To Tweet or Not to Tweet (The Social Media Platform Question)

twitter-bird-light-bgs

Twitter is a top social network and one of the sites a prospective agent or publisher is likely to check when evaluating a writer’s online presence. This factor alone makes it worth investigating, but there’s more. Once you understand how to use it properly, Twitter can drive traffic to your site and customers to your books.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an information network with real-time immediacy. Trending stories often break first on Twitter. It’s also a social networking platform where people from all over the world post short updates. Tweets, as these updates are known, take little time to compose. Your wall, made up of brief Tweets, is quick to scan. On Twitter you can create lists of people and make them public or private. It’s possible to join ongoing group conversations (like #AmWriting or #WriteTip). If you have a Facebook account, this should all sound familiar. Think of Twitter as “Facebook Light.”

Because of the character limitations (just 140 characters per Tweet), you don’t need to spend a lot of time maintaining Twitter. Tweets cover, among other things, personal updates, conversations, commentaries on something in the news, interesting posts, original limericks, and even entire books painstakingly Tweeted in numbered, sequential order. When it comes to composing Twitter updates, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Tweets can be prescheduled via social media dashboards like Tweetdeck, Social Oomph, Buffer, and Hootsuite. I have used all of these at one time or another and now use them all for different features. There’s also Twuffer, which I have not tried, but many people swear by it. Which you choose is really a matter of preference. I suggest you start out with Hootsuite, since its interface is easiest for the beginner. As a bonus, you can schedule updates for Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn through Hootsuite as well. I use the URL shortener at Bitly.com and also via Buffer because these sites give me the ability to track analytics for the links I post.

Twitter’s about page is informative and even suggests various ways to use it. The brief video at http://fly.twitter.com is well worth watching. There’s also a set of instructions helping businesses learn to build a community at https://business.twitter.com. If you’re a mobile user, go to https://twitter.com/download for the apps you’ll need. Clearly, how much you get out of Twitter depends on you.

Getting Started on Twitter?

I won’t go into a lot of detail here because Twitter’s help topics are so awesome you should have no trouble finding your way. Learn how to set up your account here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter.

For branding purposes and to present yourself as professional, I suggest you use your author name as your handle. Capitalize your first and last name for better readability. My twitter handle, for example, is @JanalynVoigt rather than @janalynvoigt.

Be sure to upload a profile image. Many people, myself included, won’t follow accounts without a profile picture because this is a telltale sign of a spammer.

Don’t be afraid to poke around Twitter and familiarize yourself with its many aspects. Third-party Twitter applications abound, but don’t get carried away discovering them or you may burn out on Twitter before you start. It’s best to start simple. Also, be careful when it comes to third-party applications. They shouldn’t need your email address or Twitter password to function. After you’ve granted permission to an application to access your account, if you don’t intend to use it again, it’s always a good idea to go into your Twitter settings through the gear icon on your profile page, select apps from the menu on the left, and revoke its access to your account.

What if you just don’t “get” Twitter?

I truly understand the confusion of not knowing how to relate to others on Twitter. It took me several years to truly grasp how to use this particular social platform. I might not have kept trying except that much of my website traffic came from updates about my blog posts that I made to Twitter. I only wish I’d discovered sooner that the character of my interactions, rather than the nature of Twitter, was the problem. Accusing Twitter for my failure to connect through it was akin to blaming a forest fire on a careless camper’s match. For those who persevere, Twitter can prove quite a powerhouse.

I didn’t consciously decide to use Twitter as an outlet to promote my writing without investing anything of myself in my followers. In fact, I tried periodically to get people to “talk to me,” but I wasn’t successful. I first had to figure out some basics, and I’m happy to share them with you.

