If you're not a natural narcissist like me, you might find the online promoting thing a bit of a pain. To be honest, I have my moments. On the one hand I enjoy being artsy (note that that does not mean I have any skill at art, I merely enjoy messing around with artsy stuff like Photoshop.) On the other hand, I don't make money from creating stuff like this banner:
Which I'm only claiming responsibility for so you'll see why I write for a living instead of doing this sort of thing. (#StarvingArtist #Don'tQuitYourDayJobAsAStarvingWriter.) FYI, I've been waiting impatiently for my thirteenth cover so I could make this banner for my #Thursday13 posts.
Honestly, I could probably fritter away all sorts of time on the promoting side of writing. I don't hate it. There. I've come out of the closet and said it. I find tweeting and Facebook posts and blogging a nice cross-training break from the marathon that is the writing of a novel. You exercise different muscles. You can experiment without (hopefully) doing too much damage. Every little bit of promo helps whether it's great or so-so. You will benefit in some way, even if you're learning what you like and what you hate.
At least, that's what I tell myself to justify killing an hour on something that is not word-count.
But for new authors, or old-hats who shudder at the thought of tweeting, but are being press-ganged into it by their publisher, I thought I'd offer a few tips on how to streamline and make it less burdensome.
Surgeon General's Warning: This is strictly my experience. I am not a Twitter Doctor, nor a Facebook Expert. I know very little about algorithms or the best time to post or how to drive traffic to your website. I'm talking to the writer who has set up some social media accounts, knows they have to do something and feels like they're spinning their wheels. I hope this helps:
Don't Try To Do It All. Figure out the one or two you can do well. Facebook and Twitter have the most reach. Your blog gives you the most space and freedom. Instagram and Pinterest are visual. What do you like? How much time are you willing to spend daily? Weekly? I found that after I concentrated on building my skills with Facebook and Twitter, it became easier to coast and maybe spend fifteen minutes a couple of times a day on them. Now I have time to develop some facility with Instagram. My goal is to develop my presence on Pinterest and Google+, but I'm not there yet. Which leads me to:
Do Claim Your Name. At least take the time to make an account in as many places as you can. Claim the name you intend to write under, direct traffic to your website, and upload a photo and short bio. Which means you should:
Write Some Bios of various lengths. Write three or four and update them with your current titles and any awards on a regular basis. Have a couple in first person, a couple in third. If you write for different publishers, slant them to focus on those titles or genres. Take a day to prep these and you will thank yourself forever. Which is one way to:
Automate Repetitive Tasks. I would like to say I'm super good at this. I'm not, but when I do take the time to, for instance, setup a blog tour template, I am grateful down the road. Another example would be to pre-write tweets. I'm going to talk more in a minute about content and when to reuse tweets, but for now, just trust me. Pre-write some with hashtags and links then learn to cut and paste (right-click, Copy, right-click, Paste OR Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V. Mac users: Cmd-C, Cmd-V) You are so welcome.
Content: This is a #Thursday13 post in itself and I think I might make it into one. Look for that in a future post. For now I'll just mention that there is a golden rule that you should entertain, inform and reciprocate more often than you sell. This is pretty self explanatory, but I'll add that no matter what you do, you should:
Be Authentic. Publicity specialists will talk about brand here. ie: Post content that reflects your brand. I struggle with this. My tagline is Author of Sexy, Witty, Vibrant Romance. When I was working on this, I was thinking of going with Sexy, Witty, Edgy. I asked my daughter for her opinion. She said, "Witty is good. Can you maintain the rest?" Thanks, darling. But it was good feedback and the reason I say I write Sexy, Witty, Vibrant romance. Am I vibrant? So freaking vibrant it's blinding. Are all my posts Sexy, Witty, Vibrant? No. I hit share on things that make me laugh or think. My personal belief--experts may barf on this opinion--is that readers want to know who the author is. I try to be me. That's my real brand. Dani Collins. Experts can lump it.
Re-purpose Content. Or, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But not quite the way it sounds. Note: I had a website professional tell me to repost Facebook content every week to reach different segments of your followers, but I don't personally do this. What I'm talking about is quoting your own work and referencing past blog posts (as I did above with the link to setup a blog tour template. A lot of my tweets and Facebook posts are quotes from my books. I've already written those words. Why not use 'em? Eg. Good girl, Tiff. Keep biting back what you really want to say. It's not like that got you into these skin grafts. ~ The Ultimate Seduction. Every week when I write this #Thursday13 post, I cut and paste a bunch of stuff from recent posts about my contests and links to other excerpts. I review it before I hit 'send', often rewrite bits, but this allows me to Automate the inclusion of links and Reuse posts I've already written. (By that I mean I'm directing new visitors to content they may not have seen yet.)
Schedule Your Posts. This advice seems to fly in the face of being authentic, doesn't it? Many experts will call you a lying whore for showing up on Twitter when you are not really there. Here is the primary reason I use it: Time Zones. I schedule tweets to hit the airwaves so my Aussie and UK fans see my Mills & Boon links during their midday and my US fans get the ones with Harlequin and Amazon.com links. I schedule (Automate) posts like funny or inspirational quotes in the same way. Then I tweet and posts in real life about my day when something interesting happens to me. Like a mammogram. And by that I mean, I'm very boring which is why I post funny and inspirational quotes and not so much personal stuff.
