Author Education Series #10a
Marketing Yourself: Social Media Marketing and Creating an Online Presence
How To Market Yourself
Writing and publishing a book is a challenging and rewarding way to spend your time. I love it- it’s what I do. I also love working with authors who are on the path to publishing and worry about things like how to promote themselves, sell books, and get a crowd at their next reading.
Here is what I tell them, and what I tell you: No one can buy your book, come to your event, or talk about what you’re doing until they hear about it.
That’s where it starts, and using social media will help you make it happen.
What is social media?
In my mind, social media is any media that lets you interact with other people- that’s what makes it social. For example, Facebook is social media because you can have a conversation, while TV is not because it’s just the screen talking to you. I’m going to focus on the most popular networks in this article: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Email.
Why use social media for marketing?
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>Marketing You is your responsibility now
As an author, it’s increasingly your responsibility to market the books you write, especially if you are self-publishing. Building and keeping in touch with an audience of readers and fans is in your best interest. I think of marketing as just another word for “telling people about your latest project” or “getting the word out.” Doing your own marketing, especially on social media, can be a liberating, exciting chance to learn new things, meet new people, stay in control, and put more money in your pocket.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Social media is DIY friendly
It’s not a specialized skill- it’s just talking to other people. You do it all the time. Everything I’m going to tell you is how to do it better based on what I’ve learned, but there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just like everyone has their own individual personality, you’re going to have your own individual way of using social media. If you’re getting what you want out of it, then keep doing what you’re doing. If not, try some of my tips.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>The Network Effect
Because social media is just that, social, it’s built specifically to make it easy for people to communicate with other people. And because social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are public, when you talk about something, hundreds or thousands of other people can watch or listen to your conversation. Sometimes that freaks people out, and it can be intimidating, but in the end, it’s a huge opportunity to amplify the effect of anything you say or share. And unlike other social situations, you have as much time as you want to think about what you want to say before you say it :)
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>People use social media
We spend hours on social media. There are 239 million Internet users in the U.S. alone. Out of that, there are 143.3 million Facebook users and 169.3 million online video viewers. Of the 13 hours the average American spends online every week, 25% (2.75+ hours) is spent on social networks.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Book sales happen online
The average amount of time an American spends online is going up, and as of 2010, that was around 13 hours a week, and about 60% of that time was spent shopping. Book sales in the first half of 2011 were $2.19 Billion When people are doing their shopping online, you want them to be able to recommend and find you and your book, and social media can help you with that. Tthe biggest influence on decisions to buy something come from word of mouth research and those recommendations are happening on social media. So, if you want to sell more copies of your book, I recommend you get active on social media.
Where To Start
Social media is a marathon, not a sprint. When you start out, there’s a lot to learn, and it takes a few months to get started. I recommend you start with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because those are the biggest. Once you get a feel for how social media works, I would expand to places like GoodReads, Pinterest, and other networks that are focused on your particular readers.
Start using social media 3-6 months before you want to publish your book or promote events. It will take about that long for you to get comfortable with the network, work it into your daily routine, and build up the connections you need to make it worthwhile. Focus on building up meaningful connections in the beginning, not just rising follower or fan numbers. Find out what you like to share and click on, and try to find some people who are doing things you like to use as examples.
Using Social Media
When it’s time to start using social media for your book, promotion, and organizing events, setting clear goals and scheduling time is important. Once you have a feel for social media networks, know what you’re trying to do and how much time it will take, use these tips to make your social media marketing more effective.
Facebook is best for spreading the word about a Pubslush campaign, a local reading you’re doing, or your book launch. It’s also ideal for keeping up with your readers between big projects. It gives you a platform to amplify your message and has the advantage that other people see what you are doing and who else is talking about it.
Facebook Personal Profile Tips:
If you don’t have one, create one. This is where I recommend you interact with your friends, family and colleagues. I recommend focusing on keeping in touch with people in your personal life. Promoting yourself as an author will be part of it, but it’s not just a promotional page.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>5 to 1 ratio: Post five comments, pictures, songs, or anything else for every one post that is directly about your book or your project. This will keep you in conversational contact and make sure people know it is a special event when you do post about your book.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Tags: When you do post about your book, tag specific people who you think will be interested. To “tag” someone, type a + or @ sign before their name. This way it will show up in their alerts and not get pushed down and lost in their stream.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Private Messages: When you have a book launch, reading or local event you are part of, send private messages to friends asking them to post about it. This direct and personal ask will get better results than posting about it only in your stream.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Thumbnail Options: Facebook pulls pictures from the web when you post a link and offers them as options for a thumbnail image. Read this great post from Drury University about how to control what images are available.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Saying Thank You: When someone does post about your event or book, make sure to say thank you in the comments.
Facebook Author Page Tips:
If you don’t have one, create one. It’s like the pages that companies and brands have, but it’s specific to you as an author. Emlyn Chand wrote a great step-by-step post about how to do this. I recommend creating it under your name rather than under the name of a book you’ve written or anything else that is not your name so that you can use it for future projects. This is the page specifically for people who are your readers and who know you as an author.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>Start small: Start by posting once a week about your current project. This can be a post, a question, a video, or anything else about your book.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Be consistent: It’s more important to be consistent in your posts at the beginning than to post a lot of material. Make sure it is interesting and focused on something the fans can get excited about.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Facebook Ads: These ads are helpful when you are launching your book. Create one and target it to the local audience you are going for.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Post videos: Videos on Facebook pages are the most engaging form of content you can do. It can be something you make on your smartphone or computer and it should be 2:00 or less.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Watch the stats: Facebook Insights is an automatic system that tells you how many views, shares and comments your posts get. I like to use these to know what times are best to post.
