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By Sandra Rea, author of And Then My Lawyer Died…

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +1, GoodReads, RedRoom, Reddit and the list goes on and on. Can you imagine if you could actually hear all the voices posting about their books or talking about promotions or their lives or whatever? It would be an amazing amount of chatter and noise. With that in your mind’s eye, how do you get heard?

It seems there is an endless list of social media sites on which an author can open a page to have a presence and new ones keep popping up. (I get invited to social media sites I never knew existed, and I’ve stopped joining. Enough is enough!) Then there are the social groups within the sites and all those blogs! Does it ever end? The short answer is NO, but you have control on how many sites you’re on and what you do there to promote your work.

To promote your book, you have to be on social media, participate (notice I didn’t say simply “join”) in groups online and it wouldn’t hurt to write a blog if you keep it current and fresh and add in lots of key words to lead readers to your book(s). The secret to making it all work is consistency. That’s where a lot of people – myself included at times – fall down on the job. I talk to authors who tell me they have a presence online and when I check ’em out I see that they are indeed there, but they don’t really keep things up. Hey, I get it. That’s a lot to keep writing and posting and connecting and crossing ties when you also want to write your next book or do your paid job during the day or raise a family. You get 24 hours in a day and you have to decide how to spend those hours. That said it would be wise to devote an hour a day to your book promotions online. Just one hour can make all the difference in the world.

How do I know?

Whenever I spend consistent time online… even on just three pages in social media without any other effort or time spent… I see a little spike in sales of my e-books. Same goes for authors I assist online. They talk about their book in the RIGHT WAYS and they report seeing a bit more in sales. Beyond that, they get invited to guest blog, have a book signing in the real world and get new friends with similar interests who might just be interested enough to one day buy their book. The next thing that happens is that my authors start seeing reviews from readers on Amazon. That’s cool and it makes me happy to see that when it happens. It’s all a process. And it’s something authors can’t just put in place and walk away from if they expect results.

What’s the process?

  1. Choose a handful of social media sites that work best for you. I’ve been doing social media as an author and for authors since the days when MySpace ruled. That was once a great place to be for authors, but then people started using it as a great big bulletin board and it was redundant and boring. There was no true engagement. Then the way the system worked changed, Facebook became the “it” place to be and the rest is history. Facebook then was a great place for authors to be and there was great freedom to have open and widely shared discussions, and all was good… for a while. Now Facebook is a tough place to be for anyone selling anything. Discussions are controlled by the Great OZ behind the screen of the computer screen. Facebook decides who sees your posts based on your activity. And they want you to advertise. We all kicked rocks and grumbled when Facebook started pushing the paid advertising path, but eventually we had to go with their program. However, there is a way to do that without spending much money at all, and you can target with precision. That comes to you in a later piece. Stay tuned.

    Twitter grew stronger and is a pretty good place to be, but you must participate fully for the best results. LinkedIn is my current favorite social media site, because it still functions as a social media site should. It used to be more restrictive, but they loosened up and made it easier to connect there. Smart LinkedIn!! And there is GoodReads, which I can endorse, and a few others that are worthy of authors, because they connect readers to writers, which is the point, isn’t it? The actual point to this article is that you only have so much time in a day, so choose no more than five social media sites and work ’em!

  2. WORK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES!! That’s right. You can’t just open pages and have them automatically do their thing. You want friends? Seek them, but be careful, because too much activity is viewed as spamming by the system on Facebook. Other systems, too. Accept friendship from all who apply. My rule is to accept all, but if they act up or start doing stupid things or posting inappropriate messages on my timeline or pages, they are gone. A delete button is a wonderful thing.

    Aside from friending, you must ENGAGE people. I talk about this in other articles, because I cannot stress enough that if you don’t care about your friends, if you simply post and post and post, telling people to buy your book, buy your book, it’s not going to work for you. Get interested in other people and what they are doing. Repost, retweet, share other people’s information. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto (or for) you. Be approachable, funny, witty, intelligent, something that shows you are a real human being with goals and a life. Don’t only talk about your book or your writing life. Share pictures of your interests. Get involved in other people’s conversations. And when it’s appropriate, you can slip in that “that’s why I wrote” INSERT BOOK TITLE AND LINK HERE. You are waiting for that wonderful question: “Oh, you’re a writer? What did you write?” Yay!

    Invite other authors to share about their work. Try to get discussions going. Interact with others. It’s called networking. In the real world, we gather, get to know each other, shake hands, exchange business cards and information and help each other. Online in social media, we use our words to help one another. It is SOCIAL media. So be social.

