I have written this and collected the information in this piece on social media and brand building as a reminder for all of our authors to entrench themselves in the world of social media, communities, and fans on a daily basis. It’s possible that some of you who read this already know a lot of what I’m sharing with you, but it’s my hope that I will inspire you in some way so that you will continue to build your brand. Good luck!
– Peter Miller, Literary Lion
In order to be commercially successful, all authors need to embrace social media and keep up with the constant changes taking place in the publishing world today. Adapting to and accepting this ever-changing environment is vital to establishing a fanbase and attracting the attention of the most important people in every author’s life – agents, editors, and especially readers.
Although this can be daunting – self-promotion is much different from writing, after all – look at it as another opportunity to be in touch with readers. Creating and maintaining your social media outlets puts you in touch with your audience and allows you to further explore your writing. It is a free, accessible means by which to improve yourself as an author and gain a greater understanding of the people who are interested in your work.
As recently as the early 2000s, having your own personal website was enough to make you seem “hip” or “cool.” With all the digital content surfacing on the internet and new social media options popping up by the second, however, it is not only important but an absolute pre-requisite to have a brilliant, state-of-the-art website and also to develop and engage in using major social media marketing tools such as:
Remember, social media marketing is 100% free publicity! Also note that knowing how to navigate the Internet or having someone who can do it for you on a daily basis is an essential component of publishing in the “modern world.”
Every major corporation and public figure has a Facebook business page and “tweets” on Twitter. If you wish to reach any level of success, it is critical that you do the same. If you’re not on this bandwagon, not only does it make you look un-hip and unprofessional, it more importantly translates that you lack dedication to both yourself and the success of your work. Your website, along with your social media content and pages, initially speaks for you even more than your work or your words in the digital world; this is the first impression people will have of you. For better or worse, this is the current paradigm of the new digital world in which we live. On the bright side, once these platforms are set up, you can use them to leverage your presence and ensure your voice is heard while building your brand in this modern online world.
All social media sites require setup, along with daily dedication to add content that engages readers to ultimately gain more ‘LIKES’, followers, or other such demonstrations of interest. The number of ‘LIKES’ essentially indicates how far your voice and presence travels in the digital world. The great news is that once you understand how to leverage these media outlets, they can become your best friends and work to your advantage with just a few simple clicks. You can learn to do this or hire someone else to help you. So you must prepare and train yourself to spend time, energy and money in building your brand on a regular basis.
Today when publishers look at a new author, they are evaluating the strength as well as the “reach” of the author’s existing social media presence. In fact, building this online presence should be the first step that every aspiring author takes. Publishers are reluctant to work with an author today who has not invested both time and energy to build an online identity.
*TIP: It may seem silly to point this out, but be sure to remind yourself that the people you communicate with online are as real as anyone you would meet in person, and should be treated with the same respect and courtesy you would give people normally. Also remember that anything you say through your social media lasts forever, even if it is subsequently deleted. If one off-color comment or meltdown can destroy full-fledged celebrities, it can do the same for your burgeoning career in writing.
Here is a basic explanation of the current important social media to develop:
1. Facebook Business Page
Most people have a personal Facebook account and use this page to keep in touch with relatives in Australia or reconnect with their long-lost elementary school classmates. Some people even use Facebook as their main source of web interaction and it often doubles as their e-mail account. Facebook currently has over 1.23 billion monthly active users worldwide.
Regardless of the enjoyment your personal Facebook Page may provide, this is not where you want to post or maintain your business presence. It is essential to build your Facebook Business Page(s) separate from your personal page because the personal page can only accept up to 5,000 friends, and that actually limits the amount of fans you may have in the future. Also, co-mingling your personal life with your business is never a good idea. Make sure you keep your personal contact and image separate from your business image.
Set your goal to make your Facebook business page the most important and active page on the internet. Your page is designed to keep business rolling and information accessible, but it is also easy to customize it to serve your needs. This is where people get to know more about your business, receive your updates, and receive invitations to participate in the activities and events you create. In the past, personal websites functioned as the main landing spot on the internet. In today’s business world, to prove you are a serious professional on top of your game you must keep up with the growing online digital interaction.
Creates a professional look.
Customize applications, link blog posts, and/or “tweets” in one place.
People can easily sign up by ‘LIKING’ your Business Page from either Facebook or your business website.
Once your business page is set up, updates should be easily manageable with some tutoring (i.e., photo/video upload, etc.).
