Write Tip: How Not To Use The 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book

Our recent Write Tip on 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book has been popular but people have asked me how NOT to use those techniques, so I thought it appropriate to do a follow up post. First, here’s a refresher on the 9 Free Ways which are:

1 ) Author Site/Blogs 
2 ) Author Profiles/Blog Interviews 
3 ) Goodreads/Library Thing 
4 ) Press Releases
5 ) PSAs 
6 ) Signings 
7 ) Appearances 
8 ) Book Clubs 
9 ) Reading Group Guides 

The previous post goes over how to use those, so I won’t cover that here. Here’s how not to use them:

1 ) Author Site/Blogs — The goal is to create a relationship with readers and other interested parties, but primarily readers. Don’t use your blog and author site to self-aggrandize and totally for sales. Use it instead to reveal yourself. You don’t have to just lay it all out there transparently. In fact, that, in and of itself, may be a big mistake. You have a right and need for privacy. Determine up front where the lines must be drawn and stick to them. A couple areas you might avoid are religion and politics. I rarely blog on these. They only lead people to be offended and possibly lose interest who might otherwise enjoy your books. Unless your books promote your political and religious views, you don’t really need to go there and you’re better off if you don’t. You also don’t want to lambast people. Flame wars may draw traffic but they don’t do it because you’re winning fans. People stare at car wrecks not because they envy those involved but because it’s just hard not to stare. The same is true of flame wars. Don’t get in nasty arguments and back and forth with people. Avoiding controversial topics can help avoid drawing those kinds of comments in the first place.

2 ) Author Profiles/Blog Interviews–Don’t reveal spoilers in your interviews or profiles, unless the book has been out a very long time and you are discussing aspects of craft where it’s relevant. And try and stick to authors and topics where an audience who’d be interested in your book and its genre/topic might find you. It’s okay to reach out to new readers but, seriously, you shouldn’t be on a Christian romance authors blog promoting your paranormal erotic romance, okay? It’s just a waste of time. And don’t lie either. Be honest. At the same time, try and hold back some in interviews. Don’t tell everything to everyone. And find a new way to answer the same old questions. Keep it fresh if you can. You’ll be answering a lot of the same questions again and again at various places. It’s boring for you but it’s all the more so for fans, so try and find new ways to say the same thing and reveal new tidbits with each interview if you can. It’s hard, so hold some things back and give a little each time.

3 ) Goodreads/Library Thing–Great for giveaways and networking with book lovers and fellow authors but these communities tend to give back what you put into them, much like Twitter. They are the most successful giveaway sites, in my experience, for spreading interest and generating reviews. Not so successful, in my experience, for their ads or for generating huge sales numbers. They are a tool to be used with lots of others for spreading the word. It’s important to remember they are about “community.” Door to door salesman are as welcome on Goodreads and Library Thing as anywhere else. Goodreads has the easier interface but both are popular. Approach them as opportunities to share yourself, your love of books, and review and discuss books, genres, trends. Author interviews so far don’t generate a lot of interest in my experience. It’s more about communicating through observing what people do and their observing what you do and say about what you read. Approach them accordingly in both time dedicated to them and how you use them.

4 ) Press Releases–Don’t just copy someone else’s and don’t write blind. There’s an art to this and the goal is give them a ready to print article about you, your book, etc. You want to minimize the work for them so they’ll jump on the opportunity for an easy to prep story. And that takes practice and careful thought and editing. If you can afford it, write the first few drafts, then pay a publicist to fine tune it. There are plenty of independent publicists, like Matt Staggs or Adonna Pruette, who would be happy to assist and charge reasonable fees.  Once you’ve done several and get the format and style down, you may be able to work on your own but I know from experience, your first several press releases will not get the results you need without a professional touch. The difference is startling.

5 ) PSAs–Public Service Announcements are a funny thing. They aren’t as common as they once were but they are indeed true to their name: Public Service. It’s not about sales. It’s about making the public aware of an event which might be of interest/benefit.  Stations can be very selective about the kinds of events which qualify. They make income from selling ads, after all. Library and school events, for example, are far more likely than bookstore events to be accepted. After all, both imply educational content. And both libraries and schools are publicly funded to serve the public. Still, it’s worth checking these out but you will have to write and time the text yourself and be very careful with wording. Again, don’t self-aggrandize and don’t sell. Just inform. If the radio or tv station does you a favor, you need to make it easy and worth their time. If you make them mad or offend, you’ll alienate them from not only PSAs but also other potential opportunities for you.

