So, this is a lovely little morsel for you all by my wonderful editor, Natalie Cannon. As I promote her primarily for her editing prowess, I sometimes neglect to mention that she is also a fabulous author. This post is something she’s been working on for a while, making great for you guys, and I really hope you get nuggets of golden information out of it, because there’s lots of great stuff here! Enjoy!
Whether you follow my blog or Charlotte’s you’re probably interested in publishing. Ages ago, I attended Ventura County Writer’s Weekend, which featured hours of panel discussions about what authors can (and shouldn’t) do today. It was vastly helpful, and my first tip for this whole blog post is to go to conferences such as these. Preferably armed with resumes, business cards, pens, and a notebook. It really was a wealth of information.
And when I say “wealth of information,” I mean, wealth of information. I attended most of their publishing panels, and for sanity’s sake, I’m going to split up the posts by panel. As part of my preparation for post college-life, this series of posts will be a more organized version of my notes from the Writer’s Weekend. There should be around 5 posts total and first is…
Electronic Social Media for Authors
Okay, so it wasn’t the first panel, but I want to promote Charlotte’s twitter and my own brand spanking new one. In any case, self-publishing is on the rise in our day and age, and, as Charlotte said in her previous blog post/entire blog, the author has to be an artist for creation and a businessman in promoting their work. The panel encouraged the author to think of themselves as creating and selling a product.
For this business, you need a brand. For authors, they are their brand. Neil Gaiman’s brand is Neil Gaiman. It’s his name. Charlotte Blackwood’s name is hers and mine is mine. You also need to think about what you want your name to be associated with, what adjectives or nouns you want people to use to describe you. These are known as keywords and are the words you want people to type in to Google to find you. At it’s most basic, Charlotte wants her brand to be associated with “writer” or “writing.” In a larger scope, I personally want my adjectives to be things like “writer,” “editor,” “historical fiction,” “fantasy,” “queer romance,” “The Bound Chronicles,” “writing/publishing tips,” and “poetry.” I’d also like to be known as that-quirky-one who knows about historical medicinal practices and poisons. And that I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan. Those all would be nice. But I’ll focus on this for now. On all your social media platforms, you must be clear on who you are and what you do. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Once you have some of these words, you need to do research. Search people who are doing what you want to be doing, like the top authors in your book’s genre. Observe how they promote themselves: for example, Charlotte has a model twitter account for a growing author. My friend Ann Mayhew’s twitter is designed specifically to get her a job in the traditional publishing industry. What groups are your models joining on LinkedIn, what sorts of things are on their facebook pages, how do they manage their blog or Youtube account etc etc etc. For blogs, what tags are they using to garner attention? On WordPress, use lots of tags. Seriously. Lots.
With social media, it’s not so much that you’re everywhere as it is about being on the places that matter and being active on them. Post well and post consistently. Do things that evoke those keywords.
Choosing places to post comes from where you think your target audience hangs out. If you’re writing realistic fiction about tech-savvy teens with dreams of entering the television industry, get a Youtube account for instance.
Now that’s you’ve thought and researched, you’ve got to set up the accounts. The vast majority of authors are on more than one social media site. Just make sure to have links everywhere to your other posting-places. I’m working on setting those up myself, but Charlotte has all her stuff interconnected, from her Youtube, and Twitter, to her blog and Facebook page. For this next section, I’ll separate out tips for each social media platform.
- Personal Blog. Whether it be on wordpress, tumblr, or elsewhere, most writers have a blog of some sort. It’s here where your posts must be the most consistent, and your keywords are transformed into your tags. Ideally, you post twice a week. One panelist recommended spending a day writing as many posts as you possibly could. Then, you can post them easily later, or queue them up. Once/if you have money, purchase your own url and turn your blog into a website. Have your homepage not be your blog, but more a ‘Welcome’ page that contains a page link to your blog. Use your homepage to splash pictures of your work, links for purchase, news on upcoming books/events (the straight up facts/dates so it’s different from your blog), and brief blurbs on the stories/who you are. Survey your model author websites and copy what they do. Some other ideas for pages on your website are an About page, one page for each book, Future Projects, Products (non-book ones, like if you hold a contest and winners receive buttons or art associated with your book), or music playlists that you like to listen to as you write (particularly if music is a major theme in your work). One last thing: get a hit counter. It should be free, and when it reaches those high numbers, makes you feel totally awesome.
- Facebook. Most authors have either an entire Facebook account dedicated to their business or a Facebook page. Facebook pages are more popular because you can have them and a personal account of just your friends separate, and the ‘like’ option is an easy and quick way to track your number of followers. Facebook has a ton of marketing information for their pages: it tracks how many ‘likes’ you have, how many people have seen each specific post, how many people your page was ‘exposed’ to etc. You can even get down to names of people who liked it, and create adverts for yourself. After you reach 50 likes, they give you $50 for adverts, completely free. You can also connect this page to your Twitter. For posting, feel free to post pictures, videos, links to interesting events/articles: anything that will evoke your keywords and brand. At the very least provide updates on what you’re doing with your personal projects. Unless you’re aiming for Bukowski/it’s part of your keywords, keep those hard partying pictures to your personal account.
