Tag Archives: marketing

Author Platform: Using Facebook by Wendy Van Camp

author platform using facebook
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

The author platform is an important part of being a modern author. Your platform is how new readers find you and become intrigued by your writing. It is the way returning readers keep track of your events and your new books, stories, and poems. It is how your readers discover your book signings and other promotional events.

Your website and newsletter are the first tiers of your author platform. But social media can supplement these two powerful tools on the internet. The main social media outlets you should consider are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. I also recommend Medium. This article will discuss using Facebook as part of your author platform.

Facebook can be divided into three different categories. Your personal profile, an author page, and an author group. Each part has a unique use and you don’t necessarily need all three parts to function on this platform.

YOUR FACEBOOK PROFILE

When you first signed up for Facebook, the first account you create is your Facebook profile. This is your personal account that needs to have your real life name. It is also a place that you should set to be private for yourself, your family, and personal friends. Facebook will only allow you to have 5000 followers on your personal account. This might seem like a lot in the beginning. All too quickly, you will use up that 5,000 follower limit if you use your profile as a promotional device for your books. I’ve found over the years that the personal profile functions best as a connection point with writers, magazines, and other personal areas of interest.

In my case, if I have not met you personally or if you are not related to me, I do not add you as a friend on my personal Facebook profile. I also keep my conversations there under a privacy filter. You want to remember that all people on the web are not your friends. Anyone can read your public profiles. This could mean people that you do not want to know personal details about you could read your information. Remember the security of your personal information is important.

I mainly use my personal account to access groups on Facebook on a variety of subjects. I belong to groups devoted to science fiction and fantasy books where I keep up on tropes. A couple of writing societies where I learn more about writing craft. Facebook is a place of many great connections that have been invaluable to me as a writer.

YOUR FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

As an author, your first task on Facebook after you set up your profile should be to set up a Facebook author page. This is a public page that you will use to talk about your writing. I use my Facebook page to post links to articles, stories, and poems that I publish in various online magazines. I promote the books and articles of my friends. Occasionally, I run promotion posts for my books and write general comments about my writing process.

I make a point to not show the emotions of my day to day life. I don’t post about my pets or life activities. I keep all discussion and links on my author page about the subject of writing. I try and not allow the author page timeline to be a time suck either. Facebook doesn’t show my posts to many people and I’m not willing to pay to “boost” my posts. I still believe that having the author page and making sure a few posts go on there each week is important. Most readers will expect to be able to find you on Facebook. If readers come looking for me, I want them to find relevant information that could prompt them to travel on to my website.

What you should use your Facebook page for is to host a Facebook launch party for your books. A Facebook launch party consists of several authors showcasing their books while you act as a moderator to the entire event. You will arrange for contest prizes for people who sign up for your newsletter. You will use the launch party as a vehicle to announce your new up-and-coming book. If all the authors make an effort to invite their personal profile friends to the party, you can have a significant crowd see everyone’s books.

Other than using your page for a launch party or to announce your blog posts and other writing, I would not use Facebook in any other way. While it is true there is a robust ad system that can be utilized to sell your books directly, promoting blog posts and short stories are not worth the money. Facebook ads are useful, but only if you can budget a large amount of money and have a book that is popular enough to make back that money in sales. These ads do not require a page to purchase, you could do it from your profile and bypass having an author page altogether if all you want to do is run ads for your books.

YOUR FACEBOOK GROUP

The final way to use Facebook is to start a Facebook group for your author brand. This group would be about your books and characters and be a place where your fans can chat with you directly. Some authors use the group to post excerpts from their works in progress and gain critiques from their readers. Other authors host online events in their groups. It can be a dynamic way to interact with your reader base. However there is one drawback, a Facebook group takes a great deal of time and energy to manage. You will have to deal with trolls and disruptors in the group. This can be draining on your creative time. While some authors are outgoing and thrive in this sort of environment, introverts may want to stick with only having the Facebook page. This is less intensive to use. It is the method that I personally have chosen.

In conclusion, the best parts of your author platform are your website and your newsletter. Both of these are assets that you own entirely. A Facebook author page is important to have because most people will expect to find you on Facebook. Make it easy for them to find you and find a way to your website and blog. Have links to your website and blog on your Facebook author page and have a sign up for your newsletter. If you use WordPress for your blog, WordPress can be set to automatically post a link of every new post on to your Facebook page. This makes populating posts into your page easy and effortless. In this way, Facebook and a Facebook author page will be an asset as part of your author platform.