  3. Join and PARTICIPATE in social media groups. You can also start a group if you are so inclined and can actually lead it. You can join lots and lots of groups, but the secret is participation. I admit that I am guilty of joining a few groups that are very interesting around writing and publishing. However, in reality I don’t have the time to be very involved. I am guilty of non-participation. Yet, my involvement alone has done good things. For example, there are amazing groups for writers on LinkedIn. I’ve joined and participated a bit here and there. As a result, I have a large influx of new links and all sorts of people are endorsing me. Thank you to all who do that! YOU are fabulous.

  4. Start a blog and keep posting. I don’t know what the statistics are around blogs and blogging, but I’ll guess there are millions of blogs. It’s not the fact that you have a blog that means much. It’s the content, the key words, the following you build and how you lead people to see your blog in a virtual ocean of blogs and bloggers. I know some authors who have amazing blogs and yet no one knows of them because there are no back links, no banner ad links, no guest posts, no real sharing of any kind going on. They are blogging to blog, but yet they have books to sell. Good books and zero sales. I’ll share an article with you about blogging to teach you how to do it. A friend has a wonderful webinar on the topic, and he covers every aspect and then sends out a full piece on it. Soon, I will include the link in the VAULT so you too can learn exactly what you need to do. This guy is an Internet guru, and I don’t use that term lightly. There aren’t many out in the world that I would give that title to, but this guy… well, he’s special.

  5. Devote an hour a day to your promotions efforts. Seriously, just an hour to post and write and share. If possible, link your social media sites, so you don’t have to hit “post” more than once or twice. In fact, check out www.HootSuite.com. That’s a paid social media site-sharing mechanism that will cost you maybe $20 a month, but it sure makes your posting life easier! You can even schedule posts out far into the future. It’s pretty cool. We have nothing to do with that company, but as you will get to know, if we like something and think it’s useful for authors, we’ll share it with you. None of the things we share will cost much either. We know you might not have a large budget for promotions. That’s why you’re reading this article perhaps, or because you know you have to do a lot of this work yourself.

For now, this is enough. Go to your social media sites, work them, send me a personal friend request, link with me, pin me, follow me, TALK TO ME, and feel free to post about your book(s) on any of my pages. Be sure to like our company page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. There are links on our site when you exit the VAULT today!!

Published in FCM Blog Articles
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00

Does Social Media Help you SELL Books?

By Sandra Rea

I hear it all the time… “I keep telling people about my book online and I’m not selling any books!”

If this is you, there’s a reason you aren’t selling books. You are not ENGAGING your audience! Before your feathers get ruffled, hear me out. There are ways to get people interested in what you are doing and there are ways to repel your “friends” and “followers.” If you want to repel them and possibly even have them unfriend you or stop following you on social media, keep hitting them up with bulletin-board-type posts about “buy my book.” No one cares. Why should they when you don’t care to learn anything about them? That’s where engagement comes into play.

    • Get to know your friends. Make conversation with them about what interests them. Once trust is developed, you can drop a line or two about your being an author and that you have had a great time writing your book. What you are waiting for is for your friends to ask you about your book. For example, they might ask, “What did you write?” BINGO! That’s your “in.” Then is when you actually tell them about your book in brief (using your best elevator pitch) and give a link where they can take a look and even buy your book.
    • Ask questions. People love to help you figure things out. Ask questions in your posts to gather your friends’ opinions about different subjects. For example, you might ask for their input on a plot point or conflict in your book. You might ask for their ideas on characters. You might want to get a feel for how popular one of your book ideas really is among your friends. Ask them what they think.
    • Use honey. Ever heard the old saying that you get more bees with honey? It’s true. Find things you sincerely like about your friends and followers and tell them openly in posts about what you think and why. Keep it real. Don’t go overboard. Don’t get smarmy. (No one needs icky compliments about our eyes or hair. Keep it professional and witty.) For instance, maybe you like the cover of a person’s book. Tell ’em and explain WHY. I will do this when I see covers I really like. There are elements that draw me in, and it helps authors to know.
    • Don’t point out flaws! Another old saying tells us that if we don’t have something nice to say, we should keep our mouths shut. In this case, you’re your fingers away from your keyboard! Converse to point #3, if you can’t find something in a friend’s book or other interest on his/her page to compliment, don’t go there. Don’t say anything. That doesn’t mean you can’t participate in conversations or like people’s comments. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Keep it real. Keep is civil.
    • Change your profile pics from time to time. Have you ever seen someone’s page where they use the same picture today as they did a year ago or longer? How dull is that? Switch things up from time to time. Promote your book in different ways. There must be several representative images you could use aside from only the cover. Maybe you have more than one book. Great. Use the covers as inserts. Use readers holding up your book(s) and giving a thumbs up. Be clever. We are a visual society. (Don’t believe it? Take a peek at Pinterest.com.)

These are but five good tips. We will give you more later. Master these and let us know if your book sales and online popularity improve!!

Published in FCM Blog Articles

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