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If I Were a Writer…How Would I Use Social Media?
Posted on November 6th 2012
Historically publishers determined the careers of many authors, they were the gatekeepers to getting a book into print; despite publishers turning down their work some writerswere successful. But for the majority of writers getting into print was an elusive dream.
However, whilst publishers still wield large amounts of power, their control has diminshed. Writers can self-publish, sell directly and have a direct relationship with their followers. People write for different reasons. For many it is the process of being creative that is important, the ability to express thoughts, emotions and make human connections.
Social media and writing
Writers develop our learning both culturally and personally as well as provoke debate and thoughts; we can now share these stories as never before. There are 3 main changes that have taken place in the market:
- The move to digital – like the music industrythe transition to digital is changing the business model that has existed for decades.
- Amazon reporting that it now sells more ebooks than Hardback books.
- The advent of ebook readers has accelerated this change e.g. Kindle and the Nook (Barnes and Noble). Barnes and Noble sold over 1M books on Xmas day 2010 a story repeated by Kindle books.
- Although a small base ebook sales are set to grow massively from 1$Bn in 2010 to 3$Bn in 2015 as forecast by Forrester.
- The development of social media – enabling writers to market their books themselves, build relationships and develop a community of followers.
- The development of online tools – creating tools to facilitate the writing process and help in self-publishing a book
Social media for authors?
Writing is in itself a difficult process requiring a number of creative and organisational skills. However, to succeed in this highly competitive market an author today needs to sharpen their business skills. Publishing Perspectives tidily sums up the need for modern authors to be entrepreneurs. This shift is reflective of the costs and returns that authors can expect to gain from their labour. An article by Tim Ferris sums up some of the main figures and obstacles to success. A more detailed set of figures and analysis of how to market a book (click here to download) is illustrated by Jonathan Fields at his great site Tribal Author.
Where to start with social media – Learn and Explore?
Many people are only just seizing the opportunity to write, but they are starting at a time when resources and information are easily available via the internet. There are lots of communities and sites that provide guidance, advice and allow people to network. The task of writing of writing a book, though daunting, can now be moderated by a broad community of fellow writers and the wealth of experience that they openly share.
- www.writing.com – a website and community to share your work and review others
- www.authonomy.com – critique others work, meet people and chat, publish your own work. Top 10 pieces of work are reviewed by Harpers Collins editors
- www.scribophile.com – review other people’s work and earn points which then allow you to publish your own work
- www.inkpop.com – A younger writers site with review and publishing capabilities
- www.writersbeat.com – a community site covering many genres as well as poetry and songs
- www.nothingbinding.com – publish your work, review others and also provides tips and resources for writers
- www.reviewfuse.com – a writing group for authors who want to improve their work
- www.offthebookshelf.com – a community of authors, publishers and readers. Work can be published and reviewed.
- www.nanowrimo.org – The National Novel Writing Month (November)
- www.bookrix.com – a community that connects writers and readers. You can download free ebooks as well as enter free writing contests
- Blurb - lurb is one of the most popular online publishers. Blurb lets you design your book by adding photos, artwork, and text
- Lulu – Lulu eliminates traditional entry barriers to publishing, and enables authors to bring their work directly to their audience. They take advantage of Lulu’s dedicated marketplace to make their published work available.
- iUniverse – iUniverse offers full editorial support to its authors, and provides editorial, marketing and self-publishing services authors would expect from a traditional publisher.
- Xlibris – Xlibris is oriented more towards traditional books, not picture books.
- WordClay – WordClay is ideal for authors who are on a tight budget. Wordclay offers three different paperback formats, and they do only black and white prints.
- AuthorHouse – AuthorHouse provides a broad array of tools and services to allow authors to make their own choices throughout the publishing process.
- WeBook – WEbook claims to be the largest online writing community in the world and an innovative book publisher. You can start a project or collaborate with others on their projects.
- Protagonize – a creative writing community dedicated to writing various forms of collaborative, interactive fiction.
- CreateSpace – the brilliant Amazon service has an amazing array of tools to self publish, market and promote your book.
