Monday, October 24, 2011

The Price Of Tweeting For Authors

I had lunch last week with an author who has a book out with one of the major houses – her 20-something time she’s been published.  When we discussed what type of things can be done to promote and market her book, she told me she doesn’t spend much time on social media.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this from authors.  One of my recent author clients told me that he doesn’t believe in social media that he creates or initiates.  He values third-party blog posts, and tweets about him, not by him.

Like a good marketer and publicist, I tried to explain the value of them participating in the online conversation that is taking place every second out there and how he and she can be productive if they execute a strategy.

I never was able to convince them to get beyond their concerns surrounding social media but for the sake of all authors who believe the Internet is a big time suck with little payoff, allow me to address your issues:

Myth #1:  Twitter is a waste of time.

Reality: It can be, if you don’t use it wisely.  I suggest you schedule time, daily or every other day or weekly, to tweet. It can be as little as 15 minutes a day.  Tweet on something related to your book and share blog links, video links, photos, or links to your web site (if you posted something of interest).  Use hash-tags to get your message in front of those who search for terms and key words that would interest your reader. In addition, to sending out messages to followers, interact with those who tweeted for a word category that you’d like to crack.  For instance, search the term “obesity” or “health” on Twitter and you will see many who tweeted with that term.  Tweet them directly by commenting on what they wrote. You want to build up followers, especially those who also have many followers.

Myth #2:  No one has time to read everything that’s posted. 

Reality:  True, but many people read many posts. You only have to get a few hundred or a few thousand people to follow you, to dialogue with you, to re-tweet and share your stuff in order to start seeing book sales.  Don’t worry if some of your messages point to a black hole; just value the messages that do get an audience.

Myth #3:  You have nothing of value to say.

Reality:  Of course you do, and even if you think you don’t, others will treasure what you share.  And if sometimes people don’t love what you say or share, who cares? Think of what others would find interesting and send it out.  Look at what others send out to get ideas.

Myth #4: You can’t monetize your tweets.

Reality:  Sure you can.  You need to put a dollar amount on your time.  Once you know what your time is worth, measure your activity, against that.  What else could you do with two hours a week that you’d otherwise use to tweet?  How do you put a dollar amount on your tweet?  That’s harder.  Few can trace back sales to tweets in any exact way.  But if you build up your followers, your blog readers, and hits to your site, you are developing brand loyalty so that every new book that you write will now have a built-in following.

Myth #5:  You can’t say anything in 140 characters.

Reality:  You can’t use many words, but you can say a lot.  First, use lots of links so the tweet merely introduces a topic that is the subject of your link (to a video, blog, site, etc.).  Second, try to say a headline or something quotable.  Maybe raise a question.  Third, send several tweets successively, so the aggregate tweet is really 600 or 800 characters – which is enough to draw interest from a reader.

Or simply dismiss tweeting and social media – at your peril.

Interview With Latoya C. Smith, Assistant Editor, Grand Central Publishing
  1. What challenges do editors face today?  It’s tougher to get projects through, especially when dealing with authors who have a down-trending sales track.

  1. How do you get an author to trust that you know what is best for their baby? It’s all about communication.  If you let the author know that you respect their craft and want what’s best for the project, they are usually inclined to go with your advice.  Having open communication and allowing the author’s ideas to shine through throughout the editorial process is key.

  1. Why do you love working with books? I’ve always been an avid reader, so having the ability to work with some of my favorite authors, while doing something I love is truly a blessing.  My favorite part is going to conferences and speaking to writers.  I also love mentoring young publishing professionals.

  1. Where do you think the publishing industry is heading? I think publishing will always be publishing, but with all the advances in technology the process and product format will change.  It’s just something we’ll have to adapt to.

  1. What advice do you have for authors who think all they need to do is tweet , blog, and be on Facebook to promote their book? Self-promotion is all about branding.  We try and tell authors all the time that they have to be their own biggest promoters in addition to the publisher promoting them.  This means going to conferences, book events, trade shows, as well as creating materials to hand out to people.  Word of mouth is still the strongest way to promote books.  Also, giving them examples of authors who have been successful in self-promotion helps to show them how it’s done and give them ideas on what they can do for their own books.  Thinking outside of the box is always helpful.

  1. There are a zillion (unofficial) titles published daily, yearly. How do you make a book standout? There are three key elements to making a book stand out: content, packaging and promotion.  Content speaks for itself--the story has to be good.  Packaging is also very important.  If the book has a cover that catches the eye, more than likely, the consumer will purchase it.  Promotion is necessary as well, because the more people see you, the more likely they are to pick up the book.  So you have to stand out to your readers so they know you and your product exist.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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