I’m not just an #author. I now have a parenting, lifestyle and scribbling blog #writing #mblogger

Many of you will know that life has been pretty busy over the past year and keeping up with my personal writing blog has been far from easy. That’s not to say that I’ve stopped writing or blogging, altogether. I haven’t,  but committing to a full length novel with a a full time job and my various entrepreneurial adventures  is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

So while I’m not blogging about my writing journey or life as an author specifically, you can still follow me and what I’m up to on my parenting and lifestyle blog WelshMumWriting  and on my social media.

Of course, although my current fiction work in progress is just stumbling along very limply, I still to support other indie authors, so hit me up at my book promo account on Twitter @BookBaggers and I’ll retweet for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Person First, Author Second – Why I don’t Autofollow on Twitter

I have a love-hate relationship with social media, and none more so than with the Twitter (I exclude Facebook as I’ve never particularly loved it, it’s more of a necessarily evil, used solely for catching up with relatives and distant friends). I’ve left it on at least two occasions that I recall both times for the same reason.

In the words of Willow Rosenberg, a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend, so please don’t take this personally – it’s not directed at you, not personally. The problem I have with it is this obsession people have with following back. This “I followed you, you must follow me” attitude has left me wanting to smack my head against a wall on more than one occasion.

Now I understand that everyone likes to see they are followed. It’s flattering – like someone asking you out on a date even if you’re not interested in them. However you don’t then throw a tantrum if someone politely declines. Over the years I’ve had quite a few (other authors in the main… hides behind pillow) who have hurled abuse at me for not following them back, or unfollowing them if I’m not that interested in the content that they’re currently sharing. I’ve often found myself saying “hey, I still keep an eye on you via a list” but that doesn’t suffice for some. One particularly virulent tweeter prompted me to leave altogether!

There’s a few reasons why I find that sort of behaviour objectionable. First, it’s just plain rude. Second, auto following doesn’t mean you will achieve your objective. Following you doesn’t mean they will engage with you. If they are auto following everyone who follows them, how the heck do you imagine they will notice your tweets amongst their already over populated timeline? As a PR and comms professional in my “day job” this has me alternating between face palming and sadness. In a drive to just get followers they are missing out on the true joy of Twitter – engagement, cat videos and chatting to people who aren’t your friends but share your interests and even values.

Then there’s the primary reason. Yes, I’ve written a few books and yes I’m currently working on another, but there is so much more to me than that. I am lucky to be blessed with an amazing family, lots of interests and a deeply fulfilling day job. I want to share that with people and share information that will help those interested in those things too. I want to see what’s going on in my local community. I want to get angry about the same political and social issues. I am more than one aspect of my life and Twitter as my primary social media platform is when I live it online.

That’s why I won’t auto follow you. I might follow you. I might list you. I might do neither. It’s not that I don’t think you are a nice person, or deserving of social media attention – it’s just that there’s so much going on out there that I can’t notice it all. If I did, my head might implode.

Of course, the majority of authors and general folks I’ve virtually met on Twitter are perfectly lovely and I’ve made some wonderful friendships and supporters along the way. That’s why I set up a specific Twitter account dedicated to books and supporting authors. If that’s what you want then follow me there – otherwise you might find yourself just finding out what I had for dinner, a rant about parking on pavements or pictures of my cat

So if you want ME as person, follow me at www.twitter.com/Tea_Talks , but if it’s promo support you’re after you should probably follow me at my author support account at www.twitter.com/BookBaggers

Authors – Know Your Social Media Audience

If you are an author you are probably on at least one social media platform, trying to build your “author platform” and encourage people to buy your book.

In an increasingly crowded book market, how can you ensure that your book promo activity is heard above the noise?

People want to follow, engage with and listen to people – real people. You don’t walk up to someone on the street and say “hi, buy my book” on first meeting them. For one thing it would be plain weird but also rude. Yet, it’s an easy trap to fall into from the safety and distance of your keyboard. If you throw enough cr@p at something, surely some of it may stick?

There is some truth in this. In order for your marketing message to be effective your audience needs to hear it frequently and via a range of channels.

Take movie promoters for example. You will see a billboard, a cinema trailor, an advert on TV, Facebook posts and adverts, plus the stars being interviewed in magazines, radio and on TV, and more. They saturate your senses.

But it’s not just about throwing enough promo material out into the universe. Film promoters will have carefully selected the radio stations, TV channels and magazines they advertise in based on which they target audience is likely to tune into or buy. The billboard posters will have designed to be attractive to the target audience and present the film in a way that seems appealing and relatable.

As indie authors we need to be better at this. We need to be selecting our social media and advertising platforms based on our target audience and measure our success by sales conversions over time. We can’t measure success by number of followers who may not even be likely to buy our book. Book covers need to show that the book would appeal to them –it needs to be relatable. Endorsements and reviews should be in forums which are occupied or followed by your target demographic.

