How to Organize a Kick-Ass Blog Tour (with No Budget)

You’ve likely heard of or participated in a blog tour, a sequence of pre-scheduled, consecutive reviews that often coincides with a publication date of a book, or a holiday. Blog tours are a wonderful way of growing your readership and gaining free publicity for your book.

But how on earth can independent authors find bloggers who want to take the time to review their books?

Option 1: Hire someone to put together your blog tour.

A quick google search will turn up dozens of folks who do blog tours in your particular genre (ex: Lucy Felthouse for erotica and romance). The cost of hiring a blog tour coordinator range  anywhere from $30-$100+, depending on the size and quality of the tour. Many authors don’t have that kind of budget for book promotion, which brings me to….

Option 2: Research and organize your own blog tour.

In recent years bloggers have become inundated with review requests. Some of the more popular blogs (i.e. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Dear Author) are quite selective in their coverage because of the volume of submissions they receive. However, there are quite literally hundreds of bloggers who are chomping at the bit to review your book—you just haven’t found them yet. (cue Michael Bublé’s “Haven’t Met You Yet”).

With careful research and an organized approach, you can put together your own blog tour, and develop genuine relationships with these bloggers that last for years to come.

Step 1: Ground Work:

Add a page to your website specifically for bloggers.

If a blogger comes across your site and wants to give you a review, they’ll look around for a good way to contact you about it (or to see if you have a blogger program). If none is readily available, they might simply move on to the next book, and how sad would that be?

It only takes a few minutes to create a page that welcomes bloggers. You can call it “for reviewers” or “for bloggers” or something similar (see the one I created at Cleis Press for reference). Include on this page a list of titles available for review (or make it clear that all of them are), what format(s) they can choose (print or .mobi or .pdf), and how to get in touch with you for a free review copy.

Prepare a blogger kit

Blogger kits, also called an electronic press kit or EPKs, help your outreach scale; after you gather these resources once, you’ll simply send it out to interested parties. It’s far easier for you, and quicker for bloggers, too. Your kit doesn’t need to be fancy; simply gather together all the materials you’d like a potential blogger to have. When you start getting “yes’s” you can immediately send bloggers what they need.

Basics to include:

  • The book itself, in all the formats as you are offering
  • A blurb describing the book
  • Your social media and/or website links, including a preferred purchase link (Amazon, Kobo, your own site, etc.)
  • Your author bio
  • Book cover image

Step 2: Research Tools

Before beginning your research, Make sure you have a system in place to capture and track your research results. I recommend using a Google spreadsheet, and tracking the blog url, blogger’s name, email address or means of contact, and any special notes about their preferences.

A word of caution: many directories will have links to out-of-date sites, or sites who don’t accent book review requests at all. Be sure to click through to the site and ascertain that they do reviews, and that they review your particular genre.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a website that lets you search for “influencers” in any sphere you can imagine. For instance, if I were looking for paranormal romance book reviewers, I might search “paranormal romance” in the “influencers” tab, and filter out everyone but bloggers. Note: you’re only allowed a limited number of searches per day with a free account, so use ‘em wisely.

Be sure to navigate to the “influencers” tab in the top menu (rather than “content”), and use the “filter by type” tool in the top lefthand corner. You’ll then enter a keyword, and you can sort by your choice of metrics. Personally, I like sorting by their Twitter followers and by their “page authority,” but fool around with it until you start finding ones that you like.

buzzsumo for blog research

 

Insider tip: the top results will likely be bloggers who are peppered with review requests every day, so it’s strategic to keep gathering results beyond the first page or two.

As a bonus, Buzzsumo is also wonderful for finding awesome content to share to your audience.

Followerwonk

Like BuzzSumo, Followerwonk lets you quickly search for influencers in your particular category.

BlogMetrics

Use sites like BlogMetrics to determine the influencers in any category (books and literature, or DIY). Directories are lovely because they’ve already done 90% of the work for you.

You can even try searching for “DIY Blog Directory,” or “Paranormal Romance Blog Directory,” and chances are you’ll find a pre-curated collection for your particular type of blogger. Score!