To get people to talk to me on Twitter, I:

  • joined hashtag conversations. These sound complicated but aren’t. Twitter communications can seem disjointed, so hashtag conversations arose out of the need to organize tweets into cohesive group conversations. To see how this works, type #AmWriting (a popular hashtag conversation for writers) into the search box at http://Search.Twitter.com. (If you are logged into your account, you can just use the search box at the top of the screen.) To add to the conversation, simply include #AmWriting in your own Tweet. Taking part in hashtag conversations helps you find people who are active on Twitter.
  • paid attention to who followed me and followed them them back if possible. Several good applications for managing your Twitter followers exist, including Friend or Follow and Manage Flitter. These sites let you easily do things like follow people back and unfollow those who aren’t following you (if you wish). I don’t always follow those who follow me. Some are on Twitter to promote businesses that don’t interest me or are engaged in activities I don’t want to endorse. If we’ll have nothing in common to talk about, I don’t follow back. Engagement is far more important than large numbers of followers. 
  • tweeted blog posts written by others and included their Twitter handle (user name preceded by the @ sign–mine is @JanalynVoigt). This prevents your Tweet with a link from being considered spam and notifies persons with the handles you include that you mentioned them. Often those we do favors for will look for ways to return those favors, but I don’t do it for that reason or look for a return. I Tweet relevant links of interest to my followers to keep them engaged with me.
  • retweeted (Tweeted again) posts of interest to my niche. This helps me interact with others, feed interesting updates to my followers, and gain new followers.
  • consciously following other people I knew. I proactively searched out my friends who are on Twitter. We’re already invested in and support one another, and I know these people will talk to me.
  • mentioned people and thanked them when they mentioned me. Twitter has #FollowFriday, also known as #FF, that’s gotten a bit out of hand, but if used right is a viable way to recommend people you want to help and gain followers as others help you. Basically, every Friday people on Twitter recommend some of their favorite followers by listing their Twitter handles with the #FF or #FollowFriday hashtags included in the Tweet. Using the @ symbol before a person’s handle causes the name to become a link that takes your followers who click it to that person’s profile. You don’t have to use the #FollowFriday hashtag to follow people, though. You can mention them whenever you want.
  • when time allowed, I spent a few minutes looking over websites and commenting about them to people who interested me. This communicates that I’m interested in the person, and sometimes I find material to Tweet to my followers.
  • began scheduling regular updates. Don’t get carried away posting updates, but most people post too seldom rather than too often. I try to update my Twitter profile using prescheduled Tweets once an hour. We’ve discussed scheduling updates, but you can also automatically feed blog posts to Twitter through Twitter Feed and Mail Chimp.

There’s truth to the idea that those who aren’t using Twitter can’t understand it and those on Twitter can’t explain it. To decide whether Twitter is or isn’t for you, why not give it a try? 

The 15-Minute Writer (Part 3): Building Your Platform

Platform building has become all-important in the publishing world. And how do you build a platform? One plank at a time.

That’s why I tell writers with day jobs and moms with kids NOT to wait until they have more time to pursue their dreams. You can write, build your platform and get published–one small step at a time.

When I started taking my writing seriously, I had a baby and a husband in full-time ministry–and no family nearby to provide free babysitting. So I wrote during my son’s nap times. After Jordan outgrew his naps, I enrolled him in our church’s “Mother’s Day Out” program two days a week, and used those times to write.

When my second son was born, I repeated the process–though things did get a bit trickier! I’ve also written during lunch hours, backstage in a dressing room while waiting to perform at a theater, during birthday parties (not my own kids’, though!), on Saturdays/Sundays, and late at night.

*But NEVER in the early mornings. Some things are just insane.*

One plank a time, I’ve pursued this crazy/wonderful calling God placed on my life, building a career and a platform. It’s a roller-coaster, of course–lots of rejection for every acceptance–but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

[I’m also aware that my husband is entirely supportive, and for those authors who don’t have an encouraging spouse, my heart goes out to you. You’ll have to be even more creative and deliberate about finding time to write. But please, don’t give up!]

My own story makes me passionate about helping other writers (especially moms) hone their craft.

Say you have a precious fifteen or thirty minutes a day to write. Divide those segments into writing, market research, and promotion/marketing. Then use your allotted time three days out of the week to write; two days to do market research; and one day to market (giving yourself one day off).

