Friday, July 1, 2011

Using Social Media Strategy To Promote Your Writing

Blogging and promotion is part of the new job description for the today’s author. Getting your name known in cyberspace. Setting your *brand.*

It either scares the bejeebies out of a writer or they feel at a loss as to where to start. They want to use their time to write, not *play around on the internet.* I was the promotion/marketing director of a small Indie press. I heard variations of this daily.

So many books. I want to look for you, why?
My answer? You can do both. How are your readers going to find you if they don’t know your name and what you write? Books don’t just magically sell because your name is on it. And many writers don’t start that process until they have a contract or a book published, which puts you at a disadvantage of racing to catch up.

Yes, you need time to write but you also have to invest the time to get your work in the hands of your target audience—your readers. So, if blogging and promotion is a must, then learn how to blog in a way designed to gain readers and build a platform of future fans.

My guest is Laurie Creasy. She has graciously agreed to share her expertise to help one get started and how to use social media to promote your work. 

This will be part one of a three part series. 

It’s never too early to plan a strategy for using social media to promote your writing.

More and more, traditional publishers rely on authors to promote their books. In e-publishing right now, you are author, marketer, and sometimes even editor and designer.

To promote what you write effectively, you’ll need momentum.  Here are five ways to build it.

Blog. As a new writer, this may be the most important thing you do in social media. A blog anchors everything else you do – it gives you a place to explain or extrapolate, to test ideas.

Don’t tell me you have nothing to say. Of course you do. If you really had nothing to say, you wouldn’t be a writer. Right?

So write about something you love – something that also touches what you write about. Adore steampunk? Tell us about the clothes, the foods, and the buildings.  If you write fantasy, give us some tips on how you build worlds from scratch.

Not only are you giving your readers great information, you’re building an audience for your stories.

Experiment. I started a Tumblr blog several months ago and floundered until I began taking photos of flowers. Suddenly my blog took off (in a small way). Who knew?

If things aren’t working, try a different angle – maybe steampunk clothes are just too, well, done -- or try a different tone for your posts.

If you don’t do well with a traditional blog, try something different.

Tumblr ( is fun, and it’s an excellent way to show off photos and artwork.

A new service, Pinterest, lets you create the virtual equivalent of a bulletin board for things you’re interested in. (Pinterest is in beta, but you can request an invitation at

You may also find that you work well with Storify (, which allows you to tell a story through tweets and Facebook status posts. Unlike a blog, however, Storify creates standalone pieces.

Play around until you find out what works best for you.

Help and share. Your job as a budding author is to build relationships with everyone, not just big name authors. It’s what your mother always told you: To have an audience, you have to be an audience.

This means you can’t just post to your own blog and ignore everyone else’s. Get in there and comment, question, and even disagree on other blogs.

Yes, it takes time. Yes, you might spend that more productively by writing, and writing is your future.

Let’s be blunt: Selling your writing is your future, unless you like starving in a garret and achieving renown only after you’re dead. The time you put into building your social media presence now is an investment in your writing.

Analyze. What works on a blog doesn’t work on Twitter. What works on Twitter doesn’t work on Facebook.

Figure out what’s best for which platform and why. My job involves maintaining a Facebook page for a large university. I can tell you right now that our audience loves photos of campus, news about our sports programs, news about our research in health, and news about our astronomy research. Any of those will draw likes and comments for us, and on Facebook, likes and comments are the name of the game.

If you have a Twitter and/or a Facebook account, begin experimenting now to find out what mix of content will work for you.

Stop worrying about numbers. Millions of Facebook fans, tens of thousands of Twitter followers – stop right there.  Just stop, OK?

You’re going to buy a friend’s book, or you’re going to buy a book by someone you feel as though you know. If you like that book, you’ll tell others, and if they like it, they’ll tell even more people.

That’s the point of social media, to build friendships. Not only do you want to get to know the people who will buy your book, you want them to get to know you.

After all, readers aren’t really investing in any given book. They’re investing in a relationship with an author they’ve come to trust.

  • What strategies have you employed? What have you found to work?

  • If you have any questions be sure to ask and Laurie will do her best to answer them.

At age 53, Laurie went back to college for a master's degree in Human-Computer Interaction. Her younger classmates introduced her to social media, and she has never looked back. She leads the team that maintains a university Facebook page with more than 200,000 fans -- an increase of 130,000 fans since she began her work in early 2010. 