Blogrolls on similar sites

Identify a few similar blogs to your target research demographic. Using the running example, if I were seeking paranormal romance bloggers, I might check the blog rolls, or recommended blogs, on a popular paranormal romance blog. After clicking through to the recommended blogs, it’s likely that those blogs will recommend more, and believe me when I say that it’s a never-ending chain of recommendations. Goldmine!

Twitter

Twitter’s algoTwitter who to followrithm automatically suggests accounts that it thinks you will like to follow, based on whom you’ve recently started following. You can put this algorithm to work for you in blogger/influencer research by following a few—say, five to ten—accounts similar to ones you’d like to discover. If you’ve already done some research or know of a few blogs in your target demographic, follow those to begin with. Twitter will immediately start suggesting relevant accounts in the “Who to Follow” sidebar, and if you continue following them, the algorithm will only get smarter as to which pique your interest.

Step 3: Outreach

At this point you’ll have a rich database of bloggers who might be interested in your book. Now it’s time to reach out to them.

Write a pitch

Make sure that your pitch offers more than just a review—not everyone has time for reviewing, but many bloggers will happily post a free excerpt, a guest post from you, or an author interview. If you can spare a few books, you can add in some giveaways, too.

Reach out with a personalized—never automated—email

Use their name if you know it, and mention why you think your book would interest them in particular. This can be very brief, but it goes a long way in showing them that you’ve done your research. For instance, I might write “I thought Alchemy xii might be of interest to you because you reviewed Fifty Shades of Grey but you thought it lacked depth” or “The Edible Garden seems to be in line with the sort of cookbooks you typically review, so I thought you might be interested in a free copy.”

You can batch your pitches if you don’t have time to do fifty million emails in one day. Set reasonable goals for yourself and send them out a few at a time.

Step 4: Organize

Once you’ve sent your pitches to your newly-compiled list of bloggers, you’ll start receiving responses. Immediately record the reply in your spreadsheet, even if it’s a “no.” You’ll want to keep track of which bloggers aren’t interested in your books for the next time you host a blog tour.

For the “yes’s,” record their responses and group all the participants together on the spreadsheet. I prefer to scoot them all up to the top of the spreadsheet for easy access.

Reply back with a grateful and enthusiastic email, and send them your prepared blogger kit (see above). Also suggest a date for their blog tour stop, but be flexible with their schedule.

Your goal is to create a consecutive tour, with one stop per day from beginning to end. It’s up to you if you’d like to include weekends. If you do, you’ll need to be willing to do a little bit of weekend work when the posts go live. If there’s a day or two without coverage, don’t worry about it—nobody but you will even notice.

Record the assigned date and type of post that the blogger will be doing (review, guest post, etc.) in your database. If there is any action required from you, like writing a guest post or sending an excerpt, note that as well, and highlight it until it is complete on your end.

Step 5: Maintenance and sharing

When the time comes for your tour to go live, go pour yourself a glass of bubbly. Or Prosecco, or sparkling water; whatever floats your boat. You did it!

As every tour stop rolls around, go to the site and check for the scheduled post about your book. If it’s there, awesome. Share it around your social media, and consider linking to it on your own blog. If it isn’t, send the blogger a gentle check-in (“Hi, wanted to check in to see if there’s anything I can get you for the blog tour; I had you schedule for today!”). Make an effort to comment on every post to thank the blogger for their help (note: if it’s a negative review, use your judgement. You don’t want to appear passive aggressive).

Step 6: Follow-up

Personally thank your bloggers at the end of every tour. Bloggers make the world go ‘round, and they’re taking time out of their busy lives to give your writing a boost. How cool is that?

Snapchat for Authors: A Guide to Success

[This post was originally published at Social Media Examiner, an awesome publication with social media tips for small businesses.]

Are you interested in using Snapchat for your marketing? Snapchat presents a unique opportunity to reach a new audience that is receptive to clever, creative marketing.

In this article you’ll discover how to use Snapchat for author social media marketing.

use snapchat for authors

Discover how to use Snapchat for business.

Listen to this article:

Snapchat is the fastest-growing social network with more than 100 million daily active users. Of the businesses that market on social media, most use Facebook, but only 2% use Snapchat. The lack of competition on Snapchat means that your business has a great opportunity to stand out and shine on the platform.

data from social media examiner social media marketing industry report 2015

You’ll find less competition from marketers on Snapchat.

