Category: Self Publishing – Indie Authors

Writers: Step Away From Facebook & Master Other Forms of Social Media

   
Writers: Step Away From Facebook & Master Other Forms of Social Media

by Rob Watts     @RobWattsOnline

I hate to break it to many of you writers out there, but whether you’ve just published a new book, written a new blog, are promoting your writer’s workshop, so on and so forth, the fact is that social media has to be your new best friend. No, I’m not talking about the countless hours a day spent on Facebook squeezing out status updates and commenting on everything you see in your news feed (for the sake of being seen.) I’m talking about opening yourself up to new and endless opportunities every day of the week. Of course this advice isn’t limited to writers only—it could be applied to anyone who has something to promote, but it seems as though people in business who have products to sell have far-mastered the art of promotion via social media. They use Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and others—in addition to Facebook. But what’s the difference between someone who, let’s say, sells handmade jewelry, tee shirts, or repurposed art and an author who is promoting a new book in hopes for additional sales? The answer? No difference at all. Books are consumable products and they should be promoted as such to the buying public. 

I’m not suggesting that writers should spend their days spamming their books to everyone under the sun on each and every social media platform. What I am suggesting is removing yourself from the Facebook bubble and venturing out onto a new platform in attempts to grow your audience even further. Sadly, I know many, many writers whose only form of self-promotion is commenting on other writer’s posts—the same writers, over and over, hoping that people will take notice of the fact that they too have a book available. There’s not much room for growth there. It’s about as exciting as an AOL chat room (ask your parents, kids.) Yeah, remember those? 

Just very recently, I had personal conversations about book promotion with three different writers and each one had these things to say about their favorite methods of promoting their books on Facebook:

  1. One writer searched out roughly forty different Facebook groups that allow you to post your links to your books. Their idea was to post in five or six different groups every day and do this on a continuing basis. Post, rinse and repeat. I’m sorry (I told them), but this method, and pardon my le français, is chicken shit promotion. It’s lazy and counterproductive. Who do you think will be frequenting those groups? Other authors who are only concerned with promoting their own books, that’s who. I guarantee you that readers on a legitimate quest to find something good to read aren’t skimming through those Facebook groups. 
  2. Another writer held a contest in which their Facebook friends would be entered into a drawing for a prize if they went on their book’s Amazon page and wrote a review for said book. I’ve seen this a bunch of times and it’s never ended very well. First of all, it’s unethical and even worse, it’s against Amazon’s review policies. Book reviewers are not to receive any monetary compensation (cash, gift cards, etc..) nor are they to receive rewards or prize incentives. Amazon has actually gone so far as to delete reviews if they get wind of such practices and some authors have even been banned from using their website—in many cases, up to a year. The other reason that this is a poor method is while you’ll generate some reviews for your book, a lot of times the reviews aren’t convincing. When I read reviews such as, “This is the best book I’ve ever read” or “I’m not a reader but I really loved this book,” then I’m not inclined to purchase that book. It sounds as though the author’s friends and family had written those reviews.
  3. The third writer, and this one takes the cake, said that they post a new photo each day on Facebook of their cat posing with a copy of their book. First of all, unless the book has something to do with cats, then it doesn’t make much sense. This might be fun to do once every so often, but on a daily basis? Not only will your friends get tired of seeing your book, they’ll get sick of seeing your cat as well. I’ll assume that your cat will start to hate you too. 

While Facebook definitely has its place in the realm of self-promotion, the fact is that our Facebook profiles should be used more as a communication tool and less as a self-promotion assembly line. Our friends and family shouldn’t be made to feel like customers. Create a Facebook page for your promotional purposes. In addition to this, however, I recommend that writers get themselves aquatinted with the following social media platforms. 

