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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Social Media Secrets Book Marketers Don't Tell You—Part I: How to Avoid Twitter-Fritter and Facebook-Fail


First: many thanks to Indies Unlimited, which named this blog to its 10 Blogs and Websites Every Indie Should Know. If you're an indie, or thinking of going indie (self-publishing or small-press), do follow them for great tips and news from a very savvy team of writers.

Most writers these days know a good book isn't enough to get you successfully published. Any agent, editor, or book reviewer is going to Google you first—often before they'll even read to the end of your query. Certainly before they request a partial or a book to review.

What comes up on that Google search can make the difference between getting an agent, publisher and reviews—or languishing in obscurity.

Yes, of course it's possible to become a successful author without an online presence, the same way it's possible to get hired for a corporate job if you write your resume on parchment and send it by carrier pigeon.

But your chances are a whole lot better if you conform to established standards.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how authors spend too much time doing meaningless busy work trying to "build platform." 

But I didn't say authors can ignore social media entirely. Social media is our most important tool for getting our books discovered.

Being on social media takes you out of the confines of your own backyard and puts you into the global marketplace. It makes the difference between hawking your book on a local street corner and getting it in front of millions of readers all over the world.

Thing is: we need to learn to use this tool effectively.

Unfortunately, a lot of marketers don't seem to know how to do that, so they bully authors into wasting a huge amount of time playing meaningless number games.

Understandably, some authors are getting annoyed. Last week, much-lauded literary author Benjamin Anastas quit Twitter and vented in an eloquent blogpost. It got a lot of cyberink and sparked some interesting pieces by Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson.

Mr. Anastas voiced his many quarrels with Twitter, most of which boiled down to: Twitter is no good for selling books, and therefore a waste of time.

Thing is, he's right on the first point, but not on the second.

To me, it sounded like somebody saying he was going to get rid of his phone because it's not good for selling aluminum siding to strangers who are just sitting down to dinner.

Mr. Anastas is a smart man, so I suspect the problem is he was never told what Twitter is really for. (Maybe because his marketing department doesn't know either.)

So...ta-da!

Here is the big secret about Twitter: 

It is not a direct marketing tool. It is a method of communication.

Kinda like a phone. Here's some stuff Twitter IS good for:

1) Quick communications with a large number of people. 

Example: When I was in despair trying to get this blog's Feedburner email program to work last week, I Tweeted asking for help. Within minutes, I had several suggestions, plus a step-by-step guide for converting to a free Mail Chimp email service. (Thanks, Molly Greene!)  I hope I've done it right. Do tell me if you've subscribed and you're still not getting your email notices, or if it's missing from your rss feed.

2) Getting up-to-the minute news from anywhere on the globe.

Example: When there was a tornado in Tuscaloosa, and I wanted to know if my Tuscaloosa friends were OK, I went to #TuscaloosaTornado and found hundreds of real-time Tweets telling what neighborhoods had been hit.

3) Giving your friends a shout-out (and occasionally yourself.)

Example: When I saw that a friend who's a newly minted agent had been mentioned in Publishers Lunch, I Tweeted it, with a @ message to her. It was the first she'd heard of it, so it was a two-bird stone. I informed her of the good news and at the same time let a lot of people know about her new agency.

And yes, you can toot your own horn occasionally. You can certainly Tweet "my book was just nominated for a RITA" or "I got a rave review from Big Al."

But only do this a few times. Imagine you're phoning your friends with the good news, not cold-calling everybody in the phone book.

However, the most important Tweets might be for a friend's triumph. This week, a Tweep posted a link with an @ message congratulating us on our Indies Unlimited kudos. I thought—"what a nice thing for her to add a special Tweet to me. Who is she, again?" I visited her blog, was intrigued, and bought one of her books.

Yeah. That's how it works.

4) Connecting with people. 

Example: Somebody asks a question on this blog. I take some time with the answer and want to let the commenter know there's an answer waiting. If her name leads to a Twitter profile, I tweet her a heads-up. Yes, I could send an email or DM, but a Tweet lets other people who might be interested know the post is there, too. I might add a hashtag like #blogging if that's what it's about.

That way we've made one connection on the blog and another through Twitter. That means we'll take more notice of each other the next time we meet online.

5) Sharing information and talking about it.

This can be anything from Tweeting a tsunami warning for your patch of coastline to links to your own newest blogpost or an article about the new Veronica Mars movie (especially if your tweeps are mystery lovers.)

Example: A few days ago I Tweeted a link to an article about the copy of J.K. Rowling's pseudonymous book that sold for $6000+ and added I thought this thing was getting silly. A few people Tweeted back their responses, including Tweep AJ Sykes who said "Agreed. Or maybe it's ugh-greed."