6 ) Signings–Don’t expect to sell hundreds of books. The average signing is 4-6 from everyone I talk to, unless you’re a bestseller with multiple books. Signings are as much about letting people know you exist and cultivating valuable relationships with bookstores as they are about actually signing and selling books. I’m sure it varies from author to author but especially new and unknown authors need to approach Signings as opportunities to put their best foot forward and network more than selling books. The signings I have done so far have all sold at least 4 books. The most I sold was 11. All of them brought stores who carry and promote my book for me. And all of them brought publicity opportunities in the community I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I also sell other people’s books. My goal at signings is for people to buy something from that store and to make customers feel welcome. Hopefully they buy my book or at least talk to me. But if not, at least I helped the store and the store will want to help me in return.

7 ) Appearances–Appearances are hand-in-hand with signings as networking opportunities. Especially when you get the chance to read or be on a panel, you get the opportunity for people who didn’t know your name or the titles of your book to remember you and learn of your expertise (or at least ability to b.s. really well in public).  The goal is to make a good impression on as many people as you can. You don’t do that by aggressively selling. You do it by being personable, knowledgeable and respectful. You do it by smiling a lot and being warm and friendly. If you can do that while waving a copy of your book subtly in front of yourself, all the better. But high pressure pushy tactics will not bode well for you.

8 ) Book Clubs–These are groups of book lovers who offer two advantages: 1. They go through a lot of books. 2. If they love it, they’ll buy more, recommend it to people and otherwise spread the word. The disadvantage is that some are quite picky and blunt in their response. Do offer to visit or otherwise interact with the group. Do offer group discounts if you can. Free books to group leaders are a good idea if you can afford it, but these are book buyers, so free books aren’t essential to win both interest and loyalty. The most important thing here is to write a good book. If they enjoy it, they’ll take it from there with very little effort on your part. Again, selling is less important than personal connection. Cultivate this as networking for word of mouth, more than an opportunity to sell multiple copies. If it works out, you’ll get both.

9 ) Reading Group Guides–Do not SPOIL. Do not SPOIL. Repeat after me. Reading Group Guides are for Book Clubs and others to stimulate thought and conversation, PERIOD. You do not repeat your story in intimate detail. Do not preach on your themes or message. Your goal is to get them to read thoughtfully and interact on what they’ve read. Help them enjoy the reading experience in a way which will likely result in their wanting to read more and spreading the word.

Well, those are some tips on how NOT to use the 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on other cautions, etc. as well as your successes. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Write Tip: 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book

By now most writers are realizing that in the face of the changes in the publishing business, marketing is an area which falls more and more on their shoulders. For newer writers with untested track records, this is especially true. I’ve had writers tell me they don’t believe in self-promotion. Not only is this foolish (sorry but it is denial of reality) but it’s often based on being overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin or how to promote one’s self without being obnoxious or coming off arrogant. I could speak volumes on those topics and probably will sometime but first, let me demonstrate some easy ways to promote which don’t cost anything and are abundant. All you have to do is pay attention to what other writers are doing and do a few simple web searches to find them. Then just follow simple instructions, send a few emails, and you’re good to go.

1 ) Author Site/Blogs — I’ve already blogged about how important these are in previous Write Tips, but for the modern author your website is your number one most important marketing tool. No one can keep readers up to date like you can and readers want to connect and get to know the author behind the books. Blogs are often free on sites like Blogger and WordPress. Websites may cost more, although mine is set up using WordPress with the help of a friend. I pay for hosting and domain names, something I also suggest in my prior post, but if you can’t afford that just yet, you can probably do it simple on your own. Check my article for the essentials but the most important is to offer insight into yourself, your books and regular updates. Even if it’s once a month, giving them something new to keep them coming back is so important.

