Social Media

Publishers stress authenticity is key to social media success

18 May 2015

From The Bookseller:

Publishers should help authors to identify their digital skills, but social media is “not the most important thing”, writers and industry insiders have told The Bookseller.

Authors should feel comfortable with any digital activity they are asked to undertake, using tweeting, blogging and other online platforms to build an audience, rather than explicitly becoming a tool to sell books.

Kristen Harrison, founder and publisher of creative agency The Curved House, said it was “important to have presence and visibility, either driven by the publisher or the author or both, but people put a lot of emphasis on promotion, which is the number one way to demotivate an author and turn readers off”.

She added: “A lot of authors feel a huge amount of pressure to get online to publicise their books and support their publisher’s work. They should be using it to grow their audience. That is much more organic. I think it should be used as an extension of themselves and their work. It has to be really comfortable for them. You can push the boundaries a bit, but ultimately an author needs to be comfortable with what they are doing and saying online. The worst thing is for authors to think they should be doing things a certain way, or to be on a certain platform.”

. . . .

“You can tell pretty quickly whether someone is a natural at something like Twitter or not. If you feel you can deliver [on Twitter] with encouragement and help, that’s great, but if not I don’t think you need to be on it. I don’t think it’s good to say to an author: ‘You have to be on Twitter.’”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Diana for the tip.

JK Rowling speaks out over Twitter abuse that crossed ‘personal line’

11 May 2015

From The Guardian:

JK Rowling has spoken out about the vitriolic online abuse she has been subjected to following the general election, allegedly from Scottish National party supporters.

. . . .

Rowling said she believed in “standing up to bullies” and said that she spoke out after the attacks had crossed her “personal line”.

Several Twitter users have been blocked by the site after abusing Rowling, who has donated money to the Labour party and gave £1m to the No campaign against independence for Scotland.

The writer was called a “traitor to Scotland”, “Blairite scum” and “an arch-unionist propagandist, feeding a river of hatred”.

. . . .

“I feel no responsibility to hush up that kind of behaviour to protect the image of any political party.

“It isn’t always fun being a famous woman on Twitter and I believe in standing up to bullies.”

. . . .

After being told by some abusers that she should leave Scotland, Rowling received scores of offers from fans around the world to live with them.

She retweeted a succession of pictures from Canada, Spain, Peru, Italy, and Maui, joking: “I’ve got to be honest, if I’m leaving Scotland, the climate is something I probably wouldn’t want to replicate first!”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Writers, Start Building Your Brand Early!

1 May 2015

From author Steven Ramirez:

One of the great challenges for an indie author is dividing time between actual writing and marketing. And I would argue that the same goes for writers who are as yet unpublished. Sometimes, I like to think about giants like Joyce, Fitzgerald and Nabokov. How did those guys do it? Most likely, not at all—or very little. The work spoke for itself. But, hey, we’re talking about us. What are we supposed to do?

If I had to pick one person from history to travel forward in time and demonstrate how it’s done, it would have to be Mark Twain. That guy knew brand, and I’m sure he would do very well using Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Can you imagine? Here are a few of his most famous quotes. And look—they fit so nicely into 140 characters!

All right, then, I’ll go to hell.
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Truman Capote was another famous author who truly understood brand. How about this tweetable quote:

Fame is only good for one thing—they will cash your check in a small town.

. . . .

I’ve met many writers over the years, and I will tell you that most are not comfortable in the spotlight. They are card-carrying introverts who love working behind the scenes, writing great stories which—if they’re lucky—get turned into movies.

If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I am an extrovert. I like being out and about, meeting people and engaging in interesting discussions. That’s just me. But I don’t think I would be comfortable being on the talk show circuit, delivering pithy one-liners in front of a studio audience. I’m better in small groups.

Which leads me to Brand. Many of the more seasoned authors out there know all about this. But there are those like you who are just getting started—who want to understand what it takes to not only write well but market well. As an aside, I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m happy to share what I know.

. . . .

How about James Patterson? You have only to utter his name, and book titles and scenes play out in your head. Never mind that he has a writer factory churning out books, he definitely gets brand, my friend.

When you do it right, here is what happens. Not only is your name recognizable but the name itself becomes embedded in the culture on a global scale. Kind of like Kleenex. How many people say, “Can you hand me a tissue?” More often it’s, “Have you got a Kleenex?” The same can be said for Xerox and Coke.