- Twitter. The panelists spent the most time on Twitter & Facebook, saying that these are the most used social media platforms. For Twitter, your keywords take the form of the hashtags that you use. Use your author name as your username, rather than a book title, so you can use the same account for all your work. During the set-up for your account, twitter will ask you to pick at least 5 people to follow. For business purposes, you want to follow people you think will provide tweets that your ideal future followers will want to read. For example, I followed a bunch of publishing companies, some literary magazines, authors, and a writer’s group so they can provide me with publishing/writing tips. You can also follow things that make you giggle and friends: I’m following my friends Jason and Erin as well as Sherlockology, Mark Gatiss, & Steven Moffat. Your picture can ideally be your face or your book-cover. My face is too derpy for public use, so I’m settling with a friend’s painting, which I also use for icons elsewhere. After setting up the account, listen, learn, and participate. Like anytime you enter a new environment, try to learn the rules. See how your model Twitters run things. While twitter seems like it’s designed for quick updates, I’ve spent as much as 10 minutes crafting the perfect tweet. You don’t want the character limit to make you ineloquent. You should tweet things relevant to your keywords, and worm your way into the corner of conversation where people like you and your audience are. One Twitter cultural thing you can participate in is Follow Friday where you go out and follow people and they’re supposed to follow you back. However, don’t follow a ton of people–100 at most when you’re first starting out–because people look down on that, apparently. Lastly, and this is a bit weird, but watch out for porn stars. They often target new accounts, and you’ll want to block them rather quickly. If the group of them notice you accept them, you’ll get a virtual flood.
- Youtube. Since Youtube searches especially run on keywords, the major thing for Youtube is associate your keywords with everything. Your channel title, your channel description, your video titles, your video description etc. Keep your videos–or vlogs–short and sweet, and if you do anything at all relevant, put it on there. A word of warning with Youtube is to keep it professional since Youtube is a pretty casual place: everything online is your resume. Your videos can also be posted on your blog, facebook page etc. A great example of a successful Youtube author John Green, and, by correlation, Hank Green. They’ve established their own fandom of Nerdfighters.
- LinkedIn. This is basically a professional Facebook. Keep everything as neat-looking as possible. Bullet points in your Experience section to mirror your resume looks much better than paragraph. The Experience section can also be longer than your resume: put all your experience there. In your summary, put in something catchy, and what you want rather than what you are. Ask your friends to endorse your skills, and write you recommendations (and so for them in exchange!). For connection invites, write a personal message whenever possible. The other major networking boost from LinkedIn is the groups. Charlotte has spoken of them before. If you attended one, your college probably has a group, and there are various other ones that will fit your interest. For adding people to your network, only do so with people you know because, with the professional manner of LinkedIn, if one of your connections goes down in the flames, you might burned a bit by association. People can become rather attached to their connections and groups, and some authors have used solely LinkedIn for their entire book promotion campaign.
- Amazon (or other book website). Not only do you want to be up on what these venues for your project are saying, but you also can build your reputation as a reliable reviewer for other products related to your keywords. If it has a public profile option (like on Smashwords), type up a killer bio/author description. Have your reviews be thoughtful and useful. If you want an example of some well-crafted, snarky reviews, check out the “BIC for her” site. It’s humorous, but also demonstrates how witty, awesome, and attention-getting these reviews can be.
Excellent! Again, authors are on multiple social media platforms that all connect to each other. If the platform as any sort of following capability, make sure it’s easy to see and accessible to everyone. You can also partner with other authors, and work on promoting each other. Charlotte and I have this sort of relationship: if you Google me, the first link you get is Charlotte’s interview with me. I try to return the favor and link my things back to her.
I know putting yourself out there can be confusing, but persevere! Professionals are available for guidance, and publishers appreciate an author who’s willing to work their way around the web. Agents love it too: really, it makes their jobs much easier, and they can use your already established resources to better promote your work.
Thanks for sticking through this long post and see you next week!
Charlotte’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlotteBlackW
Ann’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/annmayhew
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/NMCannon
The Vlog Brothers Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers
Charlotte’s Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/CharlotteBlackW
Charlotte’s LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/charlotteblackwood
My LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/natalie-cannon/57/2a/9bb
Charlotte’s post on LinkedIn’s Writer’s Forums: https://charlotteblackwood.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/writers-forums/
Charlotte’s Smashwords Bio: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CharlotteBlackwood
My Smashwords Bio: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NatalieCannon
BIC for Her on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/BIC-Cristal-1-0mm-Black-MSLP16-Blk/dp/B004F9QBE6