Friday, April 23, 2010

Productive Social Networking for Writers


Please help me welcome my sister and fellow romance author Laurie London. A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in BusinessAdministration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie now writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, Bonded By Blood, A Sweetblood Novel, releases February 2011 by HQN. Embraced By Blood, the second book in the series, releases July 2011. When not writing, she can be found running, reading, or riding and showing her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again. You can learn more about Laurie at her website, on Facebook and Twitter.

Here's Laurie:
Thanks so much, Becky, for inviting me to talk about Social Networking. One of my favorite topics!


Social networking is THE perfect way for shy writers to network. Where else can you meet new and interesting people, reconnect with friends and acquaintances, come across as fun and engaging (hopefully), and edit yourself before you say something you’d regret—all while wearing those PJs and fuzzy slippers you have on right now?

Why should you care about social networking? After all, it’s writing the best book you can possibly write that really matters, right?

Well, you know what? I totally agree. Before I sold, I did not have a website, blog, author Twitter account, or author Facebook page. For the exact reason I rarely play video games any longer, I knew that I’d get sucked into the world of social networking, and I wanted my writing to come first. With a finite amount of creative energy inside me each day, I didn’t want to spend it all on social networking, when what I really wanted to do was write a book.

This isn’t to say I didn’t do any social networking prior to selling. I did have a Facebook page and Twitter account under my real name, but I tried to limit my time so that I could write every day. When I sold, I felt comfortable with these methods of communication and was able to jump right in with my author name.

In this interview on Murderati
, Neil Nyren, Editor in Chief at Penguin Putnam, says word of mouth is an essential ingredient in selling books and the author plays an important role in this process. He goes on to say, “As a writer, you are the CEO of your own business. You should make it a point to learn that business and to do whatever is necessary to make that business succeed.” But then he adds you need to write a good book which is tough to do if you’re spending all your time on promotion.
So what’s a writer to do when you want to do both?


Seven Ways to Make Social Networking More Productive and Spend Less Time Doing It
1. Don’t waste your time posting something boring. I know this sounds blunt and mean, but social networking is all about making connections and providing good content. Unless you’re someone famous, no one, except maybe your mom, wants to read on Twitter that you’re having your second cup of coffee ten minutes after you posted that you were having your first. If you really want to tell people, then try to make it interesting. If not, stay offline and write instead.


2. Know who your readers/followers/friends are and provide content for them. Becky does a great job at this. I doubt she’d let me blog about my horse or my bathroom leak. You don’t come here to read about that. When I find an interesting article online, one that I think my followers or friends would enjoy, I twitter the link or post it to FB. Always ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” and post accordingly. That’s not to say I don’t tweet about my horse or my bathroom leak, but I try not to do it too much.

3. Observe those who do social networking well and copy them. (Conversely, when someone says something that makes you cringe, make a mental note not to ever do that either.) One thing that totally impresses me is when people who have a lot of followers take the time to comment on something others have said. It makes me feel special when that happens, so I try to do the same for others. If someone retweets something I’ve said or comments on my FB page or blog, I always acknowledge it. If someone thinks you care about them, they’ll keep coming back. Conversation matters.

4. Pay attention to what makes you click one person’s link or comment on their status, and try to do the same. On Twitter, don’t just say “Interesting blog” and post the link. As a follower, I want to know if it’s worth my time to click. My opinion on what’s interesting may be different than yours. For instance, if I tweet about guest blogging here today, I might say, “Social networking for shy writers” or “7 ways writers can make social networking more productive” and give the link. It makes it easy for people to see if they’d be interested or not. Sure, I might also post, “I need your help. I’m hearing crickets on this blog. Please come visit me.” But what I won’t do is link only the URL, thinking someone will click through just because. Conan O’Brien has Just Because status. I don’t.

5. On Twitter, take advantage of hashtag topics to connect with like-minded people and see real-time publishing information. One of my favorite people on Twitter, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@Inkyelbows), has a great list of hashtag topics for writers on her blog. (
http://tinyurl.com/lzp9w8) In fact, check out her blog for loads of other Twitter tips. I’ve learned a lot from her (see items 3 and 4 above). If you’re posting something that pertains to a particular topic, use the appropriate hashtag. That way even people who don’t follow you will see your tweet. I’ve met the nicest people this way. Also, many agents post what kinds of manuscripts they’re currently looking for under #pubtips.

6. Build your followers/friends list with people who have similar interests. Don’t just limit yourself to other writers. I like wine, horses, and cooking, so I’ve sought out other people on Twitter and FB who like the same things. As far as I can tell, people who like wine, horses, and cooking also read books. ;-) Take the time to read their blog if a post sounds interesting and comment if you have time. Don’t forget to track back so you can tell if they replied. I love it when people comment back on a blog post or comment I’ve made.

