3 Twitter Tips to Get You Started

What makes Twitter great for book promotion? Its ability for potential readers to find you and your book is the key. But you need to make yourself discoverable. Three tips that will help:

1. Make sure your Twitter profile reflects your goals. What is your book about, and why are you the expert? Include unique details that relate.

2. Treat Twitter like a cocktail party conversation–be fun and interesting, share useful or entertaining information, and never ever write “buy my book!”

3. Spend most of your time interacting with people who follow and retweet (RT) you, or who favorite (heart) your tweets.

Back to Basics of Twitter

#SDWEG, #TwitterTips

Twitter Tips

Part Two of Diana Diehl‘s Twitter Tips. See Part One here.

Rachel Thompson says that the trick to building sales through social media and branding is building relationships. The essentials include these actions (and more):

  • Creating a dynamic bio with links to your website;
  • Branding yourself rather than a book;
  • Creating an online persona that is built around 4 or 5 hashtags that you’ll use to define what you’ll post;
  • Posting consistently;
  • Making 80% of your posts ones that give value to your followers, via entertainment, art, how-tos, advice–whatever your brand requires. 20% is about your books, events, sales, process, etc.

The hashtags you use to build your Twitter brand should include topics that echo the themes of your books plus fun things that give your readers insight into your public persona. Do you like cats? Post some every day. Do you run on coffee? Then cute sayings about java may be your thing. Readers like to get to know the author and feel they are accessible.

To figure out which hashtags are trending and popular for your topic, use websites such as http://hashtagify.me. Type in the hashtag you want to use in the Search window in the upper right corner of the screen. A graphical representation of related hashtags with size representing popularity, the larger, the more popular.

Who to follow matters. Pay special attention to influencers in your genre and subject field, including bloggers and reviewers. (Jonathan Maberry adds librarians and booksellers.) Following other authors and marketing people is okay, but the “Follows” that help your sales will be readers and influencers. Figure out your niche and follow those people.  Comment, Like, and Retweet their posts to show you are interested in them. Some will return the favor.

Put your important influencers in Twitter lists. Here is Rachel’s article on lists (her blog is a wealth of free information for authors): http://badredheadmedia.com/2012/04/06/the-top-10-reasons-you-need-to-use-twitter-lists-now/

Twitter Chats

#SDWEG, #bookmarketingchat

At the June Marketing Support Group meeting, SDWEG member Diana Diehl shared a number of tips for using Twitter for marketing. Much of her research comes from Rachel Thompson‘s book, 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. According to Diana, “Rachel’s book is a step-by-step tour to building an author platform and the best $5 I’ve spent in my marketing budget.”

This post concentrates on Twitter chats.

Rachel hosts a weekly Twitter chat, #bookmarketingchat, on Wednesday nights at 6 PT.  You can follow on Twitter or on one of the chat platforms. Diana uses Tweetchat.com. You type in the hashtag at the start time and follow along. It updates the thread as people “say” things. Usually, the people running it consist of a guest, Rachel, and a moderator who helps out.

It can seem daunting the first time you join a Twitter event, but it’s really easy. And if things go by too fast, the organizers always post the full log of the conversation in a couple of places afterward so you can get any useful links you may have missed.

The topics vary. One week it may be building your platform on Twitter; another, it may be about blogging or making a marketing plan or using social media groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook, etc.

Much of the information echoes what’s in Rachel’s book.


Adobe Spark: A Resource for Creating Visuals

Think it’s too hard to create graphics for your social media accounts? Meet Adobe Spark, a free resource to combine text with images for posts, web pages, or videos. The above is an example of an image for a post, created in under five minutes.

The steps, once you log in:

  • Select the text for the banner,
  • Select a theme to determine the style for the banner,
  • Select the image for the background, and
  • Select the color theme (or accept the default option).

When you are satisfied, select the option to Share the result. You can download the image (necessary in order to include it on a website as the above illustrates) or copy the link to send it by e-mail or embed it in a Facebook or Twitter post.

And you don’t need a new username or password to use it. Log in using your Facebook account.

What are you waiting for?

