11 January, 2014

A Secret Way to Market Yourself and Your Book

The Long Version: (the short version is down the bottom)

I'm a member of several writing groups, and almost daily I'm bombarded by links and messages about the fabulous ways people should publicise their books and get more readers. Unfortunately, among all those messages are far more messages of woe, people despairing that their books are not selling and that the success they expected has not come. What it means is that either authors aren't listening to the advice, or they are drowning in ineffective ideas, or the ideas are simply rubbish.

So which is it? Probably a little of all three, but mostly, the last one.

Two months ago I stumbled on a blog which did nothing but showcase books, and I discovered the world of book tours. I was looking for a hobby, something to fill a new blog, and there it was. It was a world that interested me, and I signed up to a couple of the operators as a blogger (it's free - this is an arrangement where they give you the book info and all you do is post it on your blog). And so I began. And quite unexpectedly I found something most authors are completely in the dark about. I'll get back to that in a moment.

With my brand new blog I grudgingly set up a new Facebook page for it (hey, everyone seems to have them, and we're expected to have social media presence). I already had 19000 followers on Google+. And I already had 4000 followers on Twitter. So I just linked them all to the new blog, so that people could see I was active in social media. Now, I promised I would get back to the secret for authors, so here it is.

I got a few lots of book info and posted them. I was enjoying the traffic - readers were coming to my blog, slowly but surely. One of the tour operators sent me the info on a giveaway for a cash prize. She told me that for five bucks plus putting the giveaway info onto my blog, I would get a spot in the Rafflecopter and gain followers.

WTH is a Rafflecopter? Don't panic. It's the way that fans enter the competition. To be entered into the comp, people have to either leave a comment on your blog, or follow your page on Twitter, or subscribe to your newsletter, or one of a bunch of other options.

So anyway, let's backtrack - I wanted followers and traffic, and thought it was worth risking five bucks. The lady who organised the tour asked me which link to use in the Rafflecopter. I didn't really know what else to give her, so I gave her the link to my brand new Facebook page. It had ONE like at the time (don't laugh) and that one like was ME (ok, you can laugh now). I put my blog post together and scheduled it to post automatically the following week. But I was still hungry for content, so I kinda ignored it and kept posting about books.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I figured I should actually do something with that Facebook page. And it had more than 300 likes. From making ONE blog post and spending five bucks.

If you are an author, stop right now. I am not going to sell you anything in this post, I promise. But how many likes do you have and how long did it take you to get them? Keep reading because I found an even better way that didn't cost anything.

It turns out that a few of those operators actually offer book info which includes giveaways AND you get a spot for doing nothing more than posting about that book on your blog. I'm one of the operators. Or at least, I plan to be. At the moment my tour blog is quite new, but I'm inviting blog owners to be part of it.

I hope I haven't lost you. I am assuming that you, as an author, have a blog. (If not - why not?) If you are typical, there's not much in it. Perhaps a post now and then about your new book, or reminding people of your last book, or about your book coming soon. I am asking whether you'd like to put a book promotion on your blog for another author, and in the process, get a bunch of Likes on your Facebook page. Or your Twitter account - whichever one you prefer.

I can't promise any particular numbers. The more people I get on board, the better the response will be. But by posting about books, you are targetting book-lovers in particular. People who are interested in reading and looking to discover new authors.

A note about which social media links to submit: I will rank them in order of how many people will actually follow through.
Top: Facebook and Twitter are the easiest to boost as they are "one click" in the Rafflecopter.
Medium: Pinterest, "Voting" websites, Following your blog on Bloglovin', Instagram. All of them can be very useful if successful, but they require going to another site to complete which can take your entrants away from your blog post (bad).
OK: Leave a comment on a blog. Easy to understand but not everyone is brave enough or wants to bother, and it's doubtful how useful this is for you.
So-So: Following your blog by RSS or Networked Blogs, Connecting via Friends Connect, visiting your blog and clicking "Follow", circling you on Google+, Reshare a certain Facebook picture/message, "Like" a certain Facebook message, comment on a certain Facebook post, Retweet a certain message on Twitter. People don't always know how to actually do these things and have trouble following the directions to get there, so they tend to just skip these options.
Not recommended: Follow blog by email, sign up for a mailing list. Seriously? Don't bother. You only want genuinely interested people in the first place, which are better to come from natural visitors to your blog.

The Short Version:
  1. Join Glow Tours as a blogger -- Click here
  2. Wait for invitations to tours; when you see one you like, agree to post about the book
  3. Supply the social media link that you want to boost - your Twitter, your Facebook, etc
  4. Profit Gain Followers. Easily. Without paying for them.