Showing posts with label Social Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Skills. Show all posts

Friday, July 7, 2017

The One Thing You Need to Know About Social Media


I have said this before:
"Social media is social."
Despite how often this is said by me and other social media types, people continue to miss the point of networking via social media. In case you missed it, the point is that it's social.

What does "social media is social" mean exactly?

To be social is to interact, to listen as well as talk, to get to know others as they get to know you.

I know the dance of socializing doesn't come naturally to everyone. The beauty of online interaction is that if you really kind of hate people you can mask your natural distaste for human interaction. If you are a bit shy, it's easy to put your best foot forward and make connections that would be harder to make face-to-face. If you'e extroverted and not the best listener, you can work on that in the digital realm as well. 

The key takeaways about being social on social media are A, listen more than you talk; B, express interest in others' lives and work; C, respond to people who talk to you first; and D, it means do NOT immediately shove what you're selling or doing at people that you don't know--and who don't know you.

Social media networking basics

If you keep the above in mind as you handle your business and personal social accounts, you'll do well. You might want something more concrete, though, and this section is here to deliver useful steps you can start taking today.

  1. Choose two or three people you want to try to get to know. Maybe they're in your field. Maybe in a similar field. Maybe you admire them and want to be a little more like them.

    Be realistic in your picks. You aren't going to be BFFs with the most famous people in the world because you tweeted them once or twice. You want to choose people who are active on the social media platform you're using, who respond to people, and are willing to network.

    Follow them.
     
  2. Choose two or three people who may be potential customers or readers. These can be anyone expressing interest in the kinds of things you do. You can use searches on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to find people's public posts about your topic.

    Follow them.
     
  3. With both cases, you'll want to set aside time each day (even a few minutes if that's all you have). With that time, you'll read what those people have shared. If it's appropriate, comment. If not, you can still throw a like their way. If you have a question that relates to the topic they are posting about, then ask in the comments/reply section.

    Be slow and gentle. See how things go. If you don't get a response the first time, try again another day.

    People have to see your name multiple times before you'll seem familiar to them, so don't get discouraged. It can be a long process and given how busy and inundated some people are, it won't always work.

    Don't internalize this stuff. It is a big world out there and you'll find success if you keep going. So keep going!

    On the other side of this coin, when they do reply, don't gush or go nuts, either. One or two replies doesn't mean you have made an intimate friendship.

    Beware the false sense of intimacy that can be fostered by social media. Be reserved and polite and give a person plenty of space and time to get to know you. Your interactions all add up to how people perceive you, also known as your "personal brand".
     
  4. As you are comfortable, start the process over with  new people. Continue your efforts beyond the first few people you try it with.

    Growing an audience can be slow and tedious sometimes, but keep at it. There are more advanced moves for growing audience that I can discuss in another blog post, but this is a great way to get started. It will help you get a feel for networking and connecting online. Indeed, learning about networking and social interactions will help with your face-to-face interactions, too!
     
  5. If you feel a need to unfollow someone, please do. You don't have to stay following the same people forever if the connection isn't working out for you--for any reason.

    That said, don't follow and unfollow people as a technique to grow your numbers. It's against my own ethical code, and against the spirit of real networking. Techniques like those may work for short-term gains, but it will not grow you a loyal and lasting fan base/network.

    In a related vein, I talk more about why you shouldn't buy followers here.
Those are the first steps as I see them. Have you ever tried this? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments or through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fall Workshops: First Lead-Up Exercise for Twitter




Hello again, everyone! I have two social media for authors workshops coming in September, one in Pickering and one in Brampton. In preparation I have exercises participants can work on over the summer. They will then bring the results with them to the workshop on the day they attend.

Since I am doing this in conjunction with BeNovel Marketing Services, the exercise is hosted on its site. Go take a look, and if you are in or have friends in the GTA, please share this with writers you think may be interested. Early-bird pricing has a few weeks to go and you won't want to miss out on the hefty discount for getting in on it early!

Register here (scroll down, the registration is right on the page), and view the Twitter Challenge exercise here.

Coming soon: tips for editing comic book scripts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teacher, Teach Thyself? Lessons Learned in Marketing Myself

It's been interesting prepping for my upcoming self-promo webinar sessions. Over the last several years I've learned a lot about the different types of writing. Stuff I know both practically and from my education: sales writing, business writing, formal argumentation, Facebook posts, etc. So perhaps ironic would be a better way of describing my efforts instead of interesting; because I didn't do a very good job getting this out the door.

