. Writers include Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Stephen Fry, David Brin, Amy Chua, and even the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. I love reading the pithy answers to interesting questions that show up in my inbox.
As I sat reading my latest Quora digest on a return flight home, I realized anyone can answer questions, including me. Despite my writing experience, I felt nervous as I picked a question in my field of expertise of psychology and penned my first answer. It was, “What does it mean when you dream about someone?” After re-reading my brief three-hundred-word answer several times and then submitting it with a simple click of a button, I watched it go live and the number of views climb from one (me) to fifteen, then thirty and higher. Ten months later 5,800 unique visitors have read that question.
I have answered 893 questions, had 452,000 answer views with 2,970 up votes and more than 300 followers. My most popular post has nearly 60,000 views. It gained enough interest that Quora sent it to first 1,000 member inboxes, then 10,000, and finally 100,000 email inboxes have received my short post to that question in Quora’s daily email digest.
That’s the beauty of Quora—it connects me to readers who are interested in the topics I write about. And after pursuing any of my answers, these new readers are shown more of my work along with the opportunity to follow me. If they select this option, all my answers are streamed to their daily online feed along with their other favorited topics and followed writers.
Building readership, of course, takes discipline. I have noticed that my most popular posts are either personal, unique, or surprising. Good writing, of course, is a must since Quora flags poorly constructed questions or answers. Each week I respond to about five to fifteen questions. A few are chosen by me from my daily feed. More often, however, I respond to Asked to Answer questions (also known as A2A). These are the best kind of questions since readers want to know what I personally think about a particular topic, so they submit the query directly to me. Quora also sends me questions, making sure I never run out of possible topics.
My experience on Quora has been very worthwhile. It has been a helpful way to hone my writing skills as I read other people’s answers. I am gaining international English-reading followers which I hope will translate into a new audience for my next book. Once my new mail program is up and running I will begin to post a link to my website at the bottom of some of my answers in order to increase my website traffic and to capture more email addresses for my mailing list.
I am discovering other Quora writers and cross-promoting them so that each of our reach magnifies our potential readership. I am also a top-viewed writer in several topic areas, which means I’ve become an expert so-to-speak in each of these subjects. My ultimate goal on Quora is to be nominated as a finalist in the annual Top Writer list which is announced three times each year: December, March, and May. These individuals gain a prominent profile badge, a huge boost in their following, and an invitation to attend a yearly conference with the other Top Writers.
What’s the best part of being a writer on Quora? I am gaining a familiarity on a forum that Google indexes without me having to worry about such things as keywords and SEO optimizers. Now that’s worth pure gold.
Yes, this little-known social media outlet has turned out to be an excellent way to increase my platform and reach many new readers.
Check out my Quora profile: https://www.quora.com/profile/Kerry-McAvoy