Here are a few sample ways to build your platform, fifteen or thirty minutes at a time:

  • Post a new picture or status update on your Facebook author page and “like” a few other people’s posts while you’re signed in as the author.
  • Tweet from your Twitter account and RT/respond to a few tweets from friends.
  • Update LinkedIn (I do this automatically by linking my Twitter feed to my LinkedIn profile, so when I tweet, my LI account gets updated, too).
  • Write a rough draft of a blog post.
  • Pin a link and photo from a former blog post on Pinterest. (Careful! Pinterest is addicting–might I suggest a timer?!)
  • Read a blog post (or two) and comment on it.
  • Read a portion of a book on marketing and promotion. Highlight your favorite ideas, and bookmark the page to come back to.
  • Read about a conference you’re interested in, and mark the dates on your calendar.
  • Sign up for a conference, online course, or in-person class.
  • Write a rough draft of a query to an agent or editor.
  • Edit a query you’ve previously drafted.
  • Compose a cover letter for a query or manuscript.
  • Email friends about your newest published piece and ask them to share it with friends, if they’re so inclined.
  • Email an author friend to ask advice or feedback.
  • Offer feedback and advice to someone “greener” than you.

Now it’s YOUR turn. What are your strategies and ideas for platform building, one board at at time?

(Read part one and part two of the series.)

Ever-Increasing Returns

Publishing a book is an adventure. Part of that adventure is engaging with the people you meet along the journey. Some of those people will serve in a capacity of enlightenment and support. They provide assistance for you at different turns. It could be marketing assistance, subject matter expertise, best practices, or networking to find the sensei you seek. Lest we forget, the best adventures usually require planning behind the scenes. The book writing adventure entails hours of constant editing and agonizing over the right words.  There is nothing glamorous about this part of the journey – it’s the grunt work that makes everything else possible.

Adventures are often taken solely for adventure’s sake.  Sometimes you return with treasure, but not always. Upon attending my first literary workshop, I found it a bit daunting to learn that only 5% of writers actually make a living from their writing. Anyone who has ever penned a book knows how challenging it can be. If there is no monetary value in the experiment of publishing a book, why should the author continue up the mountain? The author goes on because it’s a labor of love. There are other ways to get compensated from writing a book. The total compensation package is comprised of much more than money. Opportunities to help others appear continuously and if you find such experiences rewarding, your pockets will be continuously lined with gold.

One of my favorite movies is Rex Pickett’s Sideways. Through Twitter marketing I stumbled upon Rex’s profile and discovered Sideways has been adapted for the stage. I saw Sideways the Play in Santa Monica and was able to meet Rex, who has been an inspiration ever since. Tweeting has been valuable in other ways, too. By building relationships with authors, readers and bloggers, writers gain a greater scope of influence and increased credibility. Nothing is more valuable than that.

There are countless ways to spread the wealth of knowledge acquired on the writing journey. By researching the process of formatting a novel into an audiobook, I became acquainted with www.acx.com. This fluid website is a hub for authors to connect with actors that do voice-over work. Authors can connect with actors in a number of ways. One is to upload some material so that any interested actor can audition for the ‘role’ of narrating the content. One actress auditioned to be my book narrator within twenty-four hours of uploading sample pages. Hearing her try out for the voice of my protagonist was an incredible experience. Authors can also take the more active approach of searching for a specific kind of voice. If there is a need for a young woman with a French accent, you can search your ideal parameters to find actors and make them offers. You have options of payment, one being a 50/50 royalty share. Going through this exercise made me think of a friend who is always looking for voice-over work. I was able to inform him of ACX, and he is probably getting his account set up with them as we speak. Some of the actors are listed to make $200.00-$400.00 per completed hour of work. For those with golden pipes, it appears to be a very good opportunity. My friend’s enthusiasm and delight over engaging with ACX was better than selling fifty books. My ability to help him was a direct result of being on the journey.

