First: We have Contest Winners!
Thanks to everyone who entered our contest last week for free copies of How to be a Writer in the E-Age...and Keep Your E-Sanity! which I co-authored with Catherine Ryan Hyde. We assigned everybody a number (two numbers if you entered on both blogs) and put them into the random number sequence generator at random.org. (Timestamp: 2012-12-16 05:05:33 UTC)
The winners of the ebooks are: E.S. Ivy, Clare London, and CheriPlease contact Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org with your address to receive your prize.
And the winners of the pbooks are: Stella Notte, Linda Gray, and Jlmbewe
And the winners of the pbooks are: Stella Notte, Linda Gray, and Jlmbewe
Today we have a visit from one of my favorite online author-friends. I knew her even before her name was Roni Loren :-) Roni is an awesome blogger who always has something innovative and thoughtful to say at her blog for the Fearless Romantic. She's become a bestselling author for Berkley Heat through her smart use of social media, so this is market-tested advice. My experience with Twitter and Facebook mirrors hers. I much prefer Twitter, but the readers seem to be on Facebook.
Social Media Overload: How Do You Reach READERS?
Guest Post by Roni Loren
For many of us, the most practical place is online. We don’t have the funds to fly around the country for book signings or to pay for shiny ad campaigns in magazines or on TV, so we go to our computers.
But, of course, the choices are overwhelming. Facebook? Twitter? Blogs? Blog about writing? Blog about...other stuff that readers will like (and what the heck IS that other stuff)?
First, let’s tackle the biggie: blogs. I’ve had a blog going on four years now. I started out as a writing focused blog. That was before I had an agent or was published, so it seemed the obvious track to take. Over time, I’ve morphed into a more flexible blog. Sometimes I blog about writing, sometimes it’s about what I’m reading, and other times it’s just general life topics.
And the reason I made that gradual change was because I went from a blogger who writes to a published author who blogs. The focus changed. Of course, you can have a niche writing blog, and there are many authors like Anne and Janice Hardy who do a fantastic job at providing that to the writer community. However, I chose to go a slightly different route because (a) I get tired of writing about writing at times and (b) I wanted to provide my readers with something fun to if they happened to stop by.
So what should YOU do? Well, that is up to you and what you feel you can maintain and enjoy. If you do decide to stay focused on a more craft/industry type blog, then maybe make sure your website has “sticky” extras that readers can dig through if they stop by. (See my post Author Websites: Layering Yours With Sticky Extras for ideas.) I have photos of my heroes, pictures of The Ranch (the secretive, illicit resort my series centers around), and a music playlist for the books and characters. I also keep a list of what I’ve read that anyone can look through. Those are things readers enjoy. (And my web stats speak to that. The Ranch page gets a surprising amount of hits.)
So try to look at your site through the eyes of a reader stopping by for the first time. What are you offering them?
All right, now on to the two other biggies out there…
Facebook or Twitter? It's a question that people seem to have definite feelings on. Most people prefer one strongly and see the other as a pain. In the past, I've made it no secret that I'm a Twitter girl. I like the fast pace and the simple interface. I like that I can follow a bunch of people and get a little nibble of everything. And frankly, I use it as my blog reader now since I never seem to have time to keep up with my Google Reader.
However, over the last few months or so, I decided to put more effort into my Facebook presence. Many established authors swear by Facebook for connecting with readers, and I know that people are way more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter.
So I begin to put focus on FB and not just by copying tweets over there. FB and Twitter are inherently different in the kinds of updates that "fit." I also made the point of keeping FB more reader-focused than writer-focused. Twitter is filled with my fellow writers who don't mind hearing about word counts or craft-related things. But FB seemed to be getting more pure readers, so I didn't want to bore them with the technical side of writing.
And you know what?
When I did a poll recently, the difference in "crowd" became noticeable.
I posted a question on both Twitter and Facebook asking what I should put on a stamp I'm going to use when I send out signed bookplates. One option was my tagline "For the Fearless Romantic" and the other was "Greetings from The Ranch."
