Selling books is hard work and also a very good way to alienate yourself as an author. Social media is full of self published authors trying to ‘flog’ their ebooks and all most of them achieve is to be ignored or unfollowed.
In recent weeks I have had quite a few comments and messages asking about the difference between promoting and selling and how to build a social network and following, so I thought I might share some of my ideas and approaches to author and book promotion here. I have to say from the outset though that these are methods that work for me, and are not a set of rules to follow. The other point I must make is that they all involve a lot of time, patience and hard work.
Profiles and Bios: I see so many badly written author bios on social media. This is usually the first thing people read about an author, yet so many give very little thought to this short piece of text. Usually they are full of cliched expressions and quite honestly, boring. Author of a book, International Bestselling Author, Award Winning Contemporary Romance Author, and so on. Quite honestly, who would want to follow? And are they honest?
However, this one does attract attention: Will eventually grow up and get a real job. Until then, will keep making things up and writing them down. This is the short Twitter profile of Neil Gaiman.
Think carefully about the short profiles you use on social media, and the longer version used on retailers, websites and blogs. Tell people why you are worth following. Why you are interesting, and not that you are a egotistical author who is likely to pound them with ‘buy my book’ messages.
Blogging: For me, this is the most important part of promotion. Blogs take a lot of time and effort, but the long term rewards are far, far greater than any other means available. Every post tells a story and exposes your character and personality as well as your knowledge and opinions. It also opens the door to discussion and debate. But the key benefit is in an often forgotten fact. Every single post adds to your Search Engine data. My blog now has over 1,000 posts that are all listed on Search Engines and almost 65% of my blog visitors come from Google, Bing or Yahoo. Over the years it has built from almost no visitors per day to a current average of around 4,000 page views per day.
The mistake a lot of author bloggers make though is to view their blog as some kind of daily diary and post about family, pets, rants and raves and then from time to time, something interesting and relevant about their books or writing. Successful blogs are clearly focused and build a reputation on a particular topic. Mine is about publishing, books and writing.
Blogging is about posting regularly, often and on topic.
Facebook: A must of course, but similar to blogs, using your personal profile as your Facebook image is not wise. Again, you want to be known for books not babies. Use a dedicated Facebook Page and keep it on topic.
Twitter: Yes, it’s really a monster, but totally indispensable now as a means of finding new followers, bringing traffic to a blog, attracting interest in your writing as well as building a useable social platform in itself. Keeping on topic again is key. One of the benefits of Twitter is that you can have multiple accounts and I use this ability to separate my own account from ones I use for promotion. If you wish, you can scroll down my personal Twitter feed here and see that I have almost no book promotion on my own account. However on my book promotion Whizbuzz account, it is only book promotion. I have another, Justpublishing, which focuses on publishing news. In all I have over 210,000 followers on nine Twitter accounts. Each one focused on different topics. But when I do want to do some book promotion, I have a number of possibilities and don’t need to litter my own personal Twitter account with my book links.
Website: Old fashioned now perhaps, but still very important as it is the place to have a page of information and buy links for books. I direct all my book promotion back to my website because it has the full book description, reviews, multiple retailer buy links and book trailers. I never link back to one retailer such as Amazon. What if the person interested in my book doesn’t have a Kindle but has a Nook or iPad? Or what if they are only interested in a paperback version? Linking back to a webpage allows all of these choices.
Behaviour: My last item, but probably the most important one. Ranting, raving, arguing, SHOUTING and generally being a pain in the neck, even just every now and again, is a great way to undo all the hard work. When one thinks about the image of an author, these are not what people expect. Ignoring bad reviews, idiots, trolls and all manner of provocation is the only way to retain a good image.
All of the above are elements in building a reputation. That is really what promotion is all about.