Which Social Media Platforms Should Writers Use?

Which social media platforms should authors use

Which social media platforms should authors use When writing a book, you are creating a product that will need to be marketed in order to achieve sales. Whether you are planning to self-publish (where you will be doing all the marketing yourself) or to secure a publishing deal with a publisher, you will need to market your book. Your publishers will want to see that you have a loyal following on social media (yes, writers have been turned down on publishing deals as they weren’t using any social media platforms), and in order to achieve sales, you’ll need to develop good brand awareness across traditional media (print, radio and if possible, television) and social media.

However, you may be wondering if you need to use ALL of the social media platforms as after all, where are you going to get time to write the book if you’re tweeting, instagraming and blogging.  You don’t have to use all of them but you do have to work out which platforms are best for you in terms of reaching your target market and maximising sales, plan your social media strategy and then evaluate.

Here’s three reasons why each of these social media platforms work well for authors.

Facebook for Writers

Many writers choose Facebook as the first platform to try partly because they are familiar with it from having a personal profile. It is relatively easy to set up a business page and ask friends to ‘like’ it to make a start on building your community. Many authors have said recently that they are giving up on Facebook as their reach and interaction has decreased significantly but I believe Facebook has a lot to offer authors.

1. Build Community

If you post updates that people enjoy and interact with, you’ll find you are building a community. As they comment and you reply, you can feel that you’ve actually met them in person as you get to know them well.

Your updates should be related to your product or service (no photos of cats if your book is about social media training unless the cat is actually tweeting!) and if it is what your fans expect and want, the interaction increases drastically. As my books are humourous but realistic views of farming, my funny farming posts achieve the best reach. Even a photo of my new pink wellies got good interaction as many farm women (my target market) engaged with my comments.

How writers should use facebook

As far as writers are concerned, providing updates related to your genre or topic will be of interest to your readers who enjoy your books. People also enjoy seeing insights into your life and occasional reports on your writing progress. They help to whet their appetite for the next book.

2. Targeted Advertising

Whether you are boosting a post on Facebook or running an advertisement, you can narrow your audience to the extent that you can target those in a certain geographical location, of a particular age group, male or female, and target them by their relationship status, interests and behaviour. For example, if boosting a post aimed at increasing brand awareness of my Would You Marry a Farmer? book, I would be targeting females aged 30-55, those who are engaged or in a relationship, interested in farming and reading amongst other criteria.

3. Hosting Online Launch

Whether or not you decide to hold a book launch, holding a virtual launch on Facebook means that your fans can attend from wherever they are and it really costs you very little. Decide on a date and announce it in plenty of time, creating an event so people can opt to attend and then receive reminders. Update your page every hour with previews, excerpts,videos, photos and competitions for prizes. It makes for a fun event and your fans can dip in and out as they choose.

Do stay aware of Facebook’s rules, many are common sense but if you break them, you could lose your Facebook presence.

Here’s even more reasons why writers should use Facebook.

How Writers Can Use Instagram

I’ve only recently started using Instagram in terms of promoting my forthcoming book How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife. At the moment, I’m building followers amongst my target group slowly and steadily. Most of my content is related to farming but when I posted a photograph of a book review in a recent publication, one follower commented to say she was downloading it on her kindle.

Using Hashtags

By using hashtags within your own photo captions, your target market will find you. By searching for your target market using hashtags, you can find them, follow their account, like their photos and interact. The #farmerswife hashtag is quite popular, by using it in my posts my target market will find my photos and I can search for them with the hashtag. It really makes finding your relevant readership a simple and effective process.

Hashtags - farmerswife

Sneak Peeks

Sharing short excerpts of your writing, drafts of your book cover, sneak peeks into some illustrations for your book will all work to engage your target audience. Tyler Knott includes lots of photos of typed or handwritten poems, prose or quotes and gains immense interaction.

How Writers can use Instagram

Insights Into Your Life

Read any interview with a writer and it usually includes questions regarding where they write, when they write and what inspired their latest book. Photos of your writing desk, the view from your window or the landscapes that inspire your scenes will be popular.

 

LinkedIn For Writers

You are now a business person so you really should have a LinkedIn profile. You may feel that LinkedIn is just for Business to Business sales but a percentage of those business people will read books in your genre. Your LinkedIn profile will also show up in search engine results.

Your Curriculum Vitae

Use LinkedIn to list your achievements, publications and awards – it is your online curriculum vitae after all. If a potential reader, agent or publisher is searching for you in a search engine, your LinkedIn profile should come up on the first page. If your name is quite popular, by having ‘author’ as your profession, it will make it easier for people to find you too.

Professional Profile Photograph

Somewhat surprisingly, many business people’s profile photographs on LinkedIn are far from professional. Using a photograph that has been cropped from a family wedding or a day out just doesn’t cut the mustard as far as your level of professionalism is concerned. You can emphasise your author status by including one of your books in the profile photo.

Here’s mine:

How writers should use LinkedIn

Using Groups

There are many writers and book reviewing groups on LinkedIn. Some are incredibly busy with hundreds of thousands of members, some are more select perhaps limited geographically and open only to writers in a particular country or genre. Becoming a member of a group allows you to learn from other writers, to share your own knowledge and yes, engage with other people who just might buy your book.

 Blogging for Writers

In my opinion, blogging is essential for writers. It has so many advantages and after all, as a writer, you should find it relatively easy to write your blog posts.

1. Provides A Point Of Sale

Your blog can also function as a simple website or as part of a more developed website. Blogging frequently and using highly searched keywords means that searchers should be able to find it on the first page of google. Once they read the blog post they are interested in, they may click through to your ‘buy my book’ page and either purchase there or follow the links to Amazon.

2. Test Your Market

By writing your posts in a particular style or about a book-related topics, you can build your fans but also test your market. You can gauge their reaction by evaluating the traffic received, the interaction on your posts and if the posts are shared by your blog readers.

3. Build Your Community

By blogging yourself and reading other blogs, you’ll get to know your readers and other bloggers. Writing can be a lonely occupation and by getting to know other writers, you become part of a vibrant and helpful community. Your fans will have their loyalty rewarded with updates about your book launches, competitions, insights and sneak peeks. They will become even more loyal as a result.

