I hope this week’s series on publicity provides you with a new outlook on the publicity process. It doesn’t have to be intimidating–or a black hole you envision at the end of the publishing process.
I realize that many authors would rather write their next book than sweat in a green room before an interview but, as you’ve heard this week, publicity is an important aspect of an author’s life. Learn how to play the game and you can reach a wide audience.
When Lisa and I first began planning publicity week, one thing that she made sure we had on our list was social media. While authors hear frequently that they have to start using social networking platforms like Facebook, MySpace, and now Twitter, few know what they should do once they join.
What is a “social networking site,” you may ask.
Without descending into the depths of geekery, social networking refers to a web tool that brings people with like interests and activities together. More and more authors and publishers use these social networking sites to their advantage. It helps you develop brand awareness, dispense information to potentially millions of unique visitors, and can help position a book to a broader demographic range.
These books are getting a bump from jumping on the social media wagon:
Perhaps the most famous social media success story in publishing is Stephanie Meyer. Heather Green’s article in BusinessWeek details Meyer’s use of Web 2.0 tactics to propel her Twilight series onto bestseller lists across the country and sell over 7.5 million books at the time of the article and over 10 million books today.
The article describes how Meyer went beyond the usual author videos, Web site and book blogger interviews. She answered readers’ questions on her own website and posted her personal e-mail address.
Earlier this month, our friends at Overlook Press had a genius idea for book publicity: hold a Facebook giveaway! While the contest has closed already – it fell, appropriately enough, on Elvis’ 74th birthday – you can follow this link to see how they did it.
The innovative idea even caught the eye of the folks over at GalleyCat, who wrote up a nice post about it. In addition, the giveaway caught the attention of the good people at West Coast Live, who contacted Overlook Press about the contest.
This is an example of how a good social networking idea can lead to traditional media coverage.
What social networking platforms must an author focus on?
Vital stats come from the blog Web Strategy by Jeremiah [source: Facebook’s site via the Web Strategy blog]:
– More than 60 million active users
– An average of 250,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007
– An average of 3% weekly growth since Jan. 2007
– Active users doubling every 6 months
Facebook is where many authors focus most of their social networking energy. As seen above, authors can not only build pages and connect with those within the industry, but can host book giveaways, events and other gatherings online. In fact, Lisa created this virtual course as a Facebook event and invited her friends on Facebook to join.
We encourage all of our clients to have a presence on Facebook because it provides such a great opportunity to network with authors, fans and other industry professionals.
Where should you focus your energy on Facebook?
– Connect with other authors by joining writing networks and book clubs.
– Be available to your fans—answer questions posted; interact with them.
– Network outside your comfort zone by “friending” authors you respect, media members on your wish list, etc.
– Create reasons for potential book buyers to visit your page by having an updated blog, offering book giveaways and other offers.
Here is a great article from Sachi studio on how authors can use Facebook effectively:
Vital stats [source: Web Strategy Blog]:
– MySpace has more than 110 million monthly active users around the globe
– 85% of MySpace users are of voting age (18 or older)
– 1 in 4 Americans is on MySpace; in the UK it’s as common to have a MySpace as it is to own a dog
– On average 300,000 new people sign up to MySpace every day,
While Facebook may be the biggest current craze for authors, MySpace still has more traffic and members, which means a presence here is also a big must. MySpace and Facebook serve different demographics. MySpace users tend to be younger than Facebook users. Companies aren’t allowed to have profiles on Facebook (although there are creative ways around that rule) while they are on MySpace, so publishing houses have a big presence there.
You should focus your energy on MySpace in the same areas as Facebook. Connect with the larger group to build your brand.
Here is a good article from NY Mag on how authors can use MySpace effectively:
Vital stats [source: Compete via Mashable.com]
– Twitter grew 752% in 2008
– Had a total of 4.43 million unique visitors in December 2008 after starting the year with only around 500K
By now you’ve heard of Twitter. Surely you’re heard about it. If not, throw “Twitter” into Google and learn about one of the fastest growing movements online.
At first I was a bit skeptical but I’ve since become a convert and now view it as a major pillar of our firm’s online platform. Here is what Twitter allows P&P to do:
– Talk about our clients (and book media for them)
– Stay connected to others in the book industry
– Discuss recent client wins, new projects and events
– Hear about the latest news–instantly
What I’ve found most rewarding about Twitter is our ability to engage in instant conversations and see how the book industry is responding to the newest literary and national news, new books and trends. It’s something no other platform offers and what a valuable tool it can be.
If you are just getting started, I’m sure you are a bit uncertain how to go about building a following. Here are a few ideas:
– Start following people that you want to follow you – many of them will reciprocate.
– Ask your best industry contacts whether they are on Twitter. You’ll be surprised how many are already there.
– Add your Twitter address to your email signature.
– To connect with others within the book industry, consult Jennifer Tribe’s handy directory. If you are not already on the list, submit a comment on the bottom of the list and she will add you.
One key thing to remember is that you should always treat your website as your home base online. That’s the primary place you want media, book buyers, publishers and other people to go to find out everything there is to know about your work as an author. Each social networking extension that you have should lead people back to your website. For example, make sure you list each brand extension that you have on each page you keep updated—your website should link to your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts, your Facebook account should link to your website and Twitter account and so on.
Social networking is all about making yourself and your books more accessible online. It provides something that authors have not had in the past—the chance to interact with your fans in an efficient and easy way. Although many authors find social networking to be very daunting at first, most end up getting so much more out of it than they put in. I encourage you to make the most out of the opportunities that you have online.
Today’s extra credit is found over at the Phenix & Phenix blog. What authors can learn from brand promotion (hint: social media!)