|Courtesy of svilen001|
You're getting published and have a book coming out. Congratulations!
As the publishing industry evolves, it's becoming increasingly common for authors to help market their books. (Mileage will vary on this.) And with the explosion of social networking, what more could an author need? From all I've been able to glean, word-of-mouth is the most effective way to get your name out there, and what better way to do that than through social networking?
Social networking is a tool like any other, so it's important to understand what it does and how best to use it. No point in using a hammer to remove a doorknob. (Unless you want to replace the door as well. ;-))
First off, it would behoove authors everywhere to look at things like Twitter and Facebook from their readers' perspectives. (To keep things simple, I'm going to focus on Twitter, but all of this can be applied in general terms over all the social networks.)
As a reader I:
- am a person, not a wallet
- tune out commercials
- want to interact socially
- want to feel like I'm a part of things
- don't want to have to jump through hoops
As an author I:
- am a person, not an institution
- want to increase my readership
- want to interact socially
- want to succeed
- want to write the next book
See where the two intersect? Social networking is aptly named. The average person is tweeting to connect with others. For myself, I've met a lot of wonderful people I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. I find people of like interests to talk to and discuss things with.
So where can this go wrong?
I think part of the problem is the pressure put on the author to do well. To succeed. Especially when basically the only thing that is within the author's complete control is writing the best book they can.
So we use things like Twitter to get our names out there. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, done right, it's a very good thing. Never has it been so easy to interact with authors before. And never has it been so easy to interact with readers and potential readers before.
And that's awesome.
But it has a dark side:
- Automatic DMs to new followers advertising your book. For me, this is a major turnoff. As a reader, this makes me feel like a wallet, not a person. If I follow you long enough, I'll see your tweets and be able to find your books if I'm interested in reading them.
- Cliques. The point of social networking is to be social. If I, as a reader, notice that the Author of Awesomeness that I've followed *never* replies to me and only to a select few of his or her Fellow Authors of Awesomeness, well, all that Awesomeness crowds me right out and I stop following. We're all busy, and no one can reasonably expect a reply to every tweet they send out, but cliques should have no place on social networks.
- Tweeting about your book and only your book 24/7. When I get new followers, the first thing I do is look at a sample of their feed. If all of the tweets, or nearly all of them, are nothing but non-stop advertisements for their books, I don't follow them back. I'm not saying authors should never talk about their books, because they should. They just shouldn't turn into commercials in my Twitter feed. O:)
- Follow then unfollow. Sometimes, in an effort to boost their numbers, authors will follow people, wait until they follow them back, and then unfollow them. I think such a practice speaks for itself. Social networking isn't meant to be an echo chamber. It's meant to be a place where people can get together and interact. Socially. :p
Ways to do it right:
- Be yourself. It's simple really. And quite effective. It's impossible to connect with a product, but awesome when you can connect with a person.
- Be kind. Text is naked, so some emotions don't convey themselves very well. (Like sarcasm.) When in doubt, give people the benefit of the doubt. Also, remember that the world is a big place full of people with different opinions. For me, I've found that the most effective approach--even for things I feel very strongly about--is to avoid name calling and generalizing. It's easy to be anonymous on the internet, so why not be a kind anonymous? :D
- Be courteous. Think of Twitter as a giant worldwide water cooler. Go with the flow of the conversation an start new conversations. I've found that it's very effective to be less about ME and more about YOU. That doesn't mean I never share Tweets about my books, etc. Only that I do so in moderation. I try to follow the 1 in 5 rule. For every 5 tweets, only one of them can be about me, Me, ME. (Or my books.)
- Be interesting. Sometimes it's all about voice. Or it could be that you have a talent for finding awesome posts you like to share. My favorites out of the people I follow are those who are interesting, who can make the mundane into something funny or wonderful or amazing. Do they do that with every tweet? No. But in general, they tweet interesting things.
What about you? What social networking practices have you noticed that are especially effective?