It is worth mentioning that journalists will find you via your blog too. As it happens, I received a phone call from the BBC today – it turned out that they were looking to interview a particular type of farmer and were hoping I could give them some names (which I did) but sometimes that phone call has turned into press coverage for my own book.

 Twitter

More and more writers are turning to Twitter as a means to promote and sell their books. It is an effective tool but not for writers who write strong call to actions tweets like ‘Buy my book. 99c today on Amazon. You will love it #books #greatreads’.  The fact is that readers do buy books when they engage with the writers on twitter – the secret is in the art of conversation.

Like all social media platforms, Twitter is about a two-way conversation, a dialogue, not a monologue. Just as you wouldn’t launch into a sales pitch when you just meet someone in person for the first time, the same goes for chatting to them online.

Using Hashtags

Do not overuse hashtags on Twitter, one or two per tweet is sufficent but an effective use of them means that it’s obvious to others that you are a writer plus other writers will engage with you. Hashtags such as #amwriting, #writingtip, #amediting, #bookmarketing, #authors and #selfpublishing are just a few examples of hashtags you could use to interact with other writers.

Lorna Sixsmith Twitter bio Using Your Bio

Twitter users without profile pictures or biographies will find it more difficult to get followers. Your bio should reveal that you are a writer and the genre or name of your books.

In Conversation

As I mentioned above, Twitter is such a convenient tool for chatting with friends, followers and fans. Readers love chatting with writers and if you are conversational, they will act on the occasional sales tweet to direct people to buy your book.

 

Pinterest for Writers

You may think that Pinterest is quite similar to Instagram. After all, both are visual platforms. However, Instagram tends to be for photographs ‘in the moment’. The photographs for Pinterest have to be very beautiful or incredibly useful in order to stand out from the crowd. The beauty of Pinterest is others can repin (share) your images (pins) and it will always contain the link to the source (ideally where they can buy your book).

Attract Your Target Audience

You can attract readers by creating boards for topics that your target audience would be interested in. Examples for a historical fiction author might include Bookshelves,Book Reviews, Book Covers (for your genre),  Reading Nooks, Jane Austen, 18th Century England, 18th Century .Paintings, Writing Quotes.

Gain Inspiration

If you are struggling to describe some settings in sufficient detail, you can search Pinterest for inspiration. If you would like to describe the beauty of New Forest ponies in their setting in Southern England, just search for those terms and you will be presented with a plethora of images to choose from to help furnish your descriptions.

Sneak Peeks

Remember what I said above about readers enjoying being able to see sneak peeks into your content or into whatever inspired you. You could also reveal your research for the book within a pinboard.

  Lorna_Pinterest_MK_Hobson

M.K Hobson has created numerous boards devoted to research images for his historical fantasy novels. I haven’t even read any of the books and I am finding the boards fascinating in terms of their research into the various locations as well as what they suggest about the characters in the books.

If you wish to keep it private while writing the book, you can create a secret board. It is easy then to tidy it up, deleting any irrelevant pins and change it to a public board upon publication of your book.

Which Platform Is Right For You?

If you are wondering which social media platform is right for you, that will depend on who your target audience is, which platforms they use and how good your visuals are. Some will require more time and focus than others. It really is a case of choosing two, becoming proficient at using them and then evaluating their success. The advantages and uses of each platform have been limited to three in this post but there are many more – which will be revealed in the online course.

Social Media and Blogging for Authors If you are hoping that social media is a passing fad and will disappear, remember that it is only thirty years since mobile phones were like bricks and printers cost thousands. The developments in the last ten years have been incredibly fast and that’s the way it will continue. People are consuming information now via their mobile or tablet – be it looking for directions to a venue, booking a restaurant or researching a holiday. The same goes for buying books. Having a QR code or your website address on your marketing material means that potential readers can purchase your book very quickly via their smartphone if they wish to do so. Clare O’Beara has found that having her website address printed on bookmarks has resulted in immediate online sales while chatting to people – they take out their smartphone and make the purchase there and then.

Learn More about Social Media for Authors

If you would like to learn more about using social media for selling your books, our 3 week eLearning Learn How To Sell More Books Using Social Media would be perfect for you. The course is delivered by email, you will receive a lesson each weekday and individual feedback is provided once ‘homework’ is submitted. The course will show you how to use Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Email Newsletters to increase those sales. It also includes a lesson on how to gain free press coverage for your book. If you’d like to also learn how to use Instagram and Pinterest, that will be delivered in a subsequent one week course.

Competition

If you’d like a chance of winning a place on the Social Media course for Authors, leave a comment below saying which social media platform you would like to learn about most. Winner will be drawn at random – do have some fun and leave me a haiku or a limerick if you’re feeling creative though! The course starts on 8th June and the winner will be decided next Wednesday morning 3rd June.

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Are You Risking Losing Your Facebook Presence?

Are you breaking Facebook's rules?

Do you have a business? Are you selling a product or service? Maybe you’re an author selling your books but you haven’t really considered yourself as being a ‘business person’ as yet.

Are you breaking Facebook's rules? If you are using Facebook to promote your product or service, have you set up a Facebook page? If you are using a Facebook profile instead of a Facebook page, you could lose it. Yes, that’s right, it is against the rules to use a personal profile as a business and Facebook is shutting down the pages or piles of businesses that break the rules.

What is the difference between a profile and a page? Your personal profile enables you to connect with friends. Facebook stipulates that individuals ‘like’ the business page in order to see the updates. The business, therefore, can’t connect with individuals and their privacy is protected.

Yet, time and time again, I come across businesses using personal profiles. Sometimes it is because they didn’t realise they had to have a business page, sometimes they want to grow their numbers of likers by sending friend requests until they reach they maximum of 5000. Some plan to convert it to a page then, others will leave it as it is. There’s a few problems with that system. Many people won’t befriend you as they don’t necessarily know who is behind the account. You can’t use any of the features that facebook pages have such as accessing Insights (analytics), scheduling or using advertising. The most serious repercussion is that Facebook can shut down your profile. Sometimes they give it back on appeal, sometimes they don’t. Imagine you have 5000 ‘friends’ and you lose each and every one of them. Apart from the embarrassment, you would have to start again from scratch.

