Using Twitter to reach readers

Last week I wrote about setting up a Facebook page to connect with your readers. Twitter can also be a great way to reach readers.

Twitter is a social networking site where users can send short (280 character) messages called Tweets. You can include a hashtag (#) to allow people who are interested in a topic to find those who share that same interest. But be warned – using too many of these looks like your message is spam.

As with Facebook, you shouldn’t spend all your time posting about your book. I’m not saying you can’t post about it but it can’t be all you do. You can post announcements – a new review, a cover reveal, an author interview/guest post or a book giveaway, to name a few.

But be sure to intermix tweeting about your own content (your books or blogs) with sharing useful, interesting and amusing resources from other people (retweeting) as well as perhaps glimpses into your life or things you are interested in.

Now some people say you should work on connecting with people, making friends instead of selling. The theory is if people see you interacting and are interested, they will find out for themselves what you have written. But this can be time consuming – time you may want to spend writing.

The best way to build relationships is of course to engage the other users in conversation or at least commenting on their Tweets. Another way to build relationships is to retweet the content of others. The goal here is to hope that others will reciprocate.

And by connecting with others and helping share their tweets, hopefully people will take an interest in you. They may check out your Twitter profile so make it a good one. Consider something witty and of course list that you are an author. You also might upload a header about your upcoming or latest book. If you have a book promotion or announcement, pin a Tweet about it to the top of your profile.

There are a vast array of programs you can use with Twitter. From programs that allow you to schedule your tweets or find out who doesn’t follow you back to sites that shorten any URLs you want to include in your tweet, there is something to help you get the most out of Twitter.

You can read numerous blogs about the dos and don’ts of Twitter. But in the end, you really just have to do what you feel comfortable with and what works for you. But I will say that I know I have sold books off my tweets, and I have certainly increased my blog’s traffic with mentions on Twitter.

Setting up an Author Facebook Page

Two weeks ago, I wrote about social media for authors. Let’s delve a little more into some of your choices.

The biggest social media platform is Facebook with more than 2 billion users every month (with 95% of those accessing the app on their phones). There are more than 65 million businesses with a Facebook page.

facebook-logoFacebook can be a great way to connect with your readers. The best way to do this is by setting up a Facebook page – a public page that anyone can see even if they don’t have a Facebook account. Those with a Facebook account can “like” the page, and then they will receive updates from your page in their News Feed.

Creating a page really allows you maintain a professional presence and still allows you have a personal account where you can connect with friends and family. This means you won’t be spamming your friends with an overload of your books and you aren’t sharing too much personal information with your readers.

When you set up your page, do it under your author name. Do not set up a separate page for each book. You are building a brand so you will want to focus on everything you do verses just one of your works. Plus it will be easier to maintain and update one account rather than one for each of your books.

Fans and readers really need one place to go. Basically, if you have people who like your author page and others who like your book page, you are splitting your audience. If you post updates to the people following your author page, you might miss those following your book page. If you post on both, you could annoy anyone who follows both with duplicate or too many posts.

To set up a Facebook page, you must have a personal profile first. After you have a personal profile, go here to set up your page. Click on “Artist, Band, Public Figure,” choose author and follow the instructions.

Once you have your page up, you will need to let everyone else know about it. Go ahead and mention it on your blog, website and other social media platforms. Encourage readers to “like” the page. Then start sharing your author and book news. You can announce book releases, link to reviews of your books, let readers know about sales or updates on your current work in progress.

The key here is post on your page regularly. Keep your posts interesting and preferably one that can provoke responses. And remember that every post should not be about trying to sell your books. Feel free to check out my Facebook page and “like” it.

Social Media for Authors

Your book is done and out there for the world to find, read, and love. Of course, no reader (beyond friends and family) will find it without some marketing. One of the best – and typically free – way to market your book is on social media. Maintaining a presence on social media these days is a must for any writer.

Social Media Options

Facebook free iconFacebook is one of the largest social media platforms and is widely used across all demographics. Instead of adding friends to your personal page, your best bet is to create an Author page. You can also create or join an author group as a way of networking.

Twitter free iconTwitter is one of the most watched platforms. From presidential politics to celebrity gossip, Twitter is the place to be. This is a great place to build a following as many Twitter users will follow you if you follow them.