Using Twitter For Your Author Platform

Using Twitter For Your Author Platform

Twitter is a powerful tool for an author to use as part of their author platform. It is a free and easy to use announcement platform that can be tailored to supplement your book launches, let your readers know where your latest article or story has published, and a great way to show support to fellow authors or causes you love. Many people like to use Twitter to stay up to date with the news of the day or to follow people that interest them, but that should all be done on your personal Twitter account. As an author, you should have a twitter account that is linked with your blog and other writer social media outlets that serve more like an announcement feed and remains free of personal comments except for those related to your writing process or about your stories and work in general.

Signing up for Twitter is free. Simply log into the social media website and select a name for your new Twitter feed. This name should be either your author pen name or your website name. It needs to be a name that your readers can recognize and connect with you as an author. My Twitter is @wvancamp. In retrospect, I should have chosen to use my blog’s name instead because this matches my website, but being a beginner I chose to use the account I’d already started for my personal use. When this account took off, I did not wish to change to a new name and start over finding new followers. Don’t do what I did. Choose your name more carefully.

Once your Twitter account is set up, you need to start finding followers. One way to attract and keep followers is to constantly have new content appearing in your Twitter feed. These tweets could be writerly quotes, links to various posts on your blog, links to articles you feel might be interesting to your readers, or other miscellaneous information. The key to remember is that your feed needs to be 80% content of other people and 20% content of your own. Remember, you do not want to be considered a spammer. make sure that the information and links that appear on your Twitter feed appeal to the sort of readers you want to attract to your platform.

On my Twitter feed for No Wasted Ink, I have set up certain systems to automatically post to my Twitter feed. For instance, via WordPress, every post that appears on No Wasted Ink automatically appears as a link on my Twitter feed. My Facebook page is set up the same way. Whenever I post on my author Facebook page, a link to that post appears automatically on my Twitter feed. Finally, I use a free account on HootSuite to schedule post to appear on my Twitter feed based on days and times that I choose. I use HootSuite to promote guest posts, author interviews, and essays on my Twitter feed. I also promote the stories and poems that publish on Medium or in independent magazines online. In bulk, I write out the tweets ahead of time and HootSuite trickles them out, one by one, at the designated time. In this way, my Twitter feed is always active even when I am busy living my life or writing my stories. There will be times when I’m at a writer guild meeting when one of my neighbors will stop and stare at me. They will have gotten a tweet on their phone from me, yet I am seated beside them listening to a lecture alongside them. Usually, once they figure out what is going on, they smile.

Another part of my Twitter feed comes from a third-party service called Triberr. There is a free version and a paid version of Triberr. In most cases, the free version of the program is all you will need for your author platform. Triberr organizes its users into tribes. Each tribe is lead by a single leader who chooses the theme of the Triberr tribe. I seek out tribes of fellow authors or tribes of Science Fiction and Fantasy readers and writers since this is in tune with the sort of readers I wish to attract to No Wasted Ink. Once I find a tribe I like, I apply to it and wait to be accepted by the tribe’s leader as a member. This can take some time but is well worth the effort. Once I am accepted as a member, I scroll through that tribe’s post and choose the ones I would like to promote on my Twitter feed. I checked them off and this puts them into a queue. My Triberr is set up to automatically post all the articles I have chosen to Twitter. You can set it up to drip post every 20 minutes or up to five hours. I tend to not have these posts drip to quickly because I don’t like to use up my queue of posts to quickly. But if you have a large number of tribes and wish to promote other people more fully, then setting your drip to be more often could be a good idea.

This combination of automatic posts from my website, Facebook, preset tweets from HootSuite, and Triberr all create a robust Twitter feed that attracts readers, keeps them informed as to what I’m doing as an author, and entertains and informs them. In this way, not only do I keep most of the readers that subscribe to my Twitter feed, but new ones find me every day.

One last thing you should know about Twitter and using it as an announcement platform for yourself as an author is that you need to keep your list active and pruned. Twitter is set up so that you need to be balanced between the people you read and the people that follow you. When you first starting to build your list you can add as many people as you want until you have 2,000 followers. After that point, Twitter slows you down with an add limit. You can only add proximately 10% of your feed at any given time to your Twitter followers. What this means is that if you follow people who are not following you back, eventually you will not be allowed to follow new people. Would I like to do is always add people who are following me. Then once a quarter, I use a free service called Tweepi to locate people I follow who are not following me back and remove them from my following list. Remember, this is an announcement list. If the follower is not following you back, they are not getting your message and are useless to you. Another thing I look for among my followers are people who have not posted on their stream for six months or more. I consider these followers to be inactive. I also remove inactive followers from my Twitter feed.

