Four Ways Google+ Communities Help Authors Build Their Platforms

Image via Pink's Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Pink’s Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Hey Guys! I promised I would post twice a week, but I am happy to add in some extra awesome when the opportunity arises. Social media is key to any author platform, but, to be blunt, there is NO WAY I can teach all of them with equal excellence. This is why I have amazing WANA instructors. Facebook or Twitter might not be your style. Or, maybe you are still trying to FIND your style. Here to help you is the FANTABULOUS WANA International Instructor, Marcy Kennedy….

And no, I couldn’t use the creepy panel van because I am SO NOT driving to Canada. She is here of her own accord. That and I told her I’d spread rumors that she hated unicorns. I am cold that way.

Hmmm, looks legit.

Hmmm, looks legit.

Take it away Marcy!

Marcy Kennedy, WANA Instructor Extraordinaire

Marcy Kennedy, WANA Instructor Extraordinaire

Did you know that Google+ has the second most active user base of all social media sites? (And yes, Facebook, no surprise, is number one.)

Yet one of the biggest complaints I hear about Google+ from authors is that they struggle to meet potential future readers and to get others to engage with what they’re posting.

The solution to both problems is Google+ communities.

Google+ rolled out communities in December 2012, and communities are rapidly growing around topics as diverse as Star Wars, Javascript, parenting, running, football, and photography. If you’re interested in it, you can probably find a Google+ community built around it.

Before you think that’s great for a non-fiction writer, but I write fiction, let me stop you. Every novel will touch on topics you can find a Google+ community about.

Someone like Elizabeth Spann Craig with her Southern Quilting mysteries could join communities organized around quilting. Erotic romance authors like Roni Loren could join the community that discusses what to read after Fifty Shades of Grey. Does your novel feature vampires or zombies? There’s a community for that. Does your main character have an autistic son? There’s a community for that too. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Here’s the official Google+ trailer.


But the real question is how can Google+ communities benefit writers? After all, I did say that Google+ communities can help us meet potential future readers and grow our platform.

(1)   Find new ideas for blog posts.

What are your potential future readers already talking about and interested in? Those are perfect topics to blog about. Instead of writing into the void and hoping someone will be interested, you’ll already know that what you’re posting on is something they’ll want to read.

Some communities prohibit direct sharing of blog posts so read the rules carefully. However, keep going down this list. The next point is key for developing relationships that will have people adding you to their circles. And once you’re in their circles, they’ll see your status updates—where you can freely share your posts.

(2)   Establish yourself as an expert (and as interesting) by starting valuable discussions.

Anyone can start a discussion in a Google+ community, and topics are organized by categories for easy access.

The best discussions result in active conversations, as well as people sharing it to their own circles. If people see your name attached to great conversations often enough, they’ll add you to one of their circles so they can see everything you post.

(3)   Get an inside look at what your potential future readers love or hate.

If you’re a quick writer and want to self-publish, you could fill a hole in the kind of books people want to read by listening to the likes and dislikes expressed in communities.

This is also a great way to understand the nuances of your genre. Fantasy fans are vocal about what tropes they’re tired of. Steampunk fans are also very vocal about what does and doesn’t belong in a book labeled “steampunk.” Each genre comes with built in expectations.

A large part of success is knowing readers’ expectations and exceeding them. If a reader buys your book expecting one thing and finds another, they’ll be disappointed no matter how great your book might be apart from those disappointed expectations. Once you’re educated on the expectations, you’ll be able to meet them…or choose to forge a new path, while making it clear to readers what they’ll be getting. Knowledge is power.

(4)   If you’re an established author, build a community for your readers.

Google+ communities definitely have a forum feel. Host chats with book clubs. Encourage fan art. Answer commonly asked questions. Provide deleted scenes or interview your characters. If you already have an established audience, Google+ communities provide a low maintenance option for you to encourage conversation among your fans and to be accessible to them.

Google+ is currently a very under-utilized (and poorly utilized) social media platform by writers, but I hope this helps you see the potential hidden inside it.

On Saturday, November 23, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar called A Crash Course to Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform. The cost is only $45, and we’ll look at how to effectively set up your profile, what to do about circles and communities, how to use hangouts, and more. This webinar is great not only for those who are already on Google+ but also for those who aren’t sure if it’s the right place for them! If you can’t make it at the time it’s scheduled but still want to attend, sign up anyway. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants. Click here to register!

I’m also offering this class as part of a very special WANA 2Fer.Lisa Hall-Wilson is running her Building a Tribe Using a Facebook Profile webinar the same day, and we’re offering a discounted rate of $20 off for people who sign up for both. Click here to register for the 2Fer!

About Marcy Kennedy:

Marcyis a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books, including Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at


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  1. I have a friend who raves about Google+, but up until now I’ve never seen it as more than a vacuum. Now I’m starting to see how it could be useful, so thanks for the interestingpost.

    1. Google+ is one of those online “secrets.” People who are part of it and active tend to love it, but from the outside looking in, it can be difficult to see what the appeal is. I’m glad I could help you learn more about it.

    • Laurie A Will on November 19, 2013 at 11:57 am
    • Reply

    Hi Marcy,

    Great post. I attended your presentation at WANACon and it definitely peeked my interest in a social media site I wouldn’t have taken a closer look at without your enlightening presentation. So, thank you. Google++ is definitely on my lists to add to my platform.


  2. Great post. I have a decent audience on G+, need to find me some communities now. 😀 Looking forward to the class.

    1. No one teaches Facebook better than you do, so I’m excited we could offer the 2Fer 🙂

  3. Very useful input, thanks ¡!!!!!!

  4. I had a Google+ expert guest on my blog a few weeks ago and I learned a lot. But so far I haven’t found the right communities. I have thousands of people in my circles, but I’m not quite sure how to interact with them. I’ll have to keep at it. Helpful post, Marcy!

  5. Thanks for the tips about Google+ communities and how it can be used. Have an account, but I haven’t utilized it very well!

  6. I haven’t used mine much either, thanks for the tips. It sounds similar to which I use infrequently but I really like it.

  7. Great information…if I only had more time to just hang out and find people. It’s on my “to do” list once NaNoWriMo is over. Hope you’ll offer the classes again…but not in November. My brain is all about my WIP this month. And I will finish it.

  8. Signed for the webinar. Piece of advice, ditch the crappy van and steal,, erm, I mean buy a nice soccer mom mini van. Doesn’t stand out as much.

  9. Oh, I love google plus! I still use Facebook, it still has it’s place, but I really get a lot of good stuff out of google. Thanks for the great post, Marcy!

    • malindalou on November 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm
    • Reply

    I use the one Google+ community I’m involved in for finding blog topics. I love it! I can stay on top of what people want to know about without having to quiz them about it.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly b/c I’ve found nice writers blogs through G+ communities. So far, it’s a shy group, most folks don’t comment but it’s still a good network. I hope posts like these will help blogging communities to grow. Cheers.

  11. This is FANTASTIC info!!! I’m on Google+, but rarely ever chekc on it. I’ll have to remedy that.
    Thanks so much for your input on the communites. That’ll help immensely 🙂
    Have a great day Kristen and Marcy!!

  12. Great suggestion. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I have read so much lately on good community management. It is great to hear advise on how to be a good community member and how that can help you build your community membership. Great advice! Thanks

  14. I missed the webinar. Can I still purchase the recording??

    1. Yes.

  15. Thank you very much Kristen – this is very valuable information! I really appreciate the advice and tips and tricks! Thanks so much for sharing – and have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your entire family!

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