Your whole life you have been a writer. Now, finally, after blood, sweat and tears, you have a completed manuscript. Or, maybe, you are still in the blood, sweat and tears stage of completing your masterpiece. Either way, marketing your book can begin now. Yes, that’s right; there is no need to wait until the book is available to begin marketing your writing.
Through a series of articles, I intend to introduce you to the somewhat confusing and scary world of social media and help you overcome any fears you may have.
With Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and many other sites, marketing has actually become easier for writers. So, where do you begin? Let’s begin with Twitter.
Twitter is, by far, one of the best ways to get yourself out there and generate a strong following and is the place I suggest you start first. If you don’t already have an account, sign up using your writing name, whether it be your real name or pen name. Avoid using names such as “AspiringWriting01″ and the like. The more personable you make your account; the more likely people will follow you. Also, if you can, upload a photo and stick with it.
I recommend using an actual photo of you, but I know some authors prefer to keep their identity more private. So, if you insist on not using a photo of yourself use your book cover if you already have one. You will notice I said to pick a photo and stick with it. I see many tweeps (aka people who use twitter) constantly changing their profile pic. A change now and again is okay, but changing it too often can make it hard for people to really feel connected with you, because they haven’t really had the opportunity to “get to know you” yet. (*ahem* and I am the worst person about this, I change mine constantly – so what’s the saying: Do as I say, not as I do).
Next is your bio. Another mistake I often notice, is that tweeps have little or nothing identifying who they are in their profile. If you are a writer, sell it! It doesn’t have to be fancy, something as simple as: “Jane Doe, author of debut novel, The Book, available whenever” will suffice. Of course, if you are able to come up with something catchy, use it!
Why is this bio important? Well, later on we are going to talk about searching for others who are like you and following them. The hope is that others will do the same to you. It makes it much easier to follow a “writer” when it says they are a “writer” in their bio. With all this said, don’t get too wordy either. You want it to be simple and to the point. If you were to look at your bio for just a brief second, would you be able to pick up on the essence of what you are about? If so, bravo your bio is complete.
The last step in setting up your profile is adding a link to your website or blog. If you don’t have one yet, don’t worry, you can always go back and add the link later. In a future article we will explore personal websites and blogging and how to integrate them into your tweets.
Once your profile is a go, you are ready to start tweeting! Uh oh, but you don’t have any followers!
Okay, do a little search under the hashtag, #amwriting. You are going to find a whole bunch of tweeps who are interested in the same thing you are – writing. Look at some of their profiles and if they seem interesting to you, start following them. You might want to even send them a Direct Message (DM), or a tweet introducing yourself. Keep doing this everyday to continue to grow your following.
As you are followed by more and more people, you will start getting Listed and hopefully you will be Listed as a Writer or Author. This will make you more visible to others and help generate more followers. The general rule of thumb here is your Listed should equal about 10% of your following. If it does not, you may need to explore the quality of your following. More than likely you have a lot of spambots. While it is not completely possible to avoid picking up spambots, your stream will be better if you can try to eliminate them and unfollow as many as possible. Real people will actually retweet you, not spammers.
Now onto tweeting. Some people may tell you to keep your chatting to a minimum. I somewhat disagree with this tactic. While I understand that you don’t want to appear to be chatting with the same three people over and over and avoiding your other followers, you also really do need to connect with your followers. So I say chat away, but be cautious not to always chat with the same folks; branch out and try to connect with others.
Another key ingredient to being successful on Twitter, is making sure you remember it isn’t all about you. Help your peers. When you see a fellow writer share a blog post or snippet, retweet it to your followers. This will not go unnoticed and your followers will remember this the next time you post a snippet or link.
Participate actively in #MentionMonday (#MM), #WriterWednesday (#WW) and #FollowFriday (#FF). The more exposure you give to others, the more they will expose you.
So does this really work? The short answer: Yes. After less than a year on Twitter, I have generated close to 4,300 followers and my book hasn’t even been released yet.
So how did you get so many followers and keep them? Simple, I am consistent. My followers have come to count on me being around to answer questions about writing or to provide blog posts. This isn’t to say that once you join you can’t ever go on vacation, but you do want to be consistent with your tweeting. Stay connected with the masses and treat them like you would your close friends. If you aren’t going to be around, let them know or use a 3 rd party Twitter Management program to schedule some tweets. We will talk about some of the different programs available in another article.
Don’t just send out link after link of your blog posts or book links, generate a chat with other writers, answer questions posted by others, or offer encouragement to others. The more solid your connections, the better reputation you will gain and the more followers you will get.
Another thing I don’t see writers doing enough of is providing samples of their writing. If you are at your computer typing away on your WIP, take a catchy sentence and put it on twitter and follow it with the #amwriting tag. This will help debut your writing style and catch the attention of others. I can’t tell you how many times just tweeting a sentence of my work has generated questions about my book and me in general.
Above all, have fun with it!
Stay tuned next week for Part II, Exploring the Many Ups and Downs of Facebook.