[By L.R.Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages and Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood now available on Amazon.]
There was a time when authors could focus solely on honing their craft…obsessing over each word choice, laboring to perfect the cadence of every sentence, endeavoring to transform thoughts, dreams, ideas into written words worthy of publication. While those things must still take precedence over all else, the reality of the publishing world we now live in demands that we also don the hats of the expert marketer and the seasoned publicist. Times are hard for publishers struggling to keep up with the ever-changing electronic age, and marketing budgets are reserved for those who don’t need them…the already famous, the noteworthy, the known.
So, what is a struggling new writer, traditionally published or self-published, to do? The secret is the same one we follow when writing our masterpieces, only instead of, “Write what you know,” it’s “Harness what you know.” And what do most younger-generation writers know? Social media, of course!
We already know how to operate on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr, and more, and as new media outlets crop up, we’re the first to jump in and see what they are all about. So let’s use them for the one thing we need most—EXPOSURE! We want to be discovered. We want to be heard. We want to be read. And, to be perfectly honest, we want to sell books!
Here are some ways to leverage three of the top social media outlets you already use (or should be using!) to market your books so you can get back to what matters most…writing! (I’m just going to assume you already have a blog and are regularly writing posts relevant to your genre. If you don’t have a blog yet, start there!)
- Make sure your profile bio is interesting and relevant.
- Create an author board like this one and pin anything you write, whether it’s a magazine article, a blog post, or a book, with a brief description.
- Use hashtags (i.e. #parenting, #education, #poetry, #nonfiction, #romance, #fantasy, etc.) to help people find your pins.
- Create a board like this one for every book you write, preferably just before it’s released. Add relevant pins such as your book cover, giveaways, book reviews, character sketches you’ve shared on your blog, etc.
- Make sure your boards aren’t one-dimensional. In other words, create boards that show your interests other than writing such as cooking or reading or crafting or hiking or traveling so other pinners will get to know you as more than just an author and also to provide a way to interact.
- Engage with other pinners by regularly repinning the best of other people’s pins onto relevant boards, as well as commenting on and liking pins and following boards and people that interest you.
- Choose one or two chapters of your book and share them as blog posts like this with links to your Amazon sales page (or wherever you want to direct people to purchase your book), then pin to your relevant boards, but not all at once. Remember, no one likes a spammer!
- Create group boards like this and invite contacts you’ve made who share similar interests to join. Sharing pins and interests is a great way to network!
- Create an author page separate from your personal page.
- Do some research and find other pages that share similar interests to your work and ‘like’ them. For example, my Facebook page reflects my focus on parenting, and the pages I’ve ‘liked’ share similar parenting philosophies to the ones I write about.
- Interact with the pages you’ve ‘liked’ by commenting on and sharing their posts and images. It’s important to build relationships with like-minded pages not only because their followers often follow you, as well, when they see you interacting on the page, but also because those page administrators may end up being enthusiastic book tour hosts when your book is released!
- Share your blog posts two or three times after publishing them, preferably at different times of the day to reach a broader audience.
- Interact with your followers by replying to their comments and by posting the occasional question in your status updates. An example would be asking something like, “If you could visit anywhere in the world (or if you write sci-fi you could say “anywhere in the universe,” lol) it would be ___________.”
- Create memes (images with text) with quotes from your books and share them along with the link to a relevant blog post or to your Amazon sales page (or wherever you want to direct people to purchase your book).
- Host giveaways, being careful to follow Facebook’s rules, and offer your followers freebies such as signed copies of your book or signed book-plates for your books they’ve already purchased.
- Twitter is all about networking, so be sure to not only check people’s bios before following them to see if their interests are relevant to yours, but also read through their last few tweets to get a good feel for their purpose for being on Twitter. If you don’t like giveaways or inspirational quotes or political rants, then you’ll want to know before following if that’s what someone’s tweets are all about!
- Just as with Facebook, tweet your blog posts two or three times after publishing, preferably at different times of the day to reach a broader audience.
- Use relevant hashtags, as with Pinterest, so your tweets will show up in searches about your subject.
- Use a link shortener such as bit.ly or goo.gl for your blog post links to leave lots of space for an intriguing teaser to make people want to click and follow.
- Make sure to use less than the maximum 140 characters in your tweet to leave room for retweets.
- Reply to and retweet other people’s tweets regularly to engage, interact, and, hopefully, attract the attention of people with whom you’d like to network.
- Tweet images and videos relevant to your subject to engage your followers in new and interesting ways.
The main thing to keep in mind is that success breeds success…as in helping other people achieve success will have a direct impact on your own success. A ‘me first’ mentality won’t get you far on social media, hence the word ‘social’ in the term. So be social, be nice, be helpful, do for others all the things you’d like others to do for you. Believe me, working together we’ll all achieve our goals faster and enjoy the journey a lot more!
Anything to add? Share it in the comments!
L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.