  • Twitter – I’ve heard a lot of writers say, “Ugh, I just don’t like Twitter. I’ve tried it and I got nothing out of it.” My suggestion? Try it again! This time, actually invest more than five minutes into learning how Twitter works. It’s a very useful social media platform and can propel you into an entire new universe of potential new fans, friends and resources. It’s one of my preferred forms of social media and I find it to be the most effective when it comes to generating leads, resources, website traffic and news on upcoming events. The thing Twitter has over Facebook is your website (or Amazon) link is visible to everyone you connect with. Facebook keeps our website links buried from view. We are, after all, trying to drive new people to our sites everyday. This is how we increase our sales. 
  • Pinterest – Believe it or not, there are book lovers galore on Pinterest and if used correctly, you can get the attention of someone looking for their next beach read or late night novel. 
  • Instagram – Another one of my preferred platforms, mostly due to its simplicity of use and the effectiveness of its reach. Not only do I use it for my personal use, but I maintain accounts for my custom stainless steel business and my hot sauce company. I’ve generated business for my companies and have increased website traffic for my writer website, all by posting eye-catching and engaging photos. Some people have told me, “Oh, I’m no good at taking pictures. I don’t know what to post.” Listen, I’m no Ansel Adams and I seem to be doing just fine. Use your imagination and get creative. You are after all a creative individual, are you not? Once you figure out how Instagram works, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable experience.
  • Vine – If you can get creative by making engaging 6 second video clips, then Vine is for you. While I use it for my hot sauce company, WATTSauce, creating food related videos, I have seen some rather crafty videos from authors promoting their books in humous ways within a six second time frame. (Update): Apparently Vine will be turning the lights off so you won’t be enjoying their benefits for much longer. It would however be in your best interest to pay attention to the next “Vine-styled” social media app that comes along. 
  • YouTube – Video has become the most popular form of promotion online and it definitely receives the most engagement. Whether you’re posting a 30 second clip of your book trailer or a 30 minute discussion about your new book or perhaps related topics such as book marketing, YouTube will get your message to the masses. Take for example, Derek Murphy, a cover artist and author, who posts informative daily videos about cover design, marketing, editing and a slew of related topics in the publishing industry. 
  • WordPress – Duh! Yes, create a blog for yourself and post informative information for your audience. Don’t use it to directly promote your book with every new post. Write interesting and engaging articles, post it on places such as Twitter, Pinterest and yes, even Facebook. You don’t need to have web design skills to create a WordPress blog. Select a name for your blog, choose a clean design and header, and start posting away. Simple as that. 

One final thought that I’ll share with you about book marketing on social media. Don’t just get all gung-ho with posting on social media when you’re promoting a new book, and then jump ship as soon as you’re bored with the process. Sure, maybe you’re short on time and/or your book has reached it’s saturation stage, but here’s the thing; if you’re a writer and you are serious about your craft, then social media needs to be your new best friend from here on in. You need to establish a presence and maintain your place in the circles you create. Otherwise, people will write you off as someone who likes to dump and run. You don’t have to use every venue listed above. Pick one or two, get the hang of them and take even just a few minutes out of your day to share something that will grab attention. Continue to be seen and known between book projects—not just when you have a new book available. Share relavent articles and engage with other users. Establish credibility by being a constant source for quality material. And always keep in mind the 20 / 80 self-promotion ratio; 20 percent self-promo and 80 percent useful and entertaining content that generates inclusivity among your followers.  Facebook is great—there’s certainly no denying this, but you and your work deserve a much larger audience. Stretch your creative marketing wings and build a larger and more-diverse network. 

Follow me @RobWattsOnline    Visit my Website RobWattsOnline.com

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      Writers Should Be Posting Daily on Instagram

        
      Writers Should Be Posting on Instagram

      by Rob Watts   Follow @RobWattsOnline 

      Writers should be posting on Instagram for a variety of reasons. While several other social networking sites have their place when it comes to self-promotion, Instagram is unique in the fact that it’s a visual medium—your witty wording used in Facebook posts won’t carry much weight here, yet your creative and eye-catching images could attract a wide-range of new followers and expand your personal brand. 

      While there are several opinions on how Instagram should be used—I’m not going to tell you exactly what time of day to post, which scheduling apps you should use or what filter attracts the most attention—I find that these are all subjective suggestions and in the world of Instagram, there is no exact science to its effectiveness. I find Instagram to be random and unpredictable, which is why I enjoy using it. Where Twitter and LinkedIn are more time-sensitive when it comes to reaching your intended audience, Instagram is a round-the-clock stream of interaction. At any time of day, people are scrolling through their Instagram accounts—at lunch, waiting in line at the supermarket, waiting for the train, at the airport, at the kitchen table—there’s always a captive audience logged on at any given time, and you should be taking advantage of this. 

      If you’re new to Instagram and haven’t created an account yet, just follow these few simple steps: 

      • Create your user name. Use your real name name or the name that you write under, but if that’s unavailable, choose a name as close as possible. Keep it as simple as possible because you want it to be easy to remember, and it needs to look good on your marketing materials. 
      • Write your bio. Be informative but remember to keep it to 150 characters. Remember to add your website. You do, after all, want to drive traffic to it from your Instagram.
      • Choose your default photo. Remember to use a good photo of you that represents you as an individual—don’t use your cat or some random abstract image that won’t connect with users. 
      • Start taking some pictures of things from your daily routines; getting coffee, walking the beach, visiting a bookstore—whatever encapsulates you as an individual, share these photos and add some filters to your pics to give them that special zing. 

