Promoting Books With Social Media - Blitzkrieg Blocks

I recommend the utilization of social media technology to all of the authors I work with.  Why?  Because with so much competition for consumer attention you have to make it easier for people to find you.  For whatever reason, authors seem to overlook this step.  Maybe they’re focused on writing or something? 

I don’t mean to belittle anyone, but a sound book marketing strategy needs more than traditional public relations, media advertising, events and mailing lists - it needs a social media strategy as well.  Our new reality is that when people want to find information about a given topic, they often turn to search engines.

(And our author reality is that you can’t afford to have a public relations firm at your beck and call so you might as well focus on something that is free and demands only your time.  Albeit your precious, little time.)

Think about your own behavior when you are looking for information using Google.  Do you look beyond the first page or two of search results?  Probably not.  Are you ever unsatisfied with your Google results, leading you to try other search engines?  Probably so.

My point then is twofold.  Consumers have short attention spans and are using more than just the Google, MSN & Yahoo search engines to find the information they want.  People use the Twitter search engine … they use Facebook … Tumblr … you name it.  (The latter being a blog, Tumblr gives you the opportunity to start that blog you’ve always talked about but haven’t gotten around to.)  

Just to drive the point a little more.  Everyone knows it is important to have high search engine visibility on Google.  But I’ll argue the same goes for other “independent” search engines like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook - etc etc etc.  The brilliant part about social media technology is that the more you work it (use keywords, generate likes, provide useful comments, use appropriate tags) the better your visibility becomes.  

Going back to authors.  To those whom this piece is directed to:  

Updating your Facebook page (which is hopefully linked to your Twitter account) and leaving some comments only takes five to ten minutes a day a couple times a week.  

Do it.  

Think of the long term strategy.  

Build your audience over time.  

Maybe set aside a few five-hour blitzkrieg blocks.  

Isn’t that a Ramones song? 

Update from The Neo Com Group

Hi Friends!  I just got back from a jaunt around Western and Eastern Europe.  I used the venture as an opportunity to take a breather and reinvigorate my inspiration for all things Pacific Northwest and publicity.  While I felt some guilt about taking so much time off, during my journey I met some Europeans who told me their average yearly vacation time equated to six weeks of paid vacation per year.  The outlier was my poor cousin in England who only got 4 1/2 weeks per year.  

Well, my previous high for vacation time was roughly two weeks of paid vacation - which was also used simultaneously for sick days (of which, I took none).  This realization has allowed for glorious consequences - guilt be gone!

I did have some time to visit some amazing literary standards including Shakespeare and Company in Paris, the city of Bath (where Jane Austen spent 5 years and set two novels), Bosnia (setting for Bill Carter’s modern classic “Fools Rush In”) - and I even got out for a literary tour of Dublin (despite the rain and wind and nearly freezing temps).  

I also had some time to think about THE NEO COM GROUP and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be introducing some new “products” in the near future that I believe will allow authors to better promote themselves.  I know that most folks don’t have a budget for PR, marketing or god forbid - advertising … but I am crafting some simple plans that I think will give agency results at an “in-house intern” price.  Part of it involves empowering the author to take control of their own fate - so I hope the world is ready for that!

More soon,

Mike P - The Neo Com Group

Is the book Groundswell by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff still relevant?

One of the most important books for my own social media development, in 2008 Groundswell helped take my understanding of social media and give it a little relevance to my career.

I’ve been running into a lot of authors who are looking to jump into social media, many for the first time - and I find myself recommending Groundswell.  I think the book provides a nice framework to help small businesses (or anyone hoping to market something online) to get a feel for the task they’re embarking upon.

Approximately four years old, the authors updated the book in May 2011 - although the original is still relevant too.  Check it out if you haven’t yet.  

Adventures in Literary Publicity

There are many barriers to creating a successful literary publicity campaign and today I came across another few simple lessons that have made me give pause for reflection.  

The following is to be considered friendly, encouraging reminders for authors attempting to do their own literary publicity. 

Mailing ARCs: Cut through the clutter.

In early fall of 2011 I had the pleasure of interviewing several book editors at various publications across the Pacific Northwest.  I asked how authors might break through the clutter and rise to the top of their priority list.  

This is where my advice can be quite sobering.  

At the time, the average book editor was seeing stacks of 30-60 ARC’s arriving by mail in any given week.  Some publicists/authors have gotten around this by crafting clever mailings - delivered by singing telegram, wrapped in fancy papers, containing food or other trinkets and/or tidbits - but I don’t recommend this approach as it may backfire or be perceived as stupid.  The last thing you need is 10 journalists tweeting about how much you suck.  They’ll do that.  It’ll be awkward. 

There’s no magic wand, as far as I can tell.  I think your best bet for cutting through the clutter is to create good work, target your mailings and stick to tradition.  Write a relevant, compelling press release with angles that make the job of the editor/journalist easier - think like a journalist and you’ll be rewarded by one.  Here’s a simple primer from WikiHow.   

Research before Outreach.

Research is incredibly important and you don’t have to be an egghead to partake.  Do a little research before reaching out to a writer and get creative where you look.  Identify your target audience … look for writers relevant to that audience.  Check out blogs, magazines, newspapers, youtube etc.  

Read/watch/listen to their work.  It sounds like typical non-advice from a PR person - but it’s true, and flattering to any journalist on the receiving end.  I don’t encourage faking authenticity - look for allies in your fight to get noticed.

Get to know Google search.  The Google “Site” search is my friend, I’d like to introduce you.  Here’s a simple article on Google Search tricks from PC Mag.  

Follow Up on ARC mailings.  Gently, now.  

So, you’re working on an upcoming release and you find you’re asking yourself if barraging the editor with 100 emails will help to cut through clutter (ie, stand out from the pack)?  Of course not.  If you find yourself inclined to do so, then you’re on restriction from email.  While I may be guilty of nagging inquiries from time to time - generally speaking - you don’t want to annoy your book reviewer.  Instead, try providing relevant information that may assist in the development of their review and/or feature, and try tacking on a little question at the end.  ”How do you like the book?”  Or, “Have any questions so far?”  Limit your number of questions, limit the time it’ll take for them to respond to you.  They will appreciate it and you might get better results.  

Relax.

So, you’re convinced that you’ve put together a fine ensemble of press materials, including a relevant press release and insider information for targeted journalists.  You’ve politely followed up and refrained from nagging.

What is your next step?

Relax, you’ve done all you can for now.  Your target writer is likely behind schedule, overworked, underpaid and in need of a vacation.  Furthermore, sometimes it’s best to forget about those you’ve reached out to in order maintain a sense of sanity for your own work.  How many times have you checked your email during off-work hours? Seriously.  

Have faith.  Some of my best work has arrived months after I forgot about it.

Not really, but kinda.  

Why Isn’t Everyone Writing About My Book?

There are so many authors trying to get noticed.  It takes something really special to sell a lot of books.  That’s even debatable.  Chances are you aren’t the first person to approach a given journalist with a book in your subject area.  Chances are that yours isn’t even the best book in a particular subject.  Flaunt what you do have - whether it’s expertise, experience, problem solving capacity or personality.  And do your research.  Find communities that support you - both online and in real life.

And relax.