First of all, make social media pleasurable. It's just like exercise--you won't do it if it's something you dislike. You have to find the joy in it. I love books and writers, so sharing other's work feels good and natural to me. Before I became a novelist, I used to interview authors for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other publications, and now I do this for my own blog, or invite them to write as a guest.
But I also like to mix it up. Sometimes I'll share a meme, or a photo, or a funny observation. One of my favorite follows is my editor, Jim Thomsen. He takes gritty black-and-white photos and adds the hashtag #noirwhereyouare - sometimes these are tongue-in-cheek, other times a bit serious, but they're always entertaining.
Whether or not you use a tool like Hootsuite gets back to the pleasure principle as well. Does logging posts ahead of time feel fun, or like a chore? Social media can be a real art. I used Hootsuite for a client earlier this year, and it worked great for the clients' needs, but for my own promotion, I prefer not to use it. Posts scheduled ahead of time can feel a bit "canned," as they lose their immediacy, the feel that this is happening now, which is why social media is so powerful.
Rule #2: It's not always about you. Be a citizen of books, supporting other authors and their projects as much as you possibly can. You can't write fast enough to satisfy most readers, so between your book releases, encourage them to read the books of others: authors you admire, friends who've also gone down the publishing path, especially if they're writing in the same genre as you. If you don't know any other authors, join a writing association in your genre, such as Mystery Writers of America or Romance Writers of America.
I get it--there are only so many social media hours in a week, and you'd rather be writing. So when you jump on Twitter/Facebook/wherever, you only want to pump out what you have to, which is the news about what you're working on/releasing/promoting. But think about it from the other side: Who wants to listen to someone talk about themselves 24/7? After a while, no one can hear you anymore. Believe me, before I started evangelizing on this point, I was totally guilty of it. It took a social media expert to set me straight. Read all about that here.
Sure there are times when you have to tip the balance back to you, such as when you're releasing a novel. Your readers will forgive you for that like they forgive NPR during pledge drive (at least I hope - I just released a novel, so I really do hope that's true).
But this shouldn't go too far: If you're that author who retweets 50+ times a day without reading what you're retweeting, I will mute you. That's a promise. The key is balance. When I look at your Twitter account, I should immediately be able to grok who you are and what you write, but also what you're interested in. I want to see that you're part of a community of writers in your field.
Rule #3: Make sure you know how to engage online. This means knowing how the apps and accounts work, of course. I recently tried to team up with an author in my genre to promote each other to our readers on Facebook. I invited all 600+ of my friends to 'like' her public author page, and I also wrote a status update explaining that I'd sent my friends an invitation to like her page because I thought they'd enjoy her unforgettable villains and tight plots. She was supposed to return the favor. However, she sent her friends friend requests via my personal account instead. Her page likes grew by a huge percentage, but mine didn't! I made some new friends in the process, though, so it wasn't all for nought.
Part of being a successful online engager is to reciprocate. Too many people are all about themselves, so you get lots of noise but few actual connections. On Twitter, merely 'liking' a tweet is nice, but retweeting helps an author more. Follow back, reply to tweets, share and tag on Facebook, promote other authors' new releases. Don't be afraid, or too competitive. Jump in, be of help to others, and really join the conversation.
About the Author
Lisa was born in Santa Rosa, California, but that was only home for a year. A so-called "military brat," she lived in nine different houses and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. She read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother's books by Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell.
A widely published author, game writer, and journalist, Lisa has interviewed homeless women, the designer of the Batmobile, and a sex expert, to name just a few colorful characters. This experience, not to mention her own large, quirky family, led her to create some truly memorable characters in her Dreamslippers Series and other works, whether books or games.
Always a vivid dreamer, not to mention a wannabe psychic, Lisa feels perfectly at home slipping into suspects’ dreams, at least in her imagination. Her husband isn’t so sure she can’t pick up his dreams in real life, though.
With a hefty list of awards and publications to her name, Lisa now lives in a small town in Washington State, but who knows how long that will last…
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