You can easily target potential fans with Facebook advertising and even target more specific groups by age, sex, interests, relationship status etc.
Facebook helps improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your website when linking the two. This can easily be done and will result in increased traffic.
Your fan number is posted and visible to the public. Hence, people will judge you depending on how many fans you have (recommended minimum is 3-digits; 1000+ is ideal).
As the page owner, you are responsible for daily updates and content. A page without input appears stagnant or “dead” and offers no incentive to return.
‘LIKES’ will not automatically grow; it is your job to increase their number.
- *TIP: There are several ways to grow your ‘LIKES.’ At first this may seem to be a tedious task; however, performing daily strategies designed to increase your ‘LIKES’ is a process that will enhance your overall brand.A few examples of how to grow your “LIKES”:
Connect with other Page Managers/Administrators
Finding other pages that are in your field or share your interests would be helpful. You could always contact the managers/administrators and offer to cross-promote each other would be a powerful tool to grow your “LIKES” as it will help increase your visibility on Facebook.
Share Original Interesting Content & Post Regularly
When Facebook users share your content, your Page Name travels with it. Users will be more apt to share your posts if they are interesting and original. Posting videos and photos will help engage an audience.
Tag your Page from your Personal Facebook Profile and Link your Page to your Personal Profile
Pages are not seen as much in news feeds so it is recommended to post occasionally about your business page on your Facebook personal profile. Typing “@” with your business page name will help tag it and make it easier for users to like your page.
Add your Facebook to Everything
Your website, your email signature, your blog etc. That way it will always be visible to possible followers.
Use Facebook as your Facebook Business Page
Commenting as your business page and not under your personal profile will increase visibility.
If you “LIKE” my page, you will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of my new book.
Advertise on Facebook
There are many tools and options available to advertise your business page on Facebook but this will definitely help increase your visibility.
Although not as elaborate as Facebook or your business website, a Twitter account is a must when designing an online presence. Creating your account and “Tweeting” is actually quite easy. Growing your number of followers is the more challenging task; however, this can be achieved using effective strategies. Here are a few tips:
- Use a short user name: tweets have a very limited number of characters, so even a few extra characters in your user name can make a huge difference.
- Use anything besides the default background: just like cookie-cutter websites, a default background can make a twitter page seem lazy.
- Hashtags allow people to categorize their tweets. Make use of hashtags to draw people interested in your chosen topics, such as #writing, #horror, #bibliophile, etc.
- Engage the community: being active on twitter draws more followers and prevents your twitter feed from becoming nothing but a long list of self-promotion posts.Twitter Pros
Short, simple, and informative.
Immediately able to attach photos, make announcements, and release information. When used correctly, Twitter is a very effective marketing tool.
Followers can re-Tweet what you have said.
The easiest way to get your ideas and thoughts out onto ‘the net’ (internet).
Too much Tweeting is annoying. Too little Tweeting lessens your online presence.
LinkedIn is a great networking tool in today’s business world. By building your resume and cultivating your network, you have the opportunity to increase your business visibility on the Internet.
To an author, LinkedIn may not initially appear to be as prominent a social marketing tool; however, industry professionals interact and exchange information here on a daily basis.
Remember, the Internet is a fast-growing platform where the business of publishing books takes place.
One great benefit that LinkedIn offers is the option to expand your network. You can enroll in one or more existing groups to meet new contacts. Alternatively, you may choose to create your own group to trigger other like-minded people to join you.
Expand your business network.
Meet industry professionals.
Allows others to recommend/endorse you.
“Request to Be Linked” process is slow and time consuming and not as easy as the “Like” or “Follow” buttons on Facebook or Twitter.
4. GOOGLE +
Google+ is now the second largest social networking site in the world, having passed Twitter
in January 2013. It is a powerful and far-reaching network (like Facebook) that allows users
to connect in “Circles” and to exponentially grow contacts. Google+ will definitely boost
Exponentially grow contacts quicker and easier than other social networking sites. Increase SEO.
Engage people in a more personal way using video via hosting a “Hangout”.
Share select content with specific audiences.
Cannot add administrators/managers to help maintain your Google+ like you can on Facebook for your Business Page.
Video Platforms such as YouTube®, Vimeo, Dailymotion etc. also require your attention. In order to improve your ever-important rankings with search engines like GoogleTM, it is vital that you embrace video on the web—both through your website and your social media.