That’s what happened to author Jessica Bell. She was using a personal profile, she had the word ‘author’ in it, and on the day of her planned launch on Facebook, they shut down her profile. It sounds as though they considered her use of her profile to be business use and unfortunately for Jessica, they chose the worst possible day to close it down. To give Jessica huge credit, she has shared her experience so others can learn from it.

Many authors are wondering if Facebook is right for them as they see a decline in their reach and interaction but as I pointed out in a recent post, Facebook is a wonderful place to grow a community and fans, you just have to provide the type of material they expect and they enjoy – be entertaining, be informative, provide beautiful pictures, be engaging, and it’s much easier to grow your reach. If you’re using a profile, you can’t even see what your reach is plus you are running the risk of social embarrassment.

Getting interaction on your facebook page

As you can see in this screenshot, a simple (and I guess, amusing) update featuring new pink wellies on my farming page received good interaction as lots of farm women commented and enjoyed the conversation – my perfect target market. I could have shared that picture on my personal profile but I wouldn’t have been able to tell how effective it was for one thing.

If you wish to start a Facebook page, you need to go to Create A Page and follow the step-by-step instructions. Don’t put it off. You will need your logo or a photograph to be sized to 160 x 160 for the avatar, and the cover image is 851 x 315. You can crop images easily in Picmonkey or use a variety of images to create a collage – just like these ones.

More Facebook Rules:

  • The images in your facebook ads cannot contain more than 20% text.
  • If you have boosted an update where the image has over 20% text, it is likely to be rejected. You can check it in the grid tool.
  • You cannot ask people to share your update for a chance of winning a prize. Facebook is closing down pages that do this. I’m frequently meeting businesses who don’t realise that this rule exists – simply because so many businesses are breaking the rules and seemingly getting away with it. If running a simple competitition on Facebook, you can ask people to comment for a chance of winning a prize (e.g. the funniest caption will win) but you cannot ask them to share your update or tag others in the comments.
  • Obviously enough, anything that is seen to incite racism, hate, violence or includes nudity is going to be banned by Facebook too.

With 1.4billion users, it’s obvious that some rule breakers are going to slip through the cracks but don’t get too complacent. As a business, you really don’t want the embarrassment, not to mention the hassle, of losing your presence on Facebook.

What do you think? Are the rules too strict or perhaps you think Facebook should be more vigilant with rule breakers? Are you confident you aren’t breaking the rules?

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My 3 Favourite Twitter Tools

My 3 Favourite Twitter Tools

With three twitter accounts, I find using twitter tools to be time-saving, convenient and it improves my use of this social media platform. Here’s my three favourie twitter tools.

My 3 Favourite Twitter Tools

Hootlet

Hootlet is an browser extension of hootsuite and can be used to tweet or schedule tweets providing links to articles that you might be reading and want to share with your followers. Just as you might pin an article or an image to Pinterest from your browser, you can also use the hootlet button in your toolbar to share it.

hootlet

Once you click on the hootlet owl, the blog title and link pop up – all you have to do then is choose the account you wish to send it from (if you have more than one account) and choose between sending it now, auto schedule or specify the day and time. The link displays as a short ow.ly link just as it would if you used hootsuite.

If you are in the habit of reading a number of articles in one go, you might like to share the best of them with your followers. You probably won’t want all the tweets going out at the same time so you can schedule them out over time if you wish.

Manage Flitter

I decided recently to tidy up one of my twitter accounts, I knew that I was following a lot of people who weren’t following me back and weren’t necessarily that relevant as my target audience. I’m not overly precious regarding the number of people I follow but I was conscious that many of my followees accounts had lapsed or weren’t entirely relevant to that account. I decided to use Manage Flitter and find it really useful.

It provides information on who isn’t following you, which of your followees don’t have a profile picture as yet, if you have any fake or spam followers and any inactive followees (those who have not tweeted for 30 days). It also informs you which of your followers are considered influential on twitter and you can also mute tweeps from Manage Flitter too. You may consider muting someone if you don’t want to see all their tweets but you don’t wish to unfollow them for whatever reason.

In this screenshot from ‘everyone I follow’ you can see that Manage Flitter tells me if they are following me back or not (with the thumbs up or down sign), I can see their last tweet and if I hover over any of their details, their bio comes up in a pop up box.

Manage_flitter

You can unfollow up to 100 people a day using their free account which is more than enough for a tidy up.

 Canva

Canva is a photo manipulation tool, with much of the functionality being free. What I like about Canva is that they offer templates in the exact sizes suitable for the various social media platforms so in the case of twitter, the template is currently sized at 1024 x 512 px, the optimum size for images to be viewed in their full size on Twitter.

Canva

Now, Canva isn’t just for Twitter of course, but it doesn’t take long to amend  a photograph to make it suitable for Twitter use. All I’ve done with this example is I have chosen the Twitter post template, then uploaded a Twitter icon and my logo and dragged them into place. Two text boxes are used to add the text and it is as simple as that.

My 3 favourite twitter tools

You can also purchase photographs from Canva to use as background or complete images.

Have you used any of these tools? What is your favourite Twitter Tool?

If you are looking for tips on Instagram too, do book into our Instagram webinar below. 

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How To Influence Your Target Market Using Facebook

How to influence your target market using Facebook

How to influence your target market using Facebook Do your social media platforms influence your target market? Do they have the intended influence that you want? Are they delivering what your fans and followers expect from you?

Or are you sending mixed messages? Are your target customers confused which can translate into lack of trust and confidence?

I attended an ‘Influence Mastery’ conference by Owen Fitzpatrick last week. There was lots of content on motivating people, negotiating successfully, telling stories and more. One point that Margaret Considine made during the negotiation training was that in preparing for the meeting, consider how you want them to feel during and after the negotiation. That includes do you want them to like you, do you want them to feel confident, do you want them to feel in control, do you want them to feel they got a good deal from the negotiation (as you walk away happy too)?

The emphasis on ‘how you want them to feel’ comes into all our business communication. We want our target customers to feel happy and confident using our products or services, we want to show them what their lives will be like in the future if they use our products / services and we want them to like us. Liking us is particularly important as people do more business with those they like and they will believe you if they trust you too.