7. If you link your Twitter and FB updates, don’t link every tweet. Facebook isn’t as real-time as Twitter and it will just look strange to your FB friends when you use twitter-speak.

Since seven is a nice number, I’ll stop there. Do you have any tips you’d like to share about social networking for writers?


37 comments:

  1. Laurie, thanks so much for being here. This is an awesome post. Unfortunately, I've done some of the things you suggest not doing--like posting a blog link on Twitter but not saying what the blog is about. I'm going to go Twitter a link to this post right now, but I'm going to give a brief description first. :)

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  2. Thanks for having me here, Beck! I've done most of these things too, so don't worry.

    I love observing how others do things. When I realized I was clinking on links from the same people over and over (people who weren't my buddies), I knew they were doing something right--or at least it resonated with me enough to get me to click.

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  3. As someone who is new to the promotion gig (and that is what a lot of the social networking is for authors), I really appreciated your posting. I made note of a few of your tips that I hadn't zoned in on. Thanks!

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  4. Thank you Laurie for athe useful tips about promoting and networking.

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  5. **Waving at you** Hi, Laurie--I read this with great interest. Promo can be very time consuming, so I agree that it's important to make sure the things we do are as effective as possible.

    Alexis

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  6. Brenda and Mona, thank you for stopping by. Glad you found some useful tips!

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Alexis, *waving back* thanks for popping in. Actually, I was thinking of you when I wrote #3. You're always so responsive to people, no matter what blog you're on. It makes us fans feel special.

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  9. Excellent article, Laurie. I need to work on my Twitter skills. You've given me some great tips to get back in the Twitter game.

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  10. Hey Laurie! Really great post, I'm so impressed with your 7 points! I think number 3 above is so critically important, especially on Twitter. You may read something someone tweeted and think it's interesting, but unless you say so, they have no idea if anyone has even read what they've put out there. And you really do get a warm, fuzzy, recognized feeling when anyone, particularly an author, takes the time to respond to a tweet, especially if a person is @ mentioned specifically.

    Also, as a book club blogger, I think authors need to understand how word of mouth works for their books. It's like wildfire spreading across social networks. People posting and tweeting about their current reads is a huge marketing tool that is more accessible now than ever before. I suggest that word of mouth is the single most important advantage an author can gain(well before social networks and the Internet existed in fact) and social networking used well is the perfect vehicle.

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  11. Thanks, Gina! I find Twitter a little easier to manage than FB. I'll look for you there. :-)

    Shelley, thanks for stopping by! Given your expertise as a public relations/publicity/marketing guru, it's nice to know I'm on the right track. Having come into social networking as a fan first, you and I know how important #3 is. Just a little love from an author, and we fans will follow you to the ends of the earth!

    You echo what the Penguin exec said in the above linked interview on the importance of word of mouth. As writers, we may not be familiar with, or have access to, a bunch of fancy marketing plans. Social networking is a painless and easy way to get ourselves out there (for free) and connect with potential readers.

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  12. Great information, Laurie! I write historical romance and found many friends on Facebook through the various historical groups. Selecting an accurate target market helps to concentrate your marketing efforts more effectively. Otherwise, it's like trying to hit the bulls eye blindfolded.

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  13. Thanks, Tiffany. I'm a little more familiar w/ finding people on Twitter. How have you found and connected w/ people interested in historical romance on FB?

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  14. Came here via Twitter! I just had to add when I saw the twitter vs. facebook comments. I have both and recently changed over to a Facebook "page" instead of the regular profile, and it has saved my life. I only regret not doing in sooner because I had to herd cats/ gets my previous friends to switch over. I highly recommend it for author presence on FB.

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  15. Wonderful post, Laurie! :) I would encourage shy authors to connect with book bloggers who specialize in your genre. Book bloggers are always excited to connect with authors via twitter or facebook & are happy to help promote authors they love & to help spread the word about new, awesome books. :)

    If you'd like to drive more traffic toward your own blog and to gather more twitter/facebook followers who may be interested in your book, host a giveaway. Contests & giveaways spread like wildfire on twitter & can quickly bring your name & book title to the attention of lots of potential readers. Even if you don't have any copies of your own book available yet, host a giveaway for another great book in your genre. The type of reader who will find & RT that contest is exactly the demographic you'd like to have recognize your name. It will help potential readers start to associate you with your genre & connect your name with books they love before your own book has even hit shelves. Plus other authors tend to enjoy free promotion via giveaways & may return the favor for you someday (or at the very least, they may help spread the word about the contest you are hosting for their book).

