Social Networking 101

- by Vonna Harper

As Digital Content/Marketing Manager for Kensington Publishing, Alex Nicolajsen oversees all e-book related matters from production to promotion, as well as digital marketing strategy, creation, and implementation.  She is a graduate of Rutgers University, and lives near the beach in New Jersey.  Part of her job involves bringing Kensington writers out from under their desks and gives them motivation courage, and knowledge to social network.

As she points out, “Just about everyone today can see that digital content is exploding onto the scene.  Every day, there seem to be more advances technologically and more web sites dedicated to getting your thoughts out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.  Nowadays, you can find out that your friend is sitting on his or her couch watching a movie or cleaning the house.  People taking it to this extreme might make you wonder whether there is any use for all this or not…but when you’re an author or a publisher and you want the world to know how great your book is, using these digital platforms is essential. 

Kensington has embraced this new technology and new ways of reading, and given me the opportunity to help expand our presence in what is a growing arena for marketing and publishing—the internet and e-books.  Only a couple of years ago, the impact of the e-book was fairly small, with only a few tech-savvy readers taking advantage of this new reading phenomenon.  However, today, millions of electronic readers are out there, from the Amazon Kindle to the Sony e-reader to the Barnes & Noble Nook and now the Apple iPad, right down to internet-ready cell phones, and of course, laptops.  People are not only using these items to read, but in the case of their iPads, cell phones, and laptops, they’re using them to stay in touch with the latest information from an infinite variety of channels.  Using this vast resource to promote and sell books is becoming a key to success.

So, now, as an author, you’re wondering how you can get people to look at your books in particular and want to buy them.  Of course, there’s no way to guarantee success…but you can take steps to start bringing people closer to you and what you write.  The most important place to start is at your own web site.  When someone hears about you or your book, and they want to know more, they’re going to go to the internet for that information.  Allowing them to find it easily is essential.  Now you’ve got them at your web site, where they should be able to read more about all your books, perhaps enter a contest, read your blog, leave a comment, and perhaps most importantly, sign up for your e-mail list.  The bigger your e-mail list, the greater reach you’ll have when you want to blast out information about your upcoming books, signings, exclusive material, or anything else you want to share with your readers.

The next thing you can do…which is also very important (and excellent because it’s free)…is to start a Facebook Fan Page.  There are a lot of authors who have regular Facebook friend pages, and while this is a great way to keep in touch with your close friends and family, it’s not necessarily the best way to promote your books.  A fan page will allow people to simply come to your page, see all your material, and click “Become a Fan” without having to go through the process of requesting to become your friend.  In addition, you get more information from a fan page through automatic reports—like how many people are viewing the page, how many new fans you’ve gotten, and how many “likes” and comments you’ve gotten during the week.  You can also link up your Facebook page to your “favorites” like your publisher, other authors or books, or booksellers.  This is a great cross-promotion opportunity, which I know is very important to a lot of authors, and as an industry professional, it’s very important to me too.

Another hugely popular site right now is Twitter.  As an author, it is important to get set up with a Twitter account to expand your fan base.  There are millions of users there who will want to follow their favorite authors in yet another arena.  Facebook is your stepping stone to social networking.  Once you’ve got your web site and your fan page up, you can begin to get your feet wet at Twitter.  Tweeting is particularly popular with industry professionals, so this is a great place to get additional buzz going about your books.

Lastly, it’s important to run promotions and contests through your website.  These increase the traffic you get, because we all know people love to win things—especially things from their favorite authors.  The prizes don’t need to be extravagant…they can be as simple as advance book giveaways.  This is a great promotion on two fronts.  First, it drums up excitement for you and your book, and second, it will promote early internet reviews at retailers and on personal blogs.  Again, getting buzz out there for your book is invaluable, and people who love to read generally love to talk about books they’ve enjoyed.  Another great perk of having contests is that you can collect the email addresses of entrants to expand your list.  The key to doing this is making it clear that they are opting in to receive further updates about you and your books.  It is important to make this clear, so you don’t end up losing your list to spam reports down the road.

So, there’s a lot going on out there digitally, and I’ve only touched on a few pieces.  Maybe you’re not ready to embrace all of it.  But I guarantee you that if you don’t have an internet presence, your fans do, and they’re waiting for you to come meet them every day!

5 comments

  1. Alex, you have no idea how excited I am about your position at Kensington. I started out as an epublished author in 1998, before anyone really knew what an ebook was, so I feel as if I’ve watched this technology develop from infancy. I had one of the first Rocket ebook readers–which I still think is one of the best because it was just so perfect to hold on to!

    However, epublishing is a mixed blessing for authors, as the problems with ebook piracy continue to grow worse. Do you see any hope of a solution to this? Will there ever be a way to control the theft of our books? It’s so blatant, I often wonder if readers even realize it’s wrong, especially when they write to me and complain about the poor quality of their stolen digital copies of my books!

    How can we, as authors, fight this, and what do you feel a publisher’s responsibility is in protecting digital rights?

    Thank you,
    Kate Douglas

  2. This was such an informative article … I tweeted about it :)

    Thanks for sharing your experience,
    Nancy Naigle
    Love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.
    http://www.NancyNaigle.com

  3. Thank you for a wonderful posting. I’ve been working at improving my promotional efforts and appreciate your suggestions.

    Joan

  4. Excellent question Kate. Piracy deeply impacts all epublished writers.

  5. While piracy is a big problem, I think that the benefit of e-books will outweigh this. E-books are reaching new and seasoned readers alike, and in my opinion, the more people we can reach with your books, the better. However, that being said, Kensington is working hard to combat piracy through efforts in-house, as well as with an outside company that patrols the internet for illegal copies of books. If you come across a link to an illegal download of one of your books, you can forward it to your editor, who will investigate further.