Many opportunities in the form of people will appear on the path during your publishing adventure. The lifetime value of these helpers, guardians, luminaries, and assistants will not always be evident at first. Some may help you indirectly with constructive feedback you don’t want to hear but know you need. In turn, you will be able to help others as well. You will encourage them to believe that they can do what you have done. Some will even thank you for your contribution to the written word. For those who are able to take a creative mindset in terms of total compensation, there will always be a deep blue ocean of  ever- increasing rewards.

In what non-monetary ways have you found the writing journey rewarding?

Hashtags can help….

So…. What’s a #Hashtag?

How can a simple #hashtag help me to promote my book?  Well in many, many ways.

#Confused?

First lets define what exactly you are looking at…. #pleasehelpme.

You probably first saw them on Twitter, that is where a #hashtag originated.

It’s a simple marker of sorts.  #Hashtags over the last year have migrated from Twitter to Instagram, and Pintrest. #clever.

A #hashtag is a marker of sorts that drives you to people’s posts, and drives people to your posts. You can click on any #hashtag and it brings up all other posts with that same tag in… simply put, if you want to promote your book to strangers, a #hashtag will be one of the best tools you can use for social media platforms that utilize #hashtags.

What topics are important to you? Make a list of words that are important to you selling your book.  What words describe your book? How can you find like-minded readers, by strategically #hashtagging words that are specific to you! #buildingabrand #books. If you know what SEO is, Search Engine Optimization, #Hashtags work.

Some simple rules for #hastagging. Never put spaces between words or the #symbol. Use words that are relevant to your tweet/pin/pictures.  A great way to find more followers is to use hash tags on both sides. You do it and other people do it in searches as well….  Find people that are #hashtagging things that you care about and get involved in their conversation. #smartthinking.

Here is a simple straightforward article in the Twitter Help Center, which could help you.

Remember, that #hashtags are fun.  Don’t over use them, but do use them to find like-minded readers.  It could open many doors for you… people will find you and you will find people.  #hashtags  #winning.

Radio Days

When I completed my first book, my boss was incredibly supportive and offered to get a marketing package for me of my own choosing. Having very little understanding of book marketing, I was soon swimming in a flood of possible opportunities of all different shapes, sizes, and price tags. I finally settled on the Readers Favorite’s Book Promotion Packagewhich I found to be reasonably priced and reputable. One of their strategic partners, The Authors Show, welcomed me as a preferred guest as part of said package.

I had never been on the radio before and was rather anxious about sounding like a moron.  I didn’t worry for long, though, because it was clear that The Authors Show staff had the interview process down to a science. They sent me an author interview form to complete. It asked for pertinent information about the book. They allowed me to create 8-10 suggested questions that would relate to its content and would connect with an audience. There was a place to create a synopsis, a call to action to encourage buying behavior, and a list of preparatory questions so I would have an idea of what to expect.  Some of the questions were very thought provoking and have helped me during other marketing initiatives as well. For example: What benefits will the buyer get from reading the book?

After I completed the interview form and submitted it, I didn’t wait long until the interview was scheduled. It was conducted over the phone by Don McCauley, who was very kind. Before we got started, he encouraged me to relax and be as natural as possible. He assured me that they would edit the interview and remove any pauses or filler words.

When the time for the interview came, I was sure to secure a remote location without any distractions or background noises. I used a headset which seemed to help the audio quality. My gracious host made me feel very much at ease throughout the call which only lasted about thirty minutes.

Once the interview was edited, it came out to be fifteen minutes long. The interview was featured on The Authors Show for an entire month. During this time, I leveraged all the social media tools in my arsenal to get the word out: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, my website, et cetera. After my time on The Authors Show website was up, they sent me an MP3 file of the interview. It’s still available on YouTube and accessible through my website. People have marveled, “You sound so knowledgeable!”  That’s nice to hear, but it’s because the marketing company set me up for success.

Aside from Amazon, the radio interview has been the best marketing vehicle I have found so far, and it’s by far the most impressive facet of my campaign.  It lives on the front page of my website and enjoys prime real estate. I will always be grateful to my boss, to Don, and to the good people at The Authors Show for providing me with this great facet of my marketing toolbox.