2 ) Author Profiles/Blog Interviews — There are tons of bloggers looking for authors to profile and interview. Some are authors themselves, some are not. Some interview specific genres and some cover anyone and everyone of interest. To find them, see where authors you admire are being interviewed. Look at what authors you know from Twitter and Facebook post. Do web searches on terms like “author profiles, author interviews, blog profiles, writing blogs, etc.” You’ll find more than you know what to do with. Many/most have guidelines posted. Read them. Follow the instructions. They’re usually fairly simple. Most provide a list of questions to answer in advance and an email to send them to. Fill them out, keep a list and do them one by one until you’re done. Then make a new list. Don’t get overwhelmed by doing them all at once. Try and change the wording in your answers a bit. Don’t just cut and paste. It makes each interview feel unique and keeps the bloggers feeling like they got an exclusive. I just answer them from scratch each time. I may say the same things but it always comes out differently.

3 ) Goodreads/Library Thing — There are other sites but these are arguably the biggies. Joining is free, so it becoming an author and building your profile. You can enter your own books and list them. Then you can join book clubs, interest groups, vote in polls, etc. You can review books you’ve read or are reading and you can interact with tons of readers and authors who love writing and books as much as you do. This is a no brainer and can take as little or much time as you’re willing to put into it. You can do giveaways, interviews, connect your blog, do Q&As, etc. The audience is already focused. It’s truly a nobrainer.

4 ) Press Releases — There may be an art to writing them but there are plenty of examples online and frankly, plenty of newspapers, magazines and sites which allow you to upload them for free. My latest is posted on the Kansas City Star, the biggest newspaper in my local region, and all I had to do was upload it on their webform. Within 48 hours, it was searchable for all to see. You used to have to work a lot harder and pay a lot more money for publicity like that. Asking around or simple web searches can find not only tons of examples but tons of outlets for them. Don’t miss this opportunity to let people know what you’re doing and when: every book release, every award, every signing or appearance, every new contract–put out a release and let people know. It builds your reputation, name recognition and audience. It might even get you interviews in newspapers on Tv, radio or blogs.

5 ) PSAs — Public Service Announcements are offered free by radio and TV stations to organizations and individuals and businesses announcing events of benefit to the community. Writers talking about writing should qualify, even if you’re paid. As long as you can convince them you’re running an event with public benefit and which doesn’t charge for tickets, PSAs should be available. You have to write them up yourself, per the station’s standards, and submit according to their deadlines. But they will announce several times on the air and get your event a lot more notice. Free advertising is priceless.

6 ) Signings — The average number of books sold at signings: four to seven for non-celebrities, according to a recent survey. The average number of books sold after signings? Immensely more due to word of mouth from bookstore employees and customers who attended the signing. In fact, the friendlier and more supportive of staff you are, the more you pay attention to other people, i.e. the more fun you are to have around, the more successful you’ll be, and they’ll invite you back again and again. The more signings before the same crowd means what? Increased sales and recognition. Recognition always builds word of mouth. See what I’m going for? They may sometimes seem a lot of effort for little return, but I think signings are very important. Anywhere and anytime you can appear in public is.

7 ) Appearances — So appearances: readings, book clubs, libraries, literary festivals, conventions, schools, you name it, are key to your success and marketing. If people like you, if you seem knowledgeable and like a friend they’d enjoy spending time with, they’ll want to read your book. They’ll want to know you better through your words. You can’t do enough appearances and most will not cost as much money as a con or fesitval. Most will be free. Be creative in coming up with ideas. Work with local nonprofits, schools, etc. There’s automatic prestige wo writing a book. Often you won’t have to work hard to convince people to invite you…as long as you’re not a jerk.

8 ) Book Clubs — Book Clubs, online and off, are a great resource. Offer them a discount for quantity, send them your sell sheets, send them arcs, send them press releases. Smooze them like old friends. You get in with them, you have a ready made word of mouth machine to sell a lot more books because Book Club people are book people and book people know other book people. And what do book people talk about with each other? Books. Books they like. And if they’ve met the author, all the cooler. Not everyone gets to do that. Built in free word of mouth sales.

9 ) Reading Group Guides — Yes, you can get a lot of sales and word of mouth by networking with Book Clubs and other Reading Groups. Not only can you use your Book Sell Sheet to get them interested but you can make reading guides to offer free as well all by yourself. Penguin Group has examples on their website here: http://booksellers.penguin.com/static/html/pop.html The basic idea is to assemble questions and examine themes which prompt discussion about your book, its characters, meaning, etc. Fairly simple to put together for most authors. After all, who knows your book better than you?

