When I mention social networking to my writing friends, they cringe. “It’s too time consuming,” they complain. “I don’t have time.”
It’s true. Social networking does take up time, but so does every other thing you must do as a nonfiction writer to promote yourself as a writer and your published work. And promote you must if you want it to sell your books.
Personally, I find social networking an enjoyable and effective way to build platform and promote myself and my writing. I have seen my efforts expand my readership and traffic to my websites and blogs.
As writers, we must be good book promoters and marketers. We must have a web presence. Why not try developing these things on the social networking sites? You might be surprised at what you’ll find there…not only a host of people that might enjoy “following” or “friending” you, but people you might enjoying conversing with as well. You might actually make some friends!
I use Twitter and Facebook daily and LinkedIn on almost a weekly basis. I truly enjoy Twitter and Facebook, and I have many friends in both places. I’ll even admit to “hanging out” on Twitter when I’m bored or want to procrastinate, because it’s interesting, fun and useful all at the same time.
However, don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Dana Lynn Smith, a book marketing coach with a degree in marketing and 15 years of publishing experience who is the author of several books about social networking for writers, including The Facebook Guide for Authors and The Twitter Guide for Authors. I had been looking for someone to write a WNFiN post that would convince nonfiction writers to take on social networking as part of their promotional plans when I discovered Dana. I’m just thrilled that she accepted my invitation to be a guest blogger this year, and I hope you will not only find her advice useful but heed it as well. (By the way, you can find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NinaAmir, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/people/Nina-Amir/1180528530 and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nina-amir/6/460/134.)
Why Social Networking is a Must for Authors
by Dana Lynn Smith
Over the past couple of years, social networking has become an increasingly essential online book marketing strategy—one that you can’t afford to overlook.
Reaching potential book buyers is the most obvious benefit of social networking, but not necessarily the most important one. For many nonfiction authors, developing relationships with peers and influencers is equally important. These contacts can review your book, recommend you to others, participate in your book launch, and publish your articles in their blog or ezine. They also are potential joint-venture partners.
Social networking is ideal for generating word-of-mouth marketing, where your message gets passed along by others. For example, when people enjoy a book, article, blog, or video, they often recommend it to others online. This type of user endorsement is more effective than traditional marketing.
Here are some other benefits of social networking:
- Building author platforms, expert status and brand recognition
- Driving traffic to websites and blogs
- Subtly promoting books, products and services
- Learning from others in your field and finding material for your books
- Increasing your opt-in subscriber list
- Getting speaking engagements or consulting customers
- Improving search engine optimization and search results ranking through back links from social sites.
Which social networks are most important for nonfiction authors? My top choices are Twitter and Facebook, used together. I also recommend the professional network LinkedIn.
Other sites may also be useful, depending on your target audience. For example, if you’re writing for young adults, MySpace would be a good choice. If your target audience is boomers, check out Eons. Search Ning.com, and Google for networks that serve specific niche audiences.
Also consider the virtual reader communities that aim to bring together authors and readers. GoodReads is the largest, but there are many others. See who has reviewed books similar to yours (or books appealing to a similar audience) and send friend requests to those folks.
Here are a few tips for getting the most from social networking:
- Be selective about which networks you join and who you invite as a friend. Only invite people who appear to share common interests with you.
- Send personalized friend requests, introducing yourself and stating why you want to befriend the other person.
- Get involved in the community. Add value by helping others, answering questions and sharing resources and knowledge. Don’t forget to share a bit of personal information about yourself.
- Be careful not to appear too promotional. It’s okay to promote your products and services on occasion, but don’t make that your main focus. Sending out an announcement of your book launch is fine; sending frequent promotional messages about your book is not.
While social networking is a terrific business tool, it’s also great fun to meet people all over the world who share your interests. If you haven’t already jumped onboard, get started today!
About the Author
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach with a degree in marketing and 15 years of publishing experience. She develops marketing plans for nonfiction books and is the author of several books including Facebook Guide for Authors and Twitter Guide for Authors. Her Book Marketing Maven blog is packed with marketing tips, and you’ll get a copy of her Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free ezine at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com.
Dana also now offers “Boost Your Book Sales with Social Networking,” a 90-minute audio that teaches authors how to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote themselves and their books. Sign up here: http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/savvy_book_marketer/boost.html
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