Image result for instagram iconInstagram focuses on pictures and video sharing. You can share creative pictures of your work or other things that inspire you that allow readers to know you more.

Goodreads is a social media platform designed for writers. It exists to connect authors and their readers. Most of those on Goodreads are readers. Their reviews and lists can help deliver exposure for new and budding authors.

Image result for pinterest iconPinterest is the least time consuming of the social media (as a form of advertising that is. Users on the other hand can spend hours looking at the items pinned on different pages.) People don’t expect you to reply or talk to them. You can just post your pins and let the program’s algorithm take care of the rest.

With this many social media options, you could spend a lot of time keeping up with them – time that you could better spend writing your next novel. It is true that social media can take up a lot of time, so my suggestion is to only pick one or two. Focus on the ones that appeal to you. If you hate Facebook, don’t join Facebook. If you don’t understand Instagram than pick one of the other social media options. You won’t have the time to be everywhere. You should be writing instead of maintaining all these accounts.

How to effectively use social media?

  • Post regularly.
  • Post about topics that aren’t all about your writing or your books. You want readers (or potential readers) to see you are a human just like them. Being relatable can boost sales of your books.
  • Interact with your readers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, respond to comments and connect with your readers in a meaningful way.

For more on social media, check out this article from NY Book Editors, Kindleprenueur or Bookbub.

Joining author groups and forums

This post is the sixty-six post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Becoming an author – self-published or traditional – doesn’t mean you have to work alone. You can connect with other authors to receive encouragement, discuss current publishing trends and advise you on which promotional opportunities helped them the most.

You can join author (or reader) groups or connect with others on forums.

Groups

Image result for groupsGroups are simply a collection of people who share a similar trait – went to the same school, have red hair, live near each other, write sci-fi books, or any of a gazillion other ways to group people.

Facebook

Facebook groups can b a fantastic way for a writer to connect, trade advice, swap war stories and find new opportunities. There are Facebook groups for every genre and some that allow you to promote your work. For a list of popular Facebook Groups, check out this website.

Goodreads

Goodreads groups are communities of readers who share similar interests, and they are purely meant for interacting, networking and connecting with other readers. The best way to interact with these readers is to be one. Join several of the Goodreads groups and participate. Get your name out there as someone who reads the books and as someone who writes good reviews. As readers view your posts, some will be curious enough to check out your profile and discover you are an author.

Note that on Goodreads groups, direct marketing is not only looked down upon, it is often forbidden. In other words, don’t join a group to just post about how great your book is and why people should want to buy it.

Others

When I first started publishing, I joined the Independent Author’s Network. This is a group of self-published authors that support and promote each other online. Members are asked to tweet and retweet about other member’s book releases, blog postings and book tours. There are different levels of memberships, some of which require a one-time setup fee.

For a list of some other groups, check out this website.

Forums

Related imageForums are very much like groups, but typically have you post on an online discussion board about the listed topic. The forum may or may not have a moderator. Depending on the forum, you can connect with not just authors but also readers.

If you publish on Amazon, you might consider checking out the KDP Community where you can find help on formatting, publishing, payments, marketing and more.

You may also want to check out this writing forum website or search for forums based on your genre.

Groups and forums can help you find find invaluable information if you find the right group/forum. But remember that while connecting with other authors – and readers – can be beneficial, I don’t recommend joining every group out there as keeping up with them can severely cut into your writing time.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

#62 – Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

#63 – Choosing between an Author Website or Blog

#64 – Holidays work for settings and book promotions

#65 – Choices for Authors: Marketing vs. Writing

Choices for Authors: Marketing vs. Writing

This post is the sixty-fifth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

You can’t write a book and expect it to become an instant best-seller. It takes time and effort before most authors make consistent sells. And the only way to do that is to market yourself and your books.

Your newly published novel is out there, jumbled up with millions of other available titles. You must do something to make your book stand out and become discoverable by your target audience. But how much marketing do you need to do and how much time do you spend working on your next masterpiece?

The amount and type of marketing is dependent on each individual author/book. There simply is no one-size-fits-all plan for marketing.

