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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.

 

All the Little Birdies go: “Tweet, tweet, tweet.”

My social networking regime . . . 

LittleTweetaRecently, I attended a Self Publishing Conference at Leicester University where having a social networking presence was stressed. A number of attendees protested that they didn’t want to join Facebook or Twitter, the reply was blunt and to the point: no online presence = fewer book sales. Does tweeting, Facebook etc actually sell books? Is it worth the effort? The smart money says it is, but who knows.

Here’s my social networking regime and how it works for me.

First thing, I go through my iPhone, read and delete hotmail messages. After breakfast I migrate over to Facebook and post a personal status – with a photo if possible as I find that gets the most response. Then I go over to News Feed, check who’s on, leave a few comments and “share” any posts/ blog links I find interesting. Over the course of the day/week I check into the various Facebook groups I belong to: Write On Girls, Writers on the Same Page, Chick Lit Goddesses, Famous Five – join in conversations and leave a comment if possible.

Tweet2Later it’s over to TWITTER where I follow back new followers, retweet those who’ve retweeted me and go into my ‘hashtag’ groups and retweet there – FFP, ASMSG, BYNR and so on. Next, I put up three posts about my book which other tweeps can find and retweet easily. I usually leave a status about my writing or what I’m doing that day to give it a personal touch, using hashtags such as #romance #amwriting #amreading #debutnovel #fridayreads etc. It’s important to have those posts at the ‘top’ of one’s profile, otherwise tweeps lwill RT the first message they find and that might not be about me, or #Tall,DarkandKilted.

After lunch I return to Facebook where I put a brief message on my author page and reply to anyone who’s commented on my status. Every couple of days I do the same on the New Romantic 4’s author page – again, with a photo if possible. And in the evenings I check on @newromantics4 twitter page on my iPhone or iPad and respond whilst watching TV.

The New Romantics 4 have recently had a blog created for by Nettie Thomson (nettie@meldrummedia.com). It’s the responsibility of each member to keep their author page updated and, once a month, to post a blog about their writing. That makes it manageable. Nettie is also building a website for me which links into the NR4 blog; it includes a personal blog which will enable me to take part in events like THE GREAT BRITISH BLOG / NEXT BIG READ etc.

Last, but not least, I generally go over to Pinterest in the evenings and add photos to my various boards; other pinners follow and re-pin my photos. That means that they see my ‘writing boards’ which contain pictures and other themes relating to Tall, Dark and Kilted and my WIP.

Tweet1And that’s it. It might not work for you but it works for me. The secret I think is to have a clear routine and ‘bit and bob’ as the day goes round. I usually write in the very early morning, meet friends for lunch or coffee and then back to it in the afternoons. Having a smart phone (and a stock of photos on it) and an iPad makes all this so much easier as I can leave them set up for social networking while my WIP stays on the PC.

How do YOU handle your online presence?

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