How To Influence Your Target Market Using Facebook

I’m going to use Facebook as an example as it’s been getting some bad press lately with some businesses dissatisfied with their reduced reach. The thing is – if you can provide content that people expect from you, they will engage.

First of all, you have to work out how you want them to feel when they see updates from you or visit your Facebook page. Do you want them to feel inspired, motivated, informed, educated, amused, sad or entertained? You need to decide on that and then work out if your updates fit with that mood creation.

Creating Nostalgia

Felicity Hayes-McCoy frequently uses a quote from her book, a link to where it can be purchased and a beautiful photograph from Dingle (where her book is set) as updates on her Facebook page and it works a treat.

How to use facebook to influence your fans

They always get good engagement, demonstrating that her fans want to enjoy the feelings of nostalgia, of retreating to a place of peace from the rush of city life as well as admiring the scenery. These are exactly the feelings that are invoked in readers of her book The House on an Irish Hillside too so she is targeting her readers perfectly.

Always Creative & Helpful

I like the way Glenisk Organic shows us what is going on behind the scenes, such as their team members training for the Mini Marathan and support Marie Keating Foundation but I particularly like how they share different ideas for using their products. Not only do they share their own ideas, they share ideas sent in by users too – whether published on their blogs or emailed to them.

How to inform your fans of new products

Fans of Glenisk know that the Facebook page will provide friendly information on how best to use their products. They are currently launching a new product and are using social media to answer queries and raise awareness too.

Humour within Realism

I am far from being a comedian but my farming books contain tongue-in-cheek humour, yes, there is a sense of realism but it’s very much with a glass half full approach along with a pinch of salt. Therefore, the majority of my Facebook updates for my Irish Farmerette page are in a similar spirit – showing the reality of being a woman in farming with some humour. My followers have grown to expect that and react appropriately.

How to use humour on facebook

The idea of wearing bright pink wellies on the farm got a good response – from women who either loved them or were amused at the idea. My average reach per update is usually about 400 (the page has 900 fans) and as you can see, this one reached 1700.

Inspiring

Magnumlady, a personal photography blogger, takes beautiful landscape photographs. I just know when I see her updates that I am going to be awestruck by the beauty and majesty of the landscape in her photos, whether of ruined houses, barren fields or cityscapes are featured.

How to influence your target market using Facebook

It is the multiplicity of beautiful photographs that serve to showcase her skill and talent. Not only am I impressed by her photography but it compels me to want to visit Sligo all the more too.

Knowledgeable

Amanda at Spiderworking provides key information on social media, particularly on handy social media tools. Not only does this show her expertise and personality but her followers have confidence in her knowledge and her training abilities.

How to help others have confidence in your expertise

How do you want your followers to feel when they see your updates, visit your page or follow you on other platforms? Are you providing the right kind of content / message to influence those feelings? I’d love to hear what you think.

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Is Your Business Ready For 2020?

Tayto_Park_reviews

Where will your business be in 2020? Have you plans for expansion, more staff, greater turnover, more sales? I have to admit that while I create plans for the year ahead, I’m not so good at setting goals for five years time yet the year 2020 isn’t far away.

Carlow LEO are having a Women in Business event on 27th May focusing on preparing your business for 2020 and it made me think. As I’m reasonably social media savvy, I don’t have that aspect of the business to worry about. When I started up my first business in 2008, I started blogging straight away and while not exactly an early adopter of Twitter and Facebook, I was using both early in 2009. I started using Pinterest relatively early so found that easy and as for Instagram, I was using it for personal reasons for some time and am now going to use it for business use too.

However, as this article points out, many Irish SMEs are in danger of falling behind – not just in terms of growing sales via their website but even engaging with customers via social media. Here’s some statistics:

While 63% of Irish SMEs have a website
- 91% cannot process sales online
- 62% cannot (in the first instance) take sales orders online;
- 68% cannot process payments online
-  51% don’t have the ability to interact directly with customers through social media or web chat;
-  54% don’t have responsive website designs for tablet or smartphone;
-  66% don’t have video content on their website;
- 4% have the capacity to run analytics on their website performance.

I fully appreciate that not every business necessarily wants to take bookings online or sell online, for example, hairdressers may prefer to take calls and slot different requirements in together but is it something that they (and other businesses) should be thinking of? Will people expect the option to purchase everything online soon, to make bookings online, to get their queries answered? It’s certainly worth thinking about. Customers are already moving to communicating with businesses by twitter and their facebook pages, partly because they know they will get a reply within minutes if not hours and it saves them having to telephone. Would you believe that 42% of customers expect a reply within 60 minutes (and they don’t necessarily take differences in time zones into account either).

 

 

Large businesses have staff manning the twitter account almost continuously – providing customer service, answering queries and dealing with complaints as well as thank yous. If you are a small business, customers won’t expect immediate replies but they will expect a response within 24 hours at most. If 51% of Irish businesses can’t communicate with customers online, that’s 51% of businesses missing out on valuable engagement opportunities.

People buy from people and being personable and chatty on Twitter is so much more engaging than being salesy. I’ve purchased many books written by authors (self published and traditionally published) I follow on Twitter, not because they have posted ‘buy my book’ tweets but the opposite – they post the occasional tweet about their book so I know where to buy it but other tweets are chatty, friendly, informative. Even if I’m not a keen reader of a particular genre, I’m often keen to give it a go because I like the author.

Facebook isn’t just about selling either. Followers who are potential customers will engage via comments, likes and shares, and yes, if they like your brand personality, they are likely to purchase. Your Facebook page is also a great way to get testimonials as well as receiving feedback on your business. Tayto Park has over 3,000 reviews on Facebook alone.

Tayto_Park_reviews

With the growing popularity of Pinterest, where each pin links to the website page it was pinned from, businesses are missing out if they are not selling their products online. Two years ago, I made the decision to grow my business by offering eLearning courses whereby they could be booked online, delivered online (by email) and thereby my target audience grew from just being in the SE of Ireland to worldwide. As a result, Pinterest is a key social media platform for generating traffic and sales for my business now.

