I was browsing my bookmarks today and found an old blog post by social media blogger, Chris Brogan. It is called An Author’s Plan For Social Media Efforts. The post is now two years old, but all but two of the links on it still work, so it’s definitely worth a look.
What I found interesting about this post is the amount of effort Brogan thinks the author of a new book needs to put in to cause interest across the social networking spectrum.
I’m not saying he is wrong, it is simply that my brain went into “don’t want to know” mode as I ploughed through the long list of things to do. However, as I had bookmarked this post, I guess I had thought I would come back to it in due course and maybe give the suggestions a go.
Brogan gives 21 different ways to promote a book and the comments (if you ignore the spam ones) give even more. Some of the advice is geared more towards those writing business books, but the advice is still pretty sound. And, as it turned out, I am already following some of his tips anyway.
Basically, you need to get out there and learn and use every aspect of social media to best effect.
Okay…so, let’s say I was intent on promoting my book (I’m not – I haven’t finished it yet!).
First of all I would need a website with a domain to fit the book (not hard to do as I already have hosting and am good at finding domains to use, so I can almost check that one), a blog (check), a Twitter account (check), a Facebook account (well, I guess my ‘keep in touch with family and friends site’ could do with a change of emphasis.. so… check).
I know how to use Google alerts, so I could easily set one up for my book (check), same with Google blog search so I can comment on other people’s blogs when they write about my book (check), I always try to be gracious to people commenting on my blogs (unless they are complete a’holes) because after all, they have not only read my post, but they taken the time to comment, so I can check that one too.
Writing guest posts on other blogs always seems like spamming to me, if you are only doing it to promote something of yours. That’s actually a shame, as I would (probably…) love to post on another person’s blog if they’d let me (and, of course, if I had something interesting to say!), so I can check that too without much worry.
No real problems so far.
But then things get a bit more technical.
I have no idea about setting up an email list and newsletters (apart from using Feedburner, which probably doesn’t count), so that would require a good bit of research and comparisons of best systems to use.
I had no clue what a ‘blogger outreach project’ was until I looked it up (I’m still working it out, but I think it concerns juggling a list of bloggers who review different parts of your book – but I could well be wrong!).
Making a YouTube video promoting my book seems like a great idea, but I would probably need help with that too (unless I want to look like a complete amateur – there again, that could be appealing in certain circumstances.. I guess…).
Then there is finding out how to arrange speaking trips and radio and TV appearances. I would assume that your publisher or agent would help with this, but it appears that a publisher’s promotional help is never enough and you should be doing most of your book promotion yourself, so… I would have to build networks with local media companies, perhaps book clubs, university literature groups, etc. Lots of hard work there, but worth the effort I would think…
That’s a précis of most of the tips. Others seem like common sense (to me, anyway), or like something you would work on in conjunction with your publisher (unless you are a self-publisher of course…).
But one thing I did notice with nearly all of these tips is…
An author needs to be very, very sociable.
I saw in the comments on this article that some assumed that writers were naturally sociable, gregarious beings – good speakers too. But are authors really like that?
It appears to me that many writers are far from gregarious. Spending your days alone, pounding out thousands of words onto your PC doesn’t give you much time for socialising (unless you give up in disgust and drown your sorrows at the local bar, of course).
Many writers also tend to be introverts, preferring to let others take the stage while they sit back and ‘people watch’. I would go as far as to say that being the darling of social media would appear as an almost insurmountable challenge to many writers, as the concept would be totally alien to them.
Taking that further, I would say that it isn’t so much the length of the ‘to do’ list that will faze a large number of authors, it is more that, after already producing a cast of believable characters for their book, they will now have to invent a ‘sociable’, outgoing character for themselves.
So, are you prepared to be sociable to promote your book?
And before you say an outright ‘No!’, think about all the blood, sweat and tears you have spent writing your masterpiece. And how much of your life has been invested in this moment, when your book has reached the publication stage.
I personally am sociable enough in that I like communicating with people, but I have to admit that it would take real effort on my part to be the life and soul of the party on and offline for days on end without let-up. But in this situation, I would not want to let my book down now by failing at ‘being sociable’. So, I guess I would have to grit my teeth, put on a suitable ‘sociable’ persona, and go for it! 🙂