    I would encourage anyone who wants to use Twitter and Facebook for social networking to take advantage of Tweetdeck and TweetChat (or similar programs, like Brizzly). They make it so much easier to see the updates you want to see in a more efficient manner. With Tweetdeck, you can view your twitter feed, your @replies, and any particular hashtags you are interested in following all at once, which is so much more efficient than accessing twitter via the web and viewing only your own feed. You can also post updates to your twitter & facebook, and Tweetdeck will automatically shorten URLs & allow you to edit retweets. TweetChat makes participating in a hashtag conversation so much simpler & essentially lets you use twitter as a way to host an informal public chat. TweetChat will automatically add the hashtag to each of your tweets for the duration of your conversation.

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  16. Hi Laurie! What a great topic to have you blogging about. You seem to have a real knack for social networking, and balancing it out with your writing.
    I always find you so articulate whether it's a formal blog post or us having an informal conversation on FB or chat. If I were a writer, and I needed suggestions, I'd be taking notes right and left from you. As it is, I just get to enjoy the fruits of your labor! I can't wait until your books are on the shelves...to use that "word of mouth" that Shelley talked about.
    I agree with Shelley that this is so important.
    Just look at our group! I wouldn't have read 1/2 the books I've read had it not been for recommendations from the others. We are always out there chatting about what we love and making others read it, right?! Some of the books that were "gently suggested" (forced) on me, ended up being some of my all time favorites!
    I am a newbie to Twitter, and your suggestions are very helpful. Just your suggestion alone, of me using Tweetdeck, was greatly appreciated. We are in such a huge world of talented people that if we can learn from others without having to "reinvent the wheel" it is so much more productive. The sharing of info. and networking with people you admire and trust can be invaluable to both your time and creativity.
    You seem to do it so well.
    And, hey, I'm glad about #6! If you had limited yourself to writers only, we might have never met!

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  17. Maggie! Thanks so much for stopping by. The book club gals have been talking about your books (gushing, I must say). That's how I heard about how awesome they are. Can't wait to read them.

    I'm curious about your comment liking FB pages better than regular profile pages. I thought about it doing a FB fan page, but it just seemed so...weird...to think about asking people to be my "fan" especially when my book isn't even out yet. Plus, with a fan page, you can't interact on other people's pages, can you?

    I figured I'd switch over, if and when I ever got to that point, when my friends' list got too large. But that doesn't seem to jive with your experience. Any additional thoughts on this?

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  18. Awesome info, Violet! I've never hosted a giveaway as my book isn't out yet. Never crossed my mind to give away others' books. Duh! What a great idea!

    I've never used Tweetchat. Only Tweetdeck. I'll definitely check it out.

    FYI: Violet has a wonderful new book review website. (I hope your name links to it.) Her reviews are some of the most eloquent and thoughful ones I've ever read. And I love the bullet-point format. As a reader/writer with a busy schedule, I can pop in and quickly read your review.

    Vi, do you just do YA, or do you review other genres as well?

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  19. Aw, Kathy, thanks so much! ((hugs))

    I think I've gotten some of the best recommendations for books from you. We clearly have similar tastes in books!

    What do you mean #6... I think we were friends before I really started to take my writing seriously. :-)

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  20. Haha, well I meant originally when you started to go online way back when...if you had only gone to or associated with writers only places..we wouldn't prob have ventured in the same place where we met!

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  21. Kathy - HAHAHAHAHA! "Some of the books that were "gently suggested" (forced) on me" - yes, that is persuasion at its best, is it not? How many women have I gently pushed...aka forced...to read JR Ward's books?

    Laurie - I need to learn some more from you about hashtags! I checked out your link about them and my biggest question is how to find the exact hashtags that a person is interested in, does that make sense?

    Maggie - Thank you so much for coming over here, you seriously are a social marketing maven.

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  22. Addl note/correction: I did NOT persuade Kathy to read JR Ward's books...she actually told me about them first! But that's just a perfect illustration of the power of word of mouth. From Kathy telling me, I have then told no less than 100 people (and probably more) to read her books. This is especially true when word of mouth hits a 'connector' and a 'maven' - see Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point". Oh yes, Laurie London's husband told me to read that book, which I did and then bought a copy for a young man who works at a convention organization...

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  23. So true, Kathy!

    Good question, Shelley. I seem to just stumble upon them.

    For instance, when I was on Twitter right before a big PPV UFC fight, I did a twitter search on UFC. That brought up a lot of people's tweets about the event. Then, I scanned them to see the most commonly used hashtag and started using that in my tweets. I even got a few new followers from my posts that evening!