What happened was that I wasn't getting nearly the number of conversions into ticket sales that I would have expected based on the even'ts page views. A couple of days ago it hit me hard: I'd left the Eventbrite page the same text as my rambling blog post. I've fixed it up now, but for this first session it may be too little too late.

So that's my big lesson--more information isn't necessarily better when it comes to sales communication. I do like a nice, dense, informative blog post, (OK. I probably could use editing there, too,) but when you're trying to interest someone, you have to be short, punchy, and get the benefits out there first thing. I didn't do a good job at that.

In any case, learning from mistakes is a valuable part of getting better at anything, whether it's running a business, the craft of writing, relationships, cooking... anything. So embrace the suck, as they say, and figure out what to do better next time.

So what has been your big lesson lately? What are you doing differently these days? If you care to share, how did you realize your mistake?

Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Handle Social Media Missteps: Book Marketing without B.S. #9

Twitter is often an important tool in the writer's networking arsenal. It's fast, it's short, it's connected. Author Peter V. Brett was reminded last week that those strengths are also its obstacles. Today's blog post is to illustrate that being careful how you compose tweets about controversial or sensitive topics makes a difference, and how you handle it when you misstep makes an even bigger difference. (And if you're active and engaged, it is likely that you will at some point make a social media mistake.)

A Social Media Problem is Born

Last week's genre author twitterstorm was set off when Peter retweeted the following:


How did you read this tweet? Some people took it as he intended (more on that later), but many, many people took Peter to mean any number of things like "It's not fair I can't have more rape without people complaining about it" to "I am making light of a serious topic" to many other things, none of which he intended. It should be noted that Peter has had some controversy about rape in his novels before too, so--fairly or not--he may already have people feeling unsure about his sensitivity.

So he didn't mean it? You'd think I was just taking his word for it; but,  here is his next tweet, posted just a minute after the first one:


If you saw the second tweet, you'd likely get a meaning closer to what Peter intended; but, the problem with Twitter is that the tweets flow by fast and furious, and seeing one is never a guarantee someone will see the next one. I am guilty of dividing thoughts up into two tweets sometimes, so I can understand why it would happen. The low character count feels too limiting sometimes; but, this is a lesson to us all that a complete thought in one tweet is a best practice, especially when it's a sensitive topic such as rape. So what can you do to prevent this on the front end?

Stop and Think

While Peter's intention was good, much like editing in your writing, his meaning would have been much clearer if his second tweet had been his first tweet, and there had never been a second tweet at all. Usually you can be casual on Twitter, but when sharing (again, especially sensitive material,) it is best that you take a moment and consider how it might look to someone else. Put yourself in someone else's shoes and imagine. If you're creating  and writing, this should be something you already do anyway.

It is important to always remember that the only thing we're in control of as is what we say. We can not control how others perceive what we've written, how they'll feel about it, or what they'll say about it. 

Best Way to Handle a Social Media Problem

Problems like Peter's really can happen to anyone. The internet moves so much faster than you could ever anticipate, and it seems bad news travels further and faster than good news. We all have the potential to tweet something that either we should just plain not have said at all, or more commonly, that will be taken in a different way than intended. Maybe you'll realize it right away and delete it in time. Maybe you won't. And if you don't, and you want to handle it with grace, dignity, and humility. In my estimation, Peter handled this (mostly) well. What lessons can you draw? Here is what he did right:

His response was swift
Instead of letting it fester without comment (one of the worst things you can do with your "brand",) he replied quickly and profusely. No one could doubt Peter was doing his best to manage the issue in a timely manner.

He stayed calm and rational
He got a defensive at a few points (more on this and the language of apology later), but given the harshness of some people's reactions and how fast things were moving, I can understand his feeling how he did about it. Overall he kept it sane and decent. He never called names, he never got into any nastiness beyond initial defensiveness.

He expressed remorse
He apologized numerous times and admitted he could have done better and that he understood the other people's points of view.

