The definition of Public Relations in business is “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and the public”
In the past my focus has been on book marketing, which did include how to reach potential readers with blogs, social media and as part of the writing community. Whilst this recycled series will revisit those platforms along the way it is an opportunity to focus on some key areas of our public profiles that might influence the public to buy our books.
The focus this time is on you.. the author.
In the last three weeks I have looked at the public face of an author… the profile photograph, biography and hitting the red carpet in the writing community and other places online. This week I explore the benefits and downsides to promoting yourself on social media platforms. Apart from blogging which I consider to be an essential platform for all authors, there are the usual haunts most of us frequent.
I appreciate that some of you reading this have had unfortunate experiences with social media and I am afraid that is something that all of us are likely to face at some point or another. There are people in this world who feel that they can attack from cover behind their screens and abuse others. It says a lot for their sad little lives and they only option is to block them. Hopefully the majority of those you follow are decent people who are like-minded and willing to interact well. As for those wishing to scam you.. they get craftier all the time and assume that suspicious emails or requests via social media require close scrutiny and wariness.
Social Media – The Pros and the Cons as an Author
As a number of well-known celebrities and best-selling authors have found to their cost during this last year, comments made online years ago can come back to haunt you. Sometimes before they were famous, and were young and a bit foolish.
However, on the plus side… not only is it a way to be connected to the rest of the world and meet new people, it is for an author… FREE advertising.
The Pros of being on Social Media as an author
As an author, blogger and book promoter, I have experimented with several social media platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn.
For me the most effective as far as exposure, traffic and promotion are Twitter and Facebook with LinkedIn coming in quite a bit behind in third place.
As an author I want to sell books, as a blogger I would like my posts to reach as far and wide as possible, as a book promoter I want to create a platform that offers the authors as much visibility as possible and as a reader I want to discover great recommended books to add to my TBR.
I did have my own page on Facebook until two years ago but found that it was not as effective as having my personal page combined with using specific groups to post to for marketing purposes. This enables me to not only share my own book news, but the promotions for the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore, and the bloggers that I follow.
I am administrator along with Debby Gies of The Literary Diva’s Library – And if you are just getting started, are a reader of books or a writer, then do take a look and see if it would suit you.
Facebook Groups enable you to chat with, and share with like-minded people, and since writers are readers too, it is also a useful marketplace to share your work or blog posts. (You will get short shrift if you continually talk about yourself and your work). It is tough to manage several groups, but if you check out the ones associated with your particular genre then you will make a good start. Most authors within those genres are readers too and if they pass along to their friends etc you are reaching a healthy market for your work.
I tend not to post a great deal of personal goings on but do so on my personal page which is set to friends only. They know I can be crazy…!! Apart from when I share from Goodreads where I cannot designate a group to share a book review in, all my work related posts go into the three groups I am a member of.
Twitter is useful for making new connections and interacting with those you share interests with, by sharing their tweets. It is reciprocal usually and this adds the accumulative factor to any tweet you make. I understand that many with accounts on Twitter have closed their accounts following the recent takeover by the latest CEO, but at the end of the day there has been little change to the dynamics of the writing community on Twitter and whilst I am not necessarily a fan of all his endeavours, for my aim, which is to promote my book and those of the authors I support, Twitter is still an important platform for marketing purposes.
For example – if you tweet about a review for your book #Fantasy #Scifi and just 10 of your followers retweet to theirs with those tags, you are reaching thousands more possible readers of your book or followers of your blog.
To make sure you are targeting the right audience for your blog or book remember to use tags when posting – #Romance #Writing Community, #Fantasy #Poetry #Health #Humour etc.
I went in recently to check this accumulative factor for a book review rewind I posted on. It was retweeted 25 times and including my own followers it was shared to 156,000 potential readers. Whilst they may not buy the book right now… it they see an author’s name often enough, it will encourage them to explore their books at some point.
I have mentioned the Pinned Tweet a number of times and this is useful to extend your brief bio on your profile section to promote all your books or one specifically or a blog post.
It is the first thing that a new visitor to your account will see so a good marketing opportunity. They will usually retweet and share your book or post with their own followers.
Remember to change the pinned tweet on a regular basis as unless someone retweets with addition text it can only be done once.
You can still promote the same book as your pinned tweet if you add the link to its most recent review etc to keep it fresh. You can connect to me on twitter:@sgc58
LinkedIn used to be very much for the business community, and I joined in 2008 when I was on radio and I included my nutritional therapy qualifications and books I had released at that time. I did connect with many I had worked with previously in the telephony industry which helped me get started, but at the time there were very few authors using the platform. That has changed somewhat now and there is a thriving community. All my blog posts are linked automatically which means slightly less work.
My posts are scheduled to go out at different times of day for the time zones.. so just after midnight for American readers and then throughout the day at set intervals. It means that they are sent straight to Twitter and LinkedIn at the same time without me worrying about it.
The LinkedIn interface has changed a great deal in the last year with a move to a similar look to Facebook and they even have emojis now….it used to be a no no to put a hug or a kiss on a post, but they seem to have decided it might be okay.
It is more formal however than other social media sites and as I have repeated on many occasions, as an author you are in business and there are certain expectations that go along with that.
