Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As regularly occurs at writers conferences, while I was at Mount Hermon, I heard again and again the importance of an author partnering with his/her publisher in marketing. What stood out to me this year is that publishers realize it isn’t enough to be engaged in online social networking but to be smart about it.
Connecting to those who share your passion and interests is an important element of teaming with your publisher. It’s no longer enough to say you have a certain number of social connections; nowadays publisher expect you to use those connections with savvy.
One small way in which you can do that is to comment regularly on blogs. I know that seems like a minor contribution, like a tickle of water into an ocean, but let me recount one story from the conference that might give you a slightly different perspective.
Brian Carroll regularly comments on our blog, and I’d noted that his responses are intelligent and insightful. So I was delighted one evening when he chose to sit at the table Wendy Lawton and I were hosting. I had, as a matter of fact, just approved a blog comment by Brian a few hours before we sat down to eat.
Because of his regular presence on our blog, Brian had an advantage over everyone else at the table. He was already known to us. While we were meeting everyone else for the first time, Brian seemed like an acquaintance even though this was our first face-to-face encounter.
What are you doing to headline yourself in social networking that could set your apart to an agent or an editor?
I’m glad to hear that tip. As a blogger, I love to get comments, but I had rather assumed agents and publishers had little time to pay attention to comments on their blogs. This is good news. The only thing I’m really doing right now is trying to stay positive in every comment, status, and tweet. My goal is to publish His praise in my work, as the psalmist says. I can’t do that by complaining about the government, my work load, the price of coffee, or the lack of sleep I had the night before.
I’m curious if you would have felt that same connection with someone who tweeted back to you on twitter.
I’m on facebook and twitter but I don’t use either of them. I like blogs because I like to mull things over and I don’t think in 140 character bursts.
But every time I have gone on twitter, there is one person I love to read. Do you follow Katy McKenna? Every time I see her on Twitter I think, “She’s using this well.”
She’s smart and funny and she gives several tweets in a row that tell an entertaining story. If she ever publishes a book, I’ll buy it because I’ll know she’s going to entertain me.
I have an editor friend from a reputable publisher, who shall remain nameless here, who encourages me to remain “different” and to continue to write “real”.
I’m not particularly “endearing” myself to professionals because sometimes I feel their instructions to writers appear to be rule-oriented and, honestly, canned. A rebel at heart to that sort of thing and to predictable, formulaic writing, I guess my respectful disagreements at times tend to stand out because the only thing I have to my “credit” are two self-published novels which only makes most people shake their heads like “Who does this illiterate, self-published woman think she is challenging REAL professionals when she can’t even get her novels published by a REAL publisher?”
I have some wonderful author friends in the biz who I pray for and who pray for me. That’s a good thing.
There is a quandary to social networking. At one extreme is the overly-familiar carney; at the other, Uriah Heep; and in the middle lies polite, professional obscurity. 🙂
Maybe the thing that makes the difference is a sense of appropriate timing–to neither rush nor to lurk too long, but to allow sincere relationships to develop naturally. That can be hard when you’re eager to move to the next level.
Your article mentions some qualities that make a favorable impression (intelligence, insight, longevity). If I may turn the question, what specific networking techniques do you see as most effective?
Teri Dawn Smith
I do comment on blogs, and I try to do it in a real social interaction in responding to the blog or asking a question. I try to make my communications on twitter and facebook a combination of real life issues, things that inspire me, and writing related comments. (I don’t write about what I had for breakfast!) I’ve joined in with other writers in a blog geared to teach homeschool students about writing fiction. I’m also on the editorial board of Susan May Warren’s new E-Zine called Voices.
Are these the type of things you’re speaking about?
Kathy N., I know all of us bloggers at Books & Such like reading the comments–and often respond to them. We’re not just writing posts to express our opinions but to hear others’ as well. It’s a dialogue.