Unlike other social networks, it doesn’t matter when you post content on Snapchat. Your snaps will never be buried in a busy timeline; they stay unopened until your followers have time to view them. After snaps are opened, they’re available for only 1 to 10 seconds.

Snaps disappear so quickly, so you may be wondering if Snapchat is worth the effort. If you think about it, most social content is viewed right after it’s posted. Content tends to last longer on platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr, but it’s far more common for social posts to have a short shelf life. Snapchat makes this short shelf life an explicit part of the platform.

Because snaps vanish after one viewing, you have users’ undivided attention. In this way, disappearing content is actually a boon for marketers.

Here’s how to get started integrating Snapchat into your social media marketing.

#1: Develop Content

First, you’ll need to develop content for Snapchat. Here are some ideas that you may want to try:

1. Create valuable tutorials about something in your area of expertise. For example, show people how to easily thread a needle or explain how to choose a secure password.

2. Give users a glimpse behind the scenes. Show them your writing process, or share the inspiration and ethos a particular chapter.

3. Show your product in action. For example, show someone reading your book.

4. Ask users for pictures or videos of them reading your book, and send out snaps featuring them.

5. Repurpose content from other social networks, but make sure it’s tailored to Snapchat. The tone should be casual and funny, similar to Vine and Tumblr.

6. No social feed should be 100% self-promotion, so tell interesting stories that relate to your industry. Share a cool tip from an industry leader or give an opinion on a recent event.

#2: Invite Participation

Social media should be social, not a one-way megaphone for promotions. Replying to every snap isn’t practical or scalable, but you can certainly do it every now and again. Imagine how great it would feel if your favorite guitar brand replied to your snap of a song. You can give your followers that feeling, too.

Ask people to reply to your snap or post a reply on another social network.Sephora has used this tactic with sweepstakes. They asked users to take pictures of themselves with makeup doodles and post them to other social networks.

Consider following people back on Snapchat. When they send you snaps, read them and reply if appropriate. This goes a long way towards letting users know you’re a real person or a real social team behind a brand.

#3: Get Creative

After deciding what content you’ll develop, think about how you can present it in a creative way. Here are some ways to do that:

Draw or write on pictures to add humor or emphasis. Dove uses Snapchat to inspire viewers to celebrate their own beauty. In this snap the company drew on the image with bold colors to emphasize their message.

dove snapchat images

Draw on your snaps to add something that catches the viewer’s eyes.

Find clever ways to get people to sit up and pay attention. GrubHub used a series of images showing a pizza being eaten slice by slice to create suspense before revealing a discount code in the last image.

grubhub snapchat images

Give your followers a reason to follow all your snaps.

Tell a story with a series of snaps. This one is a natural for authors, and the short time frame of a snap can be a fun challenge. Here, Taco Bell teases a story about how they bring people together.

taco bell snapchat images

Short stories work well on Snapchat.

If you share still images rather than videos, play music in the background. However,make sure that the music has a Creative Commons license or that you have the rights to use it.

#4: Add a Call to Action

If you want users to take action after seeing your snaps, try these tactics:

Ask followers to take a screenshot of a snap. (Bonus: This is something you can measure.) Send a snap saying that you’re about to give out an exclusive discount code and suggest viewers take a screenshot of it. Then reveal the code and measure how many people opened and watched the snap, and how many took a screenshot of it. You can also track use of the discount code, since it was distributed exclusively on Snapchat.

Ask viewers to visit your website, but make sure there’s a strong incentive for them to do so. For example, start a story in the snap, and then tell viewers that it’s continued on your website. Track the effectiveness of this strategy by creating a special page with a URL that you give out only on Snapchat (like givingbooksavoice.com/snap) and track it with Google Analytics.

#5: Build a Following

The challenge in building an audience on Snapchat is that the platform has no hashtags, search or any other means of traditional content discovery. You can create a following by letting people know you’re on Snapchat and giving them a compelling reason to follow you.

Try sharing your snapcode on your other social networks to make it easy for readers to add you. You could even try printing it on your author page in your latest book!

You can learn more about snapcodes here.

