Guest Expert: Phyllis Zimbler Miller
It helps to have a roadmap to follow when promoting a book, whether it is your first book or your 15th. And if you want to use social media effectively to promote your book, you need to go through some foundation stages before you even get to using social media:
Stage 1: Identifying Your Brand
Now before you say that’s easy – it’s the title of your book, let’s think this through a moment. The title of a book is usually not the brand of an author – even if that author ever only writes one book.
Your brand is what makes you as an author – and by extension the books that you write – stand out from the crowd. Here’s an example of what I mean:
Years ago a mystery bookstore owner told me that people would come into her store and ask for the next book in the alphabet mysteries series. What I at first found incredible is that fans of this series neither remembered the name of the author – Sue Grafton – or the very distinctive book titles, such as “A Is for Alibi,” “B Is for Burglar,” “C Is for Corpse.”
Sue Grafton has a very distinctive brand – alphabet mysteries. What’s your distinctive brand?
Stage 2: Your Book Author Website
Your book author website is your home base for all your book activities regardless of whether your publisher also gives you a page on the publisher’s website.
It’s important that you have a site that you completely control. This way you can make changes at a moment’s notice (for example, when you get a last-minute invite to do a radio interview or book signing). I recommend a self-hosted WordPress.org site for this (which can include a blog) (note that this is not the same as a hosted WordPress.com site).
Whether you have an existing site or are planning a new one, be sure that the site is up-to-date. In other words, do not have any outmoded web design elements such as a slow-loading Flash introductory page.
People today want their information instantaneously. When they land on your website, they want to know what is this book (or books) about, fiction, nonfiction, who’s the author?
You want also to be sure to have such elements as an email optin system that will enable you to keep in touch with your book fans.
Stage 3: Your Social Media Activities
Now you are ready to have an effective and active social media presence in order to connect with prospective fans. I recommend starting with one of these sites and then adding in the others:
• Facebook personal profile
• Facebook (business) page about your book or books
• LinkedIn profile
• Twitter account
And as you are a book author, you will also want to take advantage of the book promotion opportunities on BookBuzzr.
Be sure to use the same good headshot across all these sites to help in recognition. And you’ll want to learn as much as your time allows on how to effectively participate on each of these sites.
For example, it’s important to remember that Twitter is NOT about selling your book. Twitter is about sharing information and occasionally mentioning your book.
Of course, if you have a blog, which is definitely a good idea if you are a writer, then you can post the links to your new posts on all of the above sites.
(For a free report to help set up an effective Twitter profile, see www.millermosaicpowerof3.com)
Stage 4: Carrying Out Your Social Media Activities
It is important to be continually and consistently active on the major social media sites on which you participate. If this is difficult because of your personal time commitments, then consider an intern or virtual assistant or regular assistant.
But before you allow anyone, for example, to tweet in your name, make sure that you have a clear-cut strategy that you want this person to follow.
Or, if you decide to have your assistants tweet in their own name, make sure that their social media presence – whether on MySpace or anywhere else – does NOT reflect negatively on them and thus on you. Establish specific guidelines for their own social media activities as well as those they do for you.
In conclusion, these are the four main stages of a roadmap to effectively using social media to promote your book. Start slowly, going step by step so you won’t feel overwhelmed, and don’t give up even if the going gets tough (you can always get professional help).
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing. The company is committed to taking the mystery out of social media so that individuals and companies can utilize the power of social media marketing. Check out the company program Quick Start Social Media Track.