Clever and funny. And I remember him saying some wise things in a comment on Jane Friedman's blog last week. So now he's on my radar as a clever, funny guy. I see he writes steampunk. Not my genre of choice right now, but I ever make the steampunk plunge I know where to go first.

See how that works?
  • Notice I did not say anything about telling strangers what you had for lunch. 
  • Or hammering them with "buy my book" messages. 
  • Or Tweeting endless snippets of text from your opus. (I know marketers love that, but it's so overdone it's all just noise to most of us.) 
Yes, you can tweet that a great book is free or on sale. And that book can be yours, but don't do it more than three times a day. In between other stuff.

And you can Tweet other people's books, too—but only if you genuinely think your followers will like it. Tweeting books you haven't read may seem to be "friendly" to your fellow authors, but it's not friendly to your Tweeps. And it can backfire if it's not a book you'd recommend to a real life friend. Somebody who writes violent thrillers has no business asking a writer of children's books or cozies for a Tweet. It's OK to say no.

Especially since simply Tweeting book titles at strangers does not sell a lot of books anyway. That's what Benjamin Anastas was right about.

But exchanging information can make connections. It's those connections that will get you known so that somebody might want to buy your books some day.

But you don't have to spend a lot of time on those connections. Mr. Anastas complained of Twitter being a time suck—and it certainly can be. But only if you let it.

And that's another way Twitter is like your phone. A phone can't dominate your life if you don't turn it on. Don't dump the phone, just don't pick up if you don't want to talk.

And those marketers who say you should be adding 20 random Tweeps a day so you can amass half a million followers?

That's like saying you should buy a phone with the numbers of 500,000 strangers programmed into it.

If they don't want to talk to you—what exactly is the point?

For more on Twitter—especially for newbies—see my post on Twitter for Shy Persons.

And for some info on how some clever people are making Twitter more useful for book marketing, check out Julie Valerie's review of BookVibe.  It's a new program that analyzes Twitter streams for book discovery. It sounds as if there still are some bugs in it, but it may mean that Twitter will be a better place for direct marketing in the future than it is now.

Now for some Facebook secrets…

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on Facebook. I'm kind of a Facebook hater. But that's partly because it's taken me so long to learn to use it. For at least a year I didn't post anything but links to my blog, bits of publishing news, and announcements of my book launches (Yeah, I launched 7 in a year, plus 3 anthologies. I guess I didn't have much else to talk about.)

But this year I started posting literary cartoons, inspirational stuff about books, and a few jokes. All of a sudden, I started having fun conversations on FB.

And this week I saw a great post from Kristen Lamb that gave me an a-ha moment.

It solidified all the stuff I've been learning by trial and error for the past six months. (Lots of error.)

1) Don't just "friend" people.

BE a friend. Connect with people in a non-phony way. NOT writer to fan. Person to person.

2) A personal "friend" page is more valuable than a "like" page.

You can stop humiliating yourself begging for "likes." They mean absolutely nothing if people don't make return visits. And why do you want that Christian picture book writer to like your BDSM erotica page, anyway? It will do nothing for you and will signal Facebook to send some very unwelcome advertising her way.

People would rather be your friend than worship at your feet. Don't expect people to "like" you if you don't do anything likeable.

3) Nonstop bragging isn't especially likeable. 

How weird is it that I have to say that? But I do. That's because marketers tell us to advertise 24/7. When what we should be doing is joking around and getting to know people.

4) LOLCats, Oprah-quotes, and funny stuff from George Takei will sell more books in the long run than all those "book launch party" pages, pleas for tweets, or those links to Publisher's Lunch. (Yes, I'm seriously guilty of that last one.)

As Kristen said in her post: "People can’t connect emotionally to yet another DBW article about how Barnes and Noble’s stock is tanking. They CAN however connect to kittens, Sharknado, tales of missing socks, superheroes, kid stories, pet stories, Mayhem and Grumpy Cat."

5) Facebook author pages don't get much traffic because you can't use them to interact with people. They just sit there saying "worship me." All most of us do is post news about our books. Which snoozifies pretty much everybody if it's non-stop.

Here's Kristen again. "There are writers who seriously believe that Facebook is out to get them because their fan pages are being hidden. NO. It’s just that, in the Digital Age, there is a steep price for being boring."

I wish I'd read Kristen's post three years ago when I started on Facebook. I've wasted a lot of time being boring. Here's another quote:

"Engage us, talk to us, stop selling to us and guess what? We will like coming to your page. And we will have fun and "Like" stuff, comment and SHARE your content." It's worth reading her whole post.

6) The most important Facebook pages aren't your personal pages or your author page. (Or those endless promotional "event" pages.)

They are your friends' pages.

