Facebook. . as an author your friend or foe?

Facebook logo in words

Friend or Foe?

This post may rattle some cages, but that’s okay.   Controversy oft makes for good journalism.   Facebook, the hugely successful, social media platform can be an author’s friend or foe.   There are many advantages to utilizing Facebook as an author.    Mainly, it gives you a free platform to post a fan page, a small Indie press page, even individual pages for your book.    Free is great.   Electronic exposure even better.   But you have to understand Facebook’s limitations.   Unlike Twitter, not everything you post is going to be available to all of your friends at the same time.    In fact, some of your “friends” may never see your posts at all.

Despite how public or private you make it, Facebook randomly determines which “friends” it thinks should see your material.   Example, you may have close to 500 friends or fans, but not all of your posts will populate their newsfeeds.    You can customize your newsfeeds, in order that your material is seen frequently by key people posted, but many folks on facebook do not take the time to choose these preferences.   The Harvard Business Review posted an interesting article on this fact.

Another drawback of Facebook is legitimacy.   Anyone can post almost anything on Facebook.   It’s validity, however, may not be guaranteed.   Prime example recently?   The Morgan Freeman death hoax.    Many received notice via Facebook newsfeeds that Morgan Freeman had died of an abdominal aortic anuerysm on Sept 6th.  Within minutes, like rampant wildfire,  Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts.  There even was a RIP Morgan Freeman page on which thousands posted memorials, retweeted, and reposted on Facebook.  Interestingly enough, despite Morgan Freeman’s publicists’ staunch and very public denials that he was alive and well, this rumor persisted for more than seven days!     Yet, no major news outlet was reporting the story.

Point?   Many people rely on Facebook as their official report of news.  They don’t bother to check out their sources before reposting like wildfire on the gossip grapevine.    Reliable news sources simply were not verified.   Folks were just keen to “share” the juicy gossip.   Thus, the danger of facebook.    Not one of these people who tweeted and fb’d bothered to check a real news source prior to hitting “share” or “like.”    The problem with that?   Rampant gossip without validation of fact.    Wendy Bauder, a columnist for the Independent Voice warns that frivolous facebookers will end up eating a lot of crow.

How does that harm you as an author?    Another case in point,  the Lend Ink debacle.   Lend Ink was a legitimate lending site.   But when a few fearful and uninformed facebookers grabbed hold  accusing them of piracy of their ebooks,  Lend Ink was dismanted within days.  Many were  guilty of not checking their facts.   As backfire, bloggers launched an counter assault.   Many authors as a result, negative reviews that cannot ever be removed were posted on author’s Amazon and Goodreads pages.

The same wildfire inflation occurs with mutual author “like” pages.    Authors go down a list and randomly “like” everyone’s Amazon, Facebook, and website pages.    As an author, you are working to establish your brand.  By randomly “liking” each book posted on these pages,  you are watering down your brand and word.    Be careful!!  Only “like” books which you are sure are well written.    Also, only “like” books which are in line with your brand.    A woman’s Christian fiction writer certainly wouldn’t want to be “liking” a sadistic slasher novel.   You get the idea.

The concern with all of this?    Superficiality.    Authors should indeed support authors.   As small Indie press authors, you could be at risk to water down the Indie press brand.    Only back quality!    But remember, first and foremost, your buying public are readers.

Make sure you are spending your time wisely on Facebook, doing what you can to research and find means to reach and grab the fleeting attention of your readers.    Book clubs,  genre specific events.    Unusual places to do book signings.   That is where your time would be well spent.   In the end, that genuine word of mouth pathway will make all the difference in the success of marketing your book.

Unfriending, unfollowing, unsubscribing. . . what gives?

Tortoise with Tweet sign on shell

Slow and steady wins the race!

