Articles tagged "social media"

How Authors Can Build Their Marketing Presence Online

Want to be a successful author in the 21st century? You have to be online. It goes beyond a suggestion into the territory of necessity.

But how do you strengthen your online presence so you can be sure the greatest number of people see you and know to buy your work? Being visible, engaging with your readers, and having the right attitude online all go a long way in making sure you’re getting the most out of your digital efforts.

Be visible

In order to have a strong online presence, you need to make yourself available online. Seems obvious, right? Basically, you don’t want to make it hard for people to find you. We’ve talked before about the importance of having your own website, and that’s a great place to start. Free or cheap hosting services, premade templates, and easy-to-use software have made making your own website a snap. If you have a central hub, readers will know where to go for the latest news, writing, and where to buy your work.

It’s also important to look outside your own website. Take advantage of social media; it’s a great place to build a community because of the built-in audiences of these sites. No need to start from scratch when you can find readers already sharing their comments on Facebook and Twitter!

Finally, don’t be afraid of interacting with other authors, publishers, and thought-leaders on their own sites. After all, your goal is to be visible. See if there are any blogs looking for guest contributors. Sharing your own tips, insights, and experiences is a great way to engage potential customers, and if you’re writing for another site you can tap into the audience they’ve already built.

The key is being in as many places as possible. Different platforms have different audiences, so just because you have your own site doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on Twitter, and just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean you’re reaching the same audience you would if you were also on Facebook. Experiment and find out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Speak with readers

What’s the best way to grow an audience? Build relationships with your readers (and potential readers). Readers don’t want to feel like they’re just customers – someone you’re only trying to get a buck from. Make them feel like they’re partners in your writing and they’ll be a lot more likely to support you. Speak with them, not just to them.

Social media makes it incredibly easy to keep in touch with readers. Have conversations with them, but don’t always keep it just about your next book. Share your thoughts and interesting articles with them; respond to their posts, even if they aren’t directed at you, to show that you’re just as invested in them as they are in you.

In short, make yourself look human. One of the benefits of independent publishing is that you aren’t beholden to a giant publishing conglomerate that’s just looking for the next best seller. You have the chance to try new things and work on a smaller scale. Being a friendly face, and not just another cog in a marketing machine, is endearing to readers and likely to help you stand out from the crowd.

Choose Your Words Carefully!

You’ve heard the old saying: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s a good rule of thumb in general, but it’s never been more important than in the digital age. Why? Because as a newer old saying goes, the Internet never forgets. Comments on social media can be shared in an instant, screenshots and backups can be taken be complete strangers, and before you know it that one little snarky comment you said before you had your morning coffee is living in infamy.

So how do you say nice things, even when other people aren’t willing to? Sometimes it just means taking the high road. Ignoring negative comments is a good start; if you don’t engage the haters, they can’t gain any traction.

Of course, it’s not always a case of people being mean. A bad review of your book can sting. You might be tempted to shoot off a tweet about how the reviewer is a hack and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But what if you decided to look at it constructively instead? Take what the review says to heart, look at it as objectively as possible, and see what merit the comments have.

If you have to engage the reviewer, thank them for taking the time to read your book and give their thoughts. It probably won’t change the review, but the reviewer – and every potential reader out there – will see that you’re willing to take criticism gracefully and are trying to improve your craft. They might be more willing to check out your next book to see how you’ve grown.

Independent publishing means putting in a lot of legwork to get some great rewards, and marketing is no different. Making sure you have a strong online presence is a great way to market yourself and your work for relatively little money. Growing your audience organically by putting a real human behind that author name

Why Authors Need Their Own Website

If you're an author, a website is crucial for marketing your writing career.

You’ve written your book. You’ve published it. Congratulations! So…what’s next?

If you’re like many authors, you want to start selling it. But it’s not enough to just make it available for sale and cross your fingers. After all, you have a lot of competition out there. And while you have a lot of control when you independently publish, that comes with a lot of responsibilities, too. You have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for marketing on your own. It may seem daunting, and you might not even know where to begin.

Why not start with a website?

While selling your book in bookstores is great, let’s face it: you need to be found online. Your job in marketing yourself is to remove as many barriers as possible for potential readers. You want it to be easy to find you, easy to learn about you, and easy to buy your book.

Part of this is building your personal brand. That’s right, brands aren’t just for multinational corporations to slap on packaging and billboards. Building your personal brand lets readers know you outside of your book and helps you connect with them and build relationships. This will make them more likely to want to buy what you’re selling.

Websites and social media have made this easier than ever, because it allows you to directly share your thoughts with people. If you have a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve a website, you’re missing out on a lot. Plus, having a site just might make you a better writer.

Here are four ways having your own website will boost your writing career.

Engage Readers

How do you stand out in a world full of millions of people selling their books? By making it personal. Build relationships with readers by sharing your thoughts, responding to comments and questions, and entertaining them – in other words, by being a real person and not just a name on a book cover.