He had humility
Even to defenders, Peter said he understood how the tweet was interpreted and expressed that he wished he could have handled things differently. He could have just soaked up his numerous supporters' comments and used them to say "See? You people who misinterpreted this are just plain wrong!" but, he did better than that. Here is a good example:


Finally, he put his money to work by donating to a related charity

This was a class act kind of a move, and can never hurt.



What should you do if you have a social media problem?


React quickly, calmly, and evenly as possible
You'll undoubtedly be feeling emotions such as defensiveness, anger, annoyance, and embarrassment; but, from a public relations standpoint you have to put those on the back burner. If you are not able to do that--at least in writing--ask a trusted friend for help in composing your response.

Also, take responsibility completely
That's the one area Peter could have improved on. His apologies were touched with the "I apologize to those who took my comment that way" and " I apologize for wording that could be interpreted as such". This (I assume unintentionally) serves to put some of the responsibility back on the offended party, and also doesn't indicate any sympathy for the people who were upset--which is important in smoothing over feelings. Better phrasing would have been something along the lines of, "To those I hurt by my earlier tweet, I offer my apologies. I was not careful in composing my earlier RT. I'll do better in the future." It removes the "if you took it wrong" language, and turns it into "I am 100% accountable" language. Even if you don't fully feel that way on the emotional level, that's how you apologize. That's how you take responsibility.

I should also say that I don't mean to pick on Peter. He did well on the spot and under a lot of pressure. He is not trained in PR and let's be real: writers don't have the money to have staff to help with this sort of thing. I was simply inspired to write about it to help all of you understand how easily this might happen to you, and more importantly how to handle your own social media problem situations as they come up.

I hope you found this useful. I'd be interested to see other situations you think were handled well (or handled badly) if you want to share them in the comments.

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here, and please send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com. Thank you for your continued support!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Value of Vulnerability: Book Marketing without B.S. #8

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Today I retweeted a blog post by writer and Guardian columnist Damien G. Walter. It was called The DOs and DO NOTs of Getting Your Book Reviewed and in it was the kind of solid, realistic advice I appreciate (and have written many times before). The first thing he says is that you probably need to work on your craft and write something good. Write something better. It seems obvious, but so many authors and smaller publishers don't give the book enough time to go through plenty of editing and rewriting. (Well, sometimes the editing is lacking at the big houses lately, too, but the shrinking corporate reality of the big publishers is a blog post for another day.)

The second piece of general advice is this: "put yourself, as a writer, in the shoes of the people and publications who review books". Ah, yes. My old saw, empathy. Everyone's busy, everyone's inbox is overflowing, and of course we must not lose sight of the fact that reviews are not mere publicity tools, but information for readers (the consumers of your books). Walter also writes about having conversations, about engaging and being a part of the community of readers, writers, and super-fans.

By the time I finished reading, my impression was that the thread running through his advice is that of how important it is to be a real and social human being: don't spam, don't fake popularity (i.e. don't buy followers!), tell your story, share successes and failures. What does all of that sound like? To me it sounds like relationships. It sounds like human interaction.

In particular his advice to share both victories and defeats resonated with me. This was for two reasons. The first is that sharing in this way is a reflection of real and healthy human relationships. If you're with your friends, do you constantly chirp only your best news, neither listening nor sharing vulnerabilities? I certainly hope not, for your friends' sake if not yours!

The second reason relates to an experience I had during my recent talk at SFContario. Our energetic discussion arrived at the subject of how important contacts and relationships are in publicity. I candidly shared an experience I mentioned here in which I talk about the time I had to contact outside of my usual area, and how my rate of success had been much lower. I told the audience that the true lesson of the situation was in the humbling experience of realizing that I didn't have some magic in my query letters, just the more mundane reality of time spent on getting to know people and what they like, and building trusting relationships with them. Afterward, a few people told me that they appreciated my honesty, and that it helped them feel they could better trust my advice. While this was by no means a calculated move on my part, it illustrated yet again that the way you treat other people--the way you interact with them--makes a big difference.

You hear frequently that people don't want to be spammed, that they don't want you to just say "buy my book" over and over. Do you listen? Well, Walter's post is an example of a person telling you what they want, very clearly and concisely. Are you going to listen and examine your behaviour critically, or are you going to make excuses about why it doesn't apply to you?

