Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Business of Writing: Promoting your books online #MFRWOrg #RLFBlog #ASMSG

Woman behind veil
(c)2008 Jose Antonio Sánchez Reyes
Dreamstime ID 4932489
Last week on The Maze I introduced the concept of the Promotion Plan for authors of all stripes in the publishing spectrum.

After reading one of the comments that someone had left, I realized that online promotion is an entire topic in and of itself that I need to address! 

I selected the "Woman behind veil" image for today's post because for many authors, online promotion is a lot like this young lady: we peep out from behind our veils just long enough to interact a little bit with our audiences now and then.

Here are some ways to lower the veil even further:

Blogging. When I first took the plunge to actively expand my social network, everyone said I needed to start a blog. Which I did. And it got very few views, something on the order of maybe a couple dozen a day. To be honest, that was a couple dozen more than I was expecting, since I had (foolishly, I admit) neglected the "care and feeding" of my readership and could host my entire fan base in my living room. To increase blog reach, I took the following steps:
  • I joined Facebook and, eventually, Twitter and now share blog posts to those platforms on a regular basis. Some aspects of social media still send me screaming off into the night, but I have embraced its usefulness in spreading the word about my books.
  • I set up automatic cross-posting of my blog to my author profiles on, Goodreads, and Amazon, and posts get automatically shared to my Google+ profile by Blogger.
  • I started scheduling promo posts for other authors in exchange for their posting of my book spotlights on their blogs.
  • I engaged the services of auto-tweeting and auto-retweeting apps, both of which have long since been squashed by the TwitRNazis, but these were instrumental in boosting my Twitter following up over the 5K mark last year. Now I'm over 9K and growing daily, thanks to judicious tweeting and retweeting via Hootsuite. (The free version is a bit time consuming but still suits my needs.)
  • I started scheduling virtual book tours, which have spread the word even farther into the Blogisphere. Whenever possible, I visit the promo pages and thank the bloggers for hosting (and sometimes reviewing) my books, and I answer other visitors' questions too.
  • I began posting a version of my monthly newsletter, The Dawnflier. BTW, if you would like to receive the lovely MailChimp edition, please sign up in the sidebar on the right, thanks! :)
  • I set up contests (usually via Rafflecopter) in conjunction with my blog tours, and I run a monthly contest on my blog (please scroll down for details).
  • I joined Triberr (a post-sharing service for bloggers, of which the free service is just fine for my needs) and became a member of several tribes there. Now my Twitter reach is over 1M thanks to the sharing of posts by my 350+ tribemates. This has been the single biggest factor in jumping my blog's page views, the rolling 30-day number of which is displayed in the right sidebar (26K+ as of this writing).
Other potentially useful post-sharing software that I haven't used yet includes Roundteam and Tweet Jukebox. If you have used either of these services, or any others, please let me know what you think of them!

And of course there are other social media platforms I haven't mentioned, mainly because I don't keep a presence on them, or I use them strictly for professional rather than promotional reasons (e.g., LinkedIn). I do recommend that you claim your name on those platforms, however, in case you change your mind and decide to participate at a future date.

Content. Whether it's a blog, a Pinterest board, or profiles on Facebook or Twitter or some other platform, when I visit another author's page, I am instantly turned off when the content is exclusively about his or her own books. Think about it, people: it's like tuning to a shopping channel! At least, that's how I imagine it would be like if I actually ever did tune to a shopping channel. :D

Posting news about your books is essential for spreading the word, but balancing that content with other items will keep your readers coming back for more. I achieve balance by:
  • Scheduling spotlights of my friends' books on my blog.
  • Participating as a book tour host.
  • Cross-posting my Pinterest pins to my Twitter account and, on occasion, to my personal Facebook profile.
  • Sharing an excerpt each week--along with a writing tip or other non-writing introduction--from my current work-in-progress, Raging Sea.
  • Posting an article about the business issues related to writing each week, of which this post is an example.
  • Occasionally posting an article on my blog about a non-writing or non-book topic that interests me, such as this post about one of the last living Pearl Harbor survivors.
  • Using my Facebook personal profile mainly to interact with my family and friends. Here I post fun slice-of-life snippets, humor, and links to non-writing articles I enjoy, and I hope others do too!
  • Automatically cross-posting my Facebook posts to Twitter. If I want the Facebook post to look as if it originated on Twitter, I keep it less than 140 characters and don't include a link. 
  • Using my Facebook fan pages to post research-related articles, as well as updates about my books.
  • Sharing other authors' Facebook posts about their books.
  • Visiting the Twitter profile of each person who follows me every day. I will perhaps retweet a thing or three, and I follow back as many accounts as possible within the bounds of my conscience. If you discover that I have blocked your account, it means that I found your content utterly objectionable. Among the accounts that I don't block but don't follow back are those that advertise selling followers, those whose content is mildly objectionable and/or is not provided in English, and those wherein the profile and/or cover pics look stalker-y.

    BTW, if you're one of these authors out on an ego trip to amass what appears to be a huge fan base by following me, and then unfollowing within a nanosecond of my following you, be aware that I check my Crowdfire (formerly Justunfollow) numbers daily and will unfollow you immediately. I respectfully advise that you instead get your ego stroking from your book sales and reviews.
  • Scheduling my book-related tweets no more frequently than once an hour. If you ever happen to see more frequency than that from me, it's because I'm doing a one-time tweet of a blog tour page, or something along those lines.
  • Scheduling the sharing of other bloggers' posts that appear in my Triberr stream every day.
Lest you point to my blog layout and scream, "imbalance!" I will go on record to state that I am giving serious thought to redesigning it to offer paid advertising opportunities to other authors (within certain genre guidelines), now that The Maze's page views are clocking consistently above the 25K mark. If you think you might be interested, leave a note in the comments section, along with some way for me to contact you, and let's chat!

What are you doing to achieve balance in your online promotion, 
and how is it working for you?

To learn about Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, hero of Snow in July, and my unique challenges in writing about him, please visit the RLF Blog. (And help me earn "Top Blogger" points there, thanks! :)

Enter this great Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 gift card!

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All this month, you are invited to...
— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Add Kim to Google+
— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter and/or YouTube follow
...and each action this month is good for one chance to win an ebook copy of Snow in July. Please enter often, and good luck!

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