Building close connections to a group of fans can add up quickly; in fact, it’s the whole idea behind Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans premise. If you can give people a place to find you and you have a conversation with them, showing that you care about them and not just about their money, you’ll be well on your way to building your fanbase.

Sell Your Book

Hopefully your book is available in every place that will carry it, from Lulu to Amazon to brick-and-mortar stores. But there are a lot of benefits to selling your book on your own. Setting up a storefront on your website – allowing readers to find out about you and buy right away, without needing to go to another site – removes a barrier for purchase and makes them that much more likely to click that “Buy” button.


Readers aren’t the only ones you’ll be able to reach with your website. Fellow authors, publishers, and booksellers are also online, and your website will allow you to network with them. Guest blog posts, for example, let you share tips and tricks and, even better, let you tap into someone else’s audience to build your own. Writing collaborations, workshops, author events – the bigger you grow your network, the more inroads you’ll have to great marketing and writing opportunities.

Practice Writing

Sure you’ve published a book, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement! Even the best authors are always striving to get better. If you’re updating your website regularly, you’ll get a ton of practice writing, whether it’s responding to visitors, posting writing exercises, or learning how to write concisely with your author bio. When you’re an author there’s no such thing as writing too much, and when you’re writing for your site – contributing to your marketing efforts – you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Getting Started

Making your own site has never been easier. Using a blogging platform like WordPress is a great place to start; you can create static pages that will remain relatively unchanged – for example, your bio or contact information pages – and have a built-in blog for regular updates. Or you can choose a platform like Squarespace and use their templates to make creating your own page a snap.

Some platforms are free, only charging you for extras, while some will run you a small subscription fee. And even purchasing your own domain name only comes out to a few bucks a month. No matter what route you go, look at the time and money you’re putting into it as an investment: a little work now will pay dividends as you continue to grow.

Do you have your own website? Tell us about it in the comments! Share your insights with your fellow authors about what works for you (and what doesn’t).

Social media for book lovers

Social networking meets your reading addiction.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent profile of Goodreads, a super popular book-centric social media platform. The site launched in 2006, and as the Times notes, has over the last 7 years become “the largest source of independent reviews on the Web, with 21 million and counting.” Like all successful social media sites, its popularity springs from the relationships and communities it fosters, and if this article is any indication, these ties are booming.

I was also happy to note that the piece paid special attention to Goodreads’ relationship to independent publishing. It notes the wild success of “Wool,” a series self-published sci-fi books by Hugh Howey that received serious attention after being featured by one of Goodreads’ most popular book clubs (later it mentions that Howey’s series was optioned by 20th Century Fox!).

The Times attributes the particular advertising power of sites like Goodreads to the “membership model.” In short, recommendations or reviews written by friends (be they online or off) tend to be more effective motivators because they’re understood to be trustworthy and personal. Could literature-focused social media platforms provide the non-traditional advertising avenue self-publishing authors need to break through to a wide audience?

Though the Readmill’s iPad app has been around for a while, in early February the company launched an (even more mobile) app for the iPhone. Readmill is a digital reading platform with a built-in social media interface. One part digital marketplace, one part bookworm Facebook, the application – now available for both iPhones and iPads – allows users to purchase eBooks from vendors online and read them via a slick, minimalist interface on their mobile devices. It also lets readers share favorite quotes, track reading stats, and get recommendations from friends and followers.

Competitor apps like Wattpad and BookShout point to a growing market (and hopefully a growing demand). We’ll see if apps like this catch the public interest, but I think they could provide excellent opportunities for self-publishers trying to get the word out as well as serious readers looking for their next page-turner.

Are you a part of any of these book-centric social media platforms?  What has been your experience?

Explode Your Author Fan Base with Google Plus

Anyone who loves books eventually falls in love with their authors. I don’t necessarily mean romantically in love (although I’m sure that happens!), but simply that when people have spent significant time in someone else’s thought world, they feel like they know that person. Then anything that makes that connection more real and solid in any way takes on immense significance for the reader. It’s one of the major factors in someone going from reader to “fan.”

That kind of connection used to happen primarily through personal appearances, at a reading or bookstore signing. For a fortunate few, there might have been a radio or television interview. But now social media has opened up all sorts of possibilities for authors to reach out to their readership, and for readers to feel more connected than ever.

The Green Machine

For some of the most popular authors today, social media has been key to their success. One of my favorite examples is young adult writer John Green (author of bestsellers like Looking for Alaska). On YouTube and Twitter Green built a community of intelligent, disaffected young people who identified strongly with the characters in his books. They even formed an impromptu “organization” known as the Nerdfighters (not fighting against nerds, but rather against “worldsuck”). To the Nerdfighters, Green isn’t just a favorite author, he’s their leader.

That might just sound like a bunch of fun and games, until you hear something like this: When Green announced pre-orders of his latest book on his Twitter account, it went almost immediately to #1 on Amazon…six months before the book was published.