Bold New Frontiers large The number of people embracing social media is growing daily with Instagram users now surpassing the number of people on twitter. Customers expect businesses to have websites, they  expect to communicate with them on social media, they expect to be able to purchase or book services via the websites. We’re only in 2015. This week saw mobilegeddon whereby Google will be penalising any websites that aren’t responsive to mobile – many changes are afoot. It will be interesting to see what changes come about by 2020. How will you prepare for business growth for the next decade?

If you’re near Carlow and are a Woman in Business, do come along to the Bold New Frontiers event on 27th May – it should get us all thinking about the future and the possibilities.

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Ten Pinterest Board Ideas for Writers

10 Pinterest Board Suggestions for Authors  Writers

10 Pinterest Board Suggestions for Authors  Writers You can promote your book from day one of writing  by using Pinterest. The beauty of Pinterest is not only will your fan base wish to follow you but it is an effective way to reach potential readers who are interested in your genre – you just have to work out the best way to do that and I’m going to give your some tips in this post. As you probably know, your pins can be shared (repinned) by others on Pinterest and no matter how many times they are shared, they will still contain the link to where the book can be purchased or your website.

Pinterest is about sharing the love, it is about sharing enthusiasm and knowledge of particular projects, it is not about hard sales. People are using Pinterest as a search engine, for example, to find recommendations for good reads. They are using it to share their own reading experiences and recommendations. They use Pinterest to create lists, for example, their favourite reads of the year or books they want to read. People will collate their favourite book covers, their own book reviews, their writerly gifts, their favourite quotes or even the best first lines from books.

As an author, what boards should you set up in order to promote your book but also engage with your target readers?

Ten Pinterest Board Ideas For Authors

1. Information About The Genre

Create a board designed to be filled with pins related to your genre. For example, if you write historical fiction set in the 18th century, creating boards focusing on fashion, historical details, wars, feminism, writing, art, interesting facts and more from the 18th century will help you to gain those interested in this era as followers.

How Writers can use Pinterest

Laura Frantz has numerous boards focusing on historical fashion, perfect as her novels are historical romance. In a similar vein, if you book includes details of steampunk, sharing images of steampunk fashion and inventions will help attract that audience.

2. Book Related Boards

Create boards to cater for your own interests in anything book related bearing in mind that they will also appeal to all readers. Boards devoted to writing seats, reading nooks, bookshelves, fabulous libraries, book art, gifts for writers, gifts for readers, they will all prove popular and gain you followers amongst avid readers.

How authors should use Pinterest

I like these examples by Writers’ Relief.

3. Book Reviews / Recommended Reading

The obvious board is devoting one to book reviews. You could create a board devoted to links to book reviews that your books have received but why not create one for book reviews you enjoy reading or indeed, some that you write on your own blog too. People enjoy reading blog reviews and will bookmark them on their own boards if they see a book they might enjoy.

Ideas for Pinterest boards for writers

The TBR Pile reviews indie books frequently and it’s a good one to follow. I like it because it helps me to find self published books I might not come across otherwise. If you can encourage readers to take photos of your book in different (and wellknown) locations and send them to you, that would be a fun board too.

4. Quotes

People love quotes, particularly if the pin has an inspiring image under the text. Creating a board which focuses on inspiring quotes for writers or quotes focusing on the theme of your work (e.g. travel quotes for travel writers) or even create pins quoting lines from your book.

Book_Quotes

Visit the Book Quotes board by Ned Hayes at your peril – you might find yourself lost for hours, in a nice way of course!

5. Merchandise

If you sell merchandise related to your books, do use Pinterest to promote it. If the quality of the images are good, they should do well on a dedicated board. Remember to pin those images to your ‘Gifts for xxx’ board too!

6. Your Country

Celebrate your heritage with a board dedicated to your country. It can happen that readers will read books by an author because of their nationality as they are interested in writing from that country. I have a couple of ‘Ireland’ boards as I enjoy sharing pins celebrating our humour and our beauty but they also reinforce part of my identity too.

7. Favourite Authors

Devote a board to your favourite authors particularly if they write a similar genre to you. You could pin interviews with these authors, reviews of their books, images of adaptations and actors, quotes from the books – anything that fans of those authors would enjoy and could lead them to investigate your new book.

8.  XXX in the Media

You often need to prove your worth in this industry – to publishers and to readers. In my experience, what tends to give kudos are the interviews on national radio stations and on television. Include pins of each piece of press you get – from reviews in the local press to photos of yourself being interviewed on radio (with the presenter).

Lorna_Sixsmith_in_the_Media_board

I set one up a while ago. I also include articles that I’ve had published. Not only will it impress and serve as a pictorial curriculum vitae but it will also help you to feel good about your own achievements when you are adding to it.

 

9. Day in the Life of an Author

Share your life with your readers. If you read interviews with authors, they often always include a question on their writing routine, where they write, what they need to do to get the muse going, if they write best at 6am or midnight …. the answer provide an insight into the life of an author and people are fascinated by it. Share that information with your readers by including photographs of your writing desk, your ‘to be read’ reading pile, your scribbles over a printed draft, where you take exercise and much more.

Day_in_life_of_an_author

See this good example by Joanna Penn - I bet you could add lots more to your own board though. Think of it as a pictorial ‘About Me’ board with a focus on the interesting and the inspirational!

10. Inspiration Boards

Don’t forget your inspiration boards for your books. While you are writing the book, you might like to keep these private as secret boards or you may like to make them public with the aim of intriguing your fans. I think it is a good idea to keep it secret and then you can unveil the board by making it public around your launch day. Readers will be vying to see what inspired a particular storyline or a character.

How writers use Pinterest

See Carmel Harrington’s inspiration board for The Life You Left as an example.

Remember, the secret with Pinterest is to use good quality images and well optimised descriptions ensuring that each pin links to its proper source (ie a book review pin links to the review itself) but also to pin little and often. Pinning lots increases the chances of being repinned and that increases the likelihood of new followers. 

Have you used Pinterest to promote your writing? What has worked best for you so far?

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Understanding Pinterest Analytics: Finding Your Best Boards and Your Key Influencers

Understanding Pinterest Analytics Finding your best boards and your key influencers

Understanding Pinterest Analytics Finding your best boards and your key influencers Your Pinterest Analytics can provide you with a mine of information and this tip will show you how to identify your top performing boards, the top performing boards by others that your pins have been pinned to and those group boards you might want to consider leaving.