If you visit your friends' pages and make them feel like equals rather than minions, and encourage them through their triumphs and crises, the way you'd like them do do for you, they will reciprocate.

And they might even be interested in reading your next book.

Yeah. That's how social media works. It's, um, social. And as with all social interactions, the best rule is always the Golden one.

In August, I'm going to post Part 2. I'll be talking about how blogging revived my career, and I'll divulge the #1 blogging secret no blogging guru will tell you. 

So what about you, scriveners? Have you been feeling the way Benjamin Anastas does about Twitter? What do you think you could teach marketers about social media? Any tips to add about Twitter and Facebook?

THIS WEEK'S BOOK DEAL 

Sale extended! 99 cents for three hilarious mysteries. Thanks everybody, for keeping it in the top 50 in comic fiction on Amazon for five weeks!

Available on Amazon USNOOK, and Amazon UK


"The Best Revenge, Ghost Writers in the Sky and Sherwood Limited are hysterical. Anne Allen will keep you laughing throughout, but in the meantime she dabbles her fingers in some topics worth some serious thought: sexism, weightism, lechery, murder, duplicity, homelessness & poverty to name a few. If you love to laugh, you'll like these three books. If you love to think, ponder AND laugh, be ready to fall in love"... C.S. Perryess


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


1) The Alice Munro Short Fiction Contest. Entry fee $25 adult, $10 Teen. $2000 (Canadian) in prizes. 5000 words or less, unpubished work. More info at Alice Munro Festival Short Story Competition Deadline August 1.

2) Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest. They offer a $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 words or more. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Entries close October 1.

3)  The Huffington Post's Huffpo50 is now publishing short fiction!   The rules: You must be 50 or older to enter. Writers can submit only one story per year, and all pieces must be 5,000 words or less. Send your original submissions, as well as your contact details, to 50fiction@huffingtonpost.com.

4) COMPOSE Literary Journal. Submissions are open for their Fall 2013 issue.  This prestigious journal was founded by Suzannah Windsor, of Write it Sideways, and she's put together an amazing editorial staff. They are looking for art and photography as well as poems, literary short fiction, novel excerpts and essays. Must not be previously published (that includes anything that has appeared on your blog.)

We love your comments! If you can't get through Blogger's hoop-jumping, send me an email at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com and I'll post it personally.

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61 Comments:

Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Another wonderfully helpful post! Thank you, ARA!

Do you have any comments/insight re: Google+

July 21, 2013 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Linda Adams said...

I think the most effective marketing tool is the write lots and lots and lots of stories and get them out there. Without the stories, all the social media marketing in the world won't amount to much of anything. People have to see your name around, and it has to be on the writing, not on a Twitter or Facebook feed.

July 21, 2013 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Priscilla Strapp said...

I found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when I stumbled across your site. Thanks for sharing.

July 21, 2013 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not on Facebook, but thanks for the Twitter tips. I've gotten better about re-Tweeting information and good news. I was even brave enough to Tweet about the giveaway for my next book twice last week. (That's a stretch for me.) I'm still working to improve though!

July 21, 2013 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Have you noticed Google + is slow loading on your computer, or is it just me. I have to make at least 2 attempts to visit friends on the darn site.

Oh, did I mention: BUY MY BOOK!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Victor Standish just told me I should have.

You brought valid, helpful points. I guess it all comes down to seeing the people at the other end of our words, whether on Twitter, Facebook, or even our own blogs as PEOPLE who visit those sites to connect with another caring person.

Have only the highest of sales, Roland

July 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--I'll be talking about Google+ on August 4th. I think it's good to join, and activity is stepping up, but it's still a pretty quiet place. That can be a good thing, though.

Linda--It's true that the more books you have, the more the Amazon algos notice you. It's hard to sell with only one book. But we can't rely totally on the retailers to get us visibility. We need to be Googleable and have some interaction with readers.

Priscilla--Thanks much for signing up for my newsletter. Welcome!

Alex--Tweeting news is a good way to keep in touch with people. And it's fine to tweet a free book. People love that. Just make sure it's free NOW and not next week, or people might click through and pay for it by mistake and get really annoyed.

Roland--Yes, BUY ROLAND'S BOOK. It's called GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY. (Which is of course the title of one of my books too. Great minds think alike.)

Yes, it's all about seeing people as people and not prey. Unfortunately lots of people go to business school to learn to treat people like prey.

I don't know what's up with Google+ but I've had the same trouble this week. Sloooooow to load.

July 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

Another great post. I joined Twitter last year, had a really great time building friends, but then it just became a time suck because I was doing what every guru said to do and Tweet every 15 minutes so I could be seen. So I stopped Tweeting. I would rather be writing.