Have you ever used radio as a book marketing tool? How do you get the word out about your writing?

Surviving the Summer and Social Media

Let’s talk about how hard it is to get things done right now. Ugh!! Personally, I have been battling getting things done because I am so busy with summer activities, or the heat makes me lethargic (and it’s been a HOT one). For those of you writers who are also parents, your life is especially tricky because the kids are out of school. I just got back from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and I am late with this post. Summer can dish out some unexpected adventures. Remember to be prepared. Learn from me, and I am sorry to those who are a victim of my summer.

Summer in Pine Ridge
photo by Amanda Jensen Photography

I decided to make a list of my best tricks for making summer social media survivable.

First.

Schedule whatever you can ahead of time. Block off time to work for a few hours on social media, and do yourself a favor if you are living in Denver: find the nearest icebox with Wi-Fi and work there. Seriously, take time out and work in a isolated place where you can knock a BUNCH of work out.

Schedule your Facebook posts. Did you notice that with the latest update you can schedule and date your posts? It’s kind of the coolest thing ever!

Second.

GUEST BLOG!! Ask people to blog for you, and you should extend the same courtesy to others. This is the best way to skip a little and give a little. The best thing about guest blogging is that you are able to cross-market with some of your author friends/co-conspirators.

Third.

Take advantage of being outside.  You can take some epic pictures with Instagram and use them in your future blog posts.  Be creative and take trips that could be relative to your blogs.  Strategize.  (If you missed my blog about how to use Instagram, find it here.)

Summer in Telluride

Fourth.

Remember that people are not on Social Media quite as much in the summer.  The times that trend are a little bit different depending on your target audience.  More people are on later at night.  Try some test posts to see what time you are getting the best feed back.

Fifth.

Make sure you have all your accounts linked.  Tools like this plug-in make things easier. Link your Twitter to Facebook and your blog to both.

I hope you all survive the heat and have many summer adventures the next month.

What is your best trick to survive the summer? What makes social media easier when you are busy?

Take Beautiful Pictures with Instagram

I get random questions from people all the time, “Ingrid, how do I block my Aunt Beatrice who won’t stop tagging me in pictures that are not even of me?” These are the things I know. These are simple things to me, but to some of you figuring this out is like wrestling with air: impossible. So I always love your input on what to learn and how you can better use your social media skills to influence your tribe and build your readership.

What is happening in my social media world? My new obsession: Instagram!

Yes, I am a little bit late to this game, I know. (It is very rare that I am tardy, but on this one my friends, I AM!) My friends have all had it for a few years, and I have watched them. I have played with it many times, but it was for the “elite” iphone users. I have had T-mobile for years, and yes, they lock you into a contract, and then you are stuck. But Instagram for Android was released a few months ago, and I hopped on the bandwagon with no convincing.

Instagram is doing well. In case you didn’t know, Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars. You don’t even know what Instagram is? Well, check this out. Here is a picture of mine; right now I am at the Telluride Blue Grass festival.

What is Instagram? Instagram is a free and fun way to share your life with family and friends with edited fun photos. Each picture is taken through your iphone or android phone. You then choose to edit your photo through with very different filters. Instagram’s intuitive set up lets you link your photo to your social media world, either via Twitter or Facebook.

As an author, Instagram can be a valuable tool in using pictures to tell stories about your life and the life of your books.

1. Maybe if it is a novel, you can post pictures of things related to your characters; be creative. I would love to hear your ideas about how you can use this tool to create more buzz and excitement for your books.

2. Connect with your audience, your readers, and your friends. Publish your fun photos. Be creative and show a little bit of your world without intruding into your private world. Use this as a valuable tool to connect. It is a necessity to connect with your readers visually. Help paint them pictures of things you want them to understand about your books.

3. Hash tag your photos like you do on Twitter, and if you can, pick the same Twitter name for your Instagram name. I would love to hear your feedback and see your Instagram photos.

Follow me at @gridlocked on Instagram and Twitter. ☺ Let’s take beautiful and inspiring pictures.