The way forward

Snapchat marketing is still largely uncharted territory. But you have a great opportunity to be an early adopter and grab the spotlight for your business.

For help getting started with the app, try Snapchat Marketing: What Businesses Need to Know.

 

How to share posts with Buffer

Learn how to share posts with Buffer, a free tool that lets you schedule social media in advance. With these advanced (but easy) tips, you can queue interesting content right from the article you’re reading. Save time on your social media strategy and you’ll have more time to do what you love—writing! Being an author isn’t easy, but with Buffer, at least your social media can be.

Learn how to use Buffer:

1. Create a free Buffer account
2. Install the Buffer Google Chrome extension
3. Share or schedule content directly from your browser
4. Create original visual content right from the Buffer extension

Sell Books with Social Media Using a Commitment Curve

What is a Commitment Curve?

I first heard of the concept of a “commitment curve” in a talk by Airbnb‘s Global Head of Community Douglas Atkin. Atkin referenced this theory of community involvement, explaining that people scale up a commitment curve by starting with small actions and moving up to larger commitment.

For instance, if you asked someone to coordinate a meet-up in your very first interaction with them, the answer would almost certainly be no. But if your only ask was a social media “like,” you’d almost certainly do better. As a relationship deepens, people commit to larger and larger actions.

Why It Works

I’m no psychologist, but a possible explanation for this theory lies in the Ben Franklin effect. This phenomenon posits that once someone has done a very small favor, they are far more likely to agree to a larger favor in the future. The idea is that your mind believes that if you’ve done someone a kindness, you must like them—so you’re more inclined to do them a subsequent kindness, too. It’s a bit cyclical in nature, I know, but it seems to hold true in varied fields of sales.

Sell Books with Social Media—A Specialized Commitment Curve

Below, I’ve applied the theory of commitment curve psychology to author book sales. You’ll learn how to sell books with social media by scaling potential readers up a commitment curve.

sell books with social media

1. Social Media “Like”

Someone favorites, likes, or hearts one of your social media posts

2. Click through to a Website

The person clicks through to your website to read a blog post or a story excerpt

3. Social Media Follow

They liked your writing enough to follow you on social media—they want more!

4. Blog Comment

You’ve piqued their interest and they want to engage directly with you and start a conversation.

5. Newsletter Signup/Blog Subscription

They never want to miss an update from you.

6. Buy Your Book

They put their money where their interest is!

7. Buy More than One Book/Subscription

Your first book was fantastic, so they pick up more.

8. Market Your Book for You

They love your writing so much that they recommend it to all their friends, and spread the word for you online. Word of mouth is the highest influencer on purchasing decisions, so reaching this step is especially valuable.

How to Find Your Next Thousand Loyal Readers: Email Subscribers

Excerpted from How to Find Your Next Thousand Loyal Readers by Eva Gantz

Ever look at your colleague’s Twitter or Facebook page and wonder how exactly they got such a large following? Or maybe you’ve watched other authors effortlessly (or so it seems) sail to the top of Amazon’s top 100 books, and wondered, “How can I do that?” It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start comparing yourself to other authors, especially ones who have been around much longer. It can help to remember that some authors have marketing experience, and/or a PR firm backing their efforts. One of the reasons I’m so enthusiastic about social media is its potential to level the playing field. With the right tools and tactics, every author can grow a large, dedicated following.

Rule of 1000

There’s a school of thought in creative sales propounding the idea that if you can get one thousand “true” fans, you’ll be set. The idea is that a small(er) group of dedicated fans is far better than millions of readers who are sort-of or sometimes engaged. Think of it this way: what if one thousand people immediately and eagerly bought every single one of your new releases, and shared it with their network? Your income would be more steady, and the books would rise quickly to the status of best-seller, where even more folks would discover and buy them. One thousand fans probably still seems insurmountable, but if you approach it as a gradual process and through multiple channels, it looks a bit less terrifying.

How to find your next 1000 readers

First of all, you don’t just want numbers. You don’t need 1000 random followers, or people who happen to follow you. You want the right folks, and you want them to care about what you have to say. This requires creative thinking, targeted research, outreach, and lots of patience. Every online platform has different tactics for growth, so I’m going to break it down by each individual network/platform.