I hope that this has given you a better understanding of how to use Twitter as part of your author platform. While Twitter is only one part of your entire platform, it is one of the more important social media services you should be tapping into. If you are an Indy Author, Twitter gives you an easy way to promote your books and stories to a wide readership. If you use hashtags and Triberr, you can expand your reach significantly. For traditional authors, many book publishers look at the following potential authors can provide in support of their books. Having a large Twitter channel in addition to your website and newsletter can prove to be an asset for your consideration by these firms. Remember, some automation to simply your posting can make Twitter easy to use and not take up your valuable writing time.

Marketing SciFi Self-Pubs by Thomas Gondolfi

Galaxy Girl

Marketing a novel starts with, “What does a reader want?” They are after a strong story, engaging characters, no errors, and an eye-catching cover. Ok we’ve all heard this before. But there is one more key thing that most fans want – an author they can identify with. Think about your favorite author. Have you ever wanted to meet her/him? Wanted to find out why they made those choices in their book plot? Ever wanted to know what they do for fun? It’s the same whether its movie stars, political candidates, or authors. The public wants to get to know them, maybe even be their friend. In a sense, we need to sell ourselves as much as our product. This means we must interact directly with the scifi public, not from behind a website.

In one respect we, as scifi authors, are lucky. If you count scifi, gaming, anime, comic, furry, horror, and fantasy conventions you have literally thousands of shows of all sizes, shapes, and genres. We can participate in a different convention every weekend. While they can be draining, they can also give you that surge of positive fan energy to move you on with your next work. Convention success requires getting attention, sharing, helpfulness, measuring success/failure, and repetitiveness.

Conventions are like casinos with all the blinking, flashing lights. It makes getting attention difficult. The key is getting people to talk to you. You have to find a method that works for you. I’ve used any number of gambits here, but the one that works consistently is apparel – t-shirt slogans, costumes, football hats, diaper bags. What do these have to do with writing? Nothing, but they give you an inside track into what interests those potential customers. Use that strike up a conversation. Once you are talking half the battle is over.

As our goal is to sell books, our instinct is to launch immediately into our elevator pitch. In the words of Robin Williams, “Buzz – thanks for playing.” No one wants to be sold to. Sharing takes practice in spending more time listening than talking. Remember the reader wants to be friends. They want to be able to brag to their buddies that they know this great author. In the course of any convention I’ll spend 3/4ths of my time talking about anything but my products.

Karma for the win. Even if you don’t subscribe, remember people run the convention that you are attending. People run the conventions you haven’t found yet. Being helpful, with no attempt for immediate gain (no one likes a brown-nose), does pay off huge in the long run. People share your name as a good vendor. They help you get into other events or with problems you have. Going the other way, it takes no time at all to get a bad reputation and shut out of potential marketing / sales avenues.

Everyone has his or her own niche. A show that works for one person may not work for another. You want to be ruthless about those things that work and don’t work for you. That means measuring and math. Was your net higher at this show? Even with a slight loss, was the convention worth it in exposure or contacts made. You must clamp down on the downside outliers and exploit the upside to be successful.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. If I had one piece of advice, that is it. Again, think about it from a reader’s perspective. The worst thing that could happen is to get a great first book in a series and never hear about that author again. One show and you are noticed as something different but probably not many sales. Two shows and you are interesting – maybe there is something to this author. Your third repeat of a show, with new product each time, and you are someone that isn’t going away. You can be trusted.

Face to face marketing isn’t easy, especially for authors who are introverted as a class, but the payoffs are huge. Yes, online marketing is great, but it has a half-life of about three milliseconds. It doesn’t make that lasting impression that sharing about the time at a major convention a stool collapsed out from under you, signing their purchase with a personal touch about something you’ve talked about, or sharing about their book project can have. These things last in reader’s minds for years. The efforts are worth it and build the strongest fan base. Remember that this business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Author Tom GandolfiA father of three, consummate gamer and loving husband, Thomas Gondolfi claims to be a Renaissance man and certified flirt. Raised as a military brat, he spent the first twenty years of his life moving to a new place every few years giving him a unique perspective on most regions of the United States.

Educated as an electrical engineer and working in high tech for over twenty years, Tom has also worked as a cook, motel manager, most phases of home construction, volunteer firefighter for eight years, and even as the personal caregiver to a quadriplegic.

