Monday, April 14, 2008

Marketing - Working Smarter

For Authors-

By Sheila Clover English

You’re told that you have to be on MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and a multitude of other social media sites. Then you’re told to blog, blog, blog in order to connect with fans and create new fans. Every time some new social media opportunity comes up your blood runs cold, your heart runs fast and you feel an immediate need for chocolate. Wait. The need for chocolate thing may only be me. lol

The fact is, there’s so much to do and so little time that authors can’t do it all. And though I love the movie Multiplicity, my luck I’d get the clone that was needy! lol So, I can’t clone myself and if I spend even 5 minutes on each online site that I’m told I need to be on I will never write another book! Ack! Now what?

Well, you can actually use that mess called "emerging technology" to do work for you.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be speaking on a panel about Emerging Technology at the Romantic Times convention. There, I will give details to people on how to make technology work smart for you. Today, I’d like to give some of that information to my MySpace friends.

There are three tools that you need that will get you an abundance of online promo and presence while you’re off typing your next novel.

1. A web master/mistress. Just one.
2. A blog. Just one.
3. A superuser. Just one.

Most of you already have a web person. But, I would like to take a minute and talk about that. This is not personal. I don’t know who your web person is. They may be the nicest person on the planet. They may work for you for free. I don’t know. But, I will tell you that if you don’t have a web person who understand how to put video or audio on your site and has no idea how to utilize RSS feed you need to either -
a. Let them go and hire someone with the right skill set.
b. Pay to have them trained.
c. Pay a second person who has the right skill set and can work with your primary web person.

Why would you take on extra work in order to keep a web designer? If you’re trying to get help for your web person, if YOU are looking around to get help for your web your web person. Or do something about it that will keep you from having to do your web person’s job. Pay a professional. I know authors don’t make a lot of money, but seriously, invest in someone who knows what they are doing or be prepared to do some of the work yourself.

If you are going to be frugal somewhere, don’t let it be your website.

Blogging is an important tool. It needs to be something you invest some time in. It needs to be part of your overall online promo and presence.
How often should you blog? Well, how much time to you have? Some people blog every day. I don’t have that kind of time. But, I can blog a couple of times a week. But, even if you can only blog one time a week - BLOG!!!

It is of utmost importance that the blog you choose be one that has a RSS feed. Don’t bother with a blog that does not have a RSS feed.

What do you write in the blog?

People want to know who you are. They want to know about your book. But your blog is NOT where you sell your book. NEVER sell your book on your blog. It is terrible etiquette to do so. Yet, you can talk about your book on your blog and people expect, even want, that. You can have a "Buy" button on the side bar of your blog. You can say "My release date is..."

Here is a good rule of thumb when blogging. Act like you’re saying this to someone in person. Would you go up to someone at a convention, someone you hardly know, and say "Please buy my book!?!" How do you think that would sound? Desperate? Embarrassing? I don’t know, maybe you would do that in person. In which case, I guess you can blog like that. But, I just don’t recommend it. People who don’t know you may come across your blog and they will be turned off by a desperate plea to buy your book.

Talk about things that are uniquely you. Talk about things that are unique to writers. Talk about something unique to your book. But be sure to ask a question somewhere along the way since that is an invitation for people to comment back to you.

What is a "SUPERUSER"? A superuser is someone who is a loyal die-hard fan. Someone who will spread the word about your book and you. Most of you know when you have a fan or fans like this. These are the people who become moderators to your fan site or online forum. You need to identify one superuser that has computer skills. Or someone willing to be trained in the proper skill set.

This person, or your web person, will take your blog RSS feed and send it out to designated areas on the internet. For example, your MySpace blog has RSS feed. Your Amazon Connect account allows you to blog - OR- send RSS feed from another blog. So, with one blog you just had 2 blogs appear online. Have your tech-person-of-choice find all of the areas that take RSS feeds and send your single blog out to those areas. You could have 4 or 5 blogs in different areas of the internet, but only be writing one blog.

Let your "superuser" moderate your fan club or forum. But, also, have that person Google your name or the name of your book once a week. They can then go and comment on those blogs, leaving a wonderful message about you, and perhaps even leaving your URL. If they come across a blog that they feel YOU, personally, should read and or comment on that blog, they will contact you with the URL to the blog. But, you need to have someone monitoring for opportunities to sing your praises, and opportunities to protect your brand.

Your superuser can also create and lead a street team. A street team is a group of people who are willing to help you. Your superuser can get your street team to blog during the first week your book is out. Or if you do a contest, etc. If you go to a convention or book signing, your street team can meet you there. They can go around and tell people you’re signing books, etc. They would be a group of enthusiastic, but NOT pushy, people who reflect through their actions that YOU are a center of attention, a great author and someone everyone should want to know.

Superusers are not usually paid. They are compensated through acknowledgment. A dedication in your book, mention in your newsletter, something along those lines.

Beyond those 3 things that I mention you can then start to set yourself apart by doing any additional marketing that you think is necessary. Book videos, bookmarks, conventions to attend, etc. But you need a good solid base for your online promo and presence and these three things can help you have that without you having to spend a lot of time on it yourself.

And of course, if you don't find time to write your novel, soon you'll have LOTS of time to market it. lol


Leslie Dicken said...

Great ideas! I use the RSS feed for my blog where ever I can! I have it feeding onto my Amazon page, Squidoo lens, etc. I'd love to add it to mySpace, but it only works the other way around.

Do you know of other popular websites or pages that will take an RSS feed? I blog several times per week. Thanks!

~ Leslie

Vicki Hinze said...

Shelia, very informative information. Thanks for sharing. I hope at some point you'll further explore the RSS feed specifically.



Vicki Hinze

S F said...

Hi Leslie and Vicki!

I think a closer look at utilizing RSS feed is a great idea for an article.
I'm going to the RT convention in Pittsburgh and will be back next week. I will work on the RSS feed article next and let you know when it goes up.
I will include a "how to", a discussion about the different kinds of feeds, where you can put your RSS feed to have a greater outreach, etc.
Thanks for the idea!