“I love going on book tours because it’s an opportunity to connect with the people that matter most to my brand.”
– Lauren Conrad
Nowadays, authors aren’t just responsible for writing manuscripts; they’re part of their own publicity team! One of the keys to being a writer—independent or through a traditional publisher—is building up a platform, an online presence that connects writer and readers. Book marketing and publicity isn’t just employees of the publisher printing ads and sending out giveaways; authors themselves have the ability to promote their work easily and immediately through social media.
The question is, where do writers start when building up a rapport with their readers? Here are some tips for putting together Facebook fan pages, tweeting to the masses, and going on blog tours:
Facebook Fan Pages
Making up a fan page allows readers to “like” your book on Facebook. However, maintaining a fan page for a single title can be tedious once the book has been released. After the initial wave of response from readers and promotion from the publisher/author is through, a fan page dedicated to one specific title can become inactive. Any internet explorer knows that once a page stops updating, people stop paying attention to it; making a fan page for a book means that inevitably authors will run out of fresh material to keep readers engaged.
Facebook is still one of the titans in the social media field, of course, and there are a few ways that authors can use it to their advantage. Instead of making a fan page for a single book, consider making an author fan page. It allows writers to keep their personal Facebook pages separate but be able to interact with the fans, which is always a great way to build up a platform. Additionally, with each new work published—book, short story, poem, etc.—authors have a central page to update. Fans who “like” an author’s fan page will have access to all of their work, and any fun posts the author decides to include. Alternately, if an author is working on a series of books as opposed to a single title, a fan page for the trilogy/series may work out well because there will continue to be fresh content as the series updates.
The key to running a successful fan page is to have fresh content on a regular basis, which can be tough with a single title. Should a book really explode, of course, an individual title fan page will have more success, but for most authors, the sensible choice is to have a more general fan page that can represent a collection or the entirety of their works.
Limited to 140 characters per entry, Twitter forces its users to limit themselves to taglines and headlines, links, and a smattering of #hashtag keywords that can be searched. Once I started using the site to compile blog entries, articles, and more, it became an invaluable source of information on the publishing world and trends. For writers starting to build up their platform, Twitter is a fast and easy way to get connected.
Check out the hashtags and add some of your own! Whether you’re tweeting news articles (many websites now have a Twitter button that allows instant access) or quoting your favorite authors and characters, don’t forget to add markers so that other people can find you. #books, #writing, #amwriting, #amreading, and #writingtips are some of the most common tags I use, along with the occasional #yalit, #kidlit, or #mglit.
Adding hashtags allows people to find your tweets by searching. There are also a lot of writers on Twitter who are just getting started, and there’s a real sense of community in the writing hashtags. It feels awesome having peers and supporters, and Twitter is an excellent place to find them. Some folks can get really clever with the hashtags they use, which shows off their personalities. Once you’re comfortable tweeting, try out a few goofy hashtags just for fun—your followers will love it. #truestory
Without question the coolest thing about Twitter is being able to engage with your followers. I’ve tweeted back and forth with some of my favorite writers, actors, and artists, and let me tell you, it is crazy exciting when someone you admire replies to your tweet! Authors can connect to their fans on a whole other level, just by thanking them for tweeting about their books, and sometimes holding Q&A sessions.
To start off, blog tours are when authors “guest star” on other people’s blogs. Sometimes when an author’s book is coming out, bloggers may be recruited to help promote the work. Leading up to the release and immediately after, bloggers may post reviews of the book, conduct interviews with the authors to share with their readers, or even have authors guest-write a post to be featured on the blog. Blog tours are an inexpensive and easy way to spread the word on a new title.
Book reviews usually come about when bloggers have been given advanced reader copies, or ARCs, of a book. These can be sent out as hard copies or shared digitally. Book reviews leading up to the release date of a new title can stir up interest in the reading community and help boost sales.
Interviews are a pretty straightforward form of touring a blog. Bloggers may connect with their guests through e-mail or instant messaging, then post a transcript of the interview on the site. This style of blog touring works because it allows both the blogger’s and writer’s personalities to come through, so everyone gets to participate. Interviewing can be a good way for blog readers to get to know the author as a person and glean a few tips on writing and the creative process.
Guest blog posts involve the guest writing an article of some sort to be featured on the blog. Often bloggers will open the post with a short introduction about the writer, and they may include a bio or photo of the author and/or book cover. Bloggers and writers should discuss topics to make sure that the guest post suits both the featured author and the blog.
This post covers only a small portion of social media sites that are available to authors as tools of promoting their work and, more importantly, connecting with fans. What are some of your favorite social media sites to use? What authors do you enjoy following through social media? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!