Search algorithms weigh video content on the web as being more important and/or interesting. Thus, it will increase your business visibility.
Ease of Use.
You can get a large amount of information to many people in a short period of time.
It is possible for others to download your videos without your permission (Vimeo allows you to have a secure password restricting accesses).
Blogging, which is known as online article writing, is a great way of getting promoted throughout many websites. This comes in handy when trying to reach an audience through google. If your aim is to hit a more wide scale audience, you may want to consider blogging and start using the article submitting websites.
By submitting your well-written articles to many different channels, you are guarantying yourself to receive a lot of followers because your online work will reach its intended readers, from those who went to google for search for the same idea that you just composed.
The more articles and websites that you submit to, the more renowned your writing will become online and the more you start to build a strong following base of people who are looking to read your content.
WordPress may be a well-known blogging platform but it is not the best for those looking to attracting a lot of likeminded readers. WordPress limits your interaction by only spreading your content to your inner circle.
Below is a list of websites that you should start submitting your full-length articles to in order to start gaining major insight:
Indie Writers Support GoodReads
Quora LiveJournal EzineArticle Hubpages Bukisa ArticleBase WordPress Blogger
http://indiewritersupport.com/ http://www.goodreads.com/ https://groups.yahoo.com/neo https://groups.google.com/forum/#!overview https://www.quora.com/ http://www.livejournal.com/ http://ezinearticles.com/ http://hubpages.com/ http://www.bukisa.com/ http://www.articlesbase.com/ https://wordpress.com/ https://www.blogger.com
Increases your SEO.
Engaging content can grow your brand and is easy to setup and maintain.
Requires a consistent time commitment – daily, most preferably.
Although frequently thought of as solely a platform for sharing pictures, Pinterest can be used to both access new groups of potential readers and maximize your search engine optimization potential. Here are a few tips that can help you make maximum use of this platform:
Always categorize your boards: doing so helps both people and search engines find your content.
Pin images from your website or blog: users clicking these images will be directed to the source website.
Immerse yourself in the community and pin a wide variety of users: the more you see and share, the more other people will have the opportunity to see you.
Be sure to link and reference your other social media outlets, such as Facebook or your personal blog. Conversely, be sure to mention Pinterest on your other outlets.
Pin images relating to your book, such as historically accurate clothing or architecture.
As always, post frequently and communicate with your followers to let people get to know you.
Goodreads, a literary social media website owned and run by Amazon, can be extremely useful for speaking with other authors and marketing your book, particularly in regards to marketing and publication on Amazon itself. There are many resources available via Goodreads – here are a few:
Listopia – https://www.goodreads.com/list
Listopia allows people to create and vote on lists of books, ranging from lists like “Funniest Books of All Time” to “Characters That Most Closely Resemble Don Draper.” It is easy to include one’s own book on applicable lists and can both increase exposure and encourage new readers to investigate for themselves where your work should rank on the list.
9. Other Social Media sites e.g. Instagram, Flikr, Tumblr, Reddit, et al.
These sites also help to build your fan base and establish you as an Author. Though these are less conventional as some of the others, they may be useful for reaching out to people who more regularly frequent these sites.
An important, frequently neglected aspect of building a personal brand is the endorsement of authors, celebrities, or personalities. Even if you do not personally know any people who match that description, remember that each of those people were once in the same position as you and may be inclined to support promising work if you show it to them. In addition to garnering additional attention from people who respect the people endorsing you, this also speaks well of the quality of your work and further entices publishers to take a closer look at your writing.
The wide variety of social media outlets and their rapid evolution can certainly be overwhelming, even to people who have grown up alongside this technology. Although your social media presence is unquestionably necessary, you do not need to be a part of all of them. Begin with the basics, establish what you are initially comfortable with handling online and determine what social media outlets would be best for presenting your work. Much like writing, your presence online is an extension of yourself – effectively communicating who you are will let people know what to expect from your book, drawing the audience you’re looking for and encouraging those people to share it with others.
We wish you the best of luck in establishing your social media presence and hope that this guide has been helpful and informative.