My advice is to take a deep breath and remember that this is a long game. In our brave new world of publishing, your overnight success will take years, and--whether you like this or not--it will absolutely depend on two things: your attention to your craft and your ability to have real conversations with other human beings.

Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thank you once again for your continued support.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Changing/Correcting Guest Posts or Interviews, and More Replying to Reviews: Book Marketing without B.S. #3

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Today there are two related questions. The first person asked "What if I want to change an interview or guest blog post reply after it's already gone up?"

Naturally, if there is an error of some kind--whether factual or typographical--you should politely ask the journalist or blogger to make the change and explain why if it isn't obvious.

I can't think of any other reason you should ask to change something you've already vetted and has been published. It is possible you'll be embarrassed by something you've written, or realize it might have been more clear stated another way; but, those aren't good enough reasons to ask for a change.

If you're worried this may happen, have one or two trusted friends read through what you have written and give feedback. At the very least, try to finish a day or two before deadline so you can sleep on it overnight and see if you still like it in the morning.

The next question was "What do you think about writers replying to their reviews?" Now, I have already written about this; but, I realized that I could add one more piece of advice.

If you see that the negative reviews have similar themes, there may be something you can learn from them, and it may be worth it to reply in the form of a blog post. Be very careful to not specifically address individuals if you do this. You can say something such as "I've noticed a trend in my 1- and 2-star reviews" and that covers it. You can always link to the book at an online store and people can look at all the reviews for themselves. Plus it's the link where they can buy your book, so there's that, too!

An essay will let you explore your thoughts on the topic without seeming confrontational. I still think the best option is not to address it publicly at all, but if you feel there is interpretation to share, or that you have something interesting to add to the conversation then go for it.

Finally, be careful about tone if you go this route. It's still important to not look like a asshole or a whiner. You are your own branding online, and your choice of words makes a difference. So, as you would with your fictional writing, have trusted associates read through your post first and give their feedback serious consideration.

That's all for this week. Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thanks for all the support!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Social Media for the Misanthropic and the Anti-Social: Book Marketing without B.S. #2

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

One of the best things about being a publicist, is that I get to do all the social, extrovert, asking-for-things work that my clients usually don't want to do. I get to give them more time to create, and take away the stress of putting themselves directly out there. Also, given that my clients are overwhelmingly writers of dark fiction of some kind or another, they're frequently put off by other social media tone and content. It's too perky and bubbly. It doesn't feel genuine.

In last week's column about why you shouldn't purchase followers, I looked briefly at the question of "So how do I build audience?" and the imagined comment of "But, I'm dark and serious and not that social. Plus I don't sell glasses. This advice sucks!" I get into the topic a little there, and in this post I offer you a few examples of people whose social media skills I admire.

Note that for this article I am only focusing on Twitter. The reason I am not discussing Facebook more is that Facebook's brand pages consistently decrease in direct benefit, and it's a topic for another day. That said, the general ideas still apply for Facebook or anywhere else. If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll reply to it as soon as I can.

There are a number of people whose technique I admire, but I am going to have you take a look at three specific people: Chuck Wendig, Caitlin Kittredge, and Sam Sykes. All three of these writers share common characteristics that have served them well on Twitter.

1 - They don't focus completely on their own work. They do sometimes post about their work or ask us to buy their books. That's perfectly fine and to be expected. Notice though, that it's overall uncommon. Every tweet or every other tweet, or even every tenth tweet doesn't contain promotional language. As I've said before (and based on what I see on twitter every day, I have to keep saying it over again!) you should focus on being an integrated, complete person on social media. This is our new town square. Do you really want to talk to someone or hang out with someone that says the same thing over and over again? You do? Well, you're in the minority, ya big weirdo.

2 - They are highly responsive. They don't reply to everyone who tweets at them, and really, given the amount of stuff coming at them every day there's no way that they could; but, they do respond often. They interact. They are social. If you ignore every tweet that comes at you and you just broadcast and don't use social media for its intended purpose of interaction, you're missing out. Note: sometimes if you're really famous already you can get away without bothering to reply. Many brands and many celebrities can post announcement-only and that works for them; but they were already famous. You can't do that. You're not famous. (Unless you are, in which case, thanks for reading this far, famous person!)

