by Stina Lindenblatt @stinall
Unlike in the past, authors are now expected to take an active role in marketing their books. This becomes even more critical if you’re not a bestselling author with a publicist at your beck and call. Social networking plays a key role in achieving success. Through it, we find our critique partners, beta readers, and writer friends. When it comes time to promote your book, they are the ones who will be talking about it with their friends, reviewing it on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads. They might have industry connections that will benefit you. For example, they might know authors who would be happy to blurb your book or have contacts with major book blogs. Never underestimate the power of the connections you can make through social networking.
With the vast array of social media sites available, how do you decide which ones are worthwhile? All take time to do. All come with pros and cons. Choices are good, but before you decide, here are some tips to consider:
There Are Only 24 Hours In A Day
During that twenty-four hour period, you are supposed to sleep (yes, that isn’t optional), work, look after the kids, help them with their homework, do chores, exercise, oh, and write your next story (or non-fiction piece). Most mere mortals can’t do all this and spend several hours a day using every form of social media available with glowing results. You need to limit what you use and the time spent on it. Maximize your efforts to get the best results.
Who here remembers the poodle skirt (or remembers seeing it in the movie Grease)? Who here still wears one? I thought so. Like fashion, the popularity of the different social media sites wavers over time, or the popularity of a given site might change for a certain target market. For example, Facebook used to be popularity with teens. Now, more and more are drifting to other sites such as Pinterest and Youtube (among others). This doesn’t mean they have abandoned Facebook entirely. There are plenty of teens who still use it. But with its growing popularity with adults, Facebook is losing teen appeal. This is why it’s important to know your target market. If you’re focusing on the wrong market, you’ll miss the mark by chasing after the wrong social media sites.
And Then It Exploded
Last week, something happened to my blog that left me in a major panic. For some reason, my blog post didn’t show up in my subscribers’ inboxes. It took me a long time to discover the problem. Turns out, my RSS feed was no longer updating when I posted. Without the updates, my posts weren’t showing up in email inboxes, Blogger Dashboard, Google Reader, blog rolls, Tweeter, Facebook. You get the picture? Unless you visited my site directly, you wouldn’t have known I was still actively posting. I tried many things, and at one point I verified my blog according to Google instructions. It passed, but not without a long list of things I should change. And this came with a warning not to do anything if you don’t understand coding. I thought my blog was doomed and I would have to start all over ago. Not exactly comforting after all the years of hard work I’ve put into my blog. Fortunately, someone at the Google Help Forum was able to solve the problem*. But if I hadn’t been able to solve it, can you imagine how I would have felt if the only social networking I did was blog? I would have lost everything, including my followers. Fortunately, since I also use Twitter and Facebook, my social network was not doomed.
It’s Social Networking Not Promotional Networking
Some writers treat social networking as a one way street. They post on their personal blogs, but rarely take the time to comment back on the commenter’s blog. Yes, if you get a large number of comments, it does take time. In this case, you might want to blog less often, or at least make an effort to comment on some of the regular commenter’s posts once a week. If you only get a few comments, then take the time and read the commenters’ latest posts (you might learn something) and comment. It shows you care and are willing to give and not just take.
With Twitter, you can auto schedule your tweets. The problem with this is it comes off as promotional, because you’re skipping on the social part of social media and that turns people off. Remember, when you give and take, it’s social media. When you take take take, it’s promotional. And when it’s solely promotional, you won’t gain the support of those who can help boost your writing career.
How many forms of social media do you actively use? Is there one you prefer over the others?
*if you have a Blogger account and it’s linked to Feedburner, check out this link. Everyone is susceptible for the same thing happening to their blog. It’s an easy fix, and it will save you time and a lot of heartache.
Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes young adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog.