In my last post on this topic, http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com/2012/02/juggling-novel-writing-and-book.html, I gave you some awesome resources I’ve run across in my own search to learn how to handle this new dual job of writing books and promoting them at the same time. Most of those were resources for the social media/promotion half of the equation. I suggested you look at Twitter, Facebook, and the world of free blogs and add one only to whatever you already have. The other piece of that half of the equation is to build up your presence on whatever social media you are already using.
If you’re already connecting with friends, family, and old school chums on Facebook, you know the basics there, so make a little plan of what you could do on Facebook to build your professional presence there. I know there are people who say we should all get Author Pages on Facebook, but I’ve chosen not to go that way. As writers, a lot of our promotion, of necessity, is just giving our readers and potential readers the opportunity to get to know us and the tone of our voices. An Author Page is more formal and doesn’t allow our regular posts to show up in others’ timelines. So they have to seek us out always. A regular Friend Page lets our posts show in our friends’ and readers’ timelines. NOTE: This does not mean posting five status updates in one morning that all say, “Buy my book!”
Twitter is a very different kind of interface. Tweets are so short and so quickly replaced by others’ tweets that you can tweet several widely-spaced times in a day with a link to a blog or review or announcement that your book is out, is free, won an award, whatever. Again, however, if you send dozens of “Buy my book!” tweets, people will either block you, unfollow you, or place you on a list they don’t have to be bothered with (essentially making you invisible to them).
The key word in social media is social. It’s not cold-calling in sales. You wouldn’t go up to everyone at a party, saying “Buy my book!” Neither should you online. It’s called courtesy and basic etiquette.
If your choice from the last post was to begin a blog, I suggest you sit down and spend half an hour brainstorming topics for your blog, making a long list. You’ll be glad of this when your brain goes blank as you open the New Post window, and it will come in very handy later when we move into writing multiple posts ahead of time and scheduling them to publish at later dates.
I know. I know. I haven’t touched yet on GoodReads or LibraryThing. Haven’t even looked toward Google+ or LinkedIn or any of the other social networks out there. But we’re starting with basics here. We’ll look at those later as we start branching out.
The other half of the writing/promoting equation for next steps is answering the question, How do I find time to do all of this and write my books, as well? And the beginning to the answer to that is to restrict promotion to one or a very few types of social media at first, and only as we learn how to use them and combine them to make them more efficient and effective expand. If you throw yourself into every kind of social media at once, you will burn out without ever learning enough about any of them to make your efforts bear any real fruit.
As part of that beginning of balance, we need to keep reminding ourselves that promotion activities may be important, but they’re not vital, not the way writing the next book is vital. Writing has to come first in our lives if we’re writers.
One of the major problems I’ve encountered, as have many other writers I know, is how to keep the promotion/social media stuff from overflowing into writing time. This is something it will do easily. So next week, we’ll look at ways to be actively involved with promotional and social media activities without sacrificing writing time.
Friday, I’ll have a special Writers of Color post on here about the writers of the books banned in Tucson, including my most-published poem, “Spell for Banning a Book,” and Saturday, I’ll be talking on the Writers Who Kill blog about the necessity to a writer of an efficient postal service and what’s going on with our once-envied U.S. postal system.