So you’re in writer’s marketing high gear.   You’ve set up your blog.  Tweeted and twittered.  Facebooked, liked, and followed.   You’ve read the marketing tips, blogs on social media success, tips on tweeting.   Smile on your face, you are surfing the social media maze.   Mail Chimp geared up, you’ve drafted a slick newsletter proclaiming your worthiness and upcoming events.    Poised, polished and ready to hit . . . . send.   Click.

And then BAM, your friend unfriended you.   Your follower unfollowed.  Your co-worker unsubscribed to your email blast.   What gives?   All that work.  All that energy.   How could they?  Why would they?  Why would they hurt your feelings so?

In a recent Forbes article, Eric Limer writes “Most of the time it’s due to offensive comments, or the fact that you were never real friends with people in the first place. But you can also get cut off for updating too frequently or too infrequently. If it makes you feel any better, “physical attractiveness” and “increasing friend count” rank 4 and 5 on the list of reasons to friend people in the first place, so you’re probably better off with fewer friends in that case.”  He goes on to list the following top six reasons that people unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe as:

1.  Offensive comments

2.  Don’t know you well

3.  You are trying to sell something

4.  You make depressing comments

5.  You don’t interact much with others

6.  You make political comments

Diana Adams, a social media blogger concurs.  In addition, she confirms that too much self promotion, obvious automation, being offensive, posting too many hashtags, and not driving real conversations are all doomsday for tweets.   Don’t be a used car salesman.   Sure, it takes about three or four points of contact before someone will make the connection and buy your book.   That is why follow-up is important.   Just don’t overdo it.   Pay it foward through promotion of others work as well.   A tweet or blurb about a book is always more powerful when it comes from someone other than you.    It’s more genuine.

So, it is essential that you create a blog, facebook page, and twitter page that present the brand and image that you want to show positively.   Keep your snide and downer comments in your personal diary.  Far, far away from your reading public.    As a writer, promo perky as you try to be; the rejection can be tough.    You put in hours of work and effort to have your neighbor down the street, click UN-     Harsh!

Balance your time with social media.   Don’t let it overwhelm you.    Writing is your gift.  Make sure you are giving it enough time.    Set a time limit for your social media and don’t let it drive you crazy!    Slap some Neosporin on your war wounds and just keep going.  Let the momentum build.   Slowly, but surely.  In the book marketing game, the tortoise wins the race.

Rollercoasters of praise and rejection, which one will you dare to ride?

Huge rollar coaster at Six Flags Texas

Ride the waves of your writing career!     Being a writer, is not unlike being a bipolor, manic-depressive.  Would you not agree?   One minute, you are full of emotion, supercharged with motivation, and typing away furiously on the computer with your latest story idea.   The next, you are staring at the computer wondering why no one has like your brilliant tweet or blog post.    Can you relate to this juxtaposition?

Many writing coaches and publishers will tell you, the writing is easy.  It is marketing yourself and your work that is the killer.   It is flat out exhausting.   Tweeting, facebooking, links, and hashtags.  Talk, talk, talking about your book to grocery store workers, women at the salon, book clubs, book signings, and book festivals.   Seemingly, there are not enough hours in the day.     This constant demand on your time can fuel the rollarcoaster of emotions.   You, like your public will find that you vassilate between self confidence and self-flaggelation.    You are not alone.

Recently, there was a presentation at the Lexicon Writer’s conference entitled, Marketing your business on a shoestring, by Julie Hall, owner of Custom Websites 2 Go.    She talked about the importance of getting the word out there constantly about your book, especially with the short attention spans of your potential buyers.    At some point, you might consider investing in a service that would help you automate your tweets and generate connections for  yourself.   If you are Twitter naive or Facebook naive, take a course.    Only you can make your facebook and blog postings personal.    But at some point you have to care for yourself too.    Research and invest on small business that specialize in promotion of writers.  Several have been mentioned in previous posts (Ralphs Designs and DeliAskthepublishingGuru; AuthorMedia).