Twitter Pitch Parties

For those who are wondering what on earth to do with Twitter, here’s a novel approach: pitch your book!

l62697-new-twitter-logo-49466Pitch parties like #PitMad and #PitchMAS make use of Twitter’s hashtags to call attention to your 140-character hook and alert editors and agents to your manuscript’s availability. Those who are interested in what you have to say will favorite your tweet to indicate that you should contact them (via email) with a partial manuscript or query for further reading.

Think of the whole process like speed dating for books: You can hook up with agents and editors online, quickly gauging their interest in your book, and moving on from rejections more swiftly. Better yet, authors who successfully pitch during these online parties get to skip the slush pile altogether!

Some important things to keep in mind when pitching on Twitter:

  1. Make sure you pitch a completed novel that you’d be querying about anyway. Agents and editors only want to read about and vote on pitches for complete manuscripts.
  2. Be sure to use the hashtag for the pitch party you’re attending, or else agents and editors won’t see it.
  3. Vary your pitch’s wording up to three times throughout the day, to hook more readers.
  4. Literary Agent Carly Watters also urges writers to “include your book’s motivation, crisis and secret.”

So what does a good pitch look like? Here’s Carly Watters’ example, using Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: Girl abducted by rabbit from family picnic to fight war in magical dimension. When put on trial for her life, will she wake up? #PitMad #YA

For more information on how to pitch your books on Twitter, check out http://bit.ly/1KGhYg4.

For information specifically related to the #PitMad event (which is open to all genres and takes place on December 1), go to http://www.brendadrake.com/pitmad/.

Interested in #PitchMAS? Head to http://pitchmas.blogspot.com for more info.

The Guild Has a Twitter Account

l62697-new-twitter-logo-49466San Diego Writers/Editors Guild is now on Twitter. All posts to the Guild’s website will automatically appear on the Guild’s twitter account.

If you already have a Twitter account, please check out the Guild’s account and follow it to help us build an audience there. Through Twitter, information about the Guild and its members can potentially reach a much larger audience. We already have eight followers, only one of whom is a current SDW/EG member.

Remember, as a Guild member, you can share information about your book signings and readings, presentations through OASIS or other organizations, and celebrate successes such as having your work included in anthologies other than our own The Guilded Pen (we’ll celebrate that achievement on behalf of all of our members when the 2016 edition is unveiled in November). This is a membership benefit. Send information you wish to see included in the newsletter or on the website to sandiegowriterseditorsguild@gmail.com.

Marketing Monday: Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers

writers-digest-magazine101 Best Websites for Writers

If I could keep only one issue of the journal Writer’s Digest, it would be the May/June 2016 issue, the Web Issue. Each year Writer’s Digest updates its list of the 101 best websites in its May/June issue. (The July/August issue is already out, but you can still grab a copy of the May/June issue at the link above for $6.99.)

Best of the Best

Below is a sampling from that list–the Best of the Best in eight categories.

  • Creativity Best of the Best
    “Creativity Portal–creativity-portal.com. A staple on [the Writer’s Digest] list, Creativity Portal [is] packed with insightful interviews, free projects and an Imagination Prompt Generator. [The site] encourages out-of-the-box thinking for writers, children, and educators alike.”
  • Writing Advice Best of the Best
    “Writer Unboxed–writerunboxed.com. . .W[riter] U[nboxed] has grown into a flourishing community that embraces writers of all levels. . .the archives are deep and the updates are frequent.”
  • Everything Agents Best of the Best
    “Janet Reid, Literary Agent–jetreidliterary.blogspot.com. For years, FinePrint Literary Management’s Janet Reid has offered writers good-humored, candid advice for their publishing journeys. Her query letter tips are especially helpful (and she offers even more of them on queryshark.blogspot.com).”
  • Publishing/Marketing Resources Best of the Best
    “The Creative Penn–thecreativepenn.com. . . New York Times bestseller Joanna Penn’s massive hub houses more than 1,000 articles and 100 hours of audio on writing, self-publishing, marketing and making a living writing.”
  • Jobs and Markets Best of the Best
    “Funds for Writers–fundsforwriters.com. . . Longtime freelancer and author C. Hope Clark created this site in 2010 to help fellow writers enjoy more financially viable careers. She provides guidance on submitting, publishing, writing and more, alongside information on the latest grants, residencies, competitions, markets and job opportunities.”
  • Online Writing Communities Best of the Best
    “The Writer’s Chatroom–writerschatroom.com. . .This extensive forum is a place for writers across all genres to encourage one another and share expertise. Bi-weekly live chats allow you to interact in real-time with fellow scribes, and facilitators ensure a welcoming atmosphere.”
  • Genre/Niches Best of the Best
    “KidLit 411–www.kidlit411.com. A must-bookmark site for children’s authors and illustrators, KidLit411 offers myriad posts on writing and publishing picture books, M[iddle] G[rade] and Y[oung] A[dult]. Join the Facebook Group to connect with other writers for young readers, or participate in the Manuscript or Portfolio Swaps to gain valuable feedback.”
  • Just for Fun Best of the Best
    “Goodreads–goodreads.com. The world’s largest site for readers to share book reviews and post forum discussions, it connects some 40 million members to books they love.”