Tom Gondolfi has been writing fiction for over thirty years and doing it professionally for at least fifteen. Most of his short stories have been commissioned for use in gaming products, such as Babylon 5 Wars and Star Fleet Battles. “Toy Wars,” Tom’s first commercially viable novel, was completed almost 20 years ago with a polish just prior to publication in 2013. “An Eighty Percent Solution” is the premiere novel of his cyberpunk “CorpGov Chronicles”. Tom has completed book two, “Thinking Outside the Box,” and book three, “The Bleeding Edge,” with a total of nine books already plotted out for the series.

Why Is Klout Good For Writers?

KloutA writer’s platform is centered on their blog or website. All channels lead back to it and it is the cornerstone of all the social media “legs” that prop it up, such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Yet, there is another “leg” an author should add to his writer’s platform: Klout, the most overlooked and unappreciated service on the Internet. Many authors view Klout as a popularity contest worthy of an eye-roll and a snort of derision. “Why would I need to waste my time on gaining a number that measures my social media popularity? Isn’t that too high school for me to worry about?”

Yes and No.

Like it or not, Klout is becoming a factor in many of the third-party services used to manage your writing platform or to find writing clients via social media. In these services, the Klout Score is offered to the author as a way to evaluate twitter or other social media followers. You will find it used in Wikipedia, LinkedIn Job Titles, +K, Odesk, Hootsuite, Tweepi, and the Bing search engine. Whether we wish it or not, Klout is slowly gaining favor as a means to measure your influence in social media. This number may translate into dollars when it comes to sales. It is not a perfect system, but it does give others a sense of how much influence you exert in the social media world.

How to Start with Klout.

The first step in adding Klout to your writing platform is to sign up for a free account. Connect whatever social media networks you frequent. Klout supports Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Twitter, Wikipedia and Instagram to create your Klout Score. As of 2013, after Microsoft invested in Klout, Bing was also added as a data influence to your Klout Score. You can also link up YouTube, Flickr, Blogger, Tumblr, Last.fm, and WordPress, but at present, these networks are not part of the algorithm that determines your Klout Score. Consider them to be optional.

The Klout Score ranges from 1 to 100, with the higher scores equaling a higher ranking in the users online influence. Of all the networks, Twitter is the one that Klout looks at the most closely and I would recommend that, at bare minimum, you have a Twitter account to link to before you start your Klout account.

Klout measures influence by using the data from Twitter, such as your follower number, retweets, list memberships, how many spam/dead accounts are following you, how influential the people that retweet you are and your unique mentions. This information is blended in with the data from your other accounts to get your final score. The average social media user has a score in the high 30s to low 40s.

Some authors believe that posting a thousand times and getting a few responses will raise their Klout Score. This is not the case. Klout doesn’t measure how much someone talks, but more about how many people listen and respond. Keep that in mind as you work on increasing your social media standing and your Klout Score.

Set It and Forget It

Once you have your Klout account set up it will give you your first Klout Score. Your score is based on your interactions for the past 90 days. Don’t be upset if your first score is low. This will change gradually over time as you work on the other legs of your writing platform. Don’t spend much time looking at Klout and worrying over your score. Think of it as a stock market with its ups and downs, it is more a long term response than short term. As you build your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ presence, your Klout Score will naturally rise. I check mine once or twice a month. It gives me an idea how my networks are doing at a glance. What I look for is a steady rise in the number that shows that my social media network and connections are growing at a slow, but healthy rate. If my Klout Score dips more than one or two points, I know that something is going wrong and I should look into my networks to see what is going on.

Your goal is to build up a Klout Score that is 50+. This shows that you have an above average social interaction rate and are more likely to be able to market your book successfully. Several publishers are known to look at an author’s Klout Score to determine if they have enough social media connections in order to market their books. If your Klout Score is too low, they may not offer you a contract no matter how good your book is. People on Twitter and other services will be more likely to keep you in their networks because your score will enhance theirs and the ball keeps on rolling as your connections grow deeper and more complex on the Internet.

So is Klout worth the effort? Considering that all it takes is the time to set up your free account, about a half hour at the most, and then letting it run in the background unattended, I say that it is. Klout also offers “perks” to those that sign up for the program and want to spend more time on the site. I feel that this aspect is optional. As a writer myself, I would rather put my time into writing for my blog and working on my books than seeking freebies on Klout, but this is a personal opinion. You might decide that free cups of coffee and other small goodies are worth the effort.