In utilizing these specialized services, they can help extend the connections that will make an impact for your book and your sanity.   The hard part is patience.  It can take from three to six weeks for the results of your marketing to show.   Not every effort, or blog post, or tweet will “go viral.”    Don’t you secretly wish they would?   But stay the course.   Keep putting one foot in front of the other.    Pay it foward by supporting other authors.    Like pages you really like!   Retweet posts that mean something to you.   But be genuine!    Establish your voice and brand.   Don’t just “like” to “like.”    Make those followup phonecalls;  log those book signings and book festivals;  and keep on writing.

The waves of emotion come in whether your book or poem is praised or rejected.    You surf to Amazon hoping to see likes, wait on baited breath to see your book review,  or eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s after reading a not-so-positive review.    One minute you are being praised at a signing.  The next minute no one opened your mass email containing your book reviews.    It happens.

The biggest lesson, which is the hardest of all?    Don’t be afraid of the big coaster.    The journey up it can be terrifying, but the payoff for your efforts is a huge, exhilarating high at the end.

Top five social media links you don’t want to miss!

Wagon full of social media logos facebook twitter youtube

Is your bandwagon full?

Just when you think you are hitting the wall, BAM!   A great networking site proves to be gold.   The World Literary Cafe, both their website and especially their group facebook page  are just platinum!    This site is for authors who are genuinely supporting authors.  There are plenty of sites that say they support authors, but come to find out the TLC comes with a  $$ price.    The synergistic networking that takes place immediately on signing up at World Literary Cafe just cannot be beat.

Traffic to my website AgeView Press, blog, twitter and facebook accounts increased exponetially in a week!    Thanks guys!    You really rock.   In surfing to the World Literary Cafe FB you will find discussions happening live with answers to many common issues within Indie Publishing.   There is a force moving!   The Indie world started as a ground swell, but expect it to surge to tsunami status.

Here are the Top Five Social Media links for today that you don’t want to miss!

1.   World Literary Cafe     Super discussions.  Author links.  Book reviews.   Fab networking gold!  Slogan?  #sharethelove4authors

2.  Reviewer Roundup on Facebook       Great place to find a jumping off point for your virtual book tour.

3.  Kobo     Now accepting Indie published ebooks with a 70% royalty!

4.   The Bookseller.com    This is an article published just recently.  Evidence of the movement.  AM Heath  now supporting Indie authors!!

And the top link of the day which made the day worthwhile?

5.  The Online Converter         A way to convert your books and other files to epub for FREE!  That’s right.  FREE!

Enjoy and thank you for visiting.   Please share and link this page for your fellow writers and friends.   Don’t forget to follow on Goodreads !

As an Author, are You a Peacock, a Mockingbird, or a Hawk?

showy peacock

All show and no substance?

As an author, think about this question.   Are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?  You might be asking yourself what birds could possibly have to do with being a writer?   But let’s take a closer look at all three.  See if you can identify with some of these characteristics, because their are more similarities than you might imagine.   Bet you will be surprised.

Peacocks are pretty, to be sure.   Colorful, flamboyant, and decorative.   But even though they are showy, if you look closely at the feathers of their brilliantly, vibrant tail; there is not much substance there.    Peacocks fan out their tales to be noticed.   At first, it is impressive.  Then you realize that underneath all that show,  is nothing but air.    Is your writing all showy?   Are you writing darkness and gloom because of the popularity and success of Twilight or Amanda Hocking?   Are you running raggard to attend every literary event?  Facebooking and twittering all over social media without anything real to say?  Or are you writing what you are good at writing?  Great stories with substance.   Tales that have a beginning, middle, and end.   Characters that have depth.  Locations and plots that have been researched and carefully plotted out.    Good covers are great, but it is the quality of the pages inside that count and will make people come back for more.

