by Tamela Hancock Murray
This may seem like an interruption to my series on writing proposals, but it is not. I plan to address the Marketing section of a proposal in the near future. However, before writers can think about marketing in general, they need to understand social media because an author who has mastered social media will be more attractive to a publisher. They want to partner with savvy authors. Thomas Umstattd addressed some of these in a blog in February called “Seven Ways Agents Measure Social Media.” So the tips below may be a quick review for many, but it bears repeating since it has become such an important piece of the marketing puzzle.
Find out how you look on Google. Do a Google search on your name on a regular basis to see what appears. You won’t be able to control everything that comes up under your name, but work with your webmaster to be sure your web site appears at the top. This is especially helpful if you had to purchase a domain that’s not entirely obvious such as, “ImaWriterWrites” because your name alone was already taken. A regular search will also help you identify anything slanderous, libelous, or (more likely) just plain inaccurate so you can take action to have those links removed. Searching your name should also reveal if there is another author with a name similar to yours. If you find this is true, I recommend simply mentioning the fact in your proposal to make the agent aware so the two of you can decide whether or not to choose a pen name.
It’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts on your name (instructions here). Google will send you an email any time a new page on the Internet mentions you or your books.
Your Web Site
Invest in a good web site. Our web site was designed and is maintained by Authormedia.com. A web site makes several important statements:
- I am serious about being an author.
- I have established an easy-to-find place where potential readers can learn about me.
- This is the image I hope to cultivate with my present and future readers.
- This is how I am working to brand my writing.
- This is a place where readers can easily reach me by email.
If you have a blog, be sure it is kept up to date. An abandoned blog, no matter how pretty, is not compelling. Unfortunately, we see this quite often when researching a potential client.
Yes, a blog is a lot of work (we know this firsthand), but a quality blog presence is worth the time investment. Imagine if The Steve Laube Agency discontinued our blog after today and you stopped getting our posts via email. Aside from the loss of what we hope is good information for you, if you stopped hearing from us, you’d stop thinking about us as often. That loss of our presence in your business day would make you wonder what happened. You would wonder if we had gone out of business. In many ways your blog is a form of regular advertising.
As a minimum, pick two days a week and be consistent with those two days. Use Google Analytics to discover if your blog is getting a lot of readership. By this, we don’t mean 50 readers, no matter how much they love you. I won’t name a particular number because the measure of success does vary, and a super blog is more important to some type of authors than others. But a consistent blog presence does demonstrate that an author is equipped to grow a solid following. Please make sure the look and content are professional, friendly, and in keeping with the type of books you write. Make the commitment, and again, be consistent.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, open one. I recommend a mix of:
- Personal updates.
- Interaction with your followers.
- The occasional promotional tweet for yourself.
- Tweets that are of direct benefit to the reader, such as links to free books.
- Tweet links to fascinating articles.
You don’t have to tweet all six types of tweets every day, but do try to tweet at least once or twice a day. Have fun! Give us your Twitter handle and we’ll check you out. We might even follow you! My Twitter handle is @Tamela_Murray.
Don’t pay for followers, though. No need. Stay active, follow others, and you’ll get a following. Once you do, I recommend Twitcleaner to help maintain your account. An especially valuable feature here is, “How do I look to Twitcleaner.” This feature tells you if you are posting too many links or doing other boring things that can lead you to lose followers. As for other maintenance sites, be sure to watch for automatic tweets because they may say, “Here’s who unfollowed me,” as one of your tweets. This type of automatic tweet calls people out and makes you look like a jerk. There are lots of great freebie sites and they all have paid upgrades. You can decide what is right for you.
Most authors have a Facebook account so you already know this is a fun way to share with friends and fans. I have two accounts; a personal page and a business page. If you decide to open a business page, be sure not to delete all your friends from your personal page because you will then no longer be able to see their updates. Please visit and “like” my Facebook page. I keep my two pages different from each other by sharing writing and publishing news on one and giving the other a more personal touch. This way, I hope that people will be interested in both pages because I like to interact. Feel free to share how you keep your pages interesting!
I like the Facebook advantage of being able to make longer comments than on Twitter, which limits you to 140 characters, and the ability to share photos. As with Twitter, jump on at least once a day to be current and keep current.
I recommend joining Klout because it has become a measure of social media influence. You will also see how you are interacting on social media and how you are being received across the board. Another measure is Kred which also provides an activity chart.
People either seem to love or be indifferent to Pinterest. I have a page (click here), but haven’t pinned much. This is mainly because of my packed schedule, and when Pinterest first came about, the media reported problems with image copyrights. However, recently much of this has been resolved, to the point that if I shop online, most retailers offer to allow me to pin images of my purchase. So now that a good portion of fear and problems have been removed, Pinterest has been declared the next big thing in social media. I recommend that writers explore this option. Because it is so visual, it’s a great place to pin book covers and images related to your stories. Many of my authors are already using this great new tool. Go for it and have fun!
“Fun” is the key word. Social media is just that — social. True, you want to be careful not to post in anger or moodiness. Think of social media as attending a big party with friends, family, and business colleagues. You want to be pleasant, personal, and on target.
Stay tuned for a future post about how to work your social media efforts into your proposal.
What is your favorite social media? Why?
Are you avoiding some or all social media? Why?
How do you think social media can be used effectively?