      It’s pretty straightforward. Remember to be diverse in your postings. If you’re a writer, don’t just share photos of your books and your computer screen all day long. There’s a way to self-promote without using Instagram as your self-promotion dumping ground. Again, you need to keep in mind that social networking is about selling yourself, not just your work. You might have a bunch of followers who couldn’t care less that you’ve published a book about a vampire square dance party, however, those same people might really enjoy the fact that you cook really incredible vegan food and the fact that you share those photos of your food could open up new networking possibilities for you—possibilities that might not exist if don’t stretch your legs a bit more on social media. So remember to be diverse and share more about yourself than the fact that you’re “just a writer.” 

      Here are things you—especially writers—should refrain from posting on Instagram:

      • Memes: lots of people post these, but they are posting content that has been created by someone else and they aren’t  very inspiring and not much of a personal statement. In fact, they are pretty boring.
      • An abundance of selfies. Once in a while, here or there, yes, post a selfie because after all, you want your audience to remember what you look like. Daily selfies? No—not a good idea. 
      • Photos intended to humiliate: Don’t, and I mean DON’T post random photos of strangers you see on the street, in the stores, on the bus who might be dressed oddly (to you), have debilitating conditions, are showing their “plumbers crack” or are doing something that you seem to find humorous. I’ve seen this many times and it’s in poor taste and will reflect poorly on your character. This is not how you want to promote yourself online. 

      Everyone is using Instagram, from big corporate companies such as Coca-Cola and New Balance, as well as small mom and pop outfits such as coffee houses, clothing stores, restaurants and home improvement professionals. This is how they are establishing and sustaining their brand. Writers need to jump on this as well. I’ve been told by a few writers, “well, I write all day and I’ve got nothing very exciting to take pictures of.” Below are a few examples of how writers and book editors are using Instagram to their benefit. 

        
      As you can tell, editor Tanya Gold has an affinity for dinosaurs and cleverly works them into many of her posts. Along with beautiful landscapes that she encounters while out and about, she puts forth an attractive collection of engaging photos. She doesn’t just post pictures of her time spent editing books. That wouldn’t be very exciting, but we get a different perspective on Tanya as she posts things that interest her as an individual away from the process of editing. 

        
      Writer / Blogger Katie Li‘s Instagram page is another terrific example of how writers can express themselves without constant self-promotion of their own work. Katie does a fantastic job at sharing glimpses of her daily life with books she’s currently reading, working at home or being out and about. As a lover of art and an artist herself, there’s no room for guessing as to what she’s all about. 

        
      Todd Henderson is a children’s book writer and as you can see above, he utilizes his account to share photos of his work, his outdoor adventures and Kid Lit related imagery. He does so without piling on too many redundant photos one after another. It’s a perfect blend of what makes him who he is and what it is that he does. 

        
      I’ll use my own account as a final example. I’m someone who doesn’t enjoy being chained to my desk.  As you can see above, I tend to share photos from my morning walks, Red Sox games, vacations in addition to my writing endeavors. Wherever I happen to be, I like to capture a moment from it. 

      A quick final few words on some additional benefits to using Instagram. For starters, your website link (or Amazon link to your books) is displayed right at the top of your header. This is encouraging because with some creative photos and captions, you could potentially drive more traffic to your destination page than you could with Facebook. Facebook, as we all know, buries our website links on our “about” page, which we know nobody bothers to click on. Hashtags; you are allowed to post up to 30 hashtags on each post. This opens up the possibility to reach a very large audience. Finally, unlike most social media sites, Instagram enables you to share your posts on Facebook and Twitter, etc… I recommend sharing your Instagram pics on Facebook. This will only help to increase your reach. I don’t recommend sharing them on Twitter. Your pictures won’t show up as a photo in your tweets, but rather as a link. No one will care or bother clicking picture links on Twitter so it’s not worth your efforts. There you have it. Take some pictures and expand your personal brand! 