Some authors do this very well. Their covers reflect the genre, they pick one or two digital platforms and do them well, and share much of themselves. You may be intrigued by their book covers and content but you can relate to them and want to read more of their work. Their social media pages share a variety of content but it’s in keeping with their audience and style of books. When they support or RT other authors it is evident that they are on good terms and that their work is also relevant to their audience – even if only as the authors seem like minded. Sharing and retweeting streams of kid kit if you write adult romance or horror is only going to confuse your audience. If you are going to retweet content that’s not yours, ensure that it sits well with your own brand.

Make a start on getting your audience right by mapping out who they are.

  • What types of people are likely to read your books?
  • What other authors do they read?
  • What TV shows and films do they like?
  • What other interests do they have?
  • What social media platforms do they use?

The list of questions could go on and on. Drill down into the detail of age, gender and social groups. You might need to build up one or two (or more) personas – you can even give them names. Once you know your audience you can then start participating in the social media groups or hashtags that they are likely to use. You will use the right platform for them. You can hang out and they might check your profile and click on that link to your book. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

My “Sophie Morgan Vampire Series” audience, for example, is women between 18 – 35, college educated, slightly nerdy, who like Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Being Human. They might read paranormal romance but their bookshelves are likely to include thrillers and horror too.

But this is a learning curve for all of us and I must admit that as my public relations and communications “day job” has developed in recent years, I am lucky to develop skills which I can use in book promotion – both mine and others.

If you have some book promo tips you’d like to share or have a question follow me at www.twitter.com/BookBaggers and tag me in you tip, or comment below.

Applied Psychology and Book Marketing – A New Approach

Good marketers and PR professionals understand what makes people tick. In many ways they are applied psychologists, combining audience insight with a steely focus on outcomes to influence decisions. This was just one of messages I took away from a public relations workshop I attended recently.

“Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behavior, from communication and memory to thought and emotion.” British Psychological Society

 “Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour” Chartered Institute of Public Relations

What does this mean for book marketing? A good deal perhaps. The ultimate aim of book publicists is to sell books. Even when we want to broadly build a brand or author platform, we still have that ultimate outcome in mind. We want to take potential readers on a journey from not noticing our product to thinking “Hey, looks interesting, I’m going to buy that.”

It’s easy to assume that if we have a well-crafted message or brand, or just an amazing book, that behaviour will be impacted. Readers will think “WOW that looks great” and hit the download button or sift through their wallet and hand over that hard earned cash at their local bookstore.(Equally, just because you have a fantastic PR campaign doesn’t mean that you will sell books or gain long term customers if you have a substandard product! You might sell book to a reader but they may not buy another.)

This isn’t the Field of Dreams – just because we build it, it doesn’t mean they will come! A good book, pithy synopsis or a memorable “lift pitch” will not on its own secure the marketing result you want.

An effective marketing campaign relies on determining your target audiences’ beliefs, values and barriers to taking action. People only pay attention to what they perceive as relevant and in a digital world where readers are trying to navigate their way through a barrage of marketing campaigns we need to help them.

In short why should they buy your book? Why would it appeal to them/ can they access it in their territory/ what are their peers saying about it/ what does the cover “say” to them? All these questions need to be answered to some degree. It’s only then that we can truly get our book marketing right and build an author platform that resonates.

Our potential readers also need to hear that message frequently, at the right time and through the right channel for them to act on it. It’s only then that the reason for our call to action can resonate and we stand a change of getting our targets to do the thing of buying our book and remaining loyal readers.

Much of this seems like common sense, but while we may have the best of intentions, things can sometimes get in the way of doing a thorough job of planning promotional activity. Lack of time, money and sometimes just old fashioned enthusiasm can mean it’s easy to rush into a campaign so we can just do something.

In the digital age this is even easier than ever. Within minutes you can clog up readers’ timelines with endless “buy my book” social media posts that will at best resonate with a few and at worst get people hitting the unfollow button. Either that, or you’re signing up for book parties that your likely audience won’t even be attending – no point staying up in the early hours at a party with a dozen participants interested I erotica when you write cozy mysteries! Trust me, that’s a mistake I made in the early days and one I won’t be repeating.

Now could I do a better job at planning my marketing? Absolutely I could. The question to ask is, could you? What strategies are you deploying for planning your promotional activities? Feel free to comment and share your tips, and please post your contact details if you would be happy to network with other authors and publicists and share best practice.

 

Helen Treharne is an author and PR Practitioner – as you’re on her website your probably know this. Is it weird I just described myself in the third person? Yep, bit weird.

Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tea_Talks and www.twitter.com/BookBaggers