Self-Promotion Tips for Writers

And there’s more. The 2016 issue also includes information about how to build and grow an email list (see Marketing Monday Tips from Fauzia Burke, Part I and Part II for more on this topic), how to get started with Facebook and Twitter, and how to employ Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips to improve your blog’s success.

Setting Examples for SDW/EG Members

Keep your eyes open for changes in blog posts on this site in line with the SEO tips from this issue of Writer’s Digest. Use of headings and bullets to break up the text with white space,illustrated in this post, are among the tips to boost a post’s “findability” as well as making the text easier to read.

What You Missed . . .

From the June Newsletter.

by Mardie Schroeder

larryedwardsSDWEG member Larry Edwards gave a thorough presentation on how critical social media is to selling our books.

With roughly 1 million book titles debuting every year, we need to become friends with social media. Establish two things first: a personal website and a book website. When do you set this up? BEFORE your book is finished. You want to create interest before the book is published.

Then get on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, SnapChat and any others that come along. Although Facebook has the largest audience (52%), you need to be on all of them as there is a crossover effect. Different social media have success with different genres of books and different age groups. Don’t forget email to cross-link to social media/website.

On Facebook, you need a personal page and a book page. FB has special-interest forums; i.e., for fiction, memoirs, nonfiction, etc. Participate on them.

Blogging is another way to generate interest. But Larry cautioned to not oversell your book. Use an indirect approach. Blog about other authors and/or related articles. Give information of value.

Although Google+ has low traffic volume/exposure, it is a networking platform under the broader Google umbrella. Google gives preference in search results to links posted on Google+.

Post a photo of your book on Pinterest and link it to your website. Middle-aged and older women predominantly use it.

Timing is key to a book launch. Avoid holidays unless there is a direct tie-in. Give a virtual party online with door prizes and giveaways. Respond to every email, social media post and phone call.

As space doesn’t permit the vast amount of information Larry provided, you are invited to access the following link for his complete presentation and a list of valuable resources: http://www.larryedwards.com/resources.html.

Marketing Monday: Tips from Fauzia Burke, Part I

fauzia_burkeWatch for Part II next Monday.

At the May meeting of San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, our own Larry Edwards provided tips on using social media to market books. Watch for “What You Missed” for a summary of Larry’s presentation on Wednesday, June 8.

At the May meeting of Publishers and Writers of San Diego, Fauzia Burke spoke on the subject of online marketing for authors, echoing most of what Larry presented. Fauzia recently moved to Carlsbad from New Jersey where she established her marketing and publicity firm, FSB Associates, 20 years ago.

Fauzia’s presentation followed an unusual pattern–the question and answer session was first (due to a technical problem that prevented her use of her video presentation until later). Below are the highlights of the answers Fauzia provided to questions from the audience.

Question: What are the essentials an author must have to market books these days?