Email Subscribers

Email has the highest conversion rate of any platform. It’s also, in my experience, the hardest one to build. One of the unique benefits of an email list is that you, and you alone, own it. If you have one million followers on Facebook, that’s awesome, but ultimately Facebook owns those fans. As they’ve demonstrated in recent years, they can choose to make you pay every time you want to reach them. With email, you’ll never have to worry about paid advertising or shady social networks changing their policies.

If you don’t already have a newsletter system in place, I recommend Mailchimp. It’s a snap to create newsletters, and their designs for the emails themselves are beautiful and simple. You can start with one of their templates, or make your own from scratch; either way, you simply drag and drop boxes and elements like pictures and text around until you have something gorgeous. They also facilitate simple integration with Google Analytics. You can check where people are clicking in the email, and follow their actions onto your site (creepy, but cool).

Make sure you have an opt-in (as opposed to opt-out) list-building strategy. People should actively choose to sign up for your list, not be auto-subscribed. A wonderful example of organic (not-paid) growth of email subscribers can be seen in this article from Buffer. The key is awesome, incredible can’t-find-it-anywhere-else content, paired with gentle reminders with easy ways to sign up. Depending on what you use to build and host your site (i.e. WordPress or Blogger), you’ll be able to enable a newsletter signup in your sidebar, footer, as a popup, and/or at the bottom of every post. Your goal should be to “capture” every new person who visits your site, even if they only read one page. Make “newsletter signup” an entry for contests/giveaways, even on other people’s blogs.

Be sure to tell your audience why they should sign up. How often will the emails be? What kind of content can they expect? Are there freebies, sneak-peaks, or even exclusive content only for subscribers? Or maybe there are behind-the-scenes looks at your writing process. There has to be a special hook, because at this point, we’re all jaded. Think about it: you don’t give your email out without a good reason, so neither will your clever, discerning would-be readers. Do your absolute best to stick to those promises, and remain consistent in your emails. You can collect tidbits throughout the month/week to include in your emails, so it isn’t a mad dash to throw something together come newsletter day.

Want more? Get the whole ebook.FindYourNext1000LoyalReaders

How to Find Your Next Thousand Loyal Readers: The Zero-Budget Guide to Growing Your Audience is yours for free when you sign up for the newsletter. This ebook is exclusively for Giving Books a Voice subscribers, and covers email lists, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Tumblr, Google Plus, and going the extra mile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Definitive Guide to What and When to Post on Twitter

Unfortunately, the title of this post was a lie. There is, of course, no definitive guide to Twitter marketing. For every business, and for every genre, and even for every author, the best approach to Twitter will be slightly different.

There are, however, certain guiding principles that can help inform your unique strategy. Start with these guidelines and once you feel comfortable, you can begin to color outside the lines and find your own rhythm.

What to post on Twitter

Do: Images

If you can post a relevant image with every Tweet, do it. I get that this is time-consuming, especially if you aren’t using a browser extension (Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social) that makes it easy, but do it whenever you can. If an article doesn’t have an image in it, you can find your own by going to search.creativecommons.com, or pixabay.com. You can even whip up your own simple image on Canva. Images are proven to garner more engagement than any other type of post on Twitter. This is partly because our brains process visuals more readily than pure text, and partly because images take up more real estate on Twitter’s timeline.

Do: Excerpts from your book(s)

Queue them up: do your excerpts in batches, so you can do them just once a week and then forget about them. It’s easier to do ‘em in bulk, and then space them out throughout the week (or month).

Do them as you read, or while you’re writing. Sneak peeks of upcoming works are always extra fun for readers.

For bonus points, turn your book quote into an image (try Canva). Take a look at my public gallery of book quotes for inspiration.

Do: Use Twitter tools

Aside from the ones I mention in my article, I highly recommend using If This Then That (free) for integrations with other platforms. For example, IFTTT has a “recipe” that automatically tweets every time you post a picture on Instagram. Unlike Instagram’s built-in share function for this, IFTTT actually tweets the picture, not just the link! There are tons of other applications for IFTTT, so go explore the popular recipes and see what it can do for you.

Do: Retweet relevant, interesting content

Do: Favorite and reply to updates from your readers and community

Do: Show personality

Don’t just post about your books; give an inside peek into the life of a writer. Behind-the-scenes posts tend to make readers feel in-the-know, and show them that you’re human, too.