Integrate Your Social Media Accounts. This is a bit of an advanced move, but it can be a huge timesaver and really help you Repurpose Content. Eg. One Instagram photo of my Author copies goes to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (I suck at Tumblr. Do not be impressed that I just name-dropped it.) I also then upload the photo to Pinterest. That sounds impressive, but it's not. It's also not hard once you set it up. The hardest part is remembering to do it. So look into this, talk to some experts (by that I mean teenagers), read some books. Here's my golden tip from what I've learned about integration: link Facebook posts to automatically post to Twitter, but Do Not automatically post your Twitter feed to Facebook. Clogs up the newsfeed. Facebook people hate that and will sent Sam and Dean after you with holy water and the special knife.
Post Regularly. This is where a lot of people whimper and scurry away. This does not mean you have to post every fifteen minutes. It means form a few social media posting habits. One of my first was #SampleSundays. I didn't have a lot of time for blogging when I was working full time and launching my writing career. I made a commitment to get something up on Sundays and it's usually an excerpt from an upcoming book. Yes, I repurpose content that's already written. Since it's a series of posts, I link to previous ones (cut/paste - it's not hard) and since it's regular, people know to check in for it. Go back up to the first item on this list if you're getting hives from the word 'regular.'
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.
A few weeks ago, my daughter baked a strawberry-rhubarb pie. I sent out a photo to the family to show off her skills. My dad responded with, "Remember when we brought you cake?" (Because they had showed up with some a few nights before and left it with us.)
Today, my mom sent through this photo of a peach pie she had baked. She's feeling competitive, I guess.
Photos are fun and colorful and if they have a cute story, they're a super-easy post. I've already Repurposed both of these into Facebook posts for a Facebook party being hosted by one of my publishers, Tule, for their Montana Born Fall Fair Series. I dropped the first one on Instagram and Pinterest and will likely follow up with the peach pie. Not sure if either of these pies is Sexy, Witty or Vibrant. They're personal, though. They are authentically mine via DNA. (Kind of. Pie-baking is one of those skills that skips a generation in our family.) I hope you are entertained. Or maybe inspired. I'm gonna bet, if nothing else, you're hungry.
BLOGGER IS EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
This blogging platform, Ghost, is really great until it's not. It just freaked out that I interruped my list with photos and a story. In order to get the #'s 12 & 13, I've had to change my formatting. tsk Bonus lesson with Social Media promoting: be flexible.
12 - Spend Some Time, Not All Your Time. I'll admit it. This post has taken longer than I meant it to. That's because I'm trying to be authentic and offer genuine tips. Sometimes you can get lost in the online wormhole. Expect that quality can take time--just like real writing!--but you will get faster the more you practice. Everyone hates doing something if they feel like they're bad at it. Be willing to do the work to learn and improve.
13 - Have Fun! Social media platforms are the online equivalent of church, the community hall and the grocery store. Sometimes you bump into people you know. Sometimes you talk to strangers. If you're troubled, it's fair to share your angst and ask for advice. But walking around saying, "I hate the world and everything in it" will get you about as many online friends as it does in real life. If you truly, madly, deeply hate posting online, then don't! Somewhere up there I mentioned experimenting without doing too much damage. If you are an authentic crabby-cakes then I give you permission to keep that off the air-waves.
Note: I pre-wrote this post before I went away. For some reason I didn't post it and I just started a different #Thursday13 today that began to look like A Lot Of Work. In an effort to manage my time better, I'm reviewing this and posting it. It's better now than it was. You're welcome.
Want a sneak peek at my next book? Here's a #SampleSunday for Hometown Hero. It releases Sept 29th at 99c for the first two days, then it goes up to $2.99.
Like free excerpts? You can find a snippet from my August novella, The Secret In Room 823 here. (Until recently, it was available in the UK as a lone title. In N.America it had to be purchased as one of five in The Chatsfield Boxed Set, Vol 2.
If you'd like a further demonstration of my cutting, pasting, and repurposing abilities, along with links to even more excerpts you might not have read yet, or information on how to win a signed copy of my print books and buy links for all my titles, please continue to read.
- Book Blurbs - for all five of my summer titles
- #SampleSunday - An Heir To Bind Them - Six consecutive excerpts from my June Harlequin Presents. Post includes links to the previous five.
- #SampleSunday - The Ultimate Seduction - fifth instalment from my August Harlequin Presents, includes links to previous. One more to go.
- #Thursday13 - The Secret In Room 823 (part of Mills & Boon's The Chatsfield series).
- #TeaserTuesday - Mastering Her Role - the first book in this Erotic 2in1 Collection. Includes links to previous.
- #TeaserTuesday - Playing The Master - the second book in this Erotic 2in1 Collection. Click on the #SampleSunday tag in this post and it should give you all the posts in that series.
I have a Goodreads giveaway starting Sep 23rd, but if you like free books, please join my newsletter for a chance to win a copy of my next print release The Russian's Acquisition. I always draw from my subscriber list.
Want to just buy one of my books?
These other fine retailers have my books too:
I hope I've helped a few people. Please do check back for another #SampleSunday from Hometown Hero this weekend. Cheers,