Well, there’s 9 free ways to get started with marketing your books. I’m sure there are more. Which can you suggest? Please add them in the comments so we all can learn from each other.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

4 5-star & 12 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

 

Write Tip: Preparing For Book Blog Tour As You Write Your Book

Okay, I know. It sounds crazy to some of you already. Preparing for a book blog tour when my book’s not even done? Insane! Arrogant! A distraction I don’t need! But wait. Let me explain please.

Book Blog Tours are a great way to promote your book. I had 32 stops on my book blog tour, stretching from interviews to podcasts, to short story prequels, to dialogues, to excerpts, and more, and I can tell you it’s hard work. It takes a lot of time to prepare so many posts, even if all you’re doing is answering someone’s interview questions. And here’s the thing. Your blog tour posts are supposed to be unique, interesting and keep people coming back daily for the next one. And they should relate to you and your book in some way.

Do I have to tell you it’s easy to run out of ideas?

When you’re writing your book, however, there’s often nothing you’re thinking about more. You’re always analyzing what you’re writing, why, how, etc. It’s the perfect time to capture this process in little snippets you can use later for those book tour blog posts. I am not talking about writing whole blog posts necessarily, although let the muse lead where he/she will, okay? But what if you jot down a paragraph or two of the various craft processes you’re going through as you go through them to give you something to build a blog post around later?

Seriously.

I do 18-20 blog posts a month. Two a week for this blog, at a minimum, and 1-2 for sffwrtcht’s blog. Then I do the other 10 for guest posts on other blogs. I have 4 a month for Grasping For The Wind as a column. I do one a month for SFSignal. That makes 15. So I do 4-5 others for other blogs. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, it’s worth it. The result is that my name and my book’s name are never far from people’s minds. I may not reach the same audience every week, but I’m out there and name recognition of me and my book is growing daily. It’s so important to book sales, not just of the present book but future ones, too.

Doing all of this, as I think about my next blog tours which will be next Spring and Summer, I get overwhelmed. How in the world will I continue all this posting and write 31 more blog posts?

And here you are thinking, I’m fine. I don’t have all those commitments, Bryan. So I don’t need to worry about it.

But the catch is, since most books are written a year or even longer before they actually hit shelves, your blog tour posts will be written 12-18 months after you’re done writing the book. You will have moved on to something else. Your thought processes on writing THAT book will be dominant and remembering what you thought when writing the PRIOR book will be frustrating and difficult at times.

But not if you have little thoughtful notes written during the writing of the book to capture your frame of thought at the time, jolt your memory and help you frame blog posts.

Do you see what I’m getting at? And we’re talking something that takes less than 5 minutes for most of us. It doesn’t have to be polished or even formal. Just stream of thought and you’re done. You fix it later when you make the post.

Does anyone not see how helpful this could be?

As the world of publishing continues to change, writers become more and more responsible for our own publicity and marketing. And PR/marketing is something people do for a living. That means it’ll be almost a full time job for authors as well. If you’re not a full time author, or even if you are, you have a lot going on already. Making time for all this marketing is a push. Some people can’t do it well. Some don’t even try. And they’re missing out on a great opportunity as a result.

My suggestion is to help yourself by setting yourself up with some possible prompts as you go. It will not only make things easier, your blog posts will be richer. You’ll capture the feeling and thoughts behind your book and readers will be fascinated. The result will be a better blog tour and more interest for everyone, including you. Writing a book is a big accomplishment. Going back to it can be very encouraging for you, not only in reliving the experience as an accomplishment but in seeing how far you’ve come.

Readers always want insight on their favorite author’s writing processes and lives as books come out. So do fellow writers. And the more personally meaningful and detailed a blog post is, as far as giving real insight, the better it tends to be received. So preparing for your book blog tour as you write the book itself can make a lot of sense and save a lot of later stress. It shouldn’t get in the way of the writing itself, of course. But it can be a valuable part of the analysis you’re already doing as you write. It isn’t a distraction if you are just documenting what’s already going on in your head.

And it’s not arrogant. You’re not blowing your own horn. You’re explaining why you do what you do. Leave it up to others to decide if you did it all wrong or if it’s of any quality or other value. Those are not things you can worry about. You can only do the best you can.

