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Social Networking – Does it really sell books?

 

IMG_0952Any teacher will tell you that some children get a new concept first time. But for most children a new concept has to be presented in a number of different ways before they gain full understanding. This is referred to as ‘the spiral of learning’ (i.e presenting the same piece of information in as many visual and kinetic forms as possible. This is just as true when we are attempting to bring our novels to the attention of agents, publishers and readers.

Consciously or unconsciously we are applying a method known as The Reticular Activating System.

Pay attention (!) Here’s the science part – The Reticular Activating System acts as a filter for all of the sensory inputs we receive. It decides what is and is not important and what we need to pay attention to. Otherwise, we would suffer from information overload. The ‘filter’ sits between the subconscious and conscious minds, and is programmed by the conscious mind. It is this ability to filter information which makes the Reticular Activating System so important in achieving our goals.

Boot Camp Bride bus shelterThe short version: to make YOUR novel stand out from the ‘crowd’ you need to get your name and book title across in as many different forms as possible so that it ‘sticks’ in people’s conscious minds. I know this works because when I attend conferences, book fairs and writing events (wearing a name badge) I am often approached by other writers who ask: ‘how do I know your name!?’

How do we achieve an on-line presence?

I believe through some of the following . . .

Blogs

  • updating your own blog and/or guesting on other blogs
  • following favourite blogs, ticking ‘like’, ‘sharing’ blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In
  • by sharing through these media your profile, avatar and/or your novel thumbnail will, hopefully, appear in different versions of internet ‘paper.li(s)’ out there – for example The Famous Five Plus, thus widening your appeal
  • through activation of SEO (search engine optimisation); every well-aimed click and share will have an impact on your place on the social network rankings

Twitter

  • ensure that your avatar and your profile on Twitter publicise your novels
  • don’t forget to include links to your books on amazon etc (using viewbook/bytly/tinyurl shortened links
  • ensure that your tweets are a mixture of things about yourself, your writing, use trending hashtags; don’t forget to promote other writers generously
  • promote your novel by quoting a review/ or dialogue from your novel in your tweets
  • make the potential reader want to download your work by utilising hashtags such as #Fridayreads. #amwriting, #Mondayblogs and genre specific hashtags to bring more traffic (and potential readers) to your door
  • widen your net of social contacts – don’t just befriend writers, befriend readers, too. I’ve made lots of friends on twitter and they have loyally downloaded my novels and left reviews
  • don’t forget to thank people for promoting you and ALWAYS return the favour

IMG_0220Facebook

  • have your own page where you engage with potential readers, many of whom will go on to become your friends. I try to include a photo in my status updates as this draws friends to my page.
  • minimise your ‘writer news’ on this page otherwise people switch off and unfriend you
  • join some of the many sub groups and dip into them once a week or whenever to talk about your writing and establish a friendly Facebook presence
  • build up an author page(s) and LIKE others’ pages when asked. Don’t be shy about asking for LIKES to be reciprocated. It takes a long time to build up these kinds of relationships
  • I try to post something every day on my author page, not only about me and my writing but about other authors, too. @sharing’ other author’s posts works well in this case, too.
  • I find that Facebook friends like to read about your pets. When it was my parrot’s birthday in February he got over seventy ‘happy birthday’ messages (!)
  • join in with Facebook ‘events’ you’re invited to, even if it’s only to leave a passing comment. SEO comes into play with every click.

Consider joining Watt Pad, Instagram, Goodreads and Tumbler etc to get the message about you and your books ‘out there’. Build up your social networking presence gradually, mix it up, be creative. You’re in charge, so make it work for you – – – and remember the Reticular Activating System and utilise it. It’s a scientific fact.

I’ll leave you with the million dollar question:

Does social networking help to sell books?

The jury’s still out – but I believe that (as an indie author) having a social networking presence has helped me to bring my novels to readers’ attention. Finally, I would just say to any unpublished authors out there that, while your time is your ‘own’, get your social networking ducks in a row. When publication day arrives, you won’t have time to establish contacts, develop friendships and ask potential readers to buy your book – you’ll be too busy using social networking to get word out about the marvellous book you have just written.