P.S. My favorite new joke: How much does a hipster weigh? An Instagram. If you don’t get it, don’t worry. 🙂

Goodreads

Here is some Social Media just for authors and just for readers. You are probably thinking, “Am I dreaming?”

No! It does exist, and it is an amazing place to devote time and energy. This little heaven for authors is called Goodreads. Goodreads has approximately 4.6 million users. While it may not seem to be as grand as Facebook’s 800 million users, these 4.6 million users are just on Goodreads as readers!

Goodreads is a place people go to only to think about reading. What an awesome concept. There are no random pictures of kids, like on Facebook, pictures of things you can’t afford like on Pinterest. Instead, there are readers, some virtual books shelves, and people talking about BOOKS!  Think about this as Facebook just for authors and their audience.

What are some of the things that you can do on Goodreads?  You can create an author page that “fans” can share with others.  Within Goodreads, you can also start pages specifically for your book. ( I do not encourage people to start book pages on Facebook, just fan pages.  But on Goodreads, you can have both, and they link back to your author page.)  It’s designed just for you, the author. You can easily chat with your readers, add video clips, and link it to your Facebook and/or Twitter pages.

I recommend to authors that they spend money on Facebook, programming a page with their books, so it directs them to buy the author’s books. If you are an author with many books, start a store on your fan page. Goodreads does this for you! (Score!) If your book is on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, it is automatically connected to Goodreads.

Goodreads is super user friendly and very intuitive.  When you sign in, there are tips and tricks that are posted on their pages everyday.  It will give you more ideas and walk you through the site.  This makes it very easy to learn and be more adept in controlling the site. Have fun with this site, and don’t just put your books on it, but really get involved. Dialogue with friends, readers, and other authors.

These were my three tips from Goodreads when I signed in today.

My personal favorite thing on Goodreads is their quote section.  You can add quotes from your book or quotes from your favorite author. I love to search the quotes by words and topics. There are no ads with these quotes, and it is such a great resource for writing. Quotes are also a good way to promote yourself!

Goodreads is definitely a top social networking site for authors.

Go here to start your adventure as a Goodreads author. Also, here is some great information about how to effectively utilize all that Goodreads has to offer: Using Goodreads to Promote Your Books

Have you been using Goodreads to promote your writing? How so?

Social Media and Your Book Release

Often, authors ask me what they can do to put their book in the social media limelight. While it is not difficult to accomplish, as we have discussed before, there are a few important steps that you can take to ensure that your book receives the attention it deserves. Here are a few ideas that scratch the surface…

1. Start Immediately I had a client named Dan (all names have been changed to protect the innocent).  Dan had a wonderful book coming out in about six months.  He was so excited, I am sure he felt like he was going to give birth to a baby, or as close as guys get to this feeling (besides kidney stones).  Dan wanted to wait until his book came out to get all social media going.  Although waiting can still be effective, I don’t advise this or think it is best. Make sure you are lined up with all of your social media accounts now. Do you have Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and maybe even Google Plus?  Make them look pretty. Get your friends and family on board and let them know what you are doing, so they can be your biggest cheerleaders.  Don’t wait. Start today.
2. Start Blogging and Guest Blogging  Here are my three simple rules for having a successful blog:

* Be consistent. Same time, same day.

* Don’t be too wordy or too simple.  500 -700 words is a good mark. Don’t over blog. Sadly, I just unsubscribed to one of my favorite blogs because I would receive two or three updates from that person a day. Save the poetry you like for your Facebook page.

* Be consistent. Oh, I said that? But it is valuable. I want my blogs in my inbox the same time every week.

Guest blogs need to be done strategically.  Pair up with friends who blog as well. Showcase yourself.  It can be a win – win for both of you. Promote it well,  and you both will end the day with a bigger audience.