  • Fauzia’s Formula: Design + Engagement + Visibility = Success
    • Design: An author must have a website that looks professional, with branding that is consistent with the author’s photo and book cover design.
    • Engagement: Having a mailing list is more important than social media. As for choice of social media platform, Fauzia recommends picking whichever platforms you want or are comfortable with. Those who do not use social media will have a much more difficult time engaging with potential readers or with becoming visible, the third requirement.
    • Visibility: Blogging on one’s own or other websites.

Question: What about videos, podcasts, and book trailers?

  • Videos: Not a necessity; in no case should a video be longer than two minutes.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts were really big 10 years ago and now their popularity is surging again. The optimal length for podcasts is 15 to 30 minutes.
  • A book trailer won’t “make” a book. If a trailer is good quality and not too long, it may help with marketing. But it must be good.

The goal should be to build a wall of content in order to build your brand and then use mailing lists and social media to promote your brand.

Question: I’ve heard that the cost of employing a social marketing campaign is likely to exceed any royalties earned for two years.

  • Fauzia admits this is true, especially if an author hires a firm to conduct the campaign. Her company, FSB Associates, does this type of work, but she also consults with authors to provide direction for them to do the marketing work themselves.

Question: How important is blogging for an author?

  • Blogging is a primary way to build engagement and increase visibility. Every author must have a website which can also include a blogging option. Another blog option Fauzia recommends is www.Medium.com. This platform is free for anyone to join. It was started by the same people who started Twitter.com, so it has some of the same features, including being able to follow articles and contributors. Medium.com sends one e-mail message per day to each follower with links to items recommended by Medium staff or other members.

Question: What social media platforms do you recommend?

  • Twitter and Facebook are the most effective for authors.

Question: Why is developing a mailing list so important?

  • The “open” rate for most mailing lists for authors is 40%. That is significantly higher than for e-mail marketing of other products and services.
  • People are more likely to buy from an e-mail marketing message than from a website.
  • Some tips for building a mailing list:
    • Don’t ask for too much information.
    • Start with people you know.
    • Consider using mailmunch.com: a new app that allows popups to suggest signing up.
    • Yes, everyone hates popups, but popups increase sign-ups tenfold.
    • The timing for a popup is important. If the popup appears right away, it gets closed; a 20-30 second delay is better.
  • MailChimp.com is an e-mail management system with a free option. Fauzia uses it, though she pays for the premium version to avoid the MailChimp ads at the bottom of each message. ConstantContact is another e-mail management system that offers the same features though it is not free except for a 60-day trial.
    • Use stats to figure out what works and what doesn’t and then do more of what works and dump what doesn’t.

Question: Do you recommend setting up a course to promote books?

  • Clients’ agents say that clients are earning more from courses than from the sale of books. But you have to have something of value to include in a course.

Question: What do you recommend to increase visibility?

  • First, begin before your book comes out.
  • Start by engaging with bloggers. Comment on other blogger’s sites to let them know you like what they have posted. Use the time before the book comes out to build a community among bloggers. Don’t wait until the book comes out and then think it’s appropriate to say, “Here’s my book. Please buy it.”
  • Contact fewer bloggers who share your interests than a larger number of general bloggers. Be as focused as possible.
  • Look at bloggers themselves. Traffic or number of followers is less important than finding someone whose interests match yours.
  • Make things really easy. For example, use the buttons blog platforms offer so others can share your posts without having to copy urls and paste them into another platform.
  • Follow-up is key. Two to three weeks after someone has requested something, contact the recipient, but make sure the message is more than just “Did you get my book?” You are building a community of people with shared interests.

Part II of Fauzia Burke Tips will be posted next week.


Marketing Monday – Which Social Media Platforms Do You Want More of?

Over the past months, I have introduced a number of social media platforms that can be used in your marketing efforts. At this point, I’d like feedback regarding which platforms you want to know more about. In the comments section, please type the one or two platforms you are most interested in exploring first. As a reminder, here are links to the social media options already introduced:

To leave your feedback, scroll down below this post until you see “Leave a Reply” and add the names of the platforms you wish to learn more about in the Comment block or send a reply to sandiegowriterseditorsguild@gmail.com.