Yesterday, I began attending an online workshop titled Social Networking 101, conducted by author Catherine Bybee. As an author, I think it’s vital that I keep learning all I can about how to not only write, but how to get my name out there…and to do that without being a pest or a used carpet salesman: “Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book!”
Interestingly, what I’ve learned in just one day from this class is that:
- There are a LOT of authors who don’t understand Facebook.
- The trick to gaining an audience is in being LIKEable, not promoting the bejeebers out of your book.
- Blogging is still important.
- Start a newsletter
Social Networking 101
Being that Facebook is ranked #2 on Aleka’s list for sites that get the most web traffic, knowing Facebook is pivotal to an author’s health. First, if you’re a beginning author, you’ll probably do just fine with setting up only a personal profile page. This is the standard setup that everyone gets when they sign up on Facebook. However, if you’ve already got an audience or have published a few books, a FAN page would be beneficial. The key difference between a PROFILE page and a FAN page are:
- You gain an audience via FRIENDING
- You are limited to 5,000 friends
- You gain an audience by others LIKING your page
- There is no limit to how many people can like your page
Of course, you also have Facebook groups, but I wouldn’t worry about that until you’ve gained a larger audience. Then you can create a reader group, a street team, or a group for your beta readers and critique partners, etc.
What this means is that instead of pimping your books repeatedly, which will make people cringe every time they see one of your posts, posts funny or interesting things. Do you write about vampires? Post an interesting tidbit you found about vampire lore. Do you have a cat who sits beside you while you write? Post a pic of your writing buddy. Do you have a muse who sets your toes on fire because he’s so freaking hot? Post a pic of him so your fans can enjoy him, too. Tell a funny story about something that happened to you that day. Talk about the turtle you saved that was trying to cross the road. The trick is that you want to get likes and actually engage with your readers.
If you have both a Facebook profile and a Facebook fan page, use your profile to post the more personal things and your fan page to share more professional posts related more to your writing.
NOTE: Do not use your profile or your fan page to share your beliefs on politics, religion, or other controversial subjects, such as what is currently happening in Ferguson, MO, right now. I have made this mistake a couple of times and lost readers because of it. Lesson learned. Again, your job is to be LIKABLE, not controversial. Don’t use your Facebook wall to bitch about everything: your health, your editor, your reviews, your lack of reviews, this other author who you suspect has bought reviews for their books (your readers do NOT care what other authors are doing, they care about YOU, which is why they friended/liked you to begin with, so stick to you and don’t worry about what others are doing), how everyone hates you, etc. I’ve unfriended dozens of authors who only used their walls to bellyache and complain about another author’s success. I don’t want to see that crap, and neither do your readers. The occasional “Egads, I have a massive headache” is one thing, but posting several times a day, week after week, about how much pain you’re in does not a likable author make.
Blogs do still receive a lot of traffic, and I’ll admit that I’ve been dropping the ball on mine for a while now. I used to blog all the time, but after becoming the target for a batch of internet trolls a couple of years ago, I stopped, because they were twisting every blog post I wrote into a method to attack me for things I didn’t say. I don’t know why they did this, but rather than continue feeding them, I simply stopped blogging. But I realize now that I can’t stop putting content out there because of a small group of trolls when I have hundreds of readers who want to read what I write. So, it’s time to resurrect my blog.
The things you want to blog about are those that have to do with your writing. You could write about craft like my friend Mellanie Szereto on her blog, Out of My Mind. Scroll down and you’ll see on the left side all the topics she writes about. You could also write about books you’ve read, your writing process, your characters, or what’s going on in your writing world the way I am now. I’m taking a class on Social Networking 101 and think it’s worth blogging about. You could also host other authors on your blog. The possibilities are limitless. Read other author blogs to see what they’re writing about to get ideas for your own. Here’s Catherine Bybee’s blog to get your started.
Once you’ve gained a decent-sized audience, you’ll want to start a newsletter. I just started mine a few months ago. I use Campaign Monitor and really like it. It’s super easy to use. Others I’ve talked to use Mail Chimp and say it’s good, too. Just don’t send out a newsletter every day or you’ll stop being LIKABLE. You’ll become a nuisance, and people will simply stop opening your letter and may even unsubscribe.
My philosophy is to send out a newsletter when you release a new book, win a contest, have important news to share about an upcoming release, contest you’re going to run, or a blog tour. You have to pay for sending out your newsletters, so you want them to have something to say, not just be another method to talk to readers. I’m still new at writing newsletters, but I try to read what other authors include in theirs to get ideas for how to write my own.
That’s the basics of Social Networking 101. These are just a few tips and methods for growing your audience. They say you need to get your name in front of someone 7-10 times before they buy your book. If you use these methods, you’ll be well on your way. Thanks to Catherine Bybee’s lesson plan from yesterday’s online class for helping me create this blog post.
Happy writing, everybody!