Here is a great reminder of the importance of the creative process from Amy Tan.
If I was an Author… Over 500,000 books are published every year (200,000 through traditional print and 300,000 through a combination of self-published, print on demand “POD” and electronic books). The average mainstream published book sells a about 2,000 copies. And, though estimates vary widely, most self-published and POD books sell from a few copies to a few hundred. To be different and stand out you need to have a clear strategy, a keen focus on your audience and the tenacity to consistently use creative techniques to build and market yourself.
- Listen and Learn
- Develop a blog
- Identify what message and value readers would gain from visiting my blog. I could focus on a specific niche sector and then write about books, authors, events, provide tips and resources for others.
- Blog tools – Tumblr, Squidoo, WordPress and include an RSS feed on your blog.
- List on the blog places where my book can be purchased
- Identify influencers and build relationships:
- These might be people in a specific industry or authors that are reasonably well established (be realistic) in social media and have reasonable number of followers. Make contact and explore opportunities.
- Form a collaborative set of friends who you can help and who can help you. It pays dividends to be able to help promote each other as well as get feedback on ideas.
- Offer to write guest blogs on sites – find blogs that fit to your target audience and bloggers who are recepetive to this (ask and you might be surpised). Use Technorati, Blogsearch or Alltop.
- Use Video to build your story
- People like Gary Vaynerchuk used YouTube to engage an audience in his passion which is wine. Passions and writing go hand in hand and so if I was writing a non-fiction book I would use YouTube to talk about my passion, offer advice, develop conversations and help people.
- For fiction I would build the story of my experiences and explain a bit about my thoughts, heroes and break through moments. An authors own story often attracts as much attention as their books.
- Develop a trailer for a book a 3 min film providing the excitement and tension that will provoke readers curiousity – see Crystal Booths blog on Squidoo
- register my name on Twitter and link to my blog and Facebook account. Tweet about things that interesting ideas and people, tips and trends and links to key market information e.g. who is topping the book chart in my sector, key publisher news…and of course a book if near to release
- Develop a professional Facebook page that is interactive, provides useful information and creates an experience. An example might be to have an interactive set of questions about a few main characters in a book which enables people to explore more and involve them in the book.
- Sell my book(s) directly within Facebook – note 1 page per book; (see TribalCafe blog on Social Commerce).
- Provide chapter releases prior to launch of a new book (free for download or free to view and read) on the Facebook page in return for a like.
- Use the events page to promote any signing tours or events I had planned
- Use a page to offer a number of free signed book copies to followers
- Occasionally ask followers to review books on Amazon/other sites
- Radio – get in touch with local radio networks and promote your book/do an interview. Use Twitter and linkedin to promote it.
- Webinar – hold an online webinar with some other authors and invite followers to ask questions before hand via Twitter – pick out some common questions and discuss/chat with guests
- Magazines/Newspapers – get in touch with local/national magazines that are relevant and send in an article.
- Be responsive
- Always respond promptly to your followers and critics (be polite) and listen to feedback.
- Join in the communities that are a good fit and participate in the discussions – meeting new people and learning are all part of the process
What does the future hold?
There are many that think that publishers will lose power to authors establish direct relationships with their community of followers through social networks. However with so much content continually being produced there is a growing demand for aggregated, filtered and edited work; because we value the time it takes to sift and search to find quality. New forms of publishers will emerge based on niche markets and these may be able to facilitate and compete more effectively than larger publishing houses in specialist markets. They could create followers based on their specialism as well as attract authors and subsequently create offline events for authors and followers. Inevitably technology, which is increasingly becoming richer with video and interactive digital formats, will lead to new types of books that link back to social networks, websites, adverts and video/other media. This will create new sets of experiences and new opportunities to monetise a book. Here is a list of some writing tips from writers to writers by Marelisa. What do you think the future holds for authors? How would you use social media for your work?
TribalCafe is a Social Agency that effectively connects brands with people. We produce smart marketing solutions that effectively promote brands and improve customer acquisition and retention rates. We are a agency based near Banbury, Oxfordshire.