Friday, July 8, 2011

Creating A Promotion Platform Through Blogging

Laurie Creasy continues her series in Using Social Media Strategy 

Part One:  Promote Your Writing
Part Two:  Blogging: Improving Your Visibility

Your book is being published! Great news!

But now you have to market it.

You’re in one of two positions (either Type A or Type B):

  •  You have a blog and a presence on one or more social platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook)
  •  You just said, “Huh?” and scratched your head.
If you’re Type A, as soon as you get The Call, make sure each one of your accounts is neat, clean, and up to date.

  • If you've been slacking off on your blog, pick up the pace. Try a few new things – a contest, hotos from a writers conference, some video of your reaction to The Call.
  • Recheck your privacy settings on your Facebook profile. If you have posts or photos that could embarrass you – especially if you’re writing under the same name as your profile – tighten up the settings.
  • If you have a Facebook profile only, get yourself a Facebook page. A profile maxes out at 5,000 friends, and you probably don’t want to go through moving people to a fan page later.
  • Delete any … erm … unwise tweets. Yes, people will be able to find them forever, but most people aren’t techie enough to care.
  • If you have a presence on any other networks, make sure it’s all tidy. If you don’t want to put the work in to get it up to speed, then change the settings to private.
If you’re Type B, as soon as you get The Call, it’s time to think, and think hard.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a blog. (Friends can help.) Choose an idea you can have fun with and that won’t bore you silly in a week. You can photo blog or video blog, too.
  • At first, you’ll be spending at least an hour and a half a day (that’s if you write fast) writing a blog post and publishing it. Be honest with yourself and figure out exactly how often you’ll be able to do that – and it’s no shame to do it once a week only. (When you’re considering this, here’s a tip: People read thrice-weekly posts more often than they read daily posts. Save yourself some heartache.)
  • Write six or seven evergreen blog posts that you can put up when things are tight. If you have friends who are published authors or editors, beg them for a few evergreen posts. These can include book reviews, author bios – anything that’s not going to yell, “Written two months ago!” to your readers.
  • If you don’t have a Facebook page, start one. If you have no fans, bribe your friends and relatives to “like” your page.
  • Don’t jump into every possible social media platform. Right now, a blog and a Facebook page will be enough.
Ideas to help Type As:

  • If you've done a number of blog posts that can be combined – for example, how to choose a laptop, reviews of laptops, tips about programs that help writers plot, combine them into a PDF (you’ll want to do some polishing), and e-pub it for free or for a minimal fee to get your name out there.
  • Figure out a way to meet up with some of your fans – ice cream socials, tea parties, chocolate tastings. Keep it small and keep it simple. Hold some kind of contest so your fans can “win” invitations. Take photos and post them to your blog.
  • Have fun! It’s your first book – celebrate, and invite your fans to celebrate with you.
Ideas to help Type Bs:

  • Do a white paper – a brief report – on something you’re expert at. Include photos or links to videos if you want. These don’t need to be serious, professional three-piece-suit things. If you’re an expert at making seashell flowers, go for it. Are you expert at knowing who’s who among fallen angels? Write it up.
  • Go to a conference armed with a small tape recorder and an inexpensive video camera (take the tape recorder, because inexpensive video recorders have terrible microphones) and get a few quick soundbites from published authors. Ask each one the same question, then edit the answers together and post the video – complete with your name as producer, director, and interviewer.
  • Have fun! It’s your first book, and all published authors have been where you are now. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help, as long as you keep things short and sweet and don’t shove the camera at them under the bathroom stall.

Don’t just get fans. Figure out how you’re going to keep them. Be creative, be imaginative, and take a few risks.

I want to thank Laurie for sharing her professional knowledge of Promotion and Marketing with us this week.

Next week we'll be back to our normally scheduled authors.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogging: Improving Your Visibility

Laurie Creasy continues her series in promoting your writing through social media. This installment talks about how to improve your visibility and cement your presence through blogging.
You can find her first article here: Part One: Using Social Media

OK, you’re no longer a newbie. You’ve written enough to query an agent or editor; maybe you’ve even e-published something.

And yet … and yet … the mojo just ain’t there. You’re getting a few hits on your blog – and of course you have a blog – but it’s nothing to write home about. No one’s breaking down your doors and demanding more, and you’re not the overnight success you always dreamed you’d be.

Here are four steps you can take to improve your visibility and cement your presence:

Analyze. (Just start every list of things to do with this word – it makes things much simpler.) Yes, yes, every the, a, an, and that is deathless prose. You couldn’t possibly change a word.

Here’s a checklist to help you analyze your blog:
n      Which posts got the most hits?
n      Which got the fewest hits?
n      What do the popular/least popular posts have in common? Length? Topic? Tone?
n      Are you using tags and categories to improve your search engine rankings? If you aren’t, read up on why search engine optimization matters.
n      Are you getting linkbacks and pingbacks? If you aren’t, you need to begin linking to helpful articles.

Once you figure out what your audience wants from you (i.e., the popular posts), give them more.

This doesn’t mean every post has to be a breathless monologue about, for example, the hot embroidery details on Regency gowns year by year, but maybe two out of three or three out of four should be.

Your posts showcase your writing. Don’t stint on the time and effort you put into them. It may be the first introduction others have to you.

You plan on writing stories aimed at certain audiences or publisher’s lines, right? So why would you want to flit all over cyberspace with topics on your blog?

Separate personal from professional. Not everyone agrees on this, and in the end it’s your call. But do you really want your editor or agent to see into every corner of your life?

Yes, people should accept you the way you are … but if you worked in an office, rather than at home in your PJs, how much would you tell your boss about your problems with hubs leaving the seat up? How much would your co-workers want to know about your sexual preferences?

Let’s face it – you aren’t selling your real self on the Internet. You’re selling a persona. No one wants to read about Jane Doe, housewife up to her eyeballs in dirty jock straps. But they may want to read about Desiree Divine, author of the steamiest sex scenes romance readers ever panted over. And Desiree Divine does not deal in dirty jock straps.

Think before you post.  And before you e-mail, tweet, Tumbl, Pinterest, or anything else on the Internet.

If it’s on the Internet, it lives forever, even if you take it down. So go ahead and type that rant about Nora Roberts not paying her dues or that acerbically brilliant response to a bad review … and then delete it.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (are you seeing a pattern here?), ever snark on the Internet. To anyone, at any time, anywhere.

Believe me, your sins will find you out. Ask the guy who got his whole agency fired from a job with Chrysler for tweeting improperly. Ask the guy who lost his job at Columbia for making snide remarks about the CNN reporter who was sexually assaulted in Egypt.

Help and share. Support other writers. Support other bloggers. Help newbies navigate the labyrinth of the publishing world. Encourage new and old writers. Give positive, constructive feedback.

In short, spend time building your reputation as a go-to person on certain topics, as a professional who can set and keep boundaries, as someone who can stay silent at the right time, and as someone who’s generous and kind.

Yeah, it’s kind of old fashioned.

Then again, maybe everything old really is new again.


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