Do: Actively seek out, follow, and retweet followers who are in your target audience

Do: Use hashtags that your target audience would be inclined to check.

Identify who your target audience is, put yourself in their shoes, and consider what hashtag you’d be interested in checking. Click through to the hashtag to make sure your guess was right! General hashtags like #book #novel #interesting are not likely to help anyone discover you, but #lesbiancrimefictiononaboat might be a tad too niche.

Do: Give other writers a boost instead of only promoting yourself (follow the 90/10 rule of content)

Don’t: Make these common Twitter mistakes for authors

Don’t: Only tweet things that would appeal to other authors.

For example, I see lots of people sharing posts that are super relatable to other writers, but perhaps not to readers. Use your judgement; it’s of course great to build a community with other authors, but if you’re seeking fans/readers/sales, be sure to tweet other things too.

Don’t: Spam people about your book.

Example: I see authors tweet to every single person who follows them “Hi! Looks like you’re interested in romance-check out my new novel for just 1.99!” Even if you’re doing this by hand, it’s still automated, and it’s still spam. It also has resulted in precisely zero people buying your book. Okay, I don’t know that for a fact, but I’d be willing to bet a panini and a latte on it.

Don’t: Constantly tweet a buy link to your book.

Give something to readers, don’t just ask for something.

Example of giving: link to a freebie, or a valuable tip

Example of asking: “Buy my book – it’s only $1.99 this week”

When to Tweet

You’re not going to like this answer, but unfortunately, it depends.

Blogs like Buffer claim to identify optimal times to tweet. I’ve seen a proliferation of supposedly-definitive posts on the best time and day to tweet, because let’s face it: a clear-cut and actionable answer is far more seductive than an “it depends.”

The truth is, there is no one size fits all approach. How can my audience possibly be on the same checking-twitter-schedule as the audience of a Twitter about working moms? That’s the rub: it isn’t. The kind of research in Buffer’s post is based on averages, which makes it useless in actual practice. For “best times to tweet” to be helpful, it needs to be personalized to your audience.

There are automated services that scan your tweets to find the best times to tweet, like Sprout Social, but they’re far from cheap.

The best way to discover when your audience is most receptive to your tweets is through trial and error, and data-driven analysis. Experiment with your postings times over a long period of time (I’m talking weeks and months, not days), and then analyze your results.

You can use queue and scheduler functions to schedule your tweets at different times, even in the middle of the night. To analyze your results, Twitter’s analytics are incredibly helpful, once you export them out of the built-in tool. See my post on how to use Twitter analytics for authors to learn how to find meaningful information in your analytics.

But Eva, when do you Tweet?

Personally, I have success with posts in the morning and evening, and not much in between. But my audience is going to be vastly different from yours. For instance, if you’re the author of a book about parenting, your potential readers may only have time to check twitter after their kids are in bed. If you tweet NSFW content, you may notice a dip in engagement when users are at work (or not—I’ve certainly seen NSFW content do just fine during work hours!)

For the reasons outlined above, there aren’t many hard and fast rules. That said, here are a few that should hold true:

1. Space out your tweets (using any scheduling service) and your retweets (Buffer)

2. Try to hit multiple time zones

3. Put yourself in your ideal fan’s shoes, and imagine when you’d be on Twitter.

4. Tweet at least 2 times a day, and stay as consistent as possible. If you’re a 10-tweet-per-day kind of gal, try not to go silent for two weeks, and then come back with a barrage of posts.

Questions? Comments? Come join the Community and start a conversation about it.

 

Best Practices (AKA Etiquette) for Authors on Social Media

At the suggestion of my lovely author friend Malin James, I’m writing a special article to focus exclusively on the do’s and don’ts of being polite, kind, and well-received on social media. For some of you, this may simply be common sense, but maybe you’ll pick up a trick or two or a new perspective on marketing.

Don’t sell to other authors

Actually, you should never sell to anyone. My cardinal rule of sales is to never hard-sell (ie, spamming out “buy my book!!!” to your followers). If you do insist on hard-selling, never, ever, ever sell to other authors.

