to reading. The goal is not only to gain readers but to convert readers into people who will sell your books to others (aka, your “Street Team”).
Julianne needs to save her creative energy for writing so she doesn’t have her own blog, but she guest blogs and goes after high-traffic sites. She suggested using a profile shot of your face on Twitter and Facebook.
Dan agreed that you need to devote your energy to writing, but that you can create dialogues, perhaps using certain themes from your books. Twitter forces you to do it in a short sentence. He also suggested asking questions and getting to know your audience. According to Thubten, Twitter is amazing. People will start talking about you and retweeting and all of it comes back to your Twitter feed, which can feed into Facebook, newsletter sign-up page, etc.... the wide end of the funnel.
One-star reviews on Amazon came up for discussion. Dan said that as a reader, he’d be suspicious of a book that has only five-star reviews, that a spread of opinions makes him think he’s making a better choice.
Barbara said the more successful you are, the more one-star reviews you get and that free book giveaways result in more one-star reviews as you’re reaching a broader group. According to Patrick, a sprinkling of negative reviews makes the positive reviews more believable. There has never been a book that everyone loves.
Though the goal of social media is to engage with readers, all agreed it was best not to engage with those who write disparaging reviews. Just let it go. No need to get a reputation for being grumpy. Patrick also advised writers not to complain. Half of social media is complaints. No need to add to that in your professional capacity. But that is no reason to be Pollyanna, either. That wears thin in a hurry.
Use tools that fit you and engage your audience. If you write cozy knitting mystery, not sure you’ll find that audience on cutting-edge social media. Julianne Skypes with book clubs and finds it a great way to have person-to-person interaction with readers.
Authors need to find creative ways to whet the appetite of their fans between books. Sylvia Day posts excerpts from her new book. There is no extra writing involved and they help move readers along from one book to the next.
The discussion turned to what social media outlets are being underutilized.
Dan said one of the most effective, free, and highly trafficked ways to goose visibility on Amazon is to create an author page through Author Central. It should include not only your bio and book list, but videos, photos, Tweets, and blogs hooked up via an RSS feed, and is an opportunity to engage in customer discussions via Q&A on the detail page. It’s an author’s footprint on Amazon. He suggested checking out Neil Gaiman’s author page for ideas. Authors have the ability to reach readers globally by setting up pages on each country’s Amazon page, and one can tailor them specifically to individual markets.
Thubten stated that most authors are not using social media well. Those who are doing so, are rising to the top. He mentioned Facebook, Twitter, Amazon profile, Goodreads, and basically having something everywhere to increase discoverability. The only thing worse than not having a blog is having a blog you are not paying attention to. Twitter is neglected, but it is easy because it has no formatting, just updates and only 140 characters.
Patrick wishes authors would use Goodreads the way readers use it because writers are the ones producing the interesting content. Few authors are doing updates and there are 12 million readers on Goodreads.
He encourages authors to write about what they are reading, to write reviews. He warned that it is a poor idea to trash books online.
Thubten said authors should decide what resources they have that will make the biggest bang for their bucks. Where is your audience? Do the minimum necessary to engage, then get partners to help.
Julianne suggested partnering with virtual assistants and with each other. She and Julie Ortolon promote each other’s efforts, reTweet each other’s Tweets, etc. She emphasized that there’s always room for improvement in social media, but the writing has to come first.
There was general agreement that booksignings only make sense at conferences, book fairs, and festivals where there is a critical mass of readers. However, a physical event, such as a book launch at a local bookstore, gives you some fuel for social media, a reason to talk about your book.
The panel agreed that the buzz happens when you have a new book coming out, so the most important thing is to write more books. Frequency of publications is your best way to get noticed. Continued on page 13