A Guest Post from Mindy Halleck
Recently I was dragged into the social media arena kicking, screaming and doubting the much-hyped benefits that 140 characters or pictures of kitty cats could deliver. I hated it. But then I also hated math in school, and guess who had a lucrative twenty-year career in mortgage banking?
When I joined the hybrid book publishing company Booktrope as an author and book marketing manager, I quickly realized how much a writer must do to market his or her book. Aside from writing it (there’s a decade of blood, sweat and tears), there are the queries, dealing rejections (and acceptance, that’s not always a picnic, either), whipping it into publishing shape, and more.
Add that the social media campaign should be started long before the book is out.
So what’s the most effective way when there’s so much social media and so little time?
How can an author do it all? The easy answer is to pick what works for you, understand how it works effectively and then do it consistently.
For example, Twitter: I never saw the point, 140 characters . . . really? I honestly thought, “That’s just narcissism run amuck.”
Well, according to DMR, there are a billion Twitter users.
One thing I do know about math is you can’t argue with those kind of numbers, be they muck-runners or not. And did you know the most rapid growing demographic on Twitter, according to Fast Company, is the 55–64 age bracket?
That statistic grabbed my attention like a dog that just caught sight of a squirrel. That’s a huge segment of the target demographic for my upcoming novel, and for many authors I now represent—too large a number to discount. So I chased that squirrel and set out to understand the Twittersphere, because let’s face it: if it’s only 140 characters, how hard can it be, right?
First, I familiarized myself with the guidelines of Twitter. I suggest you do that with any social media vehicle you choose–one tidbit I garnered is the guidance not to blindly splay the same information across all social media platforms, as your dedicated followers will be inundated (and in turn likely annoyed) by the repeated information.
If you want to save time while broadening your social media audience, consider these tips:
1. Tweeting is HUGE in book marketing. Don’t underestimate the math—140 characters x one billion people = success.
2. Use hashtags. The # symbol is used to spot keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was generated by Twitter users as a way to sort, categorize, and often piggyback messages. Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement. Examples of hashtags: #failedchildrensbooktitles #geekpickuplines #1stdraftmovielines #LarryBrooks #mindyhalleck #storyfix
3. However, less is more—keep hashtags to a minimum. According to social media experts at Buffer, one or two will get you 21% more engagement than if you add three or more. So don’t be an overzealous hashtagger.
4. Remember if it’s engagement you seek, keeping relevant hashtags in mind when posting will improve audience reaction. For example, my upcoming novel has a lot to do with the Korean War and Manzanita, Oregon. Those will be frequently utilized hashtags so that people who are interested in those topics can find me, and me them.
On that note, if you’re an author and selling books is your game, here’s a secret formula:
For every one tweet about your book, tweet twice about something else. Nobody likes or responds well to repeat “buy my book” tweets, blog posts, FB posts, etc.
Are you a marathon runner, award-winning cake decorator, bee keeper? Share those things also. Keep your theme in mind as you would with any good story; if you’re a runner, then tweet about running and things related to running. Become known as the author who does marathons.
That’s called branding, by the way.
For example, my amazing editor, Caroline Clouse, has a pet peeve about typos and editorial issues in printed material, so she tweets about it. With her tweeting she utilizes her source of irritation as a platform for her editing.
5. Keeping the “less is more” rule in mind, tweets with fewer than 140 characters (120–130) tend to get more attention and click-throughs.
6. The same goes with Facebook and blogs—shorter posts get more engagement. People are busy; longer posts have fewer readers. So, if engagement is what you seek, keep it short and sweet. Images and links also improve your chances of engagement, retweeting and sales exponentially.
7. If you want to spread the word about your upcoming book, published article, etc., consider the golden rule I learned way back in the ’70s (yes, I’m that old) from sales trainer and world renowned motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar. When I asked him how I could become a top producer, he said, “Just ask for it.” So I did.
Within six months I was rookie of the year.
I found that when I asked, people wanted to oblige. So fast-forward a few decades, and that golden rule still holds true. According to Fast Company, if you actually spell out “please RETWEET,” you have a 12% higher chance of being retweeted. So just ask.
The same thing does not work for everyone, so explore the many forms of social media (e.g., Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram or Readwave) where you can share your work and get read around the globe. However, the best bet for busy authors facing so much social media and so little time is Twitter.
Mindy Halleck is a Pacific Northwest author, instructor and marketing manager at Booktrope Books. In 2007 she received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Competition, top 100 winners, Mainstream Literary Short Story. That short blossomed, and in autumn 2014 her novel, Return To Sender will be released. Mindy writes about writing, marketing and the writer’s life at her blog Literary Liaisons.