It’s a rookie mistake. We have this wonderful community of other authors who are supportive, kind, and often willing to go the extra mile to help us, so we surround ourselves with them. But at the end of the day, other authors are not your target audience.

Why? First of all, as you probably know, authors don’t typically have a bunch of extra pocket money—this industry is tough!

Don't try to sell your book to other (1)

Furthermore, authors are busy with their own writing and reading lists. How many authors have you met who don’t have a to-be-read list a mile long?

But most importantly, the reason authors aren’t your target audience is that you want to build a platform that reaches your loyal readers, past, present, and future. For instance, let’s say you wrote a self help book. You want to reach people who want to improve themselves, not other authors of self-help books (though there may be some overlap, of course). Community-building with other authors is wonderful, but only as a support network. If you tap the rich resource of author community to simply sell to your colleagues, you will annoy and alienate them, and you likely won’t even see a bump in sales for your trouble.

Ask first

It’s all about consent. Before you put someone on an email list or subscribe them to your blog, you need to get their enthusiastic consent. But if I didn’t auto-subscribe people to my list, I’d only have half the number I have now!, I can hear some of you saying. Good! The other half probably doesn’t want to be there in the first place, so they won’t be engaged with your content or interested in what you have to say. Focus on growing an audience who gets excited when they see an email or new post from you. Your readers should be delighted by your writing, not seeing it as just another email in their inbox.

Automation vs personalization

If something is automated, chances are you should forgo it. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but it’s a good rule of thumb. An example of automation gone horribly wrong is the dreaded auto-dm, an automatic direct message that you can send to new followers on twitter. The trouble is that this message is, of necessity, not personalized. Worse yet, it often contains a “Buy my book!” sales pitch. Ugh. These messages are spam, plain and simple. If you have one, I suggest disabling it immediately. If you’d like to welcome new followers, you can do it manually and with a personal touch. If that’s too much time, I’d urge you to look at other means of engaging your new audience. The auto-dm isn’t working anyway (and never has), so you aren’t missing out by disabling it. I promise.

No drama

Sharing your opinions online is perfectly okay. In fact, having a distinct personality will likely garner you more loyal readers. However, engaging in heated arguments and/or attacks via social media is pointless, and ends up reflecting poorly on you.

Note: this does not apply to abuse and harassment. Hit block and/or report for truly abusive, discriminatory, and/or threatening items, and simply unfollow if the person is upsetting you in any other way.

Be actively nice

The other side of the “no drama” coin is to make a concerted effort to be sweet. Try to reach out to people who might need help, whether you know them well or not. Give compliments, with no expectation of benefit to yourself, and frequently. Another actively nice gesture on social media is to give someone else’s work a boost, even if you don’t know them personally.

Posting frequency

If you share ten tweets in the span of five minutes, your social streams may read like spam. But who has time or patience to remember to post at different times throughout the day? Save time and make sure your audience stays engaged by using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and the Tumblr queue (all free).

Begging for It

Asking for the support of others can actually be a good thing, but it’s all in how you do it. Begging for retweets, followers, and/or likes makes you sound desperate, and again, will alienate your followers rather than spur them to action.

An example of doing this oh-so-right is the wonderful Alison Tyler. In an effort to promote her new erotic anthology Twisted, she posted a free excerpt on her site, something I’m willing to wager all of you have done. Ms. Tyler wanted to maximize the readership of that story, so she tried something new on social media: she transparently asked for help, and explained why it was important to her.

Readers are charmed by transparency, and will likely empathize with you far more than if you simply said “please RT!”

Key takeaways: don’t spam people, target the right audience, always ask first, be transparent, and play nice. Any questions? No, really, if you have questions, or disagree with anything, please leave a comment! After all, who better to decide what proper author etiquette looks like than authors themselves? 

Want more? Join the new Giving Books a Voice community on Facebook, where we talk tips & tricks to grow your readership on social media. The group is free, and always will be, for all authors, writers, and other creative folks.



What Twitter’s New Layout Means for You

Twitter has been testing out a new profile layout for a small sample of its users. The new look is suspiciously similar to a Facebook profile, and has social media folks around the web wondering, “Is Twitter turning into Facebook?” Regardless of the answer (please be no, please be no…),  Twitter users should begin to think about how to tweak their existing profile to put their best face forward in the new view.