11. Other Resources
There are countless tools and resources online, many of which are free, that can assist in your understanding and application of social media. Please note that I am not endorsing or suggesting you purchase these specific products or services, as your personal needs and preferences will require independent research to find the best match for you. Here are a few examples:
Auto Video Creator:
Quantum Leap Webinars
Web seminars (Webinars) are another means by which to learn what people are talking about regarding self-marketing and determine what strategies are effective. Quantum Leap Webinars are only one such example – there are numerous webinars and video lessons on
these topics. This website requires registration, as many do, but it has an ongoing series on digital marketing and promotion. https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5805771402333970946
12. Promotional Suggestions
When you get an idea for your book, create a short video or blog post about the book idea with an email sign up form. Months down the track when the book is actually written, you will have a group of customers already waiting for it.
Before you debut to the world your book, you need some reviews. Reviews are vital to authors because they are your “social proof” that will legitimize your work to new readers. Before the book’s release, send out a copy of your book to friends, family, and those that follow you online who would be willing to review your work.
If you don’t know anyone who is willing to review your book for you, there are websites that enable authors to get free, ethical reviews, such as goodreads.com.
Once your book is published, encourage your early readers to leave reviews. Expect less than 50% of user participation in your reviews. They don’t all have to be rave reviews; in fact, a few honest critiques of your work will give more authenticity than a bunch of superficial praise.
The only form of compensation you are allowed to offer for a review of your book, if any, is a free copy of the book being reviewed. The reviewer is also obligated to disclose that they received a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. While some people may not take solicited reviews as seriously, it is a good way to both generate reviews and get reviews from people you know are capable of reviewing the book well.
Although it is great to have the support of friends, family, and other people close to you in your writing efforts, keep in mind that people who have a close personal connection to you are not allowed to leave reviews on Amazon. Instead, these people are encouraged to participate in the book discussion page and recommend or promote the book other places online.
It’s always good to promote your book on Amazon a few days before the book is published. Amazon only allows reviews a few days before the book is published. You can get around this by publishing your book a week before you tell anyone about it. By doing it this way, you can build up a decent amount of early reviews. This can help you sell your book to new readers. When the date of the “official” release comes around, people viewing your page will see some of the good reviews on your book.
Launching your new e-book:
After you get reviews, it’s time to launch your e-book. Although you want to take time into making sure each book launch is unique, there are a few things that you can uniformly do each time:
Offer an incentive for those who buy the book. This can be a time-sensitive offer or ongoing opportunity. Michael Hyatt, author of the article “How to Successfully Self Publish an E-Book”, mentions Andy Traub, who made over $20,000 in 90 days with an eBook because he gave away the audiobook, 30-day email course, and exclusive membership to an online community with his book.
Promoting is the key to an e-book success. Clicktotweet is a great source of sending out messages that people can easily share. Hootsuite also gives you the capability of sending out messages from you Facebook, twitter, and Instagram account simultaneously. You can also use a promotion team of volunteers to help you spread your word.
Share your book with online forums and book directories. Kimanzi Constable is another success story mentioned in Hyatt’s article; he was able to sell over 80,000 copies of his book by using online forums.
People love freebies; another strategy to achieving EBook Success is to give the book away. Authors who have struggled with selling more than a few hundred copies of their book have decided to give away a free e-book version for a limited time. Studies conducted by Amazon indicate that there is often a rise in paid units sold after a book has been offered at a discount or for free.
The Price Is Right
Statistics show that a large percentage of people who read e-books are extremely sensitive to price. New authors are especially under the scrutiny of price. For example, Darcie Chan, eBook author of the bestselling novel The Mill River Recluse, states, “I only wanted to get my work out there over time and gauge people’s responses to it. For that reason, I lowered the price to $0.99. I think it is true that readers are more willing to take a chance on a completely unknown author at that price point, and I definitely wanted to encourage people to take a chance on me.”
Lowering the price will give people a chance to give your novel a try and will establish a fan base.
Keep in mind, however, that books on Amazon have to be between the range of $2.99 and $9.99 to qualify for the 70% royalty rate – books outside this range will only earn 35% royalties.
A good strategy when planning the marketing of your book online is to research what strategies have been or are currently successful for books that are similar to yours. Strategies can vary greatly based on the audience and competition unique to each subject and genre, which influences price, desired social media, and numerous other aspects of your approach.
While constant activity on your social media is definitely a must, it is advisable to sometimes engage other people in topics not related to your book. If the only updates on your outlets are constant reminders that the book exists, people will grow tired of the content. It alienates people who have already purchased the book and is not compelling to new potential readers. Talking about other topics, such as the writing process, interests, or reader questions, can keep people coming back to the site and generates interest in you and your work.