And I never joined FaceBook. And I never will. I don't care if I had Donald Maass for an agent and he said I had to join FB, I wouldn't. It's just not the place for me.

I'm quite content with my blogs, and every time I do a search (about once a month or so) I'm still on the first page. Maybe not in the #1 spot anymore, but still on the first page. So that's something. (But I've also been on hiatus since May so...)

Yes, please share about Google+ because I have no idea what it even is.

July 21, 2013 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Judith Mercado said...

My profound thanks once again for cutting through the noise.

July 21, 2013 at 12:03 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Loved this timely post, Anne. A terrific writer resource as usual. Since I started tweeting and using FB more, this information is priceless.

Congrats to you and Ruth on your Indies Unlimited Blog Award. Well deserved! And great to see your hilarious, well written books in the top 50. Nothing but kudos today as always.

July 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anne--It's true that Twitter can be a major time suck, the same as a cell phone. Writers need a whole lot of self-discipline to keep working. And it's so annoying when the marketing depts of their publishers are the ones who are trying to take them away from writing. I try to limit myself to two or three quick visits a day. Facebook is annoying in so many ways. I'm not going to advise anybody to join who is doing OK without it. Google+ is a whole lot more user friendly. It's like FB without ads, trolls, or Farmville :-)

Judith--I'm so glad it helped.

Paul--Thanks! And congrats on taking the Social Media plunge. It's not easy to learn a whole new set of skills at our age :-)

July 21, 2013 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Laurie Boris said...

Excellent information, Anne, thank you! Even though I've been on social media for a few years now, I'm learning how to connect better with people. And congrats on making the IU list! :D

July 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for the mention (or two), Anne. And I figured out why I like facebook so much more than twitter. It has to be Grumpy Cat. :)

July 21, 2013 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Anne, how is possible that you keep topping yourself week after week? I don't know, but I'm darn glad you do. For one who was and with some of social media ... still is ... clueless ... your blog is a wealth of information :)

July 21, 2013 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Westin Lee said...

Lovely post, Anne!

I've been keeping an eye out for a sort of 'one post about social media marketing' article for awhile, and this is the most succinct one I've seen that seems to be on the same wavelength as me. This and part 2 are getting filed away (for at least as long as twitter and facebook follow these rules!).

July 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laurie--It's true that the connecting part is hard. It's way easier to just Tweet "buy my book". It took me a long time to learn to connect. But one of the best ways is the simplest--retweet people. They'll often thank you and that can start the conversation.

BIG AL!! Thanks for stopping by. And thanks so much for naming us to the top 10! Yeah, Grumpy Cat and George Takei are the best reasons for using Facebook.

Fois--Aw shucks. I just post about whatever is irritating me and that seems to get things going. We're all learning this social media thing by trial and error. It's all such a crazy new world--especially for us Boomers :-)

July 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Anne, I made sure to stop by here today and read this post after you comment on my blog. If it's all right, I'm going to bookmark your page to share at the workshop I am facilitating. You provide a great perspective on Facebook and Twitter and their uses. Thank you!

July 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Stina Lindenblatt said...

"Or Tweeting endless snippets of text from your opus."

Those drive me insane. I recently created a list of writers/author in my genre, and was shocked at the endless stream of these tweets from some authors. They think the tweets aren't noticeable when they mixed among hundreds of tweets. True. But they are when someone checks out their Twitter profile. :P

July 21, 2013 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Belinda Pollard said...

"Yes, it's all about seeing people as people and not prey."

Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes! And may I add to that, yes!

My 2 Golden Rules for Twitter are:
1. Make friends, not sales
2. Be the kind of friend you'd like to have.

Thanks for a great post.

July 21, 2013 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips. I'm planning to go on Twitter soon and it's good to know how to use it right.

I saw Kristin's blog post on Facebook and really felt it was helpful too. Now if I can squeeze some time in for it and Twitter with all the blogs I follow.

Looking forward to your blogging post because that's my favorite type of social networking.

July 21, 2013 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--I'd be honored if you quoted me in your presentation. Your questions helped me focus this blogpost--so thanks a bunch.

Stina--I'm so glad you agree with me. My Twitter stream is so clogged with that stuff that I only pay attention to my @ messages these days, or # streams in a subject that interests me.

Belinda--I totally agree. Isn't it weird that the best rules are so simple, and people work so hard at getting it wrong?

Natalie--You and Casey are a blogging goddesses, so you should like that medium best! Anybody who's looking for a trad. publishing career should follow Natalie and Casey at Literary Rambles! More info on agents than any other site! All other social media should just support your wonderful blog.

I'm not sure I can teach you two anything about blogging. I learned a lot from you. Like: Provide value. Treat people as equals.