So there’s a write tip I hope gives you something to think about. You can prepare for marketing your book even as you write it. And that can be a real blessing. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

10 Tips For Planning A Blog Tour

Arguably, one of the most effective ways for book marketing these days is the blog tour. Statistics show that most readers need to hear about your book three different times before they think seriously about buying it. You may have different experiences once you have a fan base, but at least starting out, those are the stats I’ve seen. So how do you get that knowledge out there? Unless your publisher is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a book tour, flying you to various cities, signings and appearances, you need other options. A blog tour is one of those. It’s very cost effective. But it can also be a lot of work. I recently scheduled my first blog tour, which starts this Saturday and runs every day next month. Here’s some things I learned which might help you in planning a blog tour.

1 ) Start Early– Blog tours, like any book tour, are a lot of work to do well. And, in this case, unless you can afford a publicist, you’ll be done the bulk of the work yourself. From booking blogs to planning posts to coordinating a schedule, there are many details here and the earlier you start, the better prepared and less stressful an experience you’ll have.

2 ) Don’t Take No Personally– You will ask people to loan you their blog. Some will say ‘yes.’ Some will say ‘no.’ Don’t take that personally. I ran into people who don’t use their blogs much and didn’t want to open up to that kind of thing for fear it might start a wave. How could they refuse someone else after saying ‘yes’ to me? I ran into people who are against self-promotion and some who don’t understand that it’s the way of the writer in the modern publishing industry. Don’t assume they turned you down because they dislike you. If they do, wouldn’t you rather not know? But at the same time, you aren’t under obligation to help them in the future just as they weren’t under obligation to help you now. I still would though, because it’s the right thing to do.

3 ) Publicize The Ask– Tweet, post on Facebook, Google+ and everywhere that you’re planning a blog tour for the month in question and ask for volunteers. You will get people this way. I did. I would say a third of my tour. Then I emailed others, specifically asked others, and called in repayment for those I’d already helped for the rest.

4 ) Expect To Reciprocate– Do return the favor to those who help you, and, as hinted above, even those who don’t. Blog Tours are a great way to spread out to a larger audience and self-promotion is the way of the industry now. So help others and know they’ll help you. It doesn’t always come in the ways expected, but even if all they do is mention your book and name in conversation, people will learn of you who never would have without them.

5 ) Be Creative– Nothing is more boring than a Blog Tour with the same three posts over and over: interview, review, excerpt. Oh, all three are important but try and mix it up. Here’s your chance to show a side of your personality which will engage people. From using humorous interviews of characters, to writing blog posts on topics relevant to the usual theme of the blogs on which you appear, not only will you enjoy yourself more, but the blog owners and readers will love it more. After all, no one person is likely to read 30 days’ of posts about you but if you give them something new each day, people will look for those and check them out. And trust me, when you’re creating most of the 30 posts yourself, having fun with creativity keeps you sane!

6 ) Make It About More Than Selling Your Book– No sales pitches. Nothing beyond book info, blurbs, author bio and a link. Every other bit of content should be about something other than a sales pitch. From reviews to interviews to guest posts, provide something of value to readers and they will be more likely to consider other things you’ve written might be of value to them too and buy your book. You’re selling yourself as much as your book and the best way to do it is by demonstrating you are smart, funny and worth their investment. That never comes in a sales pitch. It does come from creating and providing content they value.

7 ) Post Daily Links– Hard work? Yes. Use a tweet scheduler if you must but always advertise your blog tour stops. I recommend once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. since users are on at different times. Cross post to all the major sites you can. Put a link on the bottom of your emails. Also, be sure and do an index with all the links to introduce the tour and remind people where to find that from time to time.

8 ) Vary The Posts Daily– Try and avoid scheduling similar posts back to back. Guest posts are fine, especially if you can continue a post from one blog on a different blog the next day. This drives traffic. But back to back interviews, back to back reviews–those get boring really quick. So if you have no choice but to do that make sure they’re each unique enough to keep it interesting.

9 ) Podcasts Can Be Tour Stops, Too– Don’t rule out other mediums like radio interviews and especially podcasts as stops on your blog tour. Often online radio shows have blogs as do podcasts, so you can direct people there to find your interviews and change it up a day by giving them something to listen to instead of read. They’ll probably really enjoy the variety. And, let’s face it, hearing your voice or even seeing your face, gives them a more personal connection with you that can only encourage interest in your writing.