Mockingbirds, on the other hand, never stop squawking.  They twitter, and tweet a variety of chirpy tunes.   Short, loud, bursts in every possible call song.  Never sticking to one, just repeating what ever else they have heard around them.   If you listen to them, it becomes apparent  they are trying to attract attention from every angle.    From anyone who will listen.  First this tune, and then that.   Frustrated and fragmented that no one is paying them heed.    So, they change tunes, mimicking some other melody.  Some new authors know they want to write, but can’t find their own voice.   They chirp from this to that, trying to find their niche.   Slow down.   Find your true voice.   Then, sing it to the rooftops joyfully as your own brand.   Your unique author platform.    And stick to it.

Hawk sizing up a mockingbird

Sizing up meaningful tweets and twitters.

Now, consider the hawk.   Eyes on the prize.    Quiet and still as he calculates just the right moment to seize and capture.    The hawk sizes up the situation, calculates the risks, and strikes to take action.    At first glance, he may appear to just blend in, but on careful inspection, you will notice this intricate, exsquisite patterns woven within his feathers.   All aligned and symmetrical in attractive patterns.   Breast full of sustance with dynamic, sharp looking wings.  Proud, confident, and sure of who he is,  no need for overt showy-ness.   The hawk takes his time, hons his skills, and strikes with near 100 percent accuracy when ready.    Isn’t this the writer we all want to be?    Savvy about the business, sharp in our craft,  eyes on the prize, confident and patient, but fearlessly ready to strike when the moment is just right.     On some days, you may feel as an author that you vasilate between all three.    But try to stay focused.   Educate and train yourself on the literary world.    When you are ready,  be a hawk!

Are You Marketing Your Book by the Numbers?

lots of books in bookstore

Your book among the millions!

Several posts have been written about book marketing and yet, there is more to learn everyday.   In today’s ‘I want it yesterday’ mindset, having to wait for some distribution reports to post 60 days after the fact is excruciating!   Fans tell you, “I bought and love the book” yet, the author cannot see where.   It takes stamina not to shout,  “Where?  Where did you buy it?  Amazon, B and N?  Alternative book sellers?  Smashwords?  Where dang it?”

Recently, a very savvy book marketer, Jason Rutherford, otherwise known as the Publishing Guru gave some valuable insight to book marketing by the numbers.   For a fresh novel, six months is your target range.    By that time, if you are headed in the best seller category, your goal should be 1000 copies distributed.    About 1000 to 1500 is your critical mass, whereby enough people that have read the book will begin telling other people, “Read this book.”    Remember the message is “Read this book,” not buy this book.

A good word of mouth response with direct sales results follows this pattern.   For every 1000 people you contact, through blog reviews, personal appearances, book signings,  book festivals, public speaking and social media you should hope for a 1% return.  In other words, out of that 1000 people you tweeted, told, begged, borrowed and bribed to buy your book, you generated 10 sales.    For those of you into immediate, rapid rise to stardom, those numbers must be daunting.

A decent twitter following is greater that 100 real contacts.   Not generated contacts that mean nothing.  Industry contacts in the book world, writers, publishers, editors, and fab peeps including friends that will tell everyone about your book.  Twitter gold is 500 followers.  Twitter platimum 1000 followers who are looking to retweet your posts and links.   Again the goal?  Trafficing them back to your website or blog to give you credibility and a following.

Facebook stardom is 500 friends.  If you have more than that, you are well on your way.  Remember, however, that just because you post something in facebook, not all 500 of your friends are going to see it.   Therefore, the key is linking.   Make twitter, talk to facebook. talk to your blog.   And make your blog, blog worthy!   Don’t post just to post.

To check on how your book is doing,  a handy site is:   www.Bookfinder4U.com  There, you can see exactly what alternative channels and how many are selling your book.   Not actual sales, but distributors that have ordered from Ingram.   One of the reasons to like www.createspace.com is that even though you must patiently wait for sales totals, at least you get some kind of report.   Because some information is better than none.

So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, continue to write everyday.  Plan out your marketing strategy and put it into action.   With fortitude, practice and a little bit of savvy, you too can have the next NY Times best seller.