July 21, 2013 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's a comment from the fantastic Prue Batten, the Aussie author of medieval historicals about Guy of Gisborne, one of my favorite characters of the Robin Hood myth cycle. Her books are fabulous. I'm so glad to know that my hoop-jumping with MailChimp is worth it.

"AT LAST! After failing a zillion times to subscribe to your blog and having to remember to seek it out, this new service is the bees' knees. I always value what you say so much.

Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship. It's white noise to me as well as being damnably frustrating. Like watching a commercial TV station and being bombarded during my favourite TV show. I feel obliged to tweet the requests of my writerly friends but it gives my account a spam look and I can't communicate in 140 characters anyway. I'm a writer of NOVELS for God sake! Books that need an editor to shorten them. So Twitter has no hope!

But Facebook! Ah, I love it. I have met so many wonderful readers and writers over the four years I've had a private account. We get to chat, to exchange goofy stuff and sad stuff, we get to support each other and laugh and cry with each other. I've just had a new hist.fic/hist.romance published and one of the FB hist.fic groups to which I belong deserved a mention in the acknowledgements. Filled with writers AND readers, the amount of information and help flowing in that group is astonishing and they helped me no end as I travelled through the 12th century. And although my FB writer's page is young it's becoming more communicative by the day and so FB is obviously my metier.

My blog and Pinterest are self-indulgences. I love them, I love that people make an effort to read, to even comment and invariably the comments are rarely to do with writing and always to do with my real life.

Social media is as good as it is bad. I prefer to think it is good and thank the stars that at this stage in my life, I get to talk with interesting bods right across the globe. Even if one day I can no longer put a novel together, I value the web of communication between like-minded folk. I wish my father had had access to the same gift in his life-time."

July 21, 2013 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

The writer-love fest continues! Thanks again Anne, this is terrific material and hits the spot for me as usual. With Twitter, I never had more fun than the day I wrote on FB to clarify, that I only took a screen-name there a year earlier to reserve it for a character, not to tweet. I declared that tweeting was against the religion of an epic fantasy author... and promptly got eight followers. I've never been prouder of my self-marketing efforts.
As for FB, I will lay claim to a bit of an innovation. I made a page there to advertize the Lands of Hope itself, and used the time-line feature to house the chronology of the world, which happened to run out around the year 2002 in its calendar. So the more recent years switch to the "alleged real world" for the dates of publication for the tales themselves. I flatter myself that this works well.
But you're right, it's not a way to sell books. I almost always feel better about my writing when I'm not directly trying to sell books- that's close to a rule for me.

July 22, 2013 at 2:47 AM  
Blogger Icy Sedgwick said...

If I randomly start talking to someone on Twitter and I find them funny, interesting, or just plain lovely to talk to, and I find out they're a writer, then I always make the time to check out their blog, and if they have books available, then I will download a sample, or buy a copy. So if that's how I do things as a reader, then it makes sense to behave like that as a writer...so yes, I will use Twitter and Facebook to talk about films, or food, or whatever is happening in the world, because social media is essentially social, and if someone chooses to buy my books off the back of that, then great. If they don't...well...I still had a nice chat!

July 22, 2013 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger Jill Haugh said...

First: I shall take a deep breath and download everything you just said into my brain-space reserved for Great Advice.
Second: I shall take that advice, particularly about FB and DO just what you recommended, especially in regards to friend's pages.
Third: I shall use the word "Snoozify" wherever and whenever possible.
~Just Jill

July 22, 2013 at 6:06 AM  
Blogger Evelyn Puerto said...

Excellent post! Thanks for providing some great advice. Hears hoping I can un-snoozify my facebook posts.

July 22, 2013 at 6:16 AM  
OpenID obatanemiaalami said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 22, 2013 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Westin Lee--Blogger sneaked you in up there--probably at the same time I was writing the comment to Fois. You bring up a great point--social media changes fast. Everything that works now could go away tomorrow. But one thing that pretty much always works is the Golden Rule. Treat people the way you want to be treates, and you can't go wrong.

Trekelny--Gimmicks like Tweeting as a character (especially one that doesn't like Twitter LOL) can sometimes work. There was that Twitter Jane Austen novel a few years ago. If they're fun and provide entertainment, some people may connect with you through gimmicks. Fun, but as you say, you need to be wary of the time-suck that kind of game may take from your real writing.

Icy--Sounds as if you've been using Twitter exactly right. It's like a cocktail party. Have some nice conversations and if they lead to sales, great, but don't make that the only reason for going. It should be fun.

Jill--I believe "snoozify" was invented by Mr. C.S. Perryess, the Wordmonger. A very funny guy. I'm so glad my advice resonates. I learned this stuff by trial and error. Lots of error.