10 ) Have Fun– “If it’s not fun don’t do it” is an old cliche, but using the hints above you should be able to make the blog tour fun for everyone, including yourself. The more fun it is, the most interest it will generate and the easier it will be to book the blog tour for your next book. Including motivating yourself. After all, book tours are a lot of work. But if you follow these tips, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier and more fun than you had imagined.

So there’s Ten Tips For Planning Your Book Blog Tour. What are some others? Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them. And do let me know if this helps you, because that’s what makes it fun for me to do these posts–that’s what they’re all about.

For what it’s worth…

If you’re curious what I’m doing on my blog tour, here’s the schedule with links: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/10/01/the-worker-prince-blog-tour-schedule-introduction/


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

Write Tip: Top 10 Tips For Using Social Media Well

If you’re at all concerned with marketing yourself or your products, by now you’ve probably heard a million times how important Social Media has become for marketing yourself and connecting with/building an audience of customers. The challenge can be knowing exactly how to go about it without coming across as pushy or self-centered and alienating more people than you draw. Here’s ten tips from successful people who use social media on how you can approach it with greater success:

1) Be The Best You-– “But you can still be you. Uhh, unless “you” just so happen to be some kind of Nazi-sympathizing donkey-molester. In which case, please back slowly away from the social media.” – Chuck Wendig, Author He has a great sense of humor but mixed in is great advice. His point is that you should present yourself well but not whitewashed. Readers want to know YOU not the person you project yourself to be. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a salesman. Just be you, but a good, likable version. Warts are okay within reason, after all, the human you is the you people want to connect with, but put a little makeup over the warts so they appear their best. The human but attractive you is still the goal.

2) Have The Right Conversations— “Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.” – Seth Godin It’s not just whom you talk to but how you talk to them. People are talking about your product already. Being a part of the conversation means learning how to talk to them. Don’t be pushy. Don’t sell. Just talk and listen. And listening may be the most important part. Whether you’re a writer or in another profession, finding the conversations you need to hear and engage in, listening first, then joining is the best way to discover the audience for what you sell.

 3) You’re Not In Control— “If you think you are in control, you’re fooling yourself. As soon as you start listening, you realize you’re not in control. And letting go will yield more and better results.” – Charlene Li, Author Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, Type A or not, the tendency is to want to control everything about your marketing, sales, etc. You want to control how people respond. But in truth, you can’t. Of course we all want to sell books and build our audience as authors. We all want to build product awareness and desirability as sales people. Social Media is a great tool. But it’s also a tool you don’t produce. Instead, you use it by participating. And that means, you can’t be in control of anything but yourself. How you act, what you say, how active you are–you can control. But everything else is out of your hands.

4) It’s About Passion—  “Don’t worry; skills are cheap, passion is priceless. If you’re passionate about your content and you know it and do it better than anyone else, even with few formal business skills you have the potential to create a million-dollar business.” – Gary Vee, Author of Crush It It’s less about how skilled you are than how passionate you are. You can build skills, but you can’t build passion. So don’t worry about developing skills, worry about getting across your passion. That, in the end, is what will hook people’s interest in you and your words. There’s nothing more compelling than someone passionate about what they’re selling or discussing.

5) Learn About Them First— “On Twitter, Search is your friend. Are you writing a book about archaeology? See who’s talking about it. Looking for Buddhists? Oh, they’re there. Look for them. Start following them. Start seeing what they’re talking about.”   Chris Brogan, Author/Speaker on Marketing This goes hand in hand with what I said above about how listening may be the most important part. How can you engage with people if you don’t understand what their interests are? Social Media is about conversation and networking and that involves give and take. It’s not about you. It’s about the community. Take the time to get to know the community. Who’s out there? What are they interested in? Why?

6) All Users Are Equal— “There aren’t very many things you can do as a marketer to attract a huge number of highly followed influencers to your content beyond the same tactics that you would use to attract a huge number of ‘normal’ users.”  Dan Zarrella, Social Media Expert Don’t focus on attracting celebrities or people with big lists of followers, focus on attracting people period. All followers will be attracted the same way. There is no short cut to get the big users. All users become followers for the same reasons, in the same ways.

7) It’s About The Long Term— “’Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies.  Social Media is a ‘build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.'” – Seth Godin If you’re not in it for the long term, why should your followers be? It’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow. Like building a good marriage, a house, or a career, Social Media is a long term effort and strategy to be worked on daily. Don’t make it about today. Make it about the long term.