Help Lulu Win Social Madness!

Ok, we need your help! Lulu has made it to Round 3 of the Social Madness Social Media Contest, but we need your help beating Burt’s Bees in the next round. We have a long way to go. As we enter into this round, we have 857 points and they have a whooping 6,985.

If you enjoy chatting with us on social media and have connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google Plus, our Blog or or Pinterest page, then please help us win! There are four ways to help us win:

  1. Vote for us (click on the image below. Select our city – Raleigh/Durham – and then click “Medium Companies” and vote for!)
  2. Like, comment on and share our posts on Facebook
  3. Like, comment on and share our posts on LinkedIn
  4. Reply to and retweet our tweets on Twitter
    Continue Reading »

How to use Pinterest to Market your Book

Pinterest is a new social media networking site that lets you pin up images to a virtual cork board that you can share with your friends. The site has gained popularity in record time and can be a great tool to help you sell more books.

What makes the site addictive is that it makes it so easy to find images that are inspirational, beautiful, funny, touching, awe-inspiring and creative. This makes it the perfect place for photographers to come for inspiration and also to share their own sources of inspiration. Note: I said find and share sources of inspiration – NOT use this as another place to plaster your own content. Like with any social network, the relationships are founded on two-way interactions and the sharing of valuable resources and knowledge. Ensure you have this foundation before you start to market your own products. Once you’ve established a loyal and engaged network, then you can begin to promote your own products here, but do so sparingly. These efforts will have a much more significant impact on sales if they do not overwhelm and bombard your audience.

In an article called How To Market Your Consumer-Based Business On Pinterest, author Kelsey Jones provides impressive stats about the growth of Pinterest. She also links to several brands that are using the site well for marketing purposes.

Get creative and give the site a try. It has great potential for all creators, but we wanted to specifically call out the obvious fit for people who create their own photo books. For example, I just did a quick search on Lulu for books on photography and came across Photography by Virginia Perry-Unger, which has beautiful images that I would definitely pause to examine if I saw them posted on Pinterest.

Photo Books make great Pinterest posts


If you’ve got other helpful tips for using Pinterest, we’d love to see them in the comment section here. We’d also love to connect with you on our Lulu Pinterest Page.

Tackling Twitter, Part 1

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)

It’s hard for some writers to express a thought in 140 characters, but in today’s world of Pinterest, Facebook, and blogging it’s necessary. As The New York Times recently noted, “With the digital age comes new conceptions of authorship.” This is especially true for authors who don’t have the marketing muscle of a publishing house at their disposal.

Not everyone has been quick to jump into the “Twittersphere.” Explains author Lucas Klauss, “I was — like a lot of writers, I imagine — initially pretty suspicious of Twitter and its supposed benefits. I thought it would end up being just a big time-suck. And sometimes it is! But I’ve been happily surprised at how fun it can be.”

He used the social media platform to promote his book trailer (more on these at a later date). “By far most of the views I got were from Twitter — people retweeting it and saying they thought it was funny. And it connected me to other authors I hadn’t yet met.”

Wanting to be on Twitter and actually getting the mojo to join and keep on top of it are very different. It can also be intimidating and, take it from me, just plain weird at first.

Don’t let it be.

Remember how you tackled the blank page and completed a book? Well, trust me, Twitter has nothing on that. However before you start crying from the Twitterverse’s rooftops, remember the following:

Define your online persona: Being on Twitter means others will come to “know” you so think about which part(s) of yourself you want to put out there. What interests and hobbies will you promote? Your writing and reading, sure, but maybe you also love old Nintendo games, tulips, or your Subaru? Whatever it is take note and once you join, seek out similar folks with whom you’ll want to have a dialog.

Contribute to the conversation: Someone you follow is looking for a book recommendation? Answer him or her. Another person posts a link to a blog post you loved? Say so. The point of Twitter is not to tirelessly promote your own work but build your own community of online “tweeps” who will answer your questions and hopefully support you

Stay committed: The most popular people on Twitter tend to update their feeds often so plan on tweeting at least twice a day. If you’re worried about making such a big commitment, strategize. Keep a running log of future tweets as far out as you can handle. This can help reduce the pressure to always be by your phone or computer

Cross-pollinate: I’m not normally a big fan of corporate buzz words, but in this case it makes sense. Basically, you want to make sure that all of your various social media platforms are interconnected, meaning that your Twitter profile points to your blog and vice versa. This helps people become aware of your entire body of work. Thankfully, this linking process isn’t usually very difficult!

Be patient: Building followers takes time. It’s unlikely you’ll acquire 5,000 followers overnight but that’s okay. You want quality — as in people with similar interests who you can have a dialog with — over quantity.

Check out next week’s column for tips on using the hashtag (see below), the difference between replying and retweeting, as well as a whole host of general do’s and don’ts!

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)