    Not sure if there's a better way to find applicable hashtags or not. Would love to hear other people's ideas too.

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  24. What great conversations we have going on. I'm learning so much!

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  25. Thanks, Laurie! :) So far I've reviewed almost exclusively paranormal YA since that is the genre I tend to gravitate toward. But I won't hesitate to include great MG, PNR, UF, sci-fi, or fantasy novels as they come across my shelf. I strongly agree with what you, Shelley, and Kathy have mentioned regarding book recommendations. Word of mouth truly does sell books. Reaching a select group of dedicated fans who are excited to actively force ... er, enthusiastically encourage... everyone they know to read your book goes a long way. I may never have found the Warden or Jeaniene Frost without you lovely ladies, and now I can't imagine not knowing about the Brothers or Cat & Bones.

    As far as twitter hashtags & twitter author chats go, I would highly recommend checking out @inkyelbow's page for writers on twitter: HERE. About a third of the way down that page you will find hashtags to help connect with other writers as well as hashtags for several of the regularly scheduled lit-related twitter chats.

    LitChat is also a good resource. Basically every genre or book-related tag you can imagine will lead some new people to stumble across your tweets (for example, any combination of #romance #paranormal #book #bookgiveaway will be stumbled upon by people searching for those individual terms).

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  26. Great advice, Laurie. I'm so awful about my Tweeting. Typical extrovert, I just love chatting up people. Oh, the guilt, the guilt. My blog is so outdated, I'm horrified. Well except for the cutie rabbit/kitty video - LOL. Let me summarize my life in one word. DEADLINE. Sigh...

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  27. Violet,
    Wow, thanks for the additional tips. I love @inkyelbows too. She's got fabulous advice on her website. Will need to check out LitChat.

    Vicky,
    Hey, your blog is more up-to-date than mine, I'm sure!

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  28. Hi Becky and Laurie, I'm just getting in the door from working late so I'm posting kind of late in the game. I like the idea of connecting with people you don't know who aren't writers. I'm not brave enough to try Twitter just yet, but I am encouraged to be a little bolder on Facebook. Thanks for the great post, have a fantastic weekend.

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  29. Hi Debbie,
    Thanks for stopping by after a long work day! Twitter's actually really fun and isn't as intimidating as you'd think. You can set up a profile, find a few of us you know, see who we're following and start following them too. It's not like FB where they need to approve you as a friend. If someone sounds interesting, you follow them. You can watch what's going on to get the feel for how it works. I did that for quite awhile actually until I felt comfortable posting something and conversing with people.

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  30. This is very helpful! I will be linking back to this post on my blog.

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  31. Laurie!! Excellent tips!! I'll have to save all of these for when I cave into peer pressure again and finally join Twitter. hahaha! For now though, I'll stick with Tip #1... "stay offline and write instead", or at least try to write instead. You must also be a time management guru because you seem to get soooo much done. I swear I need to set a timer and say, "I'll go to work for this set amount of time. I'll check my email/website/facebook for a set amount of time. I'll do my housework for a set amount of time. I'll cook dinner for a set amount of time and if there is any TIME left after all the interruptions and somewhere before 9:30pm, I MIGHT have a few minutes to THINK ABOUT writing." Hmmm... Twitter and blogging doesn't seem to fit anywhere in there.... yet. When the time comes, I'm sure I'll be calling you up to get all the lastest tips because obviously, I'm failing horribly at this social networking thing. hahaha!!

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  32. Mandy, I have to laugh at your time management comment. If I were brave, I'd tweet a picture of my house and the lack of activity in my kitchen around dinner time. :-)

    Thanks for coming by!

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  33. Laurie and everyone who commented, thanks so much for the Twitter tips. What great info! I learned a ton.

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  34. Thanks, Kate, for linking back. And thanks, Wendy, for stopping by. I sure learned a lot from everyone's great comments.

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  35. Wow - this post had a lot of helpful information. Thanks, Laurie! I may not have a website yet, but I do have a facebook page. I didn't realize twitter was still being used so much. I stopped doing that a long time ago. I have no clue what a hashtag is either, but I'm going to check the links you listed here and find out. Guess I should brush up on tweeting again.

    Mandy - your schedule sounds almost exactly like mine - even the 9:30p bedtime. I don't know how these other ladies manage to get so much done!! They must all speed read/type or something... or give up sleeping.

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  36. Hi Tess,
    I'm glad you found it helpful! If you get back on Twitter, come find me!

    Mandy's deal is that she keeps her house clean and her family fed. I don't! :-)

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  37. Tess, if you go back on Twitter, I'm @rebeccajclark and Laurie is @laurieblondon

    I hope you look us up!

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