. . . .

Getting back to authors. When you think of horror, what is the first name that comes to mind? Stephen King, right? Of course. He has spent decades building his brand. His name is synonymous with horror.

. . . .

So what does building your brand mean? For me, it’s awareness. I try to be thoughtful about everything I post. I don’t always succeed. But being aware is important because what gets out into the Internet stays forever. So no drunk tweeting, no profanity and no mean-spirited troll attacks on others. A good general rule is to always take the high road.

Linking your digital assets is important as well. There should be a synergy among the various digital destinations you have out there. Make sure your bio and headshot are uniform across the various social media sites.

. . . .

Don’t create a Twitter account, leave the default image and expect to get followers. I mean, seriously? Who in the world is going to follow an egg?

Link to the rest at Glass Highway and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Here’s a link to Steven Ramirez’s books

Facebook Tweaks News Feed Algorithm

25 April 2015

From Tech Times:

With news like mobilegeddon, Facebook has been able to fly relatively under the radar with some changes that it recently made to its News Feed algorithm.

Despite this, some are now labeling Facebook’s new changes “Contentgeddon.” These changes essentially target the relevance of certain posts by publishers and content providers, basically meaning that posts from these companies likely won’t be seen by as many people.

“The goal of News Feed is to show you the content that matters to you. This means we need to give you the right mix of updates from friends and public figures, publishers, businesses and community organizations you are connected to,” said Facebook in a blog post.

. . . .

Spam on Facebook is an issue, and users spend far too much time scrolling through content in order to get to something that interests them.

For this reason, users will likely see far more posts that interest them on their news feeds and far fewer posts that are not of any interest to them. This is certainly a good thing for users.

There are three main changes that will take place on the News Feed. The first is that users might now see a post more than once, but only if they don’t have much content to see on the News Feed. The second change aims to avoid users not seeing important updates from their friends and family. Last but not least, users will see fewer posts about their friends liking or commenting on particular content.

Link to the rest at Tech Times

Penguin Random House Launches New Website

22 April 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

If 2015 is going to be the year that the major trade publishers finally start engaging with readers Penguin Random House is off to a start.

The USA’s largest trade publisher launched a new websitetoday which combines all of the books published by all Random House and all Penguin imprints into a single site.

The site avoids divisions along imprint lines in favor of organizing the books by category, genre, and other natural schema. There are book specific pages with details and links to online bookstores and ebookstores, and you can also find a book blog called The Perch, which will publish ““shareable reading challenges, book bingo, historic highlights and frequent peeks behind-the-scenes at our company,” according to this morning’s press release.

I’ve spent a few minutes with it, and when the site was operational it wasn’t bad. It was much more functional than the embarrassment to web development which HarperCollins’ website continues to be.

But the PRH site has been down for the past hour or so, so I’m not sure that I should make any statements about its quality.

. . . .

That said, I don’t see how it’s going to live up to DBW’s claim that the site will add in consumers discovering books. This doesn’t strike me as the type of site I would visit unless I already knew that a book I am looking for was a PRH title. I don’t see anything that would lead me to discover a book which I didn’t already know about.

I also don’t see why I would come here to discover a book rather than go to a book blog, social network, or forum. On those sites, I will get all sorts of independent recommendations, while on the PRH site I’m going to be hand-fed marketing material developed by Penguin Random House.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

Here’s a link to RandyPenguin

PG says that evidently no one told the PRH folks about above the fold. When PG arrived at the new website, all he saw was a large video and nothing else that gave him a reason to click the play button.

Only because he was writing this post, he did click the play button and immediately regretted it.

Not ready for prime time. Or late-night. Or daytime.

Goodreads Now Filling Your Update Feed With Spam, Er “Sponsored Posts”

22 April 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

When Goodreads restructured their social network late last month I predicted that they would shortly use author pages for marketing purposes, and now it looks like I was about half right.

Over the past week Goodreads has quietly started testing a new kind of native advertising. They’ve been inserting sponsored book listings into certain pages, including at the top of the recommendations page, and they’ve also adding those sponsored listings to a user’s update feed.

. . . .

It’s not that users objected to advertising; everyone knows that the site has to be funded somehow, but as the second commenter pointed out, Goodreads already has  a lot of advertising:

*sigh* Because there’s just not enough advertising to us already. Banners, and sidebar ad, sponsored ads in the sidebar, bookpage ads, and mandatory sidebar “editorial” content, update feed “editorial” content, and probably more that I’ve forgotten, and now this. I’m starting to feel like nothing more than a wallet.

Will we have to “hide” this book by book (which, come on, isn’t really hiding – it’s just a recommendations algorithm data point), or will we be able to opt out of the entire sponsored book “feature”?

According to Emily, the Goodreads Director of Care, there is no options for avoiding the adverts entirely.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

One Billion Reader Views on Wattpad = Publishing and Movie Deal

21 April 2015

From Indies Unlimited:

Just like the redheaded girl from science class, Wattpad often goes unnoticed, and is usually underestimated. Wattpad is a site where authors can post stories or segments of their stories and readers can read them and interact with the author. Currently it’s one of the top one thousand most viewed websites in the U.S. and is in the top fifteen hundred worldwide (according to Alexa). Those are exceptionally impressive rankings. The site boasts thirty-five million readers, and because Wattpad is mobile-friendly, most readers are reading on their portable devices. Although Young Adult releases seem to be their most popular categories, there is serious traffic in all genres.

It’s simple and free to upload your work to Wattpad.  No royalties are paid as it’s a free site for readers too. Recently some very exciting developments have taken place in Wattpad-Land. While many of us run Kindle Countdown Deals and look for the next promotional site that’s going to help us achieve momentary glory (and a few sales) at the top of the Amazon pile, some authors have found a different way of advancing their careers.

. . . .

Goodreads is a site that helps expose our work to readers, but the line where authors interact with readers is a bit blurry sometimes due to their rules. With Wattpad it’s fairly straightforward. They allow readers and authors to participate in discussions about the author’s work, and readers can even vote on what they’ve read. Many authors have released their work and garnered hundreds of thousands of Wattpad followers in their community. The trick is to turn those followers into loyal readers who will help advance their careers. This has happened, and often in unconventional ways. Dianne Greenlay, author of the Quintspinner series of novels, attracted the attention of a Hollywood agent due to her Wattpad exposure. Negotiations are continuing as she hopes to bring her series to the big screen. Without the 800,000 views of her work and the support of her Wattpad followers, this opportunity may never have happened.

Twenty-five year-old Anna Todd took it one step further. Anna didn’t think she was a writer, but she knew she could tell a story. Utilizing Wattpad, she wrote a serialized adventure that involved her favorite rock star. Anna’s story has been viewed over one billion times by Wattpaders. Yes, one billion views. From this exposure she attracted interest from the traditional publishing community. After a bidding war, Simon and Schuster swooped her up and signed her to a contract. Anna’s books are now available and are doing quite well. Oh, and Paramount has purchased the rights to After, the book that was originally released on Wattpad.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Google is making a giant change this week that could crush millions of small businesses

20 April 2015

From Business Insider:

On Tuesday, April 21, Google is making a major update to its mobile search algorithm that will change the order in which websites are ranked when users search for something from their phone or tablet.

The algorithm will start favoring mobile-friendly websites (ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they’re viewed on) and ranking them higher in search. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly will get demoted.

About 60% of online traffic now comes from mobile and Google wants users to have a good experience whenever they click on a mobile link.

The company announced its impending changes back in February, giving webmasters nearly two months and plenty of information to make the changes necessary to keep their sites from disappearing from mobile search results. But the update is still expected to cause a major ranking shake-up. It has even been nicknamed “Mobile-geddon” because of how “apocalyptic” it could be for millions of websites, Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider.

“I think the people who are at risk are those who don’t know about it,” Sadan says. To him, that mostly means small businesses.

“Come April 21, a lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” he says.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

PG says authors may wish to check their websites on their cell phones and tablets.

Send PG a note via the Contact Page if TPV’s mobile-friendly plugin causes you any problems or doesn’t work.

My Haters, Myself

14 April 2015

From Slate:

Jennifer Weiner has sold millions of books, spent a combined five years on the New York Times best-seller list, and amassed 109,000 followers on Twitter. Last week, she descended into the basement of New York City’s Ace Hotel to share a handful of her self-promotional secrets. The talk, sponsored by the PEN American Center, was titled “How to Be Authentic on Social Media,” but its true subject was how to promote your book on the Internet without making everyone hate you. Weiner advised authors to tweet about the things they love (for Weiner, it’s the reality TV romance competition The Bachelor); to tweet about the authors they love (Roxane Gay and Gary Shteyngart are two of her favorites); and to tweet about their own projects “sparingly, carefully, modestly, thoughtfully, and absolutely as little as possible”—and let their now-loyal crew of social media followers spread the word. The talk was a handy primer, charmingly delivered. But it referred only obliquely to Weiner’s true social-media innovation: Co-opting her haters into her personal brand.

In 2010, Weiner coined the term “Franzenfreude” to mock the extensive and fawning media coverage that met Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Freedom. When Franzen unexpectedly returned the slight, frowning upon “Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion” in an essay published in the Guardian in 2013, Weiner cannily recast Franzen’s dig as a badge of honor, changing her Twitter bio, for a time, to “Engaging in Jennifer Weiner-ish self-promotion.” Years of sustained, adversarial brand building followed. On Twitter, she’s dubbed Franzen“the worst Internet boyfriend ever,” branded his literary allies “Franzenfriends,” and gleefully organized an “unFranzen” party to coincide with Franzen’s keynote address at next month’s BookExpo America.

. . . .

Weiner is a master of what I’ve taken to calling the haterbrag. Think of it as the humblebrag’s evil (but funner) stepsister, a bit of social media sleight-of-hand that turns an insult into an asset. When Weiner cast the “Weiner-ish” line out to her followers, she jiu-jitsued his scorn, presenting herself not as the victim of a withering putdown by the great American novelist of our era, but as the accessible everywoman who stands in opposition to a stuffy highbrow jerk.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.

14 April 2015

From author Delilah S. Dawson:

It’s 2012. I’m sitting at a table in the front of the room, a microphone poised to capture my every word. At this local writing conference, I am considered a rock star. Everyone in the audience wants what I have–a three-book contract with a traditional publishing company. Their eyes are hungry, their pens poised over notebooks. We take a question from the crowd.

“How do I build a platform and make money with my blog?” a woman asks.

“Build a time machine and go back to 2005 and start your blog then,” I say.

. . . .

From the very beginning of my writing career, I’ve been told that publishers want a writer to have a brand, a platform, a blog, a built-in army of fans. But that was 2009, and now it’s 2015, and that doesn’t work anymore. Book blogs become paid services, giveaways become chum pits, conference-goers dump purses full of business cards out in the trash to make room for more free books that they won’t read. It is virtually impossible to get your blog seen or your book discovered. We are glutted with information, and yet our answer to “How do I get people to buy my book?” is social media marketing, which is basically throwing more information out into the void.

Why?

1. Because Twitter doesn’t sell books.

It is a sad fact that if every one of my Twitter followers–which is 9,631, as of this post– bought my next book, HIT would hit the New York Times bestseller list. BOOM. Easy. One success like that helps an author with every stage of their career, raising their advances, giving them more bargaining power, and lending them a sort of street cred that even my grouchy Luddite grandfather understands and respects. Looking at my sales numbers, my followers are not following me for the purpose of buying my next book, and that’s totally okay. They’re probably there for my brownie recipes and #badscarystories. But the point is that whatever a publisher sees when checking my Klout score doesn’t necessarily translate into book sales. Whatever form of alchemy causes a person to click BUY IT NOW runs deeper than simply hearing the message every two hours as if the author is an insane cuckoo clock.

2. Because Facebook hides posts for blackmail purposes.

Back in 2007, Facebook was beautiful in its simplicity. You posted something to your personal page or your Fan/Author/Brand page, and everyone who was your Friend or Follower saw it. Since then, however, Facebook has recognized the error of allowing us to speak to our friends for free, and now, of my 1836 Fans, only 3-10% see any given post on the Author page that they have chosen to follow for the express purpose of reading my posts. If I pay $20, I could bump that number up to 30%. I would have better luck randomly mailing postcards to strangers. No matter what I say or how beautifully I say it, my message doesn’t reach the people who have asked to hear it.

. . . .

Are you seeing the thread here?

Social media is PUSHING.

And today’s reader doesn’t buy things because the author pushed them.

As a reader, I want a book to pull me.

When I see a book’s name pop up again and again among people I trust, I want to read it.

When the cover is beautiful and the hook is compelling, I want to read it.

Link to the rest at Whimseydark and thanks to Scath for the tip.

Here’s a link to Delilah S. Dawson’s books

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