QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, March 26, 2012

Authors and Social Networking

Courtesy of svilen001

You're getting published and have a book coming out. Congratulations!

Now what?

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?

Danyelle Leafty| @danyelleleafty writes YA and MG fantasy. From March 12th-31st, she will be donating royalties from both paper and digital copies of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA: CATSPELL to purchase Kindle Fires for a pediatric unit in a local hospital. Click here if you'd like to learn more. She is also hosting a short story contest for Kindles for Kids.


Anonymous said...

These are great tips. I really am not a fan of the constant shilling I see in some places.

Laura Pauling said...

i don't often click on people's actual twitter page to note their numbers, but I happened to with a certain NY Times best selling author. I noticed she had about 5K followers and only followed back like 300. Seriously? I totally lost respect. No need to be snobby that's what lists are for if you need to keep track of groups.

Claude Forthomme said...

Excellent post and a nice clear way to focus on the inter-secting interests between writers and readers...I wish more authors would remember that!
My impression is that Twitter is not particulaly suited to direct book promotion, the "buy my book" kind. You need a twist of humor or you need to offer some value (like a free promotion).
So far, I've found Twitter good at driving readers to my blog but only provided I wrote posts of interest to them...Not always easy, but the returns are fabulous in terms of traffic. In terms of book sales? Who knows - my books are of course displayed on my blog with clear buy Amazon icons, but so far my impression is that the blog is not the place people buy my books from...I could be wrong of course. The really annoying thing is that you NEVER know what really works in book marketing...What creates book buzz in the end? Bah, who knows...

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Super article! I tweeted it!

I pretty much anyone who follows me, unless they are not in the publishing industry or people I already know.

I think people who follow and then drop you as soon as you re follow them are deceptive. Rather sad, trying to make themselves look better. :(

Mart Ramirez said...

Awesome tips!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this...

You know as an 'older' person I never considered twitter for social interaction. Now that I am slowly becoming comfortable with it and forming my opinions and observations I find well written honest advice like this invaluable.