Spitting In The Wind
You don't tug on superman's cape…
You don't spit into the wind…
You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger…
And you don't mess around with Jim.
The memorable chorus from You Don’t Mess Around With Jim by Jim Croce, a musician from my youth, comes to mind when I’m planning my promotion. His music spoke to the youth of the late sixties and early seventies, helping us make sense of a world that was changing far faster than we were able to comprehend what was going on.
This song was an anthem, especially after the singer was killed. How I remember that Friday morning so well. It was September 21, 1973. A friend met up with me as we walked toward our bus stop to get to high school. She was sad. That’s when I learned that Croce and six other people had been killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. All day, radio stations played Bad, Bad Leroy, Time in a Bottle, and You Don’t Mess Around With Jim along with his other songs. The world mourned. Music had lost a giant.
What does one of Jim Croce’s iconic songs have to do with writing? How we promote. So many times, I’ve had authors come to me and complain that their promotional efforts aren’t working. What more can they do to attract readers for their books? Should they purchase a promotional package from the many websites offering to make them a bestselling author?
First of all, I’m a huge supporter of doing your own promotion. You are the author of your books. You know them far better than an organizer who will more than likely use a standard promotion format to offer your books to readers. Therefore, you are the best person to devise a promotion plan for your books.
Just how hard is it to promote your books and write the next one?
It’s not easy. I won’t kid you. Promotion takes several hours a day, at the minimum. You need to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and any of the other many social media sites in order to attract a fan base. One of the first lessons you should learn is that you don’t want to be that author, the one who does nothing but post “buy my book” links.
Let’s look at the best social media sites to start your book promotion. Please note: pretty much all of those companies offering to promote your book for a price will be using these sites too.
Twitter: You should create your account here and start building a base of followers long before you submit to a publisher or decide to self publish your book. This is preparation for the day when you will have a book to promote. Use an auto-scheduler such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to put up your book promotions throughout the day, but don’t stop there. Jump on Twitter to retweet from those who have tweeted your posts throughout the day. You don’t have to do this all at once, just a few here and there. Participate in the writer friendly Twitter hashtag promotions—#SundayBookBlogs, #MondayBlogs, #TuesdayBookBlogs, #wwwblogs, #1LineWednesday, #FridayReads, #SaturdayReads, and #MustRead are a few. Don’t just post your own tweets for these hashtag promotions, retweet what others have done. Post silly pictures of what I like to call the “kittens and cupcakes” promotion. In other words, don’t get involved with the serious, sure to produce a flame war tweets that are political, hate driven, or religious. Those, you need to avoid like the plague. They will only hurt you as an author and drive away fans.
Facebook: Have your own fan page, where you talk about your books, what you’re doing on your next novel, tease your readers with your favorite music, even put up pictures of cute things that interest you. As with Twitter, stay away from anything controversial. In years past, it was expected for those of us in the public eye to comment on or vocally support political candidates. This election cycle has changed that. A good rule to remember is if the well-known authors aren’t speaking out for their candidate and participating in the hate speech dominating the campaigns this season, it’s a very good idea for you to avoid doing that too. These authors have walked the walk we’re in now, they’ve stumped their books without many sales, and they have learned when to speak out and when to maintain a low profile. Pay attention to them.
Google +: This social media site isn’t used as much as Twitter and Facebook for the simple reason that many people don’t understand how it works. It’s actually rather simple. If you have any type of Google connected account, and there are many now, from your email to YouTube, you can share your posts there. Or you can create a post specific to Google + for your followers to “Plus 1” and share. Yes, it’s all about the sharing, all about finding new fans by utilizing what’s available to you.
Blog: I can’t say this enough. An active blog will take you places. As mentioned in the Twitter section, there are four days of the week devoted to blog promotions on Twitter. Get involved with those. Be active with them every week. Spend one day a week writing up your blog posts and schedule them ahead of time. Then all you have to do is share in Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and even through emails.
Here’s the biggest hint to making your self promotion work. Don’t give up if you don’t see results in a day or a week. Keep plugging along. Even if you think you’re not reaching anyone, don’t stop. Be proactive in the subjects you address, but also cautious. One day, almost without you realizing it, you will begin to see your work being shared and commented on. People will be noticing you, and if all goes as planned, your books will sell.