Have you accepted invitations to group boards and you’re not sure if they are providing results for you? They are showing up on your profile, you have pinned to them but they are either not that active or they’re not delivering with clicks, impressions or repins? Your analytics will help you identify the good, the bad and the ugly.

Are you wondering if you are following key influencers in your field? Those people who have pinned or repinned your pins and have boards that are performing really well? Pinterest analytics will identify them for you.

Here’s how to find Top Performing and Under Performing Boards:

1. Go to your Pinterest analytics by clicking on your name in the top right hand corner and you’ll find analytics in the drop down menu from the cog. If it isn’t there, you’ll need to convert your account to a business account and verify your website first.

2. When you visit your profile page, scroll down to see the ‘boards’. Decide what determines success for you – is it the number of impressions, likes, repins or click throughs to the website? I’m deciding on click throughs.

Interestingly, my board ‘Social Media 2014′ has had a reasonable number of click throughs but no repins or likes which makes me wonder if it’s accurate but it is a good indicator. I’m pleased to see my own board at the top followed by a popular group board.

How to find highest  performing boards

3. Read down through the list, ticking off the group boards that are performing well for you and do the same with your own boards too – there may be some that you created that just aren’t cutting the mustard.

4. Complete your spring cleaning by deleting any individual boards that aren’t providing results.  It can happen that you create a board impulsively and forget about it. It’s time to delete it now rather than having it cluttering your profile You can do this by clicking on the board title, click on ‘edit board’ on the top right, then click ‘delete board’ within the pop up box.

5. You can also remove yourself from any underperforming group boards by clicking on the board title, clicking ‘edit board’ on the top right. A box will pop up with the word ‘Leave’ beside your name – all you have to do is click ‘leave’ and confirm.

 

To find Key Influencers / Your Brand Ambassadors:

What about those who have pinned or repinned pins from your website – would you like to find out if their boards are worth followin? Indeed, if they are a group board, you could apply to join.

1. Click ‘Activity from your website’ at the top of the page.

2. Select ‘Clicks’ if click throughs to the website are your main ingredients for success.

How to find  key influencers

3. Scroll down to look at the list of boards. When I clicked on the third most successful board on the list, I discovered that pinner / board had helped my pin achieve  406 repins so no doubt, it achieved more click throughs than listed beside this board. I interacted with the pinner by commenting on the pin and of course, followed her.

4. Click on each of the boards that are delivering click throughs and decide if you would like to follow that board. I’d recommend it.

 

If you enjoyed this Pinterest tip and would like to avail of more, do download our ebook on Amazon – 365 Social Media Tips.

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How Writers Can Get More From Facebook

How writers can increase their book sales using facebook

Should writers use Facebook?

How writers can increase their book sales using facebook Can writers benefit by using Facebook? Will it help them sell more books, build a community, increase brand awareness?

I’ve recently come across a number of authors who are saying that Facebook, for them, has been a waste of time, that their reach has dropped, that they are finding it hard to increase their likes, that it just isn’t resulting in click throughs to their website or to book purchases. While I agree that increasing your reach on Facebook has become more challenging, I still believe it is well worth the effort.

You must have a personal profile on facebook before you can create a facebook page, for example, my personal profile is under my own name Lorna Sixsmith, and it’s where I share news with many friends.  It is relatively straightforward to create. Sign up at www.facebook.com by following the steps and facebook will even help you to locate some of your friends.

To create a page, you need to visit this link, choose ‘brand or product’ and follow the steps to create a facebook page. Most authors name their facebook pages as their own name and add ‘books’ or ‘author’. You will need to upload two photographs. One is your avatar and will be resized to 180 x 180. Many authors use a photo of themselves, sometimes reading a book or holding their own book.  The cover photo is a wide landscape photo with the dimensions of 851 by 315. Many authors use a collage of their books or a picture from their launch for this image.

You should have a number of goals for your Facebook page, I’m going to list them below and show you examples of how I (using my own author page) and other authors are doing it well. I hope it inspires you to stick with it and increase your own book sales from your use of Facebook.

#1. Test Your Market

One reason I like having a Facebook page is because I’m interesting in the response to particular stories. If I’ve written a blog post about a subject that I might include in my next non fiction book, I’m intrigued to see if I will get much response on the blog, Facebook page and Twitter. As my next book is going to be tongue-in-cheek humour, focusing on farm wives, I was delighted to see that a post  focusing on a similar topic I shared from Buzzfeed reached over 6000 (my usual reach on facebook updates is 200-400 from a follower number of 850).

Use Facebook to test the market

Think of Facebook as a place not to sell, sell, sell but to communicate with your readers and one of the benefits of that is receiving feedback – both on existing books and perhaps on ideas for your next ones.

#2. Promote Your Book

All authors want to promote their books but that doesn’t mean that every update can be about book promotion. It will come across as too salesy and just won’t interest people. However, there’s a number of ways you can promote your upcoming or new books, pique people’s interest and gain sales – all without seeming a hard sales.

If you are genuinely excited about your new book and share those emotions with sneak peeks of illustrations, the front cover or even very short extracts, they will all serve to whet the appetite of your potential readers.

Sharing news with your readers

Louise Phillips shares a photograph of her finished first draft – as one of her avid fans, I’m already looking forward to reading it.

Most authors display their books on the cover image or avatar. Adding a testimonial by a well known author or critic will really give it kudos and sparkle!

Use your cover image and avator to promote your book

 

Hazel Gaynor won an RNA award recently and it’s displayed quite subtlely (yet is noticeable) on her avatar. Both avatar and cover image look very effective in promoting both books.

#3. Grow A Community

Many of your followers will become your community, your brand ambassadors and yes, your friends. I now feel that I know some of my followers so well (because they comment regularly) that I’m almost surprised I haven’t met them in person yet, I actually feel like I have. Be chatty and friendly on your Facebook page, acknowledge any comments with by clicking the ‘like’ button or replying individually to them.

