Today’s topic for our YA Indie Carnival is social media and what works for me. As the social media editor of a magazine publishing company, it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of social networking!
The most important thing to remember is that it’s all about engagement. “Networking” is a dirty author word and I don’t use this verb often because it comes off as sales-y. It’s absolutely vital that no matter how many or few social sites you’re on, that you’re connecting with fans. When they comment on your walls or ask questions, I advise answering as soon as possible. If I tell myself, “I’ll get back to it later” then there’s a chance I’d forget – and the last thing I want fans thinking is that their comment didn’t mean something to me or was ignored. Oh, and because I’m the product of two Navy officers/a Southern belle mother, I must always, always encourage you to thank everyone – whether it’s for help with shares or a really nice comment about your book, THANK THEM. I cannot stress this enough. It’s just the right thing to do.
Facebook: Pinterest may be the fastest-growing social site in the last year, but Facebook, for better or worse, is still the king of social media. I have both a personal profile and a fan page and I consider both to be extremely important for indie authors. Fan pages obviously update your readers and fans (as well as offer giveaways and encourage readers to visit your blog), but don’t forget to share out your author stuff on your personal page every now and again! I used to avoid doing that because I didn’t want to pitch sales to my friends, but why shouldn’t I remind them to like my page every now and again in case they didn’t know? I’m proud to be an indie author and I want everyone to know it! (My personal profile is essentially work and book related. I’m kinda boring like that.) Everyone has been super supportive and I’m always thrilled to see my friends sharing out my book stuff – I know some of my readers are friends of friends, just because I shared it on my personal profile, so don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see who and how many people help you out! And remember: I’ve delved into Facebook fan pages and following their rules before (don’t go losing all your hard work simply because you didn’t read the fine print!).
Twitter: It’s no secret that I love Twitter – my username is in all my banners! I’ve made some great friends through Twitter and often see links and sites I never would’ve known about otherwise. Twitter is kind of my jam: I’m best in quick, witty one-liners, so 140 characters is kind of ideal for my online personality. I love having individual or group conversations with authors and bloggers, as well as sharing out tips, finds, and other neat things that we can all benefit from. I really believe Twitter promotes community and even though some tweets can get lost in the chaos, I know several of my sales and web hits have some from Tweets, Retweets, Shares, and the like – and that makes Twitter worth it for me. Questions about Twitter? I’ve written a helpful piece about Twitter Tips for Indies, which talks about lists, hashtags, and a couple other points.
Pinterest: This is a great social site for visual people. I covered a few points for why indie authors should dig into Pinterest and why Pinterest is my new favorite writing tool. There are tons of ideas on how to use Pinterest, from listing our book covers to celebrities we’d want playing our characters in the movie. I love seeing other book covers from authors and readers, as well as the amazing stuff my author friends post for book inspiration (especially the um, ahem, Pretty Boys I drool over for character traits).
Goodreads: I’ll admit I don’t do much with my Goodreads page. I’m on it because I feel like authors should be a part of that community, but I’ve found it gets clogged up with far too many event invitations and other notifications. My books are listed and I check the site from time to time for messages, maybe new reviews if I can brave the anxiety, or head up a book giveaway. However, I just don’t think GR has the sales conversions I want (that is to say, ANY purchases from GR). I can see the appeal of GR for a reader – it’s really cool to get suggestions from friends or see their reviews and add it to your shelves for future reference. But in my experience, a lot of people add to shelves and forget about your book, as well as rate your books for incorrect reasons. For example, my book had a couple starred ratings before it was even released – perhaps the reader was marking it for later, but I’m sure I don’t need to explain how frustrating it is to see your book only have 3 stars when it’s not even on sale yet! I’ll keep listing my books on there, but my interaction won’t be any more or less than what I’m already doing. There are too many other better avenues to cruise down.
Want more tips on being social? Try out my guest post at The Housework Can Wait about social media faux pas and why they need to stop. You might be surprised to learn a new thing or two based on my findings from both my indie authorship as well as my real life job.
In the end, social sites are about engagement. All users (authors, small businesses or otherwise) should also be careful about stretching themselves too thin. The point of being a writer is to get another book on the shelf, and we’re all guilty of getting sucked into Facebook at an ungodly hour or tweeting friends for what turns out to be 45 minutes (oops!). You can join as many or few sites as you want, but make sure you can keep up – and that it’s not taking away from your craft, which is sort of why you’re here anyway.
Looking for more tips on how social media can work for you as an author? Try out the posts with the other authors in the Indie Author Series!