      Visit my Website at RobWattsOnline.com    Follow me on Instagram

      Writers: What You Need to Be Doing on Twitter

        
      Writers: What You Need to Be Doing on Twitter

      by Rob Watts   Follow @RobWattsOnline

      Many writers that I encounter and speak with have said that they don’t enjoy using Twitter. They’d created an account, used it for a while but left because they didn’t connect with many people. They said it was easier to return to Facebook where they already had a built-in audience. If that built-in audience is your friends and family, other writers—the same writers again and again, then you definitely need to step away from the comforts of Facebook and give Twitter another shot.  Based upon my interactions with fellow writers who’ve voiced their dissatisfaction with Twitter, it had become clear that they all had the same issues in common; they simply didn’t understand the full workings of the social network. I’m going to list a few things that writers (or anyone with something to promote) should be doing on Twitter to get the most out of their experience. 

      1 – Learn which hashtags are most effective in your posts and use them sparingly. The following hashtags are most popular among the writing community and they tend to draw more of an audience when you post your tweets. 

      #WritingTip

      #WriteTip

      #GetPublished

      #BookMarket

      #BookMarketing

      #PromoTip

      #SelfPublishing

      #SelfPub

      #Publishing

      #AskAgent

      #AskAuthor

      #AskEditor

      #EBooks

      #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)

      #BookMarketing

      #PubTip

      Visit AuthorMedia.com for a full list of useful hashtags. Don’t overuse them in your posts. Use no more than 2-3 per post. 

      2 –  Create Lists. The Twitter list is the most underused gem of the entire social network. It allows you to create your own personal news feed based on your interests. Let’s say you enjoy reading news articles in the morning. When you create a “News” list, you’ll have access to all the media outlets that you’ve added to a particular list. Do you like keeping up with your local restaurant and nightlife scene? Create a list of twitter profiles specifically geared towards that topic. If you’re a writer, you can create a list of fellow writers you enjoy, publishers, editors, cover designers, anyone and everyone—all on one list. Here’s how to add someone to a list:

        
        
      First, create a few lists of topics you wish to have in your list section. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’ve made a list name called Writers, Artists & Such, just as I have above. Click the gearshift in the profile you wish to add to a list, then select the Add/Remove (as I illustrate using children’s author, Susan Saunders’ profile) from list tab. Your list categories will appear and you simply check the category in which you wish to add to. By the way, if you wish to remove someone from your lists, simply follow the same steps, but uncheck the profile and it will be removed. 

      Let’s say you want to view the lists that someone has on their profile. This is particularly good when you are searching for like-minded individuals or businesses. If you’re an interior designer and you want to discover fellow designers and architects, you can view other people’s lists (provided they aren’t private) by simply doing the following:

        
        

      As you can see above, you simply tap the gearshift by the desired profile, hit the View Lists tab when it appears and you’ll have access to that profile’s public lists. Above is a handful of lists that I keep. So what do the list feeds look like when you select one of your lists, you ask? 

        
      As you can see, the feed from profiles (that I’ve selected) come up and I get to view tweets from profiles that I tend to follow the most. If you have specific profiles that you gravitate toward, this is the best way to keep up with them without getting lost in the sea of endless tweets on the main news feed. 

      3 – Create an informative and eye-catching Twitter Header and Bio. Be sure to include facts that you want to be most known for; Your latest book release, accolades, your business, your interests…anything that grabs attention. This will help you connect with like-minded Twitter users more easily and you’ll tend to build up your network much quicker. Have a look at voice actor, Jill Cofsky or attorney and writer, Karen Kettner‘s heading. Their bios leave no room for guessing; it’s direct and informative.

         
        
      They clearly express what they do, what they are known for and what their interests are. This helps greatly in attracting a decent following

      While there are several other tips to explore in the Twitter-verse, these three are what I consider to be the most vital in getting the most out of your Twitter experience. I myself find it to be a better alternative to Facebook. I’ve made more connections with people in my industry—and outside, which is terrific because that’s what growing your network is all about. 

      Follow me on Twitter @RobWattsOnline   Visit my Website RobWattsOnline.com

      Americana takes home an award from The New England Book Show! 

        
      by Rob Watts

      Last night I attended the 60th annual New England Book Show at Boston’s Symphony Hall and I’m thrilled to share that my 2016 release, Americana, took home an award. At the time of its release, Americana was produced in a limited run of 50 units. The packaging and design was rare and unique; the book’s cover contained music performed by me, and could be played on a turntable. These books sold out rather quickly and I soon moved on to my next project. More than a year after its release, I’m truly grateful for the recognition it has received via the voting panel of judges, as well as fans and readers of the book. 