Twitter is best for maintaining and creating relationships with the media, like bloggers, marketers, promoters, and anyone else on your publishing team. Twitter is ideal for one-to-one communication with people who are very social media savvy, and less effective for selling books or quickly promoting your events. Again, I recommend starting an account under your name or the name you use as an author, for the same reasons.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>Photo & Bio Information: Your Bio needs to be short, but it has a big impact. Use a good headshot, a short description of what you do, and link to your author website or a page selling your book. Keep it simple.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Thank You @messages: The best thing about Twitter is that you can thank someone who helps you in a personal, public way.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Direct Messages: Inviting people in the media to your book launch or reading through Direct Message (DM) works well because people don’t get many DM’s and it cuts through the clutter.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Comment on ReTweets: When you do ReTweet (RT) a tweet, add your opinion on the article so people know what you think about it.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Don’t Argue: Twitter is a very public forum, and it’s great for talking to a lot of people at once. I strongly recommend against arguing with people because it’s hard to make a definitive point clearly in 140 characters, and it almost always ends up looking petty and not helping you.
Email is a powerful tool. One big advantage is that pretty much everybody has an email address, while only some people are on Facebook or Twitter. Email also has the biggest effect on getting action to actually happen.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>Do 1 thing: I find that people respond to emails when they are simple and to the point. If you want people to post something, ask only for that in your email. If you want them to check out your book, ask only for that. When you offer options or ask for several things at once, people are more likely to put it off or not do it altogether. Choose the most important action you want and just ask for that.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Keep it short: I like to keep my outreach emails to 100 words or less. People are more likely to read an take action on your email request when they don’t have to scroll and when what you want them to do is simple and clear.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Contact Bursts: When I reach out about an event or a new book, I send 10-20 emails a day for 1-2 hours. Doing short bursts everyday for a few weeks rather than hundreds in one day keeps me motivated and gives me time to respond to everyone in a timely manner.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Tuesday – Thursday Timing: People are most active on email and social media during the middle of the work-week. I recommend contacting people in the morning on these days. People will be in “action mode,” and more likely to do what you are asking them to do.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>People Pods: I have a big list of people I keep in touch with, and I have that list divided up into what I call “pods.” I divide the pods up by how I know those people. For example, the people I know through my job, or the people I know from my hometown, or the people I worked with on a particular project. When I send my 10-20 emails requesting that people post on Facebook about my book, I email 10-20 people who probably know each other. This way they will likely see another of the 10-20 people post about my book and feel part of something larger. Contacting a “pod” of people who likely know each other means their post about or attendance at an event will automatically reinforce itself as something people are doing, which helps give credibility and excitement to your project.
Video makes social media more personal. People like to see you and hear your voice, and they can do both on YouTube. As a writer, the best thing you can do with YouTube is make videos of you reading from your upcoming works, or post things that are teasers for new things you are working on.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>Be Yourself: YouTube videos are a great place to let your personality come through.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Readings: As an author, YouTube gives you a great opportunity to read parts of your work. People who know you or are already fans will love this, and you can give it to them no matter where they are. I would focus on creating short, entertaining, fun videos where you read from your new book or talk about a recent or upcoming event.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Length: Keep your videos to 2:00 or less. People start clicking off after 90 seconds or so.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Add Links: You can add links that pop up inside your videos to other web pages, like where people can buy your book or join your Facebook Author Page. Watch this YouTube video about how to do it.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Lighting: While you can’t do a high-end production from your house, you can make sure that the lighting is decent enough to make things show up well. Experiment with how much light you need until you get it right- it makes a difference!
What Now? Do Something and Follow Through.
That’s a lot of information, I know. You might be wondering where to start. In short, start by doing something and following through on it.
I recommend doing a small reading for friends and family.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>1. <!—[endif]—>What to Read: Choose a short section of the book you’re currently working on. Edit it to make it great and practice what you’ll say to introduce it, practice reading it, and practice what you’ll say when people are done clapping.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>2. <!—[endif]—>Find a Venue: Contact some local coffee shops or choose a nearby park. Pick a time and date to do your reading and schedule it for 4 weeks from today.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>3. <!—[endif]—>Promote it: Use the outreach tactics I wrote about above to make this event happen. Choose a target number of people- I recommend 12 as your goal. You’ll learn a lot about how long it takes to email people, what does well on Facebook and Twitter, and how much time it takes to keep in touch with people.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>4. <!—[endif]—>Follow Through: Do the event. Do not reschedule it when you get scared or feel like you’re not ready. Following through and doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it is a great way to set the stage for your later outreach. When you have a track record of following through to point to, you feel more confident in your outreach and people have more confidence in you.
<!—[if !supportLists]—>5. <!—[endif]—>Follow Up: The people who come to your reading will want to hear from you afterward. Thank them, tell them about your next project, or ask them for help with what you are doing next. If they came to your event, they support you enough to take time out of their day and will be open to helping more.
About the Author