Blogger: Mary Keeley
Publishing is a complex business, and there is no end to the questions that arise along a writer’s career journey. Many of those I’m asked fall into two categories.
Why is involvement in social media so important? I just want to write.
I was asked that question again this week. To respond in a positive way that would motivate this author, I knew I had to begin with a recent history of the industry. It used to be that publishers assumed the major responsibility for marketing and promoting an author’s book. The marketing manager assigned to the book worked with the public relations department to synchronize the timing of press releases, distribution of review copies, and radio and TV interviews for the greatest impact. And they didn’t stop when the one-month window of opportunity ended after the book’s release. As we know, all that has changed since the economic downturn in 2008.
As publishers shaved down their staff in efforts to keep their doors open, that responsibility necessarily transferred to the author. Many new writers I meet with at writers conferences or receive queries from still seem shell-shocked at this reality. That, by the way, communicates to an agent that those writers haven’t educated themselves about the industry and thus aren’t ready for representation. But I digress.
It isn’t only new writers who have this reaction to the new normal. Many midlist authors, those who were around to remember the days when their sole job was to write, are struggling to become savvy at utilizing social media effectively. Today 50 percent of an author’s time is devoted to actually write, while the other 50 percent must be invested in the business of attracting your audience and marketing your books. The advent of social media couldn’t have come along at a more strategic time for authors. There are no other means available to attract an audience as efficiently and economically from the convenience of your computer. But the greatest motivator in growing your following is that
Publishers use your social media numbers as an indicator of potential sales of your books.
When do I need to begin promoting my book?
I’m often asked this question as well. The short answer: as soon as you have a concept for your book. Talk about your topic or your novel, without giving away too much. Keep a record of those who are especially interested in your story or have some knowledge of your topic. Their comments will give you insights into what they, the audience you are attracting, want from your book. Invite them to be influencers when your book releases. At the same time, if you write nonfiction, research current published books and blogs on your subject and tweak yours to include fresh content or approach. Test it with your social media following and monitor the interest level.
Look for networking possibilities. For instance, if you plan to attend a writers conference, you’ll have opportunities to connect with other attendees. One client connected with a conference attendee whose husband is a radio host. My client met with him and scheduled an interview. That led to more promotion. The radio host works in media at a college. The students needed to practice creating video, so they used my client and the book’s topic. Out of that simple networking connection, my client was blessed with free YouTube videos. Be alert to networking possibilities and be quick to act on opportunities. Be sure to reciprocate in way you can.
For many of you I am preaching to the choir. This is old news to you. Thanks for reading through to the end of this post. Hopefully, it’s a refresher and encourager to keep on keeping on. I hope you’ll share an experience on your success using social media or with a book promotion effort. I am continually made aware there are many writers who still are new to this reality and will benefit from your suggestions.
What are the one or two most successful ways you have undertaken to grow your social media following? What networking or cross-promotional activities have been most successful for you?
Why is involvement in social media so important for writers? Click to Tweet.
Two frequently asked questions about the road to publication. Click to Tweet.