Related imageIf you are a new author, the best advice I can give to simply keep writing. By having multiple books, you increase your credence as an author. With each published book, you broaden your appeal and add credibility to your name. There are many readers who scoop up every title an author has written previously if they like your book. I know one author that said it took until her eighth book before she had established enough of a following to really take off and need less marketing.

Notice that I said LESS marketing. I don’t think there is any author that gets away with NO marketing. Even the big names like John Grisham and Stephen King have some marketing done for them if only to announce their latest release.

Many self-published authors do not have a team of marketing strategists behind them. If you can afford to hire someone, it will free up your time for writing, but most new authors don’t have that option, and many have a very small advertising budget.

Of course, the best tip for any author is to write a good book. Good word of mouth is the best advertising.

But I think one of the biggest problems that I and many other authors fail to do is establish a marketing plan. Many authors don’t even figure out who their target audience is. You need to find who will be interested in your book and then target that market.

But no matter how you market your book, remember – marketing takes time. Not just the time to do it but the time to see results. Your ad this week may not cause a spike in sales, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. People often need to see something – a new author, a new book – multiple times before they take the time to investigate to see if they want to know more or perhaps even buy the book.

You must continually market to be successful. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be in it for the long haul. You need to be a relentless self-promoter. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the time for that. But anything you do whether it is something daily or just something once a week will help.

It ends up being a personal decision on how much time you spend on marketing. But know that every minute you spend marketing isn’t just about increasing sales. It is about building brand awareness. That brand is you, the author. So, unless you are independently wealthy and can spend all your time writing, you will need to schedule some marketing time to let the masses know about your book.  The key is not to spend too much time on marketing that you have no time for writing your next book.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

#62 – Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

#63 – Choosing between an Author Website or Blog

#64 – Holidays work for settings and book promotions

Hashtags for Authors (updated)

In 2013, I made list of Hashtags for Authors. Three years later, I updated the list. Well, here it is again and once again I have updated the list, checking to make sure each one is still in use and adding a few new ones.

hashtagFor those of you who use Twitter, you are probably already familiar with the idea of hashtags. These are keywords prefixed with a hash or “pound” (#) symbol. They help categorize your tweets and help others easily find tweets about similar subjects.

Used correctly, Twitter hashtags are one of the best ways to connect with readers, industry experts, and other authors.

The use of relevant hashtags increases the likelihood that others will see your post and become a follower. It is a great way to engage a particular community of Twitter users.

The following is a list of some of the hashtags for authors or writers. Most are self-explanatory. If you use any that I missed, please leave them in the comment section and I will add them to the list.

For when you are writing

#amwriting – comments from other authors

#amwritingfiction

#amwritingfantasy

#amwritingscifi

#amwritingromance

#amediting – comments from those in the editing stage

#amrevising – comments from those revising their work

#amreading

#amreadingromance

#editing

#proofreading

#reading

#readingforpleasure

#storytelling

#WIP – work in progress

#writing

#writingtips or #writetip – writing tips from other authors and editors

#writerwednesday – or more often #WW- used to give a shout-out to writers or suggest authors to follow. (#WW also is used by some Weight-Watchers)

General book/writing

#Amazon

#author or #authors

#book or #books

#bookWorm

#ebook or #eBooks

#fiction

#iBooks

#iTunes

#KDP – for Kindle Direct Publishing

#kindle

#KindleBooks

#kindleUnlimited

#Kobo or #kobobooks

#Nook or #NookBook

#novel or #novels

#selfpublishing or #selfpub

#Smashwords

#writer or #writers

Genre-specific

#adventure

#ChickLit

#Childrensfiction

#christfic

#ChristianBooks

#Christianromance

#cookbooks (could also use #food – #cooking – #recipes or such if promoting a cookbook)

#crime or #crimefiction

#DarkFantasy

#Dystopian

#EpicFantasy

#Erotica

#fantasy

#histfic or #historicalfiction or #HistNovel – used for historical fiction

#horror

#humor

#kidlit

#litfic – literary fiction

#mystery

#mysterywriter

#nonfiction

#paranormal

#paranormalromance

#poetry

#romance

#romanticSuspense

#scifi or #ScienceFiction

#short or #shortstory or #shortstories

#specfic – speculative fiction

#suspense

#thriller or #Thrillers

#TrueStory

#womensfiction

#YA – young adult (or #youngadult)