3. Create A Data Base. Compile an email list and blast it out to all your friends and family.  I use Mail Chimp: it’s easy, it’s free and it does a great job managing a database.  There are some other ones that people have told me about,  author Lucille Zimmerman said that AWeber is great.  Celebrate great reviews, talk about new projects, and keep people on the inside of your circle, making them feel valuable.
4. Give Away Books. When your book is going to come out, encourage your friends and family to buy a copy.  Sure if you are REALLY close to them, you can give them a copy for free, but still get them to buy one and give it to a friend.  (Ever heard of Guerilla Marketing?) If your publisher gives you books to give to your friends and family, tell them they can only have one if they agree to write a review on Amazon after reading it. If your book is about the church, give it to church leaders ask them to help promote your masterpiece.

Get your books in the hands of “tastemakers.”  What is a tastemaker, you ask? Acoording to Urban Dictionary, “Tastemaker: An individual who’s determination of what’s stylish influences a significant quantity or quality of people resulting in a supportive trend.”  A tastemaker is someone who is savvy and all-knowing. It could be your best friend or your coffee shop barista. You want your tastemaker friends to talk about your book; people listen to tastemakers.
What is your best tip to be socially media savvy? 

Ingrid Schneider is WordServe’s resident Marketing Maven. With a specialty in social media, Ingrid loves helping authors find and manage an online tribe of readers. After spending the last 15 years managing and marketing restaurants, people, and businesses, Ingrid knew that helping people market themselves via social media and online platforms was a passion and something at which she excelled. Now doing social media marketing for some great-named authors, Ingrid also loves to imagine that she is a secret agent, because she can’t disclose with whom she is working. (Believe us when we tell you that Ingrid handles some big names, but for anonymity’s sake, we can’t disclose this TOP SECRET information.)  Imagination and creativity is something Ingrid is serious about and loves to incorporate into her work with her clients.

Social Media… Eeeek!!!

Social media, social networking, marketing, PR, all those terms seem to make authors shudder a little bit. There’s so much to learn and a lot to leverage from gaining an online presence. Where do I even start? That’s the question that I hear so often.  I am going to start at the beginning. And for some of you, this may be very basic information.

Start slowly. It will snowball. My mom used to tell me when I was cleaning, “By the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s hard.”  Social networking happens gradually over time. Gathering a ‘tribe’ takes effort.  It is something that comes with hard work and, most importantly, consistency.

Don’t get frustrated!

I want to start with one specific aspect of social media today: Facebook fan pages. Facebook has changed things up a bit where you can now allow ‘subscribers’ to your personal page. A good example of this is Tim Tebow. Check his personal page out, and you can see that he has 1.6 million subscribers. What is a subscriber you ask?   When you post a status, you can post it so that the Public, Friends, Friend of Friends, or a Custom Group of people can see your updates. Subscribers would be the Custom Group. People are under the impression that this is “good enough.”  Although subscribers are good, there are still more advantages to having a fan page, and most people are not even aware you can subscribe.

Here are a few of the simple basics that a fan page can do, that a regular page can’t:

SEO.  Have you heard people say that? What does it mean?  “’Search Engine Optimization’” is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.  You have more visibility with a “fan page” than with a personal one.”  In easy terms, these pages show up quickly in Google and other search engines because they rank as a higher priority than just a regular Facebook page.

You can have more that 5,000 people on your fan page. Unfortunately, a regular Facebook page tops out at a max of 5,000 people. You say, “I will never get to 5,000 fans.” I say, “Dream BIG!”

People have immediate access to you. No waiting to approve a friendship. Once a fan likes your page, he or she can see all that you have said and done.  Also with a fan page, you can personalize it; it is customizable.  With a little money, you can have a welcome page, a contact form, or unique apps that embed into the page that will make a fan’s experience more of a custom one. Think of a fan page as a second web site to draw attention to your book.

From a fan page you can learn who your followers are and who your target audience is. You can find out their sex, age range, and what country the live in. You automatically have an answer for when an agent or a publisher asks you, “Who is your audience?”

Dedicate 30 minutes a day to social media, and start with your Facebook fan page. It will be worth it, the fans of your book will thank you!

Tell me about your experience with Facebook fan pages. How can you encourage other writers to jump on the Facebook fan page bandwagon?