Sally, tweeting is harder to establish a connection, but I do have individuals who regularly name me for Follow Friday or who often respond to a tweet. I don’t feel as close to them, but they have gained name recognition with me. I’ll have to follow Katy McKenna. I enjoy following Patsy Clairmont, who often posts witty sayings or something sassy. And Maureen Johnson is clever in her tweeting because she talks to Twitter as if it were a person. Her tweets are full of personality.
Nicole, I think you’re doing the right thing in just being yourself. As a “professional,” I’m always learning–and have been known to be wrong a time or two.
Lynn Dean, in response to your question about what networking techniques works, I’d say following Nicole’s advice of just being yourself, presenting yourself in a consistent way so that if I see you on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, I will have a sense of who you are. Unfortunately, some people look schizophrenic.
Teri, I’d saying your moving in the right direction with your social networking. The only thing I would add is what are you doing to establish yourself as a certain type of writer. If you write Southern fiction, are you working to connect with a community that loves Southern fiction; or if you write historical fiction, are you hanging with others who love to read historical fiction?
Thanks for all your great comments and questions!
I’m been involved with blogging, Twiiter and Facebook for years and only NOW have I really begun to understand how to do it effectively. For so long, I talked about whatever I wanted, mostly about my life occurrences. It’s never been as effective as it’s becoming now… I think it takes intention, core topic or direction, and a focus on others, not ourselves.
I haven’t arrived, but I’m on my way.
Am I the only one who has paid way less attention to my blog since I started Facebooking and Tweeting?
Is there a trend away from blogging?
Do publishers still consider it important?
Thanks for all the excellent info here.
Thanks for these great tips! Like Kathy N., I was encouraged to hear that editors and agents do pay attention to comments on their blogs. I know your lives are filled to the top of the paint can with responsibilities, and I admire you all for taking a personal interest in us.
Angus, thanks for the reminder to be other-centered in our social networking efforts. I really can’t abide folks who promote their writing nonstop, which is especially noticeable on Twitter. Those 140 characters can make a person seem very self-centered.
Bill asks a good question: Do publisher still care about blogging? ‘Deed they do. Any Internet device that brings your readers together is a powerful tool, as far as the publisher is concerned.
I know it can be overwhelming to try to build a community through these different options, and for those who need to direct their focus, don’t let the guilt get to you. Concentrate on a couple of ways to connect rather than being so diluted you don’t do a good job with any of the methods available.
When I first clicked on your blog about marketing my heart was beating a heavy warning. For me, the thought of marketing is a bit like approaching the end of a pier with concrete boots on my feet and a false smile on my face. But I CAN do THIS. Thank you for providing useful but not overwhelming information.
I’ve cut my blog commenting down tremendously the last few months… but I completely agree with you that commenting and networking is important! For me, I was overdoing it for a while, overachieving if you will and my writing time was suffering. So, with baby #4 on the way and my day job just as demanding as ever, I’ve decided that with the little bit of time I have, I need to focus it on writing and dwindle the “blogging/commenting” time to even less than before. Although, there are still times like now… when brownies are in the oven so I sneak in a comment or two!
Brian T. Carroll
Thank you Janet, for the wonderful encouragement.
I look forward to the Books & Such blog because it regularly stimulates a new thought and invites me to give some thought to a topic I might not otherwise have addressed. It would be nice if I could come home after a day spent chasing junior-highers back to their seats with enough energy to churn out 1000 words on my novel, but the reality is most days I have to call it a blessing to be able to craft one nice paragraph, or even one polished sentence. More than anything, responding to blogs or updating my Facebook status provides me that outlet, and some “adult conversation.” To find that someone out there appreciates those comments is the icing on the cake.
Janet Ann Collins
I comment on lots of blogs but usually not this one since I don’t get the posts until after 11:00 p.m. Pacific time. That means it’s unlikely that anyone will see my posts.
Crystal Laine Miller
I think this post clarifies the whole social networking thing for me (at last.) I’ve begun to notice trends with my own networked world. If I toe-out of what those who read “me” consider who I am, I get gentle admonishments.
Your comments, Janet, to your own blog entry are as instructive and thoughtful as the blog itself and I like the dialogue here (and have begun to recognize the others who regularly comment!) I didn’t think I was establishing myself as a “certain type of writer” with my social network and blogs, but maybe I am.
Great post and comments here on this!
I wonder if you’ll get tons of comments from desperate un-represented authors now.
I, of course, wouldn’t sink to that level….
Actually, I’ve been hearing/reading this recommendation from several different marketing sources and am having a good time reaching out. By commenting on or complimenting others on their efforts and expressions, I benefit two-fold – I help lift someone else up and I almost always find them stopping by my own blog to see who I am. It DOES take more time but in the long run, it’s worth it, I’m certain!
Something to consider is using Twitter and Facebook to direct others to your blog. I have been blogging for about 6/7 years now. My blog has evolved into more of a travel blog (Writer’s Wanderings)especially since I would like to pull my travel experiences into my fiction and nonfiction WIPs. Plus, everyone needs at least one good book to take on a trip so I also do reviews.
I use Twitter and FB to catch a reader’s attention. FB has an app called Network Blogs that will automatically post your blog post as a link with a picture as well. On Twitter I try to come up with a witty reference to my post and use TinyURL.com to shorten the URL address to fit in the 140 limit.
In between blog posts, I try to be entertaining or at least intelligent in what I put on FB and Twitter. You can use FutureTweets.com to schedule tweets ahead (comes in handy when we’re on the road). Hits on my blog have increased since putting all this into practice. Hope this will help others with the dilemma of trying to use time wisely.
Nicole, this is for you. I have fought a non-stop intense battle on facebook, twitter, blogs,Internet, all over the place to prove that self-published authors are not by any means second class authors, if anything they are to be admired for the courage in backing their book with their own money. How many traditional published writers would have the pluck to do that?
You are continuously told it is a rip off and the work is shoddy. I would like to challenge any traditional publisher to come up with a better cover for my “Rajput” than the one I provided. And how many history book writers have adapted themselves to what Rudyard Kipling says “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Indeed traditional non-fiction writers would turn up their noses as such in step with modern times educational innovations and stick to banging away at their facts until the cows came home. Shortly I shall do a write up of people who have bought my book in the US because here in Europe it won’t be available for weeks. But so far, far from being a rip off I stand to make a profit even at this early stage.
The only place it won’t sell is India simply because a day’s pay is worth a dollar and so I shall go and publish it in India myself so as to sell it on the Indian economy at one dollar because I already have numerous teachers who have asked to use it in their school.
This book which is destined to become the greatest achievement of my life, would not have been printed if I didn’t ask WestBow to do it. By the way any money the books earn in India will be used to set up a fund for the promotion of the English language among Indian authors.
Nicole, Never, ever again say self-published authors are other than authors in every right.
Thanks, Eva. May the Lord continue to bless and multiply your work.
Thank you Nicole, and I feel I should correct the last sentence as it clearly wasn’t you who said that phrase but it was said about you.
My last sentence of my previous comment should read:
“Nicole, never, ever let it be said self published authors are anything but authors in every right.”
Nice to have known you.
Think of audience. I know someone who has several Twitter identities based on audience. If you are speaking to readers about a book that is out there for example, tweet from a character of that book, as if that story was real life. Tweet to writers, if that is an interest (there is a whole genre that consists of helping people to write – it is huge!). Have a tweet identity that focuses on industry “professionals” that focuses on showcasing your intelligence and understanding of industry, etc. Facebook could be used the same way.
The caveat is this: if you spend too much time online, it will detract from your writing. Literary writing takes a LOT of time and effort.
Bottom line: Marketing is about connecting to readers. It is easy to connect to other writers, a whole different ball of wax to connect to readers. Think of your audience when you use social media.