Evelyn--Good luck with the unsnoozification! :-)

July 22, 2013 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Oh, Miss Anne...you are so good at this stuff. Both at practicing what you preach and at preaching what you practice! Per your advice I have started blogging again. Not so painful, really. I might even revisit my twitter account. I am such a don't drag me out of my introvert comfort zone kind of gal. But, I really would like to sell my books! So...there ya go! Thanks again!

July 22, 2013 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger David Haywood Young said...

Hi-

I did a goofy giveaway for 30 days starting on the solstice, & most of my traffic came from Twitter. The deal was, people could browse my site & request any normally-nonfree book, and I'd email them a copy in any format. It was deliberately inefficient, and got a lot more traffic & comments than anything else I've ever done. Plus, I've made several new internet-friends as a result.

Now...I could've just posted download links. And left out the humor. But I'll bet I wouldn't have had anywhere near the response. I gave away nearly 100 ebooks. Nothing compared to a KDP freebie run. But I have two new reviews, two new beta readers (different people), and lots of folks out there who know they can reach me with my personal email address.

It was by far the best & most-fun thing I've done to connect to potential readers. Maybe just because it was unusual?

Actually I'm still giving books away through the end of this month because I was a little bit ambiguous in my wording in a few tweets.

To see what I'm talking about: http://davidhaywoodyoung.com/2013/06/21/justifying-twitter-via-30-days-of-solstice-giveaways/

July 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger K. Rowe said...

Great post. I use Twitter to occasionally announce new releases, but mostly I have fun on Facebook. I have 2 fan pages, and my object is hopefully get folks to like those pages and then I friend them. I make sure I put links in front/back matter of all my books -- That way I can keep my private page out of the limelight and enjoy interacting with my friends and fans on a closer level. I hope they enjoy my funny farming stories, cartoons I find on other pages, and thought-provoking writing quotes. Yes, I have a blog, and I write for Indies Unlimited as well. But I feel my best interactions come from my personal page. Do they result in sales? Dunno, but I'm having fun when taking breaks from writing and formatting!

July 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Lohninger said...

Hi Anne
Congratulations on the Indies Unlimited recognition! And thank you for another super helpful post. I've been struggling with the Tweety thing and the Facebook page for a while. Having read several (well, ok, 2) books on platform building I tried to follow the advice of moving people from my personal Facebook page to my Artist page (I'm a jazz vocalist and writer, and it's all a bit multi-personality at the moment), but they didn't budge. I guess they'd rather get the latest 'awwww' pic of my adorable monster cats than hear about my upcoming this that or the other. I think in the end it will have to be a blend of the personable and the professional.
I'm looking forward to your August post on the subject!

July 22, 2013 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--Congrats on getting the blog going again! It's not that hard once you carve out the time and make it a regular thing. Easier than getting into other social media for a newbie, I think.

David--I like your "goofy" approach. Great way to connect with your readers. Catherine Ryan Hyde, who has the #2 book on Amazon this weekend, has been doing fun give-aways from her site for years. Or she'll ask for funny pictures of people reading her books. Or their dogs reading her books, or whatever. I think those really work when they're creative, like yours. I'll check it out.

K-Your experience sounds similar to mine and Kristen Lamb's. Personal pages are more fun. And I think "fun" is probably the operative word. Social media should be fun. If you're not having fun, people can tell.

Elisabeth-Sounds as if you've read the same books I have. It's supposed to be all about the "fan" page. But people would rather hear about your monster cats. (Love monster cats. I once had a giant Maine Coon cat named Uncle Murray. Great cat.) I think you've hit on the important point: your "personal" page has to be pretty professional. Welcome fans as friends and share cat pictures. For the really private family pix, sometimes it's better for family to start a closed FB group.

July 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Molly Greene said...

Thank you so much for the mention, Anne! If there was a job out there titled “Figuring odd things out” I would apply. I’d like to take a moment and tell you how very much I appreciate your depth of knowledge and willingness to share. Twitter has changed my life because I’ve met the loveliest, smartest, most generous writers, authors and bloggers on the platform, people I never would have had the opportunity to mingle with in my little podunk mountain town. I watch you all move forward in your success and I feel that it’s possible for me, as well. Thank you for welcoming me!

July 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger AJ Sikes (aka Mitchell Brand) said...

Hi Anne,

Informative read, thanks for putting it together. :)

I'll quibble on one point re: Facebook, however.


"If you visit your friends' pages and make them feel like equals rather than minions, and encourage them through their triumphs and crises, the way you'd like them do do for you, they will reciprocate."

This is, to some extent, true. The issue being that it takes time to use Facebook this way, and the ease with which the UI foments distraction make it extremely difficult to commit time only to reaching out to friends.