Have you ever thought of having a Facebook book launch for those who can’t make it to your launch in a physical venue. You could run it for an entire day, uploading a new update every hour on the hour.  Content could include quizzes, sneak peeks, competitions for a free copy, sharing some new information about the inspiration for your book, making your secret ‘inspiration’ boards on Pinterest public and share them to your Facebook page, include a video, share photographs from where you are spending the launch day – anything people will be interested in but ensure they come back again and again by promising competitions and they will come back to see who won too.

 #4. Tell Them You’re An Author Worth Reading

If others are enjoying your books, you will feel that you want to shout it from the rooftops and compel others to go out and buy it.Don’t make every update a bragging one but when you achieve something, be it getting into charts or being featured in a magazine, do share the good news. Sharing occasional reviews is a nice way to do it too – just mix these with entertaining or informational content too.

How Authors Can Use Facebook To Reach Fans

 

Here, Nat Russo shares his good news about getting back in the US charts. Remember that images are good so taking a screenshot or photograph works well to emphasise your progress.

I find that, in particular, those who supported you in your early days will really go out of their way to congratulate you as they feel part of the journey. They are your ambassadors so always thank them for their comments or shares.

#5. Grow Your Readers

How do you increase your fans and grow your readers? You can, of course, pay for Facebook Ads and / or boost posts but if you want to do it for free, here’s a few tips.

Optimum Timings

Check your insights (Facebook analytics) and check the time of day when the majority of your fans are using Facebook. As you’ll see from this screenshot of my account, posting updates in the evenings will help me reach many more people than posting in the early mornings. While I do vary content throughout the day, I do tend to post most material about my own book (links to blog posts especially) in the evenings.

  FAcebook_-_when_your_fans_are_online

Schedule three of the next five Facebook updates to go out at those times and see if that increases your reach. It should do. Measure the effectiveness over the next month and then evaluate. Don’t saturate your account with content – I would recommend posting once a day, twice occasionally but don’t go mad and post three or four times. Create good content and spread it out.

Provide Relevant Content

You need to work out why people are following you – are they just interested in you, your book or are they looking for content that’s related to the genre of your book. If you write crime fiction, your audience are bound to be interested in hearing about true unsolved crimes as well as tips on how crimes are solved, stories about detection dogs and your opinion of other novels. . If your style of writing is comedic, then provide some content designed to make them laugh. If you are writing cookery books, share links and pictures of recipes you would recommend and yes, a few of your own too.

Those who follow my author page do so because they are interested in farming but they’re also looking for some humour – preferably to do with farming.

Use text on photos for emphasis

Anyone who has ever bottle fed lambs, calves or any other young animals will know the relief when they feed easily as a couple of slow feeders can wear you out when you’re already tired from lack of sleep. Adding some text to this photo of my daughter bottle feeding a calf achieved good reach because of the humour. Without the text, I doubt it would have worked as well.

Size of Images

When using images, remember that portrait images will be displayed with white space at the side so when uploading an image, it is better to use square or landscape images for more impact.  It’s very easy to share a photo from your smart phone but remember, taking a few minutes to edit it in terms of size or adding text could make all the difference in terms of increasing the engagement and reach.

(Here’s how to add text to a photo using Picmonkey)

Author Jody Hedlund has a very active Facebook page and rewards her followers by telling them about various giveaways so they have a chance of winning copies of her book. This photograph of her latest book is an excellent image but you can see the white space beside it lessens its impact.

Use square or landscape photos on Facebook

Whereas, this landscape photo within the blog link fills the space and the collage of the three books should certainly capture attention in the newsfeeds.

Landscape photos work well on Facebook

Sneak Peeks

Another way to grow your readers is to whet their appetite and Felicity Hayes McCoy always does this very well by incorporating a quote from her book with a beautiful photograph from where her book House on an Irish Hillside is set in beautiful Co. Kerry.

facebook_-_sharing_quotes_and_photos

Use Video

Videos are getting increased reach on Facebook now. The videos don’t have to be elaborately edited pieces although more authors are creating trailer videos now to promote their books. Vine videos are easy to make and as they can be watched in six seconds, they will get high numbers of views in people’s newsfeeds.

Using vine videos on Facebook

Suzanna of Zwarbles Ireland isn’t an author as yet but just watch this space I think. She’s recently started making Vine videos of her beautiful sheep and has received millions of views to date. Sharing them to Facebook increases the charm of both her page and the number of views.

Any Other Ideas?

If you’re an author and you’ve found that something else works well to engage your followers and generate sales, do share it with us.

Remember if you are hoping to get a traditional publishing deal, most publishers will be looking for evidence of your following across various social media platforms so having an engaged following on Facebook will help your cause. Having a Facebook page isn’t all about selling but by creating good content, interacting with your followers and growing your community, the sales will follow.

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Creating A Compelling Crowdfunding Campaign – I Interview Creator of Pogwin

Pogwin_Picturebook

Crowdfunding is a really interesting concept and is becoming increasingly popular – it works by creators presenting their community, creative or business idea on a crowdfunding platform, providing rewards in turn for pledges and ask people to pledge money to make it happen, quite often asking them to pre-buy a product and wait a number of months for delivery.

I first met Jamie when he delivered a talk introducing the concept of crowdfunding as part of an ACT Ireland Wales conference. As I sat there listening to him talk about the crowdfunding campaign he had assisted, a germ of an idea came into my head regarding the potential of using crowdfunding for my book idea. Would crowdfunding help me to test the market and see if there might be genuine interest in my book? Would it help me to raise finance so I could minimise the risk of printing numerous copies? Might it help me to increase brand awareness of the book? I spoke to James about my ideas and he was very encouraging. He told me afterwards he knew I was determined to do it but I think even he was surprised when I launched a campaign just seven weeks later.

I’ve written some blog posts about the steep learning curve I experienced when running my crowdfunding campaign. Coincidentally, I was interviewed recently about my crowdfunding adventure, sharing tips from my experiences. My interview, along with two others, is available on this podcast.

Jamie has now launched his own crowdfunding campaign for a beautiful picture book and I am delighted to bring you an interview with him, revealing his inspiration and some insight into the whole process.

Hi Jamie, many congratulations on producing a beautiful book, it looks like it is the fruit of many many months of hard work, love and attention to detail. Do tell us about the inspirations for the book and the creation of Pogwin.