So the results were very telling. Almost every one of my Twitter followers said the Fearless Romantic one. Then on Facebook, every vote was for The Ranch. It was amazing how divided it was.
And then I realized the difference. My writer friends were going for the one that spoke more to "author brand". We've been trained to think that way, to have that marketing hook. But my READERS who are already fans of the books were thrilled at the thought of having "Greetings from The Ranch." One line is meant to "sell" the books to new people. The other serves to entertain people who love the series already.
So, it was an easy decision. Anyone who is asking me for a bookplate is already a fan. Therefore, this needs to be for them. It's not about selling someone new on the book. If this were for promo material at a conference or something, the fearless romantic line would be the better fit. So it was a lesson in knowing who your audience is for something.
BUT, back to the point, this also showed me the clear distinction. Twitter is where my writer friends hang out. Facebook is where more readers are. (At least from my own anecdotal evidence and what I've heard from other authors.)
So which one should you do?
Short answer: Both
Longer answer: If you don't have time for both, do which one you enjoy the most because that's the one you'll probably thrive at.
But here are some things to consider and make a good case for cultivating both...
Why Is Facebook Important?
■ It's the most likely place fans will look for you besides your website.
■ Not everyone is a social media addict (like we writers are). Your every day person may not read blogs regularly, have a google plus profile, a Twitter account, or a Goodreads account. But even the most social media averse person probably has a Facebook page. My grandparents have one, my parents have one, my high school teachers have them. I'm hard pressed to think of someone I know who DOESN'T have one.
■ It allows you longer updates because not everything can be said in 140 characters.
■ It gives you the chance to put up exclusive content and sneak peeks to give your readers something extra for following you and reading your books.
■ You only have to post an update one or two times a day. So there is more opportunity for interaction about one topic.
■ It's easy for people to share you with their friends.
■ And yes, I’m aware that the recent changes with the “promote” button make updates harder for all your followers to see. However, if you post interesting things that get good interaction, the algorithm spreads the message to more people.
Why Is Twitter Is Important?
■ There is an incredible writer community on there. Writing is a solitary business. Hanging out on Twitter is like the office water cooler. You can go there for gossip, encouragement, or just to vent to each other.
■ Some readers do prefer Twitter and that will continue to grow.
■ It is a wealth of blog link love. Like I said, it acts as my blog reader these days.
■ It's more casual than FB in my opinion. Since you can update throughout the day, each update doesn't have to be super profound. : )
■ It's easy to share things via Twitter.
■ It doesn't have all the restrictions like FB. And your followers see your updates--you don't have to pay extra to "promote".
■ You don't get a crap ton of emails anytime someone comments on something.
■ It's less of a commitment for someone to follow you on Twitter. Most people won't "Like" a FB page unless they are a fan already. But many people will follow you on Twitter just to check you out and see what you have to say. So it's easier to introduce yourself and your books to new people.
Each obviously has benefits and drawbacks. But I think if you can manage both, you're going to find you have a more well-rounded online presence. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you and connect with you.
So, if you aren't already there and want to hang out with me, you can find me on Twitter AND Facebook. ;)
And a quick note and PSA on Pinterest and Tumblr because I know someone will inevitably bring one of them up in the comments. If you follow me, you know that earlier this year I was sued for using a photo on my blog that I didn’t have the copyright to. Therefore, Pinterest and Tumblr scare the crap out of me because I know now the rules, and you are not protected. Anytime you post something that you don’t have clear permission from the copyright holder to post, you can be sued for copyright infringement. So use it at your own risk. All I post now are book covers, movie posters, and creative commons licensed pics. *end PSA* : )
So what do you think? Do you have a preference on your social media presence? To those of you on both Twitter and Facebook, do you find a difference in the "crowd"? As a reader, do you seek out authors on any particular social network? Do you read blogs?
NEWS: Anne is visiting Louise Wise's Wise Words this week with some tips on fixing some of those pesky problems in your WIP that your critique group can't help you with.