In the post on writing a biography I emphasized certain points to give it a professional and business orientated theme.. and that is what is needed for Linkedin. You will find that most bio photographs are more formal too than you might expect to find on most social media sites.
If you would like to get started then please connect to me LinkedIn: Sally Cronin
In this day and age we have to accept that as an author, we need to be both proactive and reactive to highlight our work. The market for our books or blog posts is to be found within the billions who spend their lives online in one way or another. Readers are not just going to walk through our door unfortunately. If we are building a brand for ourselves as an author with books to sell, I do recommend that you are on at least one of the major sites such as Twitter or Facebook.
The Cons of being on Social Media as an author or blogger
For me the biggest drawback to being on social media, even though it has helped me build my blog platform and allowed me to promote both myself and other authors is Time.
I love what I do and after 22 years as an author, 10 years of blogging and 8 promoting authors I know that being on social media is essential to making things happen.
Although my posts are linked to Twitter and LinkedIn automatically, I choose not to respond to the comments or tweets using an automatic app. I like to tag those who have shared posts or retweeted, visit their page and share their pinned tweet and explore their books etc. On average I get 300 tweets a day and whilst many are not expecting a response, by doing so it does encourage more interaction in the future.
Finding the balance between building your marketing brand, writing books and blogging is a challenge.
Times change, and as recent events have illustrated, there are things you could get away with 10 years or even 5 years ago that you cannot do so now. I don’t agree with bullying in any form or discrimination when it comes to culture or religion, but sometimes even harmless banter can upset someone, somewhere.
Social media is a global phenomenon, and as such, what we say and do, can get lost in translation. Politics and religion in particular are guaranteed to get people hot under the collar and that’s when the fight started!
I will admit to being straight talking, opinionated and also known to use colourful language in private on a number of subjects, but as an author, I tend to be more circumspect in places where I am also marketing my books. The only time that I will publicly share my opinion, is if I see someone else being bullied in any way, but thankfully that has become rarer in recent years. On the odd occasion when I have read a post or comment by an author that is offensive it certainly influences my view of both the writer and their work.
Whilst you can set your settings on your own account to friends only etc, you do need to think carefully before posting a comment on a public forum or on someone else’s blog post. You may not be able to delete or even edit your comment, and once there it stays there!
There are settings on all social media platforms that you can activate to restrict what information is shared and who it is shared with.. One of the greatest myths of our time!.
The truth is that very little is private and women in particular are blessed with stunning invitations to connect from gentlemen who feel that Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are dating sites. I received a long and delightful email just the other day from a gentleman who said that he knew LinkedIn was not a dating site, but my profile photo captured his attention and he would love to know me better if my relationship status permitted. He included two photos of himself.. and very fetching he was too..
I double checked, and we were not connected on LinkedIn at all, and I am suspect I was not the only object of his admiration but I was so tempted to send back a photo under the heading, untouched original photograph.
But I just deleted his email….I didn’t want to give him nightmares.
Certainly whilst one wants to share photographs of you on a beach in an exotic location sipping cocktails, it is better to post them when you get home, even if you do have mega speed broadband in your hotel room. Combined with the information you may have shared and the photographs of your home and gardens, the fact that it is vacant while you are away will be good news for someone.
We are paranoid about children and teens using the internet but in actual fact the statistics for con artists defrauding online users show that the elderly are a high risk age group
Key facts: Age UK
- Almost 5 million older people (65+) believe they have been targeted by scammers.
- While only 12% of those targeted responded to a scam, this means around half a million older people could have fallen victim.
- Single older people are more likely to respond than married people, and half of all people aged 75+ live alone.
- There were 3.4 million incidents of fraud in the year to March 2017.5 Over half of these (57%) were cyber-related.
Is being on social media worth it for an author? I have to say that yes, being on at least one social media site is worth it. If you were in any other business you would leap at the opportunity for free publicity for your product, with a potential market of millions.
As someone who promotes authors and books it is helpful for me too as a collaborative approach to sharing on social media does increase the visibility of the post.
- Time is a factor, however if that is the case, pick one platform and work that one to its fullest extent.
- Spend allocated time a day to build a presence – for me that is first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- Respond to those who tag or mention you.
- interact with other authors and bloggers,
- share other people’s posts
- promote your own work (in moderation)
- Take the opportunity to exchange ideas, or pinch some it your think they will work for you.
- If groups are on the platform join two or three where your work fits – Romance Writers, Review groups etc. Bear in mind this will add extra time.
- Use tags when posting to identify an author or blogger you are sharing in the comment etc.
- Take it step by step, my network is nearly ten years in the building and please consider my network yours. If you are on Twitter – go to my profile page – click my followers and scroll down. Any authors you are not following.. click the button and in most cases they will follow you back.
- If I tag you in a comment on Twitter of Facebook when your post has been shared from my blog, pop in and say thank you to them and if you are not following them click the button. If they are generous to me they will be to you. And you will have found another potential reader of your books.
- Have fun… I still am..
I hope that this post has given you some ideas of how you can promote your blog or books on social media and how to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with being online..
©Sally Cronin 2023
About Sally Cronin
Sally Cronin is the author of sixteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb, first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fifteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.
As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog and across her social media. The Smorgasbord Bookshelf
Her podcast shares book reviews, poetry and short stories Sally Cronin Soundcloud
After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.
Thanks for dropping in today and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask… Sally.