Thursday, May 26, 2011

Social Media for Authors, Pt. 1: A New Star in the Twitterverse

Over the next few weeks, some of the authors at FIBP and I will be running a continuing series on how to work social media  to increase your author network and drive traffic to your  blogs. In doing so, that will get more eyes on your book and hopefully drive sales.


Each blog focuses on a particular aspect of the social media network. Today’s post, for example, highlights Twitter as an important portion of your toolkit for reaching readers. We should point out, however, that all forms of networking can interact: Twitter can highlight blog posts, blogging can take readers to sites like Goodreads, and Facebook can be a central hub for it all. In fact, each individual author can design a network that reflects her own marketing goals.


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When I finished my book,  agents and publishers never called or rang the doorbell. Once I was live on Amazon, the throngs of people clamoring to shell out three clams for my book also failed to materialize. I had to go and get them, one at a time.


One of the main tools I use to do that is Twitter. It’s a great resource for writers - in fact, I would hazard a guess that a lot of tweeps out there are writers.


When I started marketing, I had 17 followers. I now have close to 700, three months later. If you are starting off from scratch,  I suggest you use your writer’s name as your twitter username, or your name + author if it’s not available. Go to Twitter .com and build a profile. Be certain to upload a nice photo – one that looks good humored or that has a bit of sass to it.


Include a short bio that  mentions what your connection is to writing, as well as a link to your blogspot (more on that later.) The next step is to get a whole boatload of followers.


I built a following by participating in #WW or #WriterWednesday, and #FF or  #FollowFriday. If you put some of your followers’  names in a tweet and add those hashtags, they will do the same for  you. They’ll know you have done that because they will click on the @Mentions, which will bring up all the tweets with their names in them.

At a certain point the following will just start building on its own, especially if you take the time to say thank you to every new follower. 


You can do the same thing. Click on @Mentions after you have been on for a few days and you’ll see who has mentioned you in a tweet. Tweet them back and say thank you. That gets both of your names out there even more.


That brings us to the magic RT, or retweet. If someone puts up a mention of a book or a blog in a tweet, be certain to retweet it for them. Do it often enough, and you’ll pick up a lot of thank yous. When you put up a blog or book link, people will do the same for you.


While all of this is going on, be certain to tweet about funny thing that happen to you, random thoughts as a writer, snippets from your day – fun things to read. If you go overboard with the marketing and retweets and #FF’s,, your tweet list  will look like one sea of red links, and you won’t get as many followers. Who wants  to get in touch with someone who talks like an infomercial all the time?


The more time you spend on Twitter, the more followers you will get. Don’t let it take over  your life, though. You have  books and blogs to write after all.


Which brings us back to that blog link you put into your profile. Remember how you told new followers that you would check out their links? And how you did? And how you liked some of them enough to follow their blogs so you could read them each week?


Well, some of your new followers will be doing that  to you as well. Through the use of Twitter, you will increase your blog readership. This is how social media will begin bleed over  across formats, in a good way.


Not only that, but as you look at your new  followers’  blogs and read their tweets, you’ll find new  opportunities. There are writers out there looking for guest bloggers and people to interview and books to feature. They might as well feature your book.


BTW - as a reminder, you only have 140 characters to tweet in. You’ll need to shorten some of those looooong  links.  You can do that at bit.ly, or at a host of other shortening sites. I like Bit.ly because it stores  your shortened links and copies them to your clipboard when you need them again.


As a final tip, now on #WW (Writer  Wednesday) I feature a few select friends, instead of long lists of @writername and @whoosis.  Here’s an example:


#WW @danielleraver - She’s funny, talented, and a tech whiz. Her book Brother, Betrayed is at http://amzn.to/jZxiSk

I actually tweeted that, by the way.


A tweet like that  gets a lot of attention - well, more than strings of @writernames, and the people I mention in those tweets get a real kick out of it. 


In my opinion, being classy, having a thick skin, and respecting the other authors out there will get you a lot further  in the Tweetiverse than any automatic Followback software. But I think that’s true of most of the aspects of being a writer.


Look for the next aspect of social media at Philosophies of a Young Heart by Danielle Raver, author of Brother, Betrayed, appearing next week.

8 comments:

Karen deBlieck said...

Thanks for this Alison! I am not on Twitter yet and have always been a little nervous about the prospect. You have made this very clear how to use it as an author. Perhaps I can get over my phobia. :)

Alison said...

Oh, great, Karen! I'm really happy to help you out - let me know how it goes!

Johanna Garth said...

Allie, this was great! Okay, you've inspired me. I'm going to try to figure out Twitter. I've already got my name I just haven't done anything else.

Kara said...

Very helpful! (I tried to post your blog entry on twitter - can't guarantee if it worked, but I tried!) ;)

Hart Johnson said...

This is great advice. I am so thoroughly incompetent at Twitter. I just don't have the TIME to be there to maximize it, I think. I have managed, over time, to build a following, but it just feels like I'd have to be there all day to do what I need. I probably just need to give in and do it. I am great with Blogging and FB... Twitter is my achilles heel at the mo...

Alison said...

I do think that we can't do it all though. Hart, you're such an inspiration with your lovely blog - and look at my mess! What is that huge cover doing there? It's like a hulking drawbridge that you have to cross!

If you haven't read Hart's blog, you can do no better than checking it out for inspiration:

http://waterytart23.blogspot.com/

Christine Murray said...

I have a twitter account but haven't looked into integrating into my blog yet. I'm inspired by this post though, I'll put it onto my list of things to do this weekend!

Scott Niven said...

Great post, Alison! I'm really starting to like Twitter, so it was good to see some tips from a fellow writer. I know this article is from May, but I think I'm going to tweet it anyway! :-)