Sure it’s nice to plan. But who has time? (Hint: this is where I come in.)
The information for authors intent on setting up their digital media is out there for the taking. I subscribe to dozens of e-newsletters and see hundreds of tweets everyday linking folks to great free info. This free info is how I learned all my tricks of the trade. (I’ve listed some of my favorite links to this great info on the Key Author Resources page on this site.)
HOWEVER, I can’t help thinking that much of this info, as basic as it is, could fly right by authors. You simply don’t have the time or the interest to get up to speed. You’re not looking to become a full-time blogger—you simply want to get the word out about your latest book, and get on with writing your next one.
Using an author I know as my test case, I went down the list from this great recent post from social media überblogger and author Chris Brogan specifically written to authors about setting up “an author’s plan for social media efforts.” And sure enough, I found there was a lot on the list that confounded (or bored) the author. If this is true for you, this is where I come in—because not only do I agree with everything on Chris’s list, but I know how to implement it.
Take a look at this plan—if it all makes sense to you, great, then start putting it into action now. But if you find yourself nodding in agreement with the “confused author” annotations in red below, it’s time to line up some help.
- Set up a URL for the book, and/or maybe one for your name. Need help finding a URL? I use Ajaxwhois.com for simple effort in searching. How much does a URL cost? Should I buy multiple URLs? How many years should I buy? How long will this take, and does it mean more passwords?
- Set up a blog. If you want it free and super fast, WordPress or Tumblr. I’d recommend getting hosting like Bloghost.me. What is hosting exactly? Are there any downsides to using the free blog services? And what about a website—is that a separate thing?
- On the blog, write about interesting things that pertain to the book, but don’t just promote the book over and over again. In fact, blow people away by promoting their blogs and their books, if they’re related a bit. What “interesting things” should I write about on my blog? And how often?
- Start an email newsletter. It’s amazing how much MORE responsive email lists are than any other online medium. How do I go about setting up an email newsletter? How much time does that take? Is it a priority?
- Have a blog post that’s a list of all the places one might buy your book. I did this for both Trust Agents and Social Media 101. How do I make sure people keep seeing this important blog post?
- Make any really important links trackable with a URL shortener. I know exactly how many people click my links. What exactly is a URL shortener? How do I use it?
- Start listening for your name, your book’s name. (Covered in this post about building blocks.) What does this mean? How much time does this take?
- Consider recording a video trailer for your book. Here’s one from Scott Sigler (YouTube), for his horror thriller, Contagious. How much does this cost? Who will do it for me? How does a YouTube channel work?
- Build a Facebook fan page for the book or for bonus points, build one around the topic the book covers, and only lightly promote the book via the page. How do I build a Facebook fan page?
- Join Twitter under your name, not your book’s name, and use Twitter Search to find people who talk about the subjects your book covers. Remind me why I want to be on Twitter again? How much time is involved?
- When people talk about your book, good or bad, thank them with a reply. Connect to people frequently. It’s amazing how many authors I rave about on Twitter and how few actually respond. Mind you, the BIGGEST authors always respond (paradox?) Maybe that’s because the biggest authors have help.
- Use Google Blogsearch and Alltop to find the people who’d likely write about the subject matter your book covers. Get commenting on their blog posts but NOT mentioning your book. Get to know them. Leave USEFUL comments, with no blatant URL back to your book. What’s the best etiquette for leaving comments? How do those commenters get their little photos on there?
- Work with your publisher for a blogger outreach project. See if you can do a giveaway project with a few bloggers (here’s a book giveaway project I did for Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years book). How best should I work with my publisher? What should I expect them to do?
- Offer to write guest posts on blogs that make sense as places where potential buyers might be. Do everything you can to make the post match the content of the person’s site and not your goals. But do link to your book. Link to Amazon or my website?
- Ask around for radio or TV contacts via the social web and LinkedIn. You never know. Oh, I should join LinkedIn, too? Why?
- Come up with interesting reasons to get people to buy bulk orders. If you’re a speaker, waive your fee (or part of it) in exchange for sales of hundreds of books. (And spread those purchases around to more than one bookselling company.) In those giveaways, do something to promote links back to your site and/or your post. Giveaways are one time: Google Juice is much longer lasting. What the heck is Google Juice?
- Whenever someone writes a review on their blog, thank them with a comment, and maybe 1 tweet, but don’t drown them in tweets pointing people to the review. It just never comes off as useful.
- Ask gently for Amazon and other distribution site reviews. They certainly do help the buying process. And don’t ask often.
- Do everything you can to be gracious and thankful to your readers. Your audience is so much more important than you in this equation, as there are more of them than there are of you.
- Start showing up at face to face events, where it makes sense, including tweetups. If there’s not a local tweetup, start one. What’s a tweetup? How would I start one?
- And with all things, treat people like you’d want them to treat your parents (provided you had a great relationship with at least one of them).