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