#YAfiction

#YAfantasy

#YAlit

For promotions

#99cent or #99cents or #99c

#authorinterview

#authorRT

#blogtour or #virtualbooktour

#bookbuzz

#bookgiveaway

#bookreview

#excerpt

#fictionFriday

#Fridayreads – promoting what book you are currently reading

#free

#freebook

#FreeDownload

#freeebook

#FreeReads

#giveaway

#Goodreads – relates to the site Goodreads and its followers

#IndieThursday

#interview or #interviews

#kindledeals

#newrelease

#SampleSunday – offering a link to an excerpt or sample of your work

#teaserTuesday Or #TeaserTues- usually a line from your novel and a link to a sample

#WW or #WriterWednesday

Other

#author or #authors

#blurb

#booklover

#bookmarketing

#buyindie

#ereaders

#GreatReads

#novellines or #novelines – when quoting a line from your (or someone else’s) novel

#ff – stands for “follow Friday” where other writers share people to follow (also used by many non-writers)

#indieauthor or #indieauthors

#indie

#indiebook or #indiebooks

#indieThursday

#IndiePub or #IndiePublishing

#mustread

#pubtip – tips on publishing

#readers

Top 10 Writing/Publishing Posts of 2018

Since this is the beginning of the year, I thought I would recap some of my better publishing, marketing and writing posts from 2018.

Writing

Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

Every story must end. At some point after your story’s climax, your characters will return to their regular lives. Before that there may be some fallout from the climax as the consequences of your character’s choices are played out.

But knowing exactly where to stop your story and what you want the last words to be are not always easy. Here are some tips to ending your novel. (To read more, click here.)

Avoiding Plot and Character Cliches

A cliché is anything that is overdone and overused. Clichés pop up all the time in movies and books. When you look at the list of cliched plots and characters, you may wonder if it is even possible to come up with something new, something original. Rest assured; It may not be easy, but it can be done.  (For more on cliches, click here.)

Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

As you work on tightening your writing, you need to remove unnecessary word and delete or change words that you might use too often. Often you don’t even realize you are using these words. (To learn more about unnecessary words, click here.)

Your Second Draft and Beyond

Now every author approaches their second draft different. For me, this is a time to check the consistency and where I can amend the story either by trimming it, fleshing it out or developing subplots.

To do this, I cannot stop on every page to fix and worry over every word. That will come later. To begin, I need to read through the first draft without stopping to correct every flaw. Yes, I may add a missing word or fix a spelling error, but I try not to get into re-writing at this stage. I want to read it straight through first. (To read more, click here.)

Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

Image result for proofreader

In the process of editing your novel, you may want to turn it others to help you polish your story. Today I am going to discuss beta readers, proofreaders, and copy editors. (To find out more, keep reading by clicking here.)

Publishing/Marketing 

Investing in an eye-catching book cover

The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the image. The cover is the first thing your readers see and is where they decide if your book is worth their time to even read the book description. (To read more, click here.)

Writing an awesome book blurb

A good book blurb is an essential element in selling your novel. Some people find writing book blurbs easy while others struggle with exactly what to say and how long to make their description. The important thing is not to dismiss this significant element in marketing your novel. (Click here to keep reading.)

Finding your Book’s Target Market

The stories about authors who succeeded without any marketing are rare. Most books, even the really good ones, will become lost in the jumble of the millions of other available titles unless something is done to make them stand out, to make them become discoverable to their target audience.

This is one thing that many authors don’t take the time to find – their target audience. It does no good to spend all your time and marketing effort to try to sell your book to EVERYONE. (To read more, click here.)

Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

As you are preparing to publish your novel, here are two book promotions that you might want to consider. Both of these are done BEFORE you publish your novel to help build excitement for your book release. (Read about these promotions by clicking here.)

Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

You have published your book and want readers and reviews. Many authors choose to offer their book for free. (It is one way to get reviews.) But should you offer your novel that you worked so hard to produce for nothing?

Well, that depends…(Read more by clicking here.)