Sunday, December 23, 2012

Self-publishing 101 (7): Social Media

A mandatory part of the marketing strategy is to have a solid presence online and promote your book through your social media. If you’re not networking a lot then you apparently don’t exist.

Website – If you want people to find your books all in one place, you need a website. On mine, I have a biography, description of books in which you can find my stories, a list of stories available online in various magazines, links to reviews, articles and interviews related to my writing, and ways to contact me. I’m changing the layout for every new release and so far it’s a nice hobby to have. I didn’t bother with a domain name and paid hosting, and I won’t until writing really starts to pay off.

Blog – I’ve had one since 2006. Now that I’m a public figure as a writer, I stopped posting silliness on it and focus mostly on promoting my work. Don’t worry, sometimes silliness still slips through. I know many self-published writers do much more, like guest posting and interviewing and spotlighting each other’s books, but I don’t have the time and energy for that. Aside from writing related stuff, I do a monthly post about my latest read books (I don’t reviews anymore), I might mention some music albums I liked or movies I’m excited about, travels and of course figure skating. I use Blogspot for blogging, but I also have a Wordpress account just in case. And if I dig deep enough, I think I still have a Lifejournal account, though I haven’t used it in ages.

Facebook – People spend a lot of time on Facebook so it’s good to have a Facebook fan page too in order to keep in touch with them. There are various lists with people willing to reciprocate Likes. The problem with this practice is that not all of them actually do it, and I find it very unlikely for other aspiring writers to buy your books if they’re the only ones who liked your page. Big numbers look good, though, and can fool readers. Unfortunately, Facebook started recently to ask for money to show your post in the subscribers’ feeds so I don’t see it going anywhere. It was good while it lasted, but I’m not going to pay for that! Another thing, if I haven’t heard of you outside Facebook, don’t bother sending me a friendship request. I’m trying to keep my Facebook profile private. Oh, and did I say I don’t like Facebook? I really don’t care to read about your frustrations, or what you ate for lunch, or you washing your floor and doing the laundry.

Twitter – I started with 200 peoples I followed that I was really interested in. I used to get all my entertainment news from Twitter. Once I started to follow back, the follower number blew up. Now I follow over 2,000 people with about just as many followers and my timeline is a mess. I know I should use lists, but I really don’t have time sort 2,000+ usernames. Twitter used to be fun. Now if I go check my emails, when I return five minutes later there are like 400 new tweets and I get discouraged just by seeing the number. Sometimes, some useful tweet catches my attention, but it doesn’t happen often. Feel free to tweet me, thought, I’ll be happy to tweet back.

Tumblr – It’s something in between a blog platform, Twitter and Pinterest. It’s mostly useful if you want to reblog other people’s posts, and there’s a lot of silliness on it. I have an account, but I’m not using it.

Google+ - It looks like a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and some other socializing platforms with a few extra features. Just like Facebook, I mainly use it to advertise my blog posts.

Pinterest – I spent about a week on Pintrest this spring, looking at pretty pictures. Then I realized I was wasting a lot of time that I could have used more productively. You can’t spend your life just seeing and feeling, you need to ‘think’ too. I didn’t close my account, but I stopped visiting it. Also, there’s that copyright issue that keeps nagging me, so now I only use it to advertize my book covers.

Linkedin – I guess it’s useful for people to get connected through it for business related matters, but for me at this point it would be just another account I would have to deal with, and I already have too many so I skipped this one. (Update: I received an invitation I couldn't refuse so now I'm on LinkedIn too.)

Klout – Don’t get me started on Klout! My goal in life is not to achieve online world domination, and I don’t care for my influence to be evaluated by some computer algorithms.

Book sites you might want to have a profile on:

Amazon – Make sure all your books appear on your author page, especially if your stories are included in story collections and anthologies.

Goodreads – Make sure all your books are listed and they’re also included in various lists.

LibraryThing – Same as above.

Shelfari – Personally, I like the interface better than Goodreads and LibraryThing, but due to the smaller number of features it seems to be less popular.

Bottom of line, I’m mostly active on my blog, with updates on Facebook and chatter on Twitter.

This concludes my series of self-publishing blog posts this year. Let’s hope I’ll learn some more about it before next Christmas. Until then, check out “Blue Moon Café Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks” (Amazon, Smashwords), discounted from $2.99 to $0.99 during the holidays, and let me know what you think.

Oh, and check back tomorrow for a little early Christmas present. ;)

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