She has won national, regional, and international prizes for poetry, fiction, and reporting, including the RWA's Golden Heart award for romantic suspense, and has taught creative writing classes.

You can find Laurie: Facebook and her blog


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee, Laurie!

Plenty of coffee, a comfy chair, lot's of homemade goodies, and some nice people to visit with.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's why I started blogging! And now I'm never at a loss over blog topics.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex, Monday's are usually my day and there are times I have to struggle a bit to come up with something interesting.

I'm still learning to just let it flow...

Hope you have a great weekend!

Sun Singer said...

Great advice.

Olivia Cunning said...

Most of my "extraneous" blogging is about music, which, lucky for me, goes nicely with what I write. Not sure what I'm going to blog about under my paranormal/fantasy pen name.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Olivia--things that go bump in the night?

Which can be taken several ways, lol!

Kat Sheridan said...

Wonderful advice, Laurie, and Sia, great topic! I'm not into blogging. Not yet. I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but hardly know what to do with them. Twitter has been described as a noisy cocktail party and I find that's true. I find it difficult to join the conversations there. Still working it out, and still working on the writing.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, me too on twitter. Son on the other hand, fits right in. Glorified texting and it's his element.

I'm curious about how google plus will be...

~Sia McKye~ said...

What I like about this article is while it's geared towards writers and authors, you can take bits from it to promote services, building up your blog audiences, or whatever else you need it for.

Helen Ginger said...

Everything seems to change rapidly. Facebook seems to be trying to be more Twitter-like. News media seems to pay more attention to Twitter, but they also notice Facebook. Blogging seems to be the best way to connect with readers, but, as you say, you can't just post and leave. You have to visit and comment on blogs, as well as tweet and be-friend. Now there's goggle plus. Now you're expected to befriend others on GoodReads. I'd keep going, but I'm too tired.

Other Lisa said...

Laurie, can you share some more thoughts on Tumblr? I have a blog, a website, and use FB & Twitter regularly. I just spent way too much time playing around with Tumblr and I'm not getting what it's really for and how to integrate it into the other stuff I have.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I don't know much about tumblr either, Lisa.

Helen, I'm thinking that a person has to figure out which social media produces the best results for them.

Blogging is an excellent path but you're correct, it takes some time to follow some with comments. Yah, maybe you don't get to them every posting (and I certainly don't), but being consistent each week helps. I've met some wonderful bloggers and learned much from them (like you Helen), especially when I was still a newbie.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I know so many who do post to their own blog and never visit others. (I have my slack days, but I do try to get around to other blogs.) Sometimes these bloggers post long, detailed pieces, and I wonder - why bother? No one is reading it.

Kat Sheridan said...

Dropping back by and feeling very out of things. What the heck is google plus? Helen, I'm feeling the same way with all the "friend me" stuff (and when did "friend" get to be a verb?)Some days I just want to run screaming from the internet and just not "talk" to anybody.

Alyson Reuben said...

Wow, is this an awesome article! Very helpful! In fact, as a new author, this could've have come at a better time. I fully intend to start trying these things, and to come back for the other two parts.

Thanks so much, Laurie and Sia!

Alyson Reuben said...

Actually, I meant this COULDN'T have come at a better time! My fingers are jumpy today :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

READERS: If you want some more info, Diane Wolf, Spunk On A Stick's Tips, is also doing a blog on Tuesday 7-5-11 on the subject of blogs. Diane is another savvy blogger and a subject expert as well. You can find her in my left sidebar under fav blogs.

Alyson, lolol! You crack me up. Let me know what I can do to help.

Laurie does this professionally and I always appreciate professional expertise.

You know? There's something rather lowering about my own blog not recognizing me, lol! I figure the third time is a charm. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura, its great to meet you. You are right about the audience being there. Millions of online socialites just waiting for you to reach out to them. Guest blogging, like a home-and-away with another bloggers, works wonders. regarding reaching new people.

Sheila Deeth said...

I think I'll go get a coffee. Not really found anything to "work" at this point, but I still feel like I'm slowly walking forwards, the odd sale here and there, the odd email from a publisher... Maybe I'll learn to run one day. Helpful post. Thanks.

Carl Harmon said...

Nice blog.
Nice article.Loved reading them.

Digital Media Consultant