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11 Easy Ways To Share The Love With Your Social Media Family

By:stevendepoloWith Mother’s Day coming up, everyone’s busy buying cards and flowers, but it got me thinking about another way to say thanks — and another type of family.

How many hours a week do you spend blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc? Personally, I spend about 6 hours a day, 4-5 days a week. That means I spend anywhere from 24-30 hours weekly with my social media family — which is about 20 hours more than I spend with my real-life family (excepting my DH).  I think it’s high time to show our social media fams some love!

Just like a hug from Mom, receiving a pat on the back from a follower or poster has the power to brighten your day. Performing just one of the simple acts below could inspire the recipient to write an inspirational post or brilliant tweet that helps you along the road to success.

The Challenge

So, here’s my challenge to you: take five minutes, today, right now, to do one of the following (seriously, do it now or else you’ll forget – I know I would). You’ll put a smile on someone’s face. Choose to pass it on, and I bet someone will use one of the tips to put a smile on yours.Continue Reading

Five Tips for Writing a Stellar Press Release

You would think, as writers, that we would be perfectly gifted for writing top-notch press releases. It’s what we do for a hobby, a career or a passion. It’s our talent. But in my experience, being writer has been a handicap when it comes to creating press releases.

photo by the trial

The problem is, most writers (including me) pride themselves on their creative license and flowery prose. Unfortunately, press release writing necessitates that we abandon both of those trademarks in favor of concrete parameters and succinct lines. I can’t tell you how many weeks of well written press releases were returned to me in my public relations writing class with enough red ink to paint a Target store. It took me a while to figure out that “well written” in press release terms meant short, sweet and to the point.

Writing press releases is like writing news articles—you’re basically putting together a piece that a lazy reporter could slap his/her byline on and run in tomorrow’s edition of the paper. You have to approach it from a journalistic standpoint (a basic one, at that, you’re not trying to be the next Woodward or Bernstein).

To give you a head start, we’ve put together our five best tips for writing a stellar press release—follow these guidelines and you’re sure to get some good press!Continue Reading

Using Twitter Effectively (or, Don’t Tweet Like Nicholas Sparks)

How Aspiring Authors Should Use Twitter – And How They Shouldn’t

By:Shovelling SonTwitter can be a powerful tool for aspiring authors, no matter their genre. It gives them the chance to reach out to their current fans, add new ones, and build a community in a way that was impossible (without major marketing bucks) just a few years ago. Most of us aren’t @JK_Rowling (who garnered over 100,000 followers with only a handful of tweets), so we have to make sure we use Twitter effectively to make it worth our time and effort. Here are a few tips and real-life author examples to help us along the way:

  1. Engage your followers. Check out what people are discussing and join the conversation! The real-time, linear nature of Twitter gives you freedom to hop in and out of conversations as you see fit. Authors who get it: @HarlanCoben, @jamie_oliver, and @jodipicoult. If you visit their pages, you’ll find not just their thoughts, ramblings, links and news but also lengthy conversations with fans. Something as simple as a “Thank you!” for a compliment can turn a casual reader into a lifelong fan.
  2. Don’t make it all about you. Think about what you’re posting and ensure it has some sort of use. While you shouldn’t obsess over every tweet, at least pause for a moment a think if your tweet would be worth reading coming from someone else. Author who doesn’t get it: @SparksNicholas. Although he’s popular enough it probably doesn’t matter, he uses his Twitter as a personal trivia contest and little else.
  3. Fit tweeting into your schedule. It’s impossible to keep up with the flow of conversation with Twitter, and trying to do so can quickly overtake your life. Schedule time for catching up with the conversation, and stick to it. The last thing you want to do is get burned out and end up as the user who hasn’t updated their account in years. Author who gets it: @jodipicoult. She’s very involved and engaging on Twitter when she has the time, but can also go days without posting at all.
  4. Have something to say. Discover your Twitter “voice.” Whether it’s posting links, crafting stories, discussing your process or sharing agent horror stories, discover what you enjoy discussing with others and what your followers seem to respond to. Just don’t be afraid to step outside of the box every now and again – keep things interesting. Author who kind of gets it: @JEvanovich. She uses her Twitter account simply to post quotes from her books. They’re quite amusing and strike a chord with her readers, but perhaps mixing in a personal message every now and again would help her strategy?
  5. Be yourself. No one wants robotic automatic direct messages and auto-followers. Don’t just be concerned with that follower count — one quality, engaged follower is worth a hundred spammers, and that can only be gained by posting unique, personal commentary worth following.

Have you gained a new reader through Twitter? Which authors have earned your follow? Share your experiences and stories in the comments!

How Marketing Helps You Sell Books

Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk

What is marketing and why do I have to do it?

Marketing is a combination of two things–using research methods to determine who your customer is and combining services like advertising and public relations to reach this customer. It is, by no means, something that every writer has to have. If your goal is just to write a book and not sell it to anybody, then you can skip over all of this information. But if your intention is to actually sell a few copies and maybe even turn writing into a profitable career, you’re definitely going to want to know a thing or two about marketing.

Offline vs. Online Marketing

The first thing you need to embrace if you’re tackling your own marketing is that you have to face two different entities–offline marketing (promotions that take place off the Internet) and online marketing (promotions that take place on the Internet). In most situations, you will need to do some of both, but they won’t necessarily be proportional.

For example, my first novel took place in my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. So between the fact that I had roots in the area and my book was staged there, it was a good, small market of people who would either have interest in me or my book or hopefully both. But if your book takes place on the fictional planet Cuisinart (which is inhabited entirely by kitchen appliances with personalities and feelings) you might want to invest more in online marketing tools like social media and blogs.

Social Media Marketing (Can I catch Twitter?)

Twitter is not a virus, and Facebook is not actually a book (you might ought to write that down, it will make your kids think you’re cool). They are in fact two of the hottest social media entities on the Internet. There are others, like MySpace, Google Buzz, and LinkedIn, but for the immediate future the trends seem to be sticking with Twitter and Facebook. Both websites offer users a chance to have a profile and basically create content within the site that other users can see.

With Twitter, people “follow” you which adds your comments to the list of comments they see each time they access their Twitter feed and you can do the same. On Facebook, you get a full profile that you care share with your “friends” as well as the opportunity to play games, use applications and create fan pages. The reason why Twitter and Facebook are marketing tools is because it’s an easy way for you to connect with your fans and keep them updated on what you’re doing. If you have an upcoming event, you put it on your Twitter and just like that, everyone knows about it. You post a link on your Facebook page to your new blog post and just like that, everybody knows about it.

S.E.O. — does that stand for Self-Employed Octopii?

Search Engine Optimization is the Internet’s newest (and often the most cost-efficient) way to bring traffic to your website. It’s a cross between an art and a science that involves finding popular key words and phrases searched for on the Internet that you can integrate into your site so that the search engines will give it a higher ranking when people search for those specific terms. The best S.E.O. is completely subtle and unnoticeable, like extras in a movie. It blends in. If it becomes to obvious, the search engines catch on and get angry. And you don’t want to see Google when its angry.

Break Glass in case of a Marketing Emergency

If all of this seems a little overwhelming, don’t panic. We’re here to help.  Even if you fully understand all the concepts involved in marketing and you’re confident that you can do it yourself, sometimes just finding the time to do it is difficult. Sign up for our consulting service and we’ll talk about the marketing needs of your project. We can help you create a detailed marketing plan, set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and help you optimize your site to get web traffic. If you’re ready to jump in yourself, check out other posts in the marketing section of our blog.