8 ) It’s Called Social NETWORKING— “The most successful marketer becomes part of the lives of their followers. They follow back.”  Marsha Collier, Author Do you remember me mentioning community? It’s called Social NETWORKING for a reason. It’s about interaction, two way. Hand in hand with listening, people will invest in you as much as you invest in them. Yes, celebrities don’t have time to engage with everyone. I get that. Neither do those with thousands of followers. But when you have something to say in response then respond. When you see a cool link someone passed around, share it and credit them. Find ways to encourage and thank your followers for their interest in you by taking an interest in them.

9) It’s Not About Numbers— “Quit counting fans, followers and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing.” – Amber Naslund, brasstackthinking.com It’s not about how may, it’s about what you say, how you say it and how they connect with it. People who feel that you care about them will care about you. So don’t worry about stats as much as content and interaction. And make every word count. Be real with people above all. They’ll respond to that more than anything.

10) Keep It Informal— “Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread.”  Johan Arndt It’s not a website or marketing brochure. It’s not a commercial. It’s not a news feed. It’s your social media feed. Relax and be a real person. Of course you need to watch what you say. The internet, after all, is public. Things can come back to haunt you. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stiff and formal. Relax and enjoy yourself. If you don’t, you won’t fit in, because that, above all else, is what Social Media are about–relaxed conversation.

A few inspirational quotes which have inspired me from various sources. How do you use Social Media? What lessons have you learned? What great quotes do you have? Feel free to share below. I’d love to hear them.

For what it’s worth…

 

10 Top Tools For Improving Your Blog

So you’re a blogger, but you’re a bit new to how to make your blog the success you want it to be. How do you grow your audience? Improve searchability? Find images you can legally use? Promote your blog? How do you connect with the right audience? Here’s 10 Top Tools to assist you with these tasks and more. In two months, using these tools,  my blog has doubled in hits from 688 in June, 966 in July to over 190o so far this month. Maybe they’ll work for you, too.

1) http://tools.dynamicdrive.com/favicon/ — Favicons are those little icons which appear to the left in browser address bars next to the sites. Adding one gives your blog better branding and this site is an easy way to make your own.

2) http://www.aweber.com/ Connecting with your audience and potential customers is vital. This site helps with email marketing to follow up.

3) http://www.stumbleupon.com/ a great site which people use for searches based on their interests which really feeds traffic to your blog. One person adding a post of mine here has done as much to grow my blog as anything else I’ve tried. And you can add your own posts, too.

4) www.twitter.com Tweeting your blog posts a couple times a day to Twitter and Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your blog. The people you’ve build relationships with through Social Media are the first ones who’ll take interest and if they like what they read, they’ll spread the word.

5) www.goodreads.com A reader and author oriented social media network is the perfect place to set up your author page and link your blog posts in a feed. Readers will find you there and take interest in your blog posts and traffic will find your blog.

6) http://w.networkedblogs.com/ Available on its own site or through Facebook, this site links your blog to many others and help drive traffic to the registered blogs. Registering is free and the traffic begins as soon as you sign up. Also a great way to find blogs and bloggers to network with in supporting each other.

7) www.klout.com Rather than driving traffic, Klout helps you an analyze your impact on it. Is your message focused? Whom are you influencing? How well is your message being spread? A great tool for analyzing and focusing your efforts.

8 ) http://cliche.theinfo.org/ Run your posts through this handy search engine and avoid those pesky cliches. It searches your text and highlights any suspects. Very handy. You can do it bit by bit with your manuscript too, if you’d like.

9) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Public_domain_image_resources There are two kinds of learners: verbal and visual. Stimulate both by adding both text and images to your blog. This tool provides all kinds of free images you can use without worrying about cease and desist letters or other copyright concerns. Potentially invaluable. Not quite free but still invaluable is the http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ search engine where you can find images available for use as long as you abide by the creative commons license requirements.

10) http://www.google.com/webmasters/ An essential tool for those who care about helping people find their blog in searches. There’s a site map tool to help you correct meta data and other information as well. Set your blog up so it shows as a top entry in google searches related to your content and tags.

Well, there are my 10 top internet tools for improving your blog. Hope at least a few are new to you. What are your favorites? Be sure and share them in the comments. I’m always looking for more.

For what it’s worth…