In my experience, I was able to generate this kind of reciprocity with at most four of five people. Beyond that became an unmanageable tangle of pages I had to remember to visit, even when I built a smart list and tried to keep up with people that way.

That algorithm just loves to keep us with our eyes on the page.

It sounds like you've managed to make it work for you though. Glad to hear it :)

July 22, 2013 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Molly--Thanks for all your help! Twitter is a great place to connect with peers. I feel the same way. I love my little beach town, but sometimes it's hard to find conversation that goes beyond surf conditions. I love the intellectual stimulation I find in social media.

Yup. Dreams do come true. I don't know how long I'll be a bestseller, but just making the list has made everything seem worthwhile.

AJ aka Aaron, aka Mitchell--Thanks for the fun bon mots on Twitter.

I probably should have been more clear about Facebook. I only visit one or two people's pages a day. Only if they have something momentous going on that I see in my news stream. I run through it and if I see anybody has finished a book, or got a horrible rejection, or signed with an agent, I go over and say congrats or commiserate. I'm only on there 10 mins or so a day. I don't try to counsel them or anything. Just a "hi there" kind of thing.

July 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger AJ Sikes said...

If you're limiting yourself to 10 minutes a day of Facebooking, you must have magic beans of anti-distraction working for you :)

In all seriousness, thank you for the clarification. That's very much what I did with those four of five folks, although one or two became very close friends of the 1000 True Fans variety (and ditto me viz. them), so we ended up interacting a lot more.

Looking forward to your Part the Second of this. I've just done two of my own on why I left Facebook and how I use Twitter. And we're not alone. Loads of authors seems to be invested in figuring these tools out for the best.

Cheers,
~Aaron

July 22, 2013 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

You know the scene in the 1990 movie, HOME ALONE, where the (then) child actor, Macaulay Culkin, opens his eyes really wide, drops his jaw and slaps his hands onto his cheeks?

That was me a few minutes ago when I saw my name and my coverage of BookVibe mentioned in your post, Anne. I was shocked - and THRILLED! Thank you so much.

You have always been at the top of my list of people to follow and I just finished an exhausting few days of canvassing the websites and blogs that Big Al posted and now that I've finished that task, I was swinging back around to take notes from your incredibly informative articles.

What a thrill for me to be mentioned by you.

In keeping with the topic of your post, I think I'll go send out a few tweets linking back to your post, Anne! :)

P.S. My 3-part BookVibe series is now up and published as of 10 minutes ago... julievalerie.com or http://wp.me/p318Hj-pK

Thanks again. You're the bestest!

July 22, 2013 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Sarah Allen said...

Hey there! Sunday's I am almost always out and about with my family and so am not at my computer to comment, but I just wanted to leave a note and say I read every post on my phone and your posts are some of the wisest, well-thought posts being written. In fact I've mentioned this post in my own blog today. Thank you for all your wonderful tips!

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, with Joy)

July 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Melissa Bowersock said...

Great post! Nice to see it all boiled down. Good tips, good reminder.

July 23, 2013 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

A.J.--It's not magic beans. I have other things that distract me more :-)I'll have to read your piece on leaving FB. Lots of people doing it. A friend complained about lots of people unfriending him, and later realized they'd just left FB altogether.

Julie--Thanks much for the RTs! Your review of BookVibe is invaluable. Thanks for your great review site!

Sarah--Should I call you "Cousin Sarah?" Love to welcome a member of the Allen clan. The great thing about a slow blog is that you can comment any day of the week and not be "late". I'll go check out your blog!

Melisa--Thanks much.

July 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Anne. Have to say, I might have abandoned FB if it wasn't for George Takei. What a delight!

July 23, 2013 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debra--I agree. George Takei is the best reason to stay on Facebook!

July 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

ARA (I didn't know that was your nickname, cool!) well, ARA, I love your post, full of sensible, good advice. About FB, I totally agree with you but I still find it...hum, a little boring - my fault no doubt!

Can't wait to read about your blogging secret! I've decided to try out a new form of blogging: flash blogging. We'll see how it works!

July 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Claude--"Flash blogging" sounds intriguing. I'll have to go check it out.

Yeah. Facebook is still mostly boring.

ARA isn't a nickname. Just shorthand. When you use a middle initial it gets cumbersome..

July 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM  
OpenID bridgetwhelan.com said...

Twitter I already got thanks to your blog and people like Molly Green but your comments about Facebook make brilliant good sense. As one of your readers said look at your own behaviour - when I 'like' an author's fan page there is nothing to drive me back there while a FB friend is always accessible. I am also convinced that we need to forget about privacy and the internet. Anything I put on FB is suitable reading for potential readers,students, employers or sensitive elderly aunt. I my not be aiming them but I'm happy if they see it. The personal is for emails, phone calls, letters and face to face encounters - FB is a postcard lying next to the office water cooler

July 26, 2013 at 1:36 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Bridget--Brilliant insight: "FB is a postcard lying next to the office water cooler."