 

What Every Reader Wants

What do readers really want – a reader’s point of view

Sarah Houldcroft with Boot Camp BrideI am delighted to welcome Sarah Houldcroft to my Blog today. Sarah, a Goodreads Librarian and Virtual Assistant for authors, tells us what she thinks our readers want from us.

‘You are so lucky – I would love to write a book’

How many times you, as authors, have heard that phrase, I wonder.  Perhaps you smile and think to yourself: ‘God, if she only knew the hours and hours of stress, torment and sheer hard work I have had to go through…’  But we, as readers, don’t know.  We simply cannot comprehend, it is not important to us.  All we see is the end result and the author becomes a special gifted individual who can reach down into her soul and haul out people and feelings, emotions, happenings, and create a whole new world for us.

photo 2For the booklover, the reading experience begins way before the first word in the book.  These days with so many more opportunities to read, the first question may be ‘How am I going to read my next novel?’  Paperback, Kindle, tablet, phone, PC?  For me, there is nothing better than holding a printed book in my hand, the feel of it, the smell of it, even.  And that wonderful action of turning the page to discover what happens next.  However, there are an awful lot of booklovers who now just read books on their Kindle or other e-reader.  Makes sense, you don’t have to lug an extra suitcase with you on holiday just to transport the books you want to read over the coming two or three weeks.  Easy, a click of a button online and you can start reading, no need to wait for the post to deliver your next read.  Personally, I am torn between the two methods.  I do have a Kindle which is particularly useful when I am reviewing books for authors abroad as they can just send me a digital file and away I go.  But, as I said before, my true love is the printed book, of which I have hundreds and hundreds.  I am not alone either, although millions of ebooks are downloaded every year, the printed book is still managing to hold its own.  But as readers, we like to be given the choice of how we read our next novel.  So the more formats in which you make your book available, the better.

Regardless of the format of our next read, if we don’t know what to read next, or a friend has not recommended an author or book then odds are we will end up on Amazon.  And that is when the next phase of the pre-reading experience begins.  What to choose?  Ok, we may have a particular genre in mind which could narrow it down, but with so many books to choose from these days we will be scrolling down the list at some speed until a book cover catches our eye.  Yes, the old saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ doesn’t quite hold true these days.  If we don’t like your book cover we will pass over you and keep scrolling and that applies to print books too.

Scott Pack, a former Waterstones buyer sums it up quite nicely here http://completelynovel.com/self-publishing/writers-toolbox-cover-design  and offers some useful tips for authors to consider.

Katie Fforde's Book Signing at Mk Harborough 024 copyOf course, the one really wonderful thing about having a printed book is that we booklovers may be lucky enough to have the book signed by the author. This is so exciting for a reader, particularly if we have actually met the author in person which is an incredible experience in itself.  This is something that ebook producers have considered and it is now possible to have an ebook ‘signed’ by the author too using https://www.authorgraph.com/

These days the reading experience doesn’t necessarily have to stop once the book has been read. Traditional publishing tended to keep the author at arm’s length from the reader, unless they were lucky enough to attend a book signing.  These days with social media, websites like Goodreads.com and the explosion in self-publishing, authors can be far more accessible and that is what readers like.

photo 1What Readers Want to Know

  • what inspired you to write your novel?
  • how, why and where do you write?
  • have experienced first-hand any of the aspects in your books?
  • did you base your character on a real person
  • if so, was it you?

I think booklovers have always thought these questions, but have not had the opportunity to ask until recently.  And now we can, we want more.  Yes, we will respect your privacy, but we want you to reveal more than just the contents of your latest novel.  The author who embraces this new way of doing things, particularly the self-published author, will always win out over those who prefer to keep their distance.  They will turn their readers into raving fans who in turn will review their books and talk about their books and encourage others to read their books.

READERS – do you agree?

**Sarah Houldcroft is proud to be an Author’s Envoy and particularly likes to promote self-published authors.  She offers services to authors to help boost their online presence through www.vaforauthors.com and her new website www.authors-uncovered.com which will be a place where authors and readers can connect, read, write and share.  She lives in Leicestershire with her teenage son, two bunnies, an aging gerbil and hundreds and hundreds of books!

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