I’m delighted to welcome back a guest blogger, Nick Thacker, whose post earlier this year resulted in some interesting feedback. He has some great ideas here, many of which are new to me and I am already planning to try out.
“Automation” is a word that tends to invoke thoughts of iRobot-style post-apocalyptic societies, machine-versus-human world wars, and other disturbing concepts.
It’s easy to see why: we’ve gone from an unplugged, eating-dinner-at-the-table family lifestyle to a smartphone-wielding, status-updating and Pinterest-crazed world. There are automated banks, door-to-door grocery delivery services, and machines that will eat your money and turn it into a hot and “fresh” hamburger.
But that’s just one side of the argument. We can’t forget that all of this automation and the fast-paced society we now live in have given us some remarkable innovations as well—including marketing innovations for authors.
It’s rare that I am moved to write a blog post on a whim, but today is one of those occasions. Over the last week, I have read so much stuff about how people should and shouldn’t behave on Twitter, that I felt compelled to add my two-penneth.
The first blog post I read was the usual stuff – don’t use Twitter as a sales platform; don’t only tweet about your books or people will stop following you; make sure you use the 80/20 rule – 80% about other people, only 20% about yourself.
Oh – and you should only tweet a maximum of six times a day. That’s another one.
Something else to think about …
I recently wrote a few blog posts to help some of the people that I had met on forums to get to grips with Twitter. I said from the start that I am no expert, but over the last ten weeks or so since I launched Only the Innocent I have learned a lot more about Twitter which I’ve tried to share with other indie publishers. I got some great feedback to the earlier posts, and some very interesting comments – which have cast a slightly different light on things.
I have concluded (and am happy to be disagreed with) that as authors, we have to wear three hats.
- The writer
- The ‘brand’
- The salesman
In terms of Twitter, these are almost mutually exclusive.
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Why have I written this?
Some of you out there will wonder why I’ve bothered writing this. Well, it’s because when I published my first novel, I thought I knew about Twitter. I had been using it for another business for years – and I just didn’t get it. I thought it was a waste of time.
Before I launched my novel, I had just 9 (yes – NINE) followers, and so I have been on a steep learning curve. I certainly am a long way from being an expert, but I’ve found tools that work for me, and now I GET IT!
I’ve met quite a number of authors on various discussion sites who write about not getting any interest in their books – and they say that they don’t use Twitter. And it’s really for these people that I have written this.
The post is in 3 parts – from the most basic to a few tools, but I hope that the parts answer the following questions:
Click on any of the above links – and I hope you find it useful.
Twitter? What’s that?
I must start by declaring loudly that I am NOT an expert. This is all about my own experience, what I have learned, and what I wish I had known first. But if you are thinking of becoming an indie publisher you may find something useful here. At least, I hope so. This post is aimed at the people I have met on my author journey who do not have a Twitter account, and don’t really understand what it’s all about.
It’s a recognised fact that if you are going to be successful with your indie publishing venture, you need to create a PLATFORM. So what does that mean? I will quote Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn – “The author platform is how you are currently reaching an audience of book-buying people, or how you plan to do so. It is your influence, your ability to sell to your market. It is your multi-faceted book marketing machine!” You can check out The Creative Penn blog here – it’s full of useful information.
Twitter is not the only answer to creating your platform, nor is it the complete picture. But it’s a start, and it is an incredibly powerful way of communicating with your potential readers. The good news is that there are some clever tools that you can use to help you build the right followers, create interesting content and stop following people who are not really interested in what you have to say – ie they don’t follow you back. So don’t despair.
When I published Only the Innocent, I thought I had been very clever. I had created a website, set up a Facebook account, and created a Twitter account. But that was it. I’d set them up. I’d done nothing with them. I’ve still not done much with Facebook, to be honest – but that’s another story and we’ll come back to that. I published Only the Innocent with just 9 followers on Twitter.
And the reason? I just didn’t get Twitter at all. So this first post in a series of three is about the basics. What Twitter is, and what it can do for you. If you’re already up to speed with this, move on to the next post.
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The basic terminology and etiquette of Twitter.
Now you have your twitter account, you’re going to want to start tweeting.
One of the first things you need to understand is about the length of tweets and the impact this has on any web link urls that you want to add into your tweets. There are various web shortening sites that will do the job for you. I use bitly.com because it not only stores the addresses, but I can get some useful analytics as well which show how many times my links have been clicked. All you do is paste in the url that you are going to add into your tweet, and it will produce a reduced length version. Click on the ‘copy’ button, and paste it into your tweet.
When you look at other people’s tweets, you may see that there a lots of # tags incorporated. These are really useful – and you need to understand how they work …
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Twitter – Using the tools
Social networking is a very time consuming occupation. When I first got going, I was clicking around all over the place trying to find people to follow, making sure that I followed people back, writing tweets at certain times of the day – like every 10 minutes. It was hard work. But you know what? It doesn’t need to be.
I’ve sorted myself out with three different pieces of software, and an occasional use of a fourth. There are loads and loads of different Twitter apps out there, and it all depends on what you want to achieve. But for me, these three/four work perfectly.
The first thing that I got was TweetDeck. This is free. I have got the desktop app – but I understand that there is an online version if you use Google Chrome as your browser. I haven’t investigated this, but you may want to. What TweetDeck does is present you with all the information regarding your Twitter activity in a number of columns side by side on the screen. You can organise the columns any way you want, and you can add more for specific purposes (explained later). Hootsuite does the same thing, and is a much more attractive user interface in my opinion. But at the moment it doesn’t show your new followers, and I use this feature a lot in TweetDeck because I often use it to find out more about my new followers. I don’t use it to follow back (although I could) because I use other software for that.
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Just to reiterate some of the information from the last post, there are several stages to getting your book ready to publish. It’s not just a matter of writing it, and then uploading it. At least, not if you want to be successful (and I have yet to discover how successful I will be!). The main phases are :
- writing a good book (obviously);
- proof reading until you are blind – some notes on this below;
- preparing your social networking sites, at least in a rough format so that you can add links within your book – you don’t want to be doing this later. This is covered briefly in the previous post, but there will be more on getting the most of your social networking sites later;
- preparing all the other stuff you are going to need – photos, blurbs, book cover images – more below;
- formatting your book so that it can be easily uploaded;
- choosing your channels to market – Amazon, Smashwords, etc;
- uploading your book, and correct any problems – then publish!
- writing a marketing plan, and then implementing it.
So there is more to it than meets the eye!
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The earlier posts reflected what I was doing, how I was doing, and how frustrated I was getting with the whole process. But now my ebook is published and is available from Amazon.co.uk here and Amazon.com here. However, the journey was not quite as easy as I thought it would be, so I am going to concentrate the contents of the following few blogs on the process I followed, and the issues that I experienced along the way.
The process will be covered in several posts, and as I continue to market my book, I will share the process to the best of my ability.
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