 

1. New photo sizes

Make sure your background photo fits the new specifications. The background image is now 1500×500, so your current image will appear stretched and distorted if not updated.

2. Playing Favorites*

In the new layout, favorites are now public. Yup, you read that right. Every tweet you’ve ever faved, from that yummy sandwich to an update on your best friend’s stomach flu, will now appear in a column easily accessible from your profile. Brb, I need to, uh, fix a few things ….

3. Be Selective about Pictures

There is now a whole section on your profile just for every picture and video you’ve ever tweeted, and it is displayed far more prominently (and with bigger photos) than the old version. If I had known this, perhaps I wouldn’t have taken quite so many pictures of myself with strange dogs. Perhaps.

 

4. Consider Curating a List

Lists are now also displayed as a tab on your profile, making them more likely to actually be noticed. Make a list for your favorite subject – say, book publishing – and add influencers and interesting voices on that topic. Being added to a list is always flattering, and it’s a good way to tune in to the tweets you actually want to see. Now, it will also be one more way to reflect your interests to people viewing your profile.

5. Size Matters

… so take advantage of the largest portion of the screen – now the header photo – and make a custom image. It could be a cute compilation of your book covers, or perhaps a picture overlayed with a literary quote. This is the perfect chance to sneak in a few extra tidbits of information that wouldn’t quite fit in your bio.

6. Pin-tweet

You can now pin a tweet to the top of your profile (click on the “…” on the bottom right of your tweet and select “pin to your profile page.” Handy for those important tweets you’d like to highlight without alienating your followers with 500 reposts of the same 140 characters.

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*I have been advised by the wonderful @JadeAWaters that favorites are already public on the current layout; they just aren’t quite as prominently featured.

Five Twitter Tools Every Author Needs

By now, most authors are probably already on Twitter, or at least are aware that it’s a fairly important means of getting the word out about their books. But who has time for all of that? This is where the importance of Twitter tools for authors comes into play. These are five of my absolute favorite Twitter tools to save you time and energy.

Tweepi

I truly can’t sing the praises of Tweepi enough. If you’re looking for easy ways to find more followers who actually share your interests, give it a shot. Everyone wants to increase their following, but there’s no use in gaining 2000 new followers if only ten of them are even interested in romance novels. Catch my drift? Tweepi lets you follow the followers of any account (ie, Publishers Weekly, New York Time) in order to cultivate a following of similarly inclined accounts. Tweepi has a free version, and allows you to efficiently follow and unfollow users.

UnTweeps

UnTweeps lets you improve your following-to-followers ratio (i.e., I’m following 400 people, and 600 people are following me) with minimal effort. It simply auto-unfollows any account that hasn’t tweeted in x amount of days. This way, you’re only following accounts that are actually active, and likely to engage with you, and your ratio will get smaller (larger? Well, you know what I mean).

Buffer

Buffer is a browser extension that lets you share links with almost zero effort. I have it installed to Chrome, and use it all the time. My favorite feature about Buffer is that it lets you queue up your posts — I can line up, say, six cool links to share, and it will post them automatically throughout the day. You can customize the time it will go out, or you can stick with their suggested times. Buffer ensures that your followers won’t be spammed with a billion tweets over the course of two minutes. Install it and try for yourself!

Click to Tweet

This one is more about driving social engagement for your content, such as your website or blog posts. It allows you to create a custom, pre-written tweet for people to share, and lets them tweet it to their own followers with the touch of a button. Click to Tweet is an easy way to encourage your readers to share with their friends and followers. Here’s an example (image optional):

Tweet: 5 Tools to Simplify Twitter — @EvaGantz #socialmedia http://ctt.ec/a6USx+

Twubs

Twubs lets you track a hashtag, making twitter parties and tracking any topic you like that much simpler. Let’s say you’re creating a campaign around #booktitle. I can claim #booktitle in Twubs, track its mentions, and even pair it with an image. This can help you keep track of important leads and mentions, and monitor the effectiveness of your hashtag campaigns. Alternately, if you’re interested in #LitChat or other such conversations, Twubs is a great option to help you join in twitter conversations.