The inspiration was a roundabout! I wonder if anything so mundane has ever inspired a picture book before? The roundabout is on the outskirts of Neath in South Wales and in its centre is a large grove of trees. We see this quite often on our travels and Chris imagined that, hidden amongst the undergrowth is its only resident; a quiet, solitary character, very comfortable in his own skin.

The creation of the book is collaboration between the two of us. We both developed the story outline. Chris is the illustrator and I’m the writer. The whole thing is told through Pogwin’s words; a strange rhyming babbling language that reflects what he’s thinking at every moment.

  Pogwin_Picturebook

We’re both passionate about conservation. I’ve noticed too many urban developments that have just quietly flattened ‘scruffy’ woodland and built on it. Who knows how many creatures like Pogwin have been made refugees! Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world and picture books help educate the young. Pogwin is our attempt to capture the imagination of children and also introduce them to problems with deforestation and unrestrained development. We are also planning to plant trees if we are able to raise enough funds to publish the book. We have 7 acres available! Please help support by sharing.

Why have you decided to crowdfund? Are the reasons more than monetary? 

Traditional routes to children’s publishing are difficult with many gatekeepers. We want to connect directly with the audience for the book. We’re keen to develop more books in the Pogwin series and retain creative control along the way. Kickstarter is more than just a site to attract funding; although that’s a crucial part of it! It’s where we hope to connect with a community. We’re also making friends across social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Writing a book for children is incredibly difficult as you have to please and interest both the children and their parents. Did you find it difficult to write?

I love writing Pogwin and I don’t find it difficult at all. Maybe that’s because I identify with the little chap. People who know me would laugh at that.

Pogwin speaks in stunted rhythmical stanza’s; “Bend and stoop. Munch and nibble. Nettle soup. Makes me dribble”, etc.

What is difficult is to write well! I often go back to the things I’ve written days before and edit or discard. It’s part of the process.

Pogwin Over City

 

Many congrats on achieving £1548 in just six days. I know there’s some way to go but that’s a great start. What methods are you using to try and secure pledgers? Are you trying to get press coverage?

There are so many approaches we are taking. The main channels are Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter we are posting regular content that we hope is interesting to followers and the wider world. Careful use of hashtags are important. Our main tweet is pinned to the top of the page. We have asked for retweets and sent direct messages; this has lead to backers. I’ve joined a number of relevant Facebook Groups relating to children’s publishing and also the environment. I regularly post to these and this have proved successful.  I make sure the timing of these posts are right though. It means a late night if we want to attract the attention of our friends in the USA.

When I ran my crowdfunding campaign, one of my aims was to test the market. I didn’t really have anything to show potential pledgers apart from a popular blog post. When I look back, I wonder how  I succeeded as I didn’t have a front cover to show, I didn’t have any illustrations not to mention extracts from the book. I’m wondering how on earth I managed to raise €6,000 – pure determination perhaps. Your campaigns looks very polished in comparison, partly as your book looks ready to go to the printers. What made you decide to wait to launch the campaign at such an advanced stage? (Incidentally, I think it’s an excellent idea and know it will pay off for you.) 

 We both write and illustrate so holding us back from doing the creative work is difficult! That’s the bit we love. There’s room for changes to the storylines and some of the illustrations. I think it’s important to leave space for this for after the campaign has finished because feedback may influence our creative direction. We’re not creating by committee but we will be influenced by our potential readers and will respond if we feel that’s the way to go.

You had something amazing; a great idea for a book and a large connected following. We’re not so connected so we’re relying on the message getting out. It’s essential. The more people share the better. Hint to your readers : )

I notice you are crowdfunding with Kickstarter which means it’s an ‘all or nothing’ campaign. If you don’t raise the total, you don’t get anything. Personally I prefer pledging to campaigns like that but why did you decide to opt for an ‘all or nothing’?

It was more the platform. I have some experience of working on Kickstarter campaigns so that has proved useful. I also wanted a to work on a publishing project, a new thing for me, and test the market via Kickstarter. ‘All-or-nothing’ is good in that it forced me to develop a carefully considered income and expenditure forecast.

The obvious reward for a campaign for a book is a copy of the book – did you have difficulty in coming up with rewards for higher and lower values? What is proving to be the most popular reward?

It wasn’t too difficult as there are established structures for reward tiers for children’s picture books i.e. providing limited edition prints of illustrations and even offering original artwork – which I’d highly recommend people look at! Chris’s illustrations are beautiful.  The most popular reward is the hardcover book but the lovely slip-case version is popular too. Both would make a great gift. One fun reward for all the tree lovers out there is that we will plant 100 trees if we reach our target. It’s in keeping with the theme. I have seven acres to play with so we’ll start our own copse just without the roundabout.

Treeplanting3

 Have you had any influential people support you and has their recommendation resulted in more pledges (I noticed a tweet from someone with 90K followers last night)?

That’s an interesting story. Zach Weinersmith (@zachweiner) is a gent. He successfully funded a chillden’s book called Augie and the Green Knight on Kickstarter. I emailed him for advice and asked him what he thought of the campaign. He thought the book and the pricing looked good. What I learnt from him was that he was very well connected during his campaign, much more than we are. So we are working on it! This project is a fantastic way to learn and we’re working hard on those connections.

know you have helped others with their crowdfunding campaigns in the past, is there anything about running your own campaign, as yet, that has surprised you? Is it more work than you had anticipated?

The hard work is in getting the message out. It’s a lot of work. You never know when or where it will pay off but getting the message out is so important. I’m very keen to talk to key influencers, such as yourself, about the project. Thanks for the interview Lorna!

PogwinhasChlorophilia

There you have it. Less than a week into their crowdfunding campaign and Pogwin is doing well having secured $1548 from 36 backers. The grand total in this ‘all or nothing’ campaign is £7,500. I suspect you will pledge for this book planning to give it to a child (son / daughter / niece / nephew / grandchild) as a gift but you just might end up keeping it for yourself! It’s a great example of a well planned and executed campaign – beautiful images and graphics, snapshots of the writing, clear indications of the quality and a video which shows the product and the two creators. What are you waiting for? Go and have a look at the wonderful Pogwin.

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