      “A real novelty that extraordinarily combines a book and playable vinyl record, making it both eye-catching, and ear-catching.” Judges Comments

      It was truly an honor to be in the company of such incredibly talented individuals in the publishing industry. I got to see first-hand some remarkable graphic design work. In addition to catching up with some friends in the field, I had the pleasure of meeting some new people whom I look forward to seeing at future networking events. 

        
        
        
        

      Authors: Please Stop with the Low-Rent Marketing Tactics

        
      Authors: Please Stop with the Low-Rent Marketing Tactics.

      By Rob Watts   @RobWattsOnline

      As a person who esteems his reputation as a professional, both in business and as a member of the writing community, I beg those who engage in less-than-admirable marketing practices to please tone it down and heed caution; you are in jeopardy of losing readers, fans and any semblance of credibility in the publishing world. 

      I’d like to share with you something that happened the other day; it’s not the first time that this has happened, it certainly won’t be the last, but nevertheless, it’s annoying, saddening and induces much head shaking on my part. As I was checking emails the other day, I noticed my personal website had received an email, so I read it, chuckled slightly, shook my head (aforementioned) and then within seconds, my amusement turned to annoyance as I wondered why authors (usually self-published) do this—ever worse, why do they think this is okay? 

        
      As you can see in the email above, this “author” took it upon themself to send me an email requesting (BEGGING) me to click their Amazon link and download their book. This individual doesn’t know me, I don’t know them, I don’t know why they believe that this is a legitimate marketing practice but let me tell you, it’s not. I would never reduce myself and engage in such dubious tactics. Whether or not you consider yourself a genuine professional within the publishing community, don’t do things like this—just don’t. You’ll rapidly lose respect and you’ll wind up looking desperate and contemptible. 

      While we’re on the topic of shabby self-promotional methods, here are a few more things to add to the list of tactics to avoid at all costs. 

      • Promoting your book(s) on a constant and daily basis on your Facebook profile. This is what a Facebook Page is for. A Facebook profile, our personal account, isn’t really the best venue to ad-bomb your books to everyone. The people we have on our profiles are people who (for the most part) are friends, family, co-workers, some people we’ve never met in real life, and so on. These people shouldn’t be made to feel as though they are only there to be your personal book buying audience. It’s a major turn off and you’ll find yourself falling victim to the unfollow button, or worse, the unfriend button. It’s fine to share your writing accomplishments and it’s certainly okay to share that you have a new book out that’s for sale—you don’t need to post daily reminders though. Don’t guilt your friends into buying your books and definitely don’t beg. 
      • If you work in a customer service-based business (retail, food, etc.. ), don’t—seriously, don’t promote yourself as an author with books for sale to customers in the workplace. Believe it or not, I have seen this and I know of one or two people who engage in this unprofessional behavior (and they think that this is perfectly fine to do), and all I can suggest to you is that you stop. Customers who are seeking help from a salesperson at a Best Buy about purchasing a Flatscreen TV don’t want to hear about your writing ventures and they aren’t looking to have your writing related business card thrown in their faces. Oh yeah, and this is the type of thing that gets you fired, so yeah, don’t do this. 
      • If you’re at an author event and you are exhibiting your books at a booth, don’t—DON’T invade another author’s booth space by forcing your book onto a potential customer of another author. Yes, I have seen this happen multiple times where an author will overhear (eavesdrop) a conversation between a potential customer and author about the type of stories and books that they like, and the stalking author will swoop in on them and suggest something such as “oh, if you enjoy Clive Barker’s books, then you’ll love my book.” This is wrong, immoral, unprofessional and it will put you in a situation where you’ll be unwelcomed at future events. Word travels at the speed of light within the writing community and you’ll be shunned so quickly that your head will spin. Behave yourself and don’t engage in this sort of behavior. 
      • DM (direct message) on Twitter. When I follow another writer, or follow them back on Twitter, oftentimes I get an automated reply (they set these auto messages via social media management apps) with long-winded messages such as “Thanks so much for following me….please click the link and buy my books, yada, yada, yada…” This gets you an automatic unfollow. Buh-bye! This is by far the biggest annoyance on Twitter. For all the good that Twitter can do for you, this is one of the biggest drawbacks. If you are one of those people who bomb people’s inbox with automated DMs, let me clue you in on something; you are annoying, your marketing skills are pathetic and I’d never waste my time reading your books if you’re the type of author who thinks this is a productive method of marketing. It’s not—not even close. 

        
      Yeah…good luck with that!!