Yes! Anything on social media can wind up in the evening news. There is no privacy in social media, so saying "I want to keep my personal page personal" is silly. Your Aunt Matilda is watching. So is your boss--and all your prospective bosses.

July 26, 2013 at 8:59 AM  
OpenID elisanuckle said...

So I have a Facebook page, but I like to keep my actual Facebook account more of a private circle. My family doesn't like to get my book spam, or my spam in general, and I use it mostly to keep up with friends, family, that sort of thing (due to differences and stuff).

So I guess my question is do I make a new Facebook account as an author or do I just stick to my Facebook page, just make it more personable?

That was a really long question. Thanks as always for your awesome advice. :D

August 1, 2013 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elisa--It's good to have a Facebook author page in case people are looking, so you do want to have one. But Facebook doesn't let you do enough with it to use it to get to know your fans.It's not interactive.

What a lot of people do is have a "closed group" Facebook page for family and close friends. You have to invite people to join, so you'll have total control of it. I recommend this for anybody who posts photos of kids. It's not really safe to put pictures of kids out there, especially when you also post where you live. Nothing on the Internet is really private, but a private group is much more likely to stay that way.

August 1, 2013 at 9:16 PM  
OpenID debbygies said...

So glad I found your page Anne through reading Paperli. You are most informative, especially for us new authors to the self publishing world. Besides the info you give, I love your delivery! So glad to follow.

August 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debbie--Welcome. I try to help writers who are going both trad-pub and indie. The path is pretty much the same. We need to understand social media and learn to put ourselves out there, no matter how much it goes against our introverted psyches.

August 18, 2013 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger Barking Cats said...

Your posts are among the few on Tweetdom that don't seem like a complete and utter waste of time. And I like your blog. I'm giving Twitter a try (again) because I was told to (agent). I might even write a blog to mitigate the annoyance factor: My Year of Hating Social Media. Meanwhile, I am enjoying your POV on the whole SM thing.

August 20, 2013 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barking--Thanks. I know some brilliant, entertaining bloggers. The rest of the Social Media jungle...not so much. I've had a couple of incidents today that make me want to chuck the whole thing and start writing books on clay tablets and burying them for the aliens to find when they land (or the sentient raccoons evolve.) Bullying in social media is horrific, and the oligarchs in charge pay no attention and even encourage the cruelty. Even I am afraid of speaking out, because I know what they can do to me. Stay off Goodreads, and ALL forums. And if you can sell anywhere but Amazon, do.

August 20, 2013 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger N P Postlethwaite said...

I just read this.. what an honest and useful blog; it's too easy for some to get caught up in promotion with social media, they forget about genuine engagement with others .... your valid points can bring many of us back to earth

September 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

NP--I'm so glad you find it useful. So many marketers tell authors to just "be persistent" and they don't realize they're telling them to "make enemies"--which isn't such a great idea. Impersonating a mosquito isn't going to sell any books. :-)

September 4, 2013 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

I had a fight with facebook and lost. You're #2 suggestion...ouch. I'm not sure what I did but I created the wrong "page" (fan page, like page, this-sucks-page, whatever). I don't find facebook very user-friendly and am not sure, exactly, what I should have created. There are too many options. Help. Seriously. It's bad. Thank you.

October 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--I'm so sorry about your Facebook battle. They are so user-unfriendly. Getting more that way all the time. You probably followed the usual advice, which says you need and author "like" page but not a personal page. But FB has made "like" pages pretty useless if you don't pay them a bunch of money.

So if you're inclined to try again, just create a regular Facebook page and use it to establish yourself on FB. If you want a like page later, you can do that, but you can't do much with it. (Like interact with other people, comment, or join groups

It's probably more important to be on Google+ right now, and we'll have a tutorial on how to use it on the blog this coming Sunday, October 20th.

October 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

Anne - I just marked my calendar for this Sunday's Google+ post you're planning to publish. Put a smiley face next to it which is my shorthand for something I'm really looking forward to. Will be at the James River Writer's Conference but will be checking in on Sunday night. Can't wait!

October 18, 2013 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

Thanks, Anne. I want to send you a fruit basket for running a tutorial on Google+ because if there is anything worse (for me) than facebook, it's Google+. I am lost on that thing. Look forward to your post!

October 19, 2013 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sarah--I just watched the tutorial and so many things make more sense to me now! I think you'll like it more than Facebook. No games and silly high-school-y shenanigans.

October 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

"Like" :-)

October 19, 2013 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger shipon perves said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

April 6, 2014 at 8:18 AM  

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