Monday, February 7, 2011

On the Social Media Shift for Promo

DSC00843_zLike everything in publishing, book promotion is changing.

Because I spend so much time online, and am surrounded by blogging, Facebooking, and tweeting writing friends, I don’t even think about social media being revolutionary in any way.

But there are still lots of writers who haven’t made the leap to social media promoting. I met some of them this weekend.

When I blog about social media—its ability to reach a large number of people for (basically) free—I’m just preaching to the choir…because y’all are all online.

So I don’t really know about these other writers unless I meet them face to face—they’re not networking online.

They’re still talking about creative ways to approach book signings. They’re talking about tours and postcard mailings and posters.

Which, of course, is all still part of promotion…but doesn’t have nearly the scope that social media has.

When I was speaking on the Cape Fear Crime Festival promo panel on Saturday, I mentioned that I found book signings ineffective. I recommended spending that time developing a blog or opening a Facebook or Twitter account. There were a few writers in the audience who looked at me as if I’d grown horns on my head.

A couple of people told me later they didn’t really even know where to begin with the social media world.

So I promised to blog on it. :)

Here’s my take on getting started:

Blogging: I think this is probably the best way to get introduced to social media. The blogging habit comes fairly easily to writers and it’s not too hard to learn a blogging application. Blogspot is Google’s free blog program, and WordPress is another popular blog host. It doesn’t really matter which you choose.

The important thing is to regularly update your blog (you can choose daily or weekly but I wouldn’t space it any farther apart than that) and to interact with other bloggers. You can find great blogs in the blogrolls (sidebars) of active blogs. What do you blog on, if you’re a writer? You can choose to blog on the writing life, writing in general, books you’ve read, movies you’ve enjoyed—basically it’s your choice. It takes a while to really find a niche and get into the writing groove, but it will come.

Facebook: I think this is the second best way to make connections and start building a platform. The learning curve is fairly low and, once you’re on, it makes pretty good sense. The way that conversations work on Facebook looks like a real conversation (unlike Twitter, which is a bit more scattered.) Facebook is where writers interact and network. Where can you find writers? Look up any writer who is active online (I’m Elizabeth Spann Craig Author) and go to their friend list. Click on their friends and just start asking people to friend you. I promise that 99% of these writers aren’t expecting you to really know them for them to accept a Facebook friendship.

Twitter: Twitter is sort of the icing on the cake to me. If you’re already blogging and Facebooking and picked up on it well and are looking for another social media outlet, I’d pick Twitter. The learning curve is just a little steeper for the application…its method for interaction is a little unnatural, I think. What I love about Twitter is the resource sharing and the fact that the messages are always short and punchy. When you read as much as writers all do, short can be sweet. Twitter is also a favorite application for agents and editors, and there is lots of industry information being tweeted.

I’m interested in what y’all have to say about this…do you think this order makes sense to someone just starting out, who is wanting to get their feet wet? I could be persuaded that Facebook makes a better introduction than blogging to the world of social media. What do you think?


Tomorrow I’m going to address the next question I got from folks about social media—how do I know this sells books? :)