Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Optimal Use of Social Media for an Author


Pamela Fagan Hutchins appeared at the Wyoming Writers Inc. conference in June and got rave reviews for her sessions on indie publishing. We asked her to share some of her knowledge here on Writing Wyoming. 


By Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Adapted Excerpt from What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?
Reprinted with permission from SkipJack Publishing

Love it or hate it, social media is a critical part of marketing. It is a way of connecting, not only with potential readers, but also with people who can help you meet your goals—as long as you remember that it’s a two-way street. You need to be prepared to put as much or more energy (or money) into other people’s goals as you would like them to put towards yours.

Why is this important? You sell your book by getting people to tell other people to buy it, not by screaming “buy my book” over and over on Facebook.

Think of social media as a way to fill a bucket that has the potential to contain goodwill. You will need that goodwill to sell your book. You have to fill your bucket first, and you do that by helping others.

The good news is that it is really not very hard to fill your bucket. People are grateful to accept help. If you get out and establish an online presence and help people promote whatever it is they are trying to sell/distribute/raise for charity, they will be a hundred times more likely to do the same for you when the time comes.

The bad news is, the bucket has a leak. If you fill it up and then get busy doing other things for a few months, you will come back and find that the bucket drained dry while you were away. This is why everyone says that social media is hard. It’s not hard to get the bucket full, but it is hard to keep it that way while you are trying to do all the other things you have to do.

The other critical reason to be active in social media? To give people an easy way to learn about you and your books, to discover that they like you and care about what you have to say. Think about that every time you use Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. The people you meet in your social networks know you only by the snippets you give them, and they will likely only see a fraction of what you post. Make sure you show them the version of you that you want people to see. Be interesting, be funny, be smart, be scientific, be creepy, be yourself—with lots of colors and always with a photo. Bonus points if you include a link to something like a review of your book or a blog post you wrote. But be careful; don’t be reckless. If you write Christian-themed children’s stories, you probably don’t want to go off on an expletive-filled rant about how you want to kill everyone at your local grocery store, even if they are a bunch of morons.

Social media is public and permanent

A few words of caution: do not fool yourself into thinking you have any privacy online. You better be sure you want to put it out there, all the way out there, before you hit Enter. If you are taking cracks at your spouse on Facebook or if you want to post those great pictures of yourself doing tequila body shots during your Mexico vacation, just know that you will NEVER be able to pull them back, no matter what your privacy settings are. Be mindful of this even when you are leaving comments on blogs. Choose your user name wisely and your words carefully. If someone Googles you, your comments under your real name may all come up.

Also, if you are using social media to actively push a social, political, or religious agenda, this may work for you and fit your goals, but it also may narrow your list of potential readers. And that may be fine with you. I just want you to remain realistic. You may write romantic thrillers, which have a broad audience; however, if your social-media presence is over-the-top conservative (like a few of my family members’), you will probably cut your market in half. Do you really not want to sell your book to those crazy liberals, even when they use the same currency you do? People beyond your social network can and will see your posts, especially on Goodreads.

The long and the short of it

How does all this translate to book sales? It’s really impossible to quantify. But if you look at the Goodreads activity for titles that are selling on Amazon and in bookstores, you’ll see that it’s quite strong, which suggests correlation, at least, if not causation. Causation comes from you—your actions and your book.

If you were to pick only one social-media site for reader engagement, I’d recommend Goodreads. I believe that you’d be hard-pressed to find a site better focused on your target market. But experiment with Facebook and Twitter, too, and see what works for you. While these are, in my opinion, the top three sites for indie authors, many people find Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+ useful as well. Google+ is becoming more important as it integrates with the Google search engine and increases your visibility the more you use it.

Social networking can be a little overwhelming, given that you have something approximating a real life to live and all. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job, though. Services like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite can save time by letting you manage all your social-media sites in one place. Once you get the hang of it, effective social networking should take only half an hour per day, less if you’re efficient.

Want to learn more from Pamela? Check out her website. She's offering a coupon code for her online courses to readers of this blog. Take the online webinar How to Sell a Ton of Books in 5 Simple Ways free, and receive 1/3 off any of the other online courses by redeeming the coupon WYOWRI.
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Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and series mysteries, like What Doesn’t Kill You, which includes the bestselling Saving Grace and the 2015 WINNER of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy, which you can get free in ebook, anywhere. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School and writes about it on the SkipJack Publishing blog.

Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, traveling in the Bookmobile, and experimenting with her Keurig. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).


5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Back at ya -- thanks for sharing such great info!

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  2. Great timing for me. I've been doing some research on self publishing, and this is another area I need information and help on. The whole idea of getting too involved in social media is daunting for me. Seems like there is so much muck to wade through. I haven't looked at Goodreads yet, but just added it to my to do list. Thanks for a timely, for me, and great article. I missed Ms Hutchins at WWI because I stuck to the poetry track. I really need lots of help there too. ;-)

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  3. Just got back from vacation and read your post. I am sooo grateful to be of the generation whose college days predated two things: credit cards and the internet. Which is to say most of my wild/unwise/cringe-worthy activities did not result in bad credit and are not enshrined in cyber space. Whew!

    Lots of good info here. The two things that leaped off the screen and landed on my To Do list: check out Goodreads and Hootsuite.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just got back from vacation and read your post. I am sooo grateful to be of the generation whose college days predated two things: credit cards and the internet. Which is to say most of my wild/unwise/cringe-worthy activities did not result in bad credit and are not enshrined in cyber space. Whew!

    Lots of good info here. The two things that leaped off the screen and landed on my To Do list: check out Goodreads and Hootsuite.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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