I was toying around with the idea of making a series of articles called “101 Self-Publishing Tips.” I dutifully began compiling a list of tips, but after the first few dozen, I realized that a lot of them were not tips so much as thoughts, but still things that I felt were important to mention to those interested in self-publishing. Besides, I don’t know if I am really the one to be giving people tips. That would imply I know what the hell I’m doing. Also note that these thoughts reflect my personal experiences. Your own experiences may differ.
So here, presented one at a time as they occur to me and as I have the time to write them, are my 101 Thoughts on Self-Publishing. They will be presented in no particular order, but I’ll try to keep related thoughts flowing in a logical manner. I’ll try to do two or three a week, but I’m not making any promises just now.
001: Get Active on Social Media
If you’ve found this blog, chances are you came across it on social media. Why is this important? Well, you now know my name, and if you look to the right of this page you know the titles of my books. Even if someone who finds you the way you found me isn’t initially inspired to buy your books, that name recognition builds valuable word-of-mouth potential. When a friend recommends a book, having heard of the author provides an addition “authority”–nebulous as it may be–and a reader is more likely to act on that perceived authority. Even if they’re just scanning titles on Amazon, your book will stand out if the readers thinks, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of him/her!”
Social social media is great for two things: getting your name out to the public and building relationships, both with other authors and potential readers.
Now, social media can either be a blast or a pain in the ass. It can either be valuable time spent marketing and networking, or it can be a black hole into which all your hopes and dreams are relentlessly sucked. But for a self-published (and even trad-published) author, it is an essential part of getting your books in front of eyes.
I am personally active on Twitter and Facebook.
With Twitter, you can do a lot of things in 140 characters: greet new followers, share jokes and random thoughts, compliment and congratulate other writers on their books, etc. Even so, I find the format annoyingly limited. It’s difficult to have a true, relationship-building conversation on Twitter. But it’s great for making connections that one can later pursue on Facebook or via email, and I have met some wonderful friends that way. Promoting your book on Twitter is important, but be sure you spend at least as much time posting things not so obviously self-serving. Triberr is a great program by which you can post links to others’ blog posts and they in turn will post yours. It keeps your content varied and ensures that you’re posting a lot of information that is not directly leading back to you. Just be sure to limit the number of groups (called Tribes) that you participate in, or Followers can get overwhelmed by your constant Tweeting. More on Triberr in a future post.
Facebook is great for building on the relationships you’ve formed on Twitter. Since you can get across a lot more information than you can on Twitter, it’s also best for sharing quotes from reviews, updates about your releases, or even just sharing the things that are going on in your life. You can also make a “page” on Facebook for people to like if you don’t want your private Facebook account to be public. This does, however, limit the flow of conversation as you won’t see the posts of people who have liked your page; you can’t engage with them by commenting on the things they post.
I’ve met some authors on Facebook or Twitter who had one but not the other. By not using both, you are unnecessarily limiting your potential reach. There are certainly other social media sites, but I recommend all self-published authors get active on these two, at the very least.
There are also book-specific sites such as Goodreads. I’m not as active there as I could be, but just by having an account, I get tons of friend requests. As mentioned above, those are people who are learning my name and the titles of my books, and that has powerful potential. You can also announce events such as book giveaways, contests, new releases, personal appearances, etc. Even if you don’t do a lot on Goodreads, I recommend keeping your account up to date by adding all new releases. It’s just one more place for people to see your books.
If you enjoyed today’s thoughts, look to the sidebar on the right and you can follow by email to receive notices when I have new posts and also join the site with Google Friend Connect. If you have additional thoughts or observations, I’d love to hear them! Just leave a comment below.
All the Best,