3 - They use their own voices. They swear, they grumble, they don't use bubbly, insincere language. Once again, they are complete, integrated human beings who sometimes talk about their personal lives, sometimes what they're reading, what they're watching, what they're doing, sometimes about community issues, and sometimes about other people's work. (See #4.)

4 - They build community by sharing the work of others. These people also tweet about other people's work. They understand that a strong community and strong sense of teamwork are their own important mental and social benefit. They also understand that it helps sell more books than isolating themselves and acting like they're the only game in town. Remember (and this may be the most important takeaway) word of mouth has to come from other people. If it comes from you, it's as good as useless. So keep sharing the work of others, keep being a member of a community, lead by helping others up and not by cutting them down.

So what can you, personally, do? I really like lists, so let's have another list.

1 - Listen.

2 - Reply to people when it's relevant, and about what they're into. If you reply to push your work you've already failed.

3 - Listen.

4 - Share an appropriate amount. Aside from replies, you shouldn't tweet so much that people's feeds are overwhelmed. And anyway, what do you have to say that's so important? Don't be afraid to be quiet on the original Twitter content if you're interacting frequently with others. Naturally, if you think of something interesting, fun, or relevant to say, then by all means, say it!

5 - Follow others, even if they do not follow you back. Yes. Read that again. You can follow people even if they don't follow you back. Sometimes you may want to tidy your list, and that's cool. I unfollow people if it's just not working for me; but, if you like what someone is saying, or you like their work, just keep following even if they don't follow you back. Of the people I list in this article, only one follows me back, and that's just fine. I like what they have to say and they don't owe it to me to follow back. If you're really there to meet people and grow audience, being relaxed about this sort of thing is a good start. After all, if you only follow people who follow you back, what quality is your audience, anyway?

6 - Listen.

7 - Like I said in #5, quality over quantity. When you get a new follower that might be interested in reading your book, make sure you check out their feed and reply to something of theirs. Don't tell them about your book in this tweet. Why? Because it's already in your profile and probably one or two of your tweets. It's completely unnecessary and redundant, and makes you look desperate. Also see the link in #8.

8 - DO NOT FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY USE DIRECT MESSAGES TO PROMOTE TO YOUR NEW FOLLOWERS. Read this. (And yes, this relates to that point in #7.)

9 - Share different types of content. You can share pictures, you can share links (and try to say why you think they're interesting if you have characters with which to do so,) you can share other people's work you think is good. And yes, sometimes share your work, too.

10 - Social skills and listening: I maaaaay have said something about listening already (maybe), but I want to reiterate, read what people are saying. Reply. Don't make this all about you. It may seem like a paradox to say that getting people to like you is not about you, but in many ways it isn't. Social skills may not come naturally to you, but they can definitely be learned, and if you need to do your own marketing and promotion, it's worth your investment to really stop and look at your behaviour honestly.

So, like I said last time: you won't have a million followers. Respect the ones you have. Cultivate them. Give them the kind of experience you want when you follow people on Twitter.

Thanks for joining me once again. Let me know what you think, and you have my deep appreciation for reading this far. I hope you come back again, and if you're forgetful like me, you can sign up by email.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Buy Followers: Book Marketing without B.S. #1

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach.

The marketing and publicity worlds are important for understanding audience and customers, and getting the right word out to the right people; but, let's be honest. There's also a lot of bullshit. My goal is to help you cut through the B.S. with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow.

Welcome to my inaugural Book Marketing withouth BS column. Today's question was asked anonymously, and it's about purchasing followers on Twitter (and by extension, purchasing likes/on other blogs and social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).

The short answer to this is "Don't do it". Below is the breakdown on why, but first, I should say that other people have written about this. Just Google "Should I buy Twitter followers" (without quotes) and you'll find other discussion.

Here are more thoughts on the topic, and be sure to leave yours in the comments. I'll share the best in my next post.

1 - It's dishonest, and if you're found out, people will think less of you. Remember what happened to President Obama and Mitt Romney in the recent election cycle?

1.1 - It's also pretty corny. Honestly. See #2.

2 - It's much more obvious than you think. If you're not famous, but you have tens of thousands of followers (and you're only following a small number yourself), no one is going to believe you've got that many followers. Really, really.

There are people I know and otherwise respect that I am certain have purchased followers. I feel bad for them in the way you feel bad for someone who buys a bad hair piece or who has a comb-