Your online personality is part of your overall platform as an author. It’s an excellent interactive experience for you and your readers.
However, you can’t treat your online presence as a virtual billboard for your books. The biggest part of social networking is the social aspect. I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but you need to be active online. However there is a caveat.
Active means being a participant, not a spammer.
It’s a good idea to have accounts at all of the standard social networking sites.
Beyond those there are a few other book related ones you should join as well.
Amazon Author Central
Kindleboards The single best resource I have found for Indie Authors. (Just spend an hour combing through the Writers Café and you will learn so much about writing, promoting, getting reviews, etc… I wish I had found this resource sooner. )
Consider these all as places to interact with your peers and readers. Notice I said interact.
Remember, Don’t Be A Spammer!!
It’s ok to mention your books and the good things happening with them, but don’t make that the only thing you talk about. No one wants to read a thousand lines of
“My book is out.”
“I just released this book.”
“I sold a copy of my new book.”
“Did you know I have a new book out?”
“Have you bought my book yet?”
“Buy my book.”
It gets old really quickly. Constantly marketing yourself and your work in your status updates will cause people to start clicking “unfriend” to shut you up.
I was guilty of that in the beginning. And guess what, it didn’t help my sales at all. In fact, I lost followers when I did that.
I’m not saying you can’t mention your work, because you have to spread the word, but do it as part of your interaction with others, not as the intent of it.
If you’re on Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc… before you even think to post something about your work, go through your friends list and make sure you have given other people’s post time and consideration. You’re not the only one out there. Your followers are your audience and your potential readers. Keep them close. They are the ones who will (hopefully) buy your next book, you want them to know you care about them.
Here are a few quick Social Networking faux pas to avoid.
• Don’t directly ask someone to follow you.
There are millions of people online and it may be tempting to contact them and suggest yourself as a person of interest, trust me, don’t do this. Instead of coming across as cool and interesting, you come across as the type of person who will spam their friends daily with request of “buy my book.” Be interesting and social, toss out your screen name or twitter handle when asked, but don’t go begging for new followers.
• Don’t email or message strangers with advertisements for your book.
Just like the advice above, don’t contact random strangers or new followers and shove your book’s information under their noses. If someone gets to know you, they will naturally learn about your book. That’s a better sales pitch than the hard sell.
• Don’t use your social profile to only talk about yourself or your book.
Part of being social is the interacting. You are not interacting if you are just standing on your soap box screaming about your book.
• Don’t forget to proofread your posts. You’re an author, people will look at your spelling and grammar a little more harshly than they would any other average Joe. Put your best face forward and quickly proof your post before you hit send.
• Don’t use links in every post.
If all you post is links, you will be ignored very quickly. Just like with the last piece of advice, this is not interacting with your audience. Yes, it is ok to post the occasional link, but your purpose for social networking is to be part of the conversation, not someone who stops the flow and directs traffic away.
• Don’t post hundreds of updates a day.
Posting too little can be troublesome, but posting too much is worse. Instead of being creative and witty, your post become white noise among the throng of thousands of other people spamming the system. Only post when you have something worthwhile to say, otherwise, stick to commenting on your friends posts.
• Don’t pester someone who stopped following you.
There are many social “helper” sites out there that will let you see who is and who is not following you. If someone has dropped you as a “friend” there was probably a good reason for it. Either you were not interacting with them, they did not like what you had to say, or you spammed them. No matter what the reason, leave them alone. Pestering a dropped follower is a sure fire way to give you a bad reputation online!
Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, here are a few things you want to make sure that you actually do.
• Do join in the conversation. Did one of the people you follow say something witty? Respond to it. Get in on any good conversations that are happening. That’s the best way to be social and get to know your online friends.
• Do share funny links, videos, posts, etc… just do it in moderation. Remember what I said above, don’t spam the system.
• Do ask questions in your post to promote social interaction. I have found that asking the audience really gets people involved. I write about vampires and ask lots of opinions of my readers, wanting to know what they like and don’t. The questions result in tons of responses.
With Facebook, you have the ability to set up “Fan Pages.” This can be a great way for you to make a separate space just for your author persona and books. This would be the best place to post your book related news!
If you’re on Twitter, scroll down through the tweets and get involved in the interesting conversations going on, don’t just sign on to post your latest update.
Twitter is an interesting site which seems to have bred specific days where marketing and promoting are accepted. Take advantage of it. But again, Don’t be a Spammer!
#WW = Writer Wednesday (Don’t post your link, but link to other great writers. They might link you back and that helps you gain followers.)
Use #WW in front of a person’s @ name to tweet about them
#WW @ihateuncleshady – awesome guy. Check out his work.
(this is actually my hubby. But he's not a writer. He loves to post random craziness though.)
#FF = Follow Friday (Similar to Writer Wednesday, this is where you can post links to your friends. Again, don’t post yourself; this is to share the love. Often times, the people you link will link back to you, and this may help you gain followers.
#FF @ihateuncleshady – awesome guy. Check out his work.
#samplesunday (post a link to a FREE sample of your current work.)
Read the first 2 chapters of Karma & Melodies #SampleSunday http://tinyurl.com/6bv9rhj
Remember not to be a spammer here. One or two post spread throughout the day is ok. One post every 10 minutes is BAD.
Also, while I'm on the subject of posting your promotions, I would also like to mention that it's good manners to share the love. Do a bit of Re-Tweeting for your fellow authors too. Don't just make it all about you.
When I signed on to Twitter, I found an author group specifically geared to helping indie authors promote each other.
Independent Author Network http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/
Sign up here and be sure to help spread the word about your fellow indies, don’t just expect people to tweet about you. This is a collaborative effort.
Again though, I can't state it enough, don’t spend all day spamming twitter about yourself or other authors. The occasional post every so often is good. But ultimately you need to be interacting, not advertising.
It can be intimidating and overwhelming to think of all the Facebook-ing and Tweet-ing you might have to do to get your name and book out there.
One utility I’ve found to be helpful with this is
This utility can help you track followers, set automatic updates, and much more. It’s free for basic use and cheap for the "added features." Start with free though and see where that gets you.
The best use of this I’ve found is to automate your promotional post. I set up my weekly #WW, #FF, # SampleSunday, and Book-related post and then let the utility make the scheduled posts.
Again!!! Remember, do not be a spammer!! (Are you sick of me saying that? Too bad. It's very important.)
Scheduling the promo stuff takes care of my marketing and leaves me free to interact with people while I'm actually there on the website.
Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.
Available exclusively on Kindle!