Recently, Beth Morrow at Writer-in-Progress interviewed me for her feature Story Behind the Story She agreed to reciprocate with a guest post here, and I jumped at the chance. Let’s welcome Beth and get ready to learn about promoting books through social media.
In the big scheme of things, I’ve noticed two types of social media impact writers more than any others: blogging and social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. You can bet I was thrilled when Lillie picked social networking for the topic of this post—I’ve been messing with social media in all its forms for years and enjoy the challenge of integrating it into my writing career. First, I want to remind you of the most important element of social networking:
The human element.
Finding new ways to connect with old friends and make new ones, including new readers, is exciting. The possibilities of what you can do and how the world sees you as a creative writer increases tenfold. Never lose sight of the fact that people want to connect with you as a person first, a writer second. Just as people in the world want to connect with you on a personal level, those folks linking with you via social media want the same. Be a person first, a promoter second.
Now, for the good stuff…
Each social media form has a purpose. Discovering what works for you in each venue is a process of trial and error. Here are my thoughts and observations on how many authors use social networking to promote their works.
1. Post Regularly to Your Blog
Sounds ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? After all, there are so many free blog hosts (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal), you can’t use the excuse of expense. Blogs require input and regular posting to keep readers coming back. There’s something about the author’s mind that fascinates the general public, so if you’re short on ideas, go with that. Your blog is also a great place to answer reader questions, start a book discussion or share updates on your current work-in-progress for readers anxious for your next release.
2. Use Your Blog as a Promotional Tool
The number of ways to promo your book on your blog are practically endless. Keep a running list of your book signings, links to your work on Amazon or other online venues, links to your reviews and mentions of your work on other websites. Host a contest to win one of your back titles, and don’t forget to mention when and where you’ll have upcoming interviews and public appearances. Give readers a way they can contact you via email and snail mail. If you‘re able, offer excerpts of your work. Remember to promote your blog through email signatures and on business cards. Getting all this information into your blog is work upfront but in the long run, directing new readers to your site requires nothing more than sharing your link.
3. Use Your Blog To Socially Interact With Other Authors
Some of the best comments and emails I’ve received from readers of my blog are from writers who appreciate the interviews of other writers I host on my blog. I enjoy interacting with other authors willing to respond to my interviews because my questions all center around the process of creative writing. Ask other writers with whom you’ve established a basic writing relationship, either online or in real life, if they’d be willing to write a guest post for your blog. You can give them the topic, suggest one or mutually choose one. In return, offer to guest blog for them and allow them to post links to their website, blog and published works as part of their bio. If they don’t have time or aren’t interested, politely thank them, don’t hound them.
4. Create a Fan Page for Yourself and/or Your Book(s)
Fan pages allow people who like your work to keep up on your releases with one click. While I’ve seen some authors create their individual page as a fan page, most choose to create a fan page for their books. Creating a fan page makes contacting folks who follow your books as simple as posting a message to your fan page. Facebook does all the legwork of getting it to the members. Can’t beat that for efficiency!
5. Link Your Blog to Facebook
With the Networked Blogs application at Facebook, you can make your blog posts do double duty as Facebook status updates. You can also link your blog with those of other friends and writers. Do a search at Facebook for the “Networked Blogs” application. It will walk you through linking your blog and inviting friends and fans as readers.
6. Announce Release Dates via Events
Using the Events program within Facebook, add your book releases, book signings and upcoming appearances to the calendar. When the day of your event arrives, all of your Facebook friends will receive a reminder. Likewise, you can send a message via the Inbox to all your friends, but this gets annoying if you regularly clutter your friends’ inboxes.
7. Get Involved
Twitter is overwhelming at first. The best way to get comfortable is to jump in and reply to the tweets of others. Build a few meaningful relationships then branch out as you gain confidence. It’s very easy to watch the Twitter world blip by so don’t waste time: tweet back!
8. Link to Your Work
Again with the cross-promotion. Retweet your blog posts (just a title and link is the norm), mention where you’re guest blogging (again with a link), announce releases and post excerpts (do this sparingly. Remember, people want you to come through on Twitter, not a publicity-seeking bot). In your Twitter profile, list your Facebook name, website and blog URLs. The more traffic you get to your webpage and your work, the more sales you’ll have.
9. Find Author Gigs
I’ve seen numerous tweets from people seeking guest speakers for their organization, other authors and journalists looking for interview subjects, PR folks looking for contacts on short notice. I’ve even heard of magazine editors seeking authors to write articles on content from their books. Your position as a published author will open doors in other areas you may never have considered. Always be willing to put yourself out there in the name of promoting your work.
The onslaught of social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s hard enough finding the time to sit down and write some days–who wants to spend that precious time on a computer? On the other hand, social networking is free, effective and targeted to readers. Reaching new readers from the comfort of your couch—what could be easier?
About the Author
Beth Morrow is a freelance author, writing workshop presenter and social media junkie. Visit her blog for writers at: www.writer-in-progress.com, join her at Face book (Beth Frazee Morrow) and follow her at Twitter (@Buckeye_BethM). She loves questions on social media, so don’t be shy. 🙂
I know you’ll have questions for Beth, and she’ll be glad to answer questions left in comments. However, because of family illness, there may be a delay in her response.