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The Writer's Guide to Self-Marketing

Using Social Networking Sites

by

Kristin Kirkland


 

Preface

As an author, it is important for you to self-market and promote your books if you want your work to be recognized out in the reading world. Today, with the advent of technology like the Internet and the creation of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogger, expanding and connecting with your audience is easier than ever. Instead of flying across the country to meet with fans, sign books, and give readings, an author can now interact with fans across the globe by “Tweeting” on Twitter, posting videos on Facebook, or blogging on Blogger. In addition to providing an avenue of constant contact and update with his or her fans, social networking sites can also help an author promote public appearances and events he or she is a part of, making them more successful because of a larger turnout. The social networking sites mentioned above may be only a name to some of you and completely foreign to others. Others may be veteran “tweeters” and “bloggers,” able to navigate the ins and outs of Facebook and LinkedIn with ease. Whatever your level of experience, I hope this guide will offer creative and innovative ways to network and connect with your audience thus advertising your skills and promoting your works to the fullest.



Chapter One: Facebook

www.facebook.com

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, and today boasts over 200 million users. The premise of Facebook is to provide users with a trusted environment in which they can interact with friends and family, sharing pictures, status updates, events, books, movies, and whatever they are interested in or affects their life. Facebook started as a networking site for college students, but today businesses, authors, restaurants, and people of all ages—thirteen to one hundred and thirteen—are using Facebook to keep in touch with their friends, family, and other audiences. Statistics reflecting the growth of Facebook’s user base can be seen below.

Above: Access other statistics and resources at http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics and http://www.facebook.com/facebook?ref=pf#/facebook?v=app_10531514314&viewas=0&ref=pf.

Because of Facebook’s growing popularity, it is really one of the best social networking sites for authors—especially young adult authors—to use as a networking and self-advertising tool. Sharing information on your profile about yourself as an author, such as how you got started, who your favorite authors are, and what you like to read, allows readers to get in touch with you outside of your books. Engaging your readers on this level generates more interest in your texts because readers feel that they can see the author behind and even within the book. Facebook allows you to easily upload pictures and create photo albums as well, making it perfect for sharing the cover of your newest book or pictures from readings, book signings, conferences, and other events where you get to interact with your fans or other authors. Once you have signed up on www.facebook.com by providing your first name, last name, email address (which will double as your user ID), and password, you can begin editing and updating your profile. It is important to create your profile and upload a profile picture first, so fans looking to be your friend can be sure that you are the author of their favorite book and not someone who happens to have the same name as you.

Profile Page or Fan Page?

First of all, as an author you can choose to create a “personal” Facebook profile page or a more “impersonal” Facebook fan page. I suggest creating a Facebook profile page instead of a fan page. Profiles are better for newly-published or self-published authors who do not have a wide enough fan base to support a fan page. Profile pages are also better for interacting with your audience precisely because they are more personal and allow you to chat with your fans via your “Wall” and share pictures, updates, and events. The Facebook Wall is the main space on your profile which displays your activity and ongoing conversations with your friends as well as your status updates. Creating a profile page allows you to interact with your fans in the first person whereas a fan page is a more removed, third person representation of yourself. If you wish to keep your personal and professional lives separate, you may decide to set up a profile page dedicated solely to your book. Your profile picture could be the cover of your latest book, and status updates could reflect progress on your book and announce upcoming events. You could also use status updates to provide readers with quotes from your books or to let them know what is on their favorite characters’ minds.

Editing Your Profile

·      Basic information about yourself and your network can be found under the information tab at the top of your profile.

·      Click on the blue “Edit Information” link to fill in and update information about yourself.

·      Share the basics—gender, birthday, hometown, and relationship status. This information will appear on the left side of your profile page next to your Wall.

·      Add information about your education and work experience.

·      Let readers know how to contact you.

o   Supply an email address fans can reach you at as well as links to other social networking sites you may utilize such as Twitter or Blogger. These three sites work well together as I will show in the coming chapters.

o   Supply a link to a site that sells your book, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or to your publisher’s website, in this case, Boson Books at www.bosonbooks.com.

·      Under personal information, you can share activities and hobbies that interest you, your favorite music, TV shows, movies, books, and quotations. This section allows you to create an image of yourself as an author, which gives your fans a peek at the person behind the text. You can include as little or as much information here as you would like. I caution you, however, from becoming too personal. Try to balance your personal and professional life here. Include specific activities, interests, or hobbies that correlate with your intended audience or your book’s plot in order to attract fans with similar interests. You could also provide a brief author biography.

·      Upload a recognizable picture of yourself, preferably the picture you use on the back cover of your books, or a picture of your latest or most popular book cover, so fans can easily link you with your texts. Before you upload a photo of yourself, there will be a blank box with a blue silhouette in it on the top left corner of your profile.

o   Move your cursor over the box.

o   You will see a blue “Change Picture” link in the upper right corner.

o   Click on the link to create a drop down menu from which you can upload a picture, edit your picture, edit your thumbnail (the tiny version of your picture that accompanies your wall posts and other activity), or remove your picture.

o   Click on upload picture, and then browse your computer or external drive for the picture you want to use.

·      Press “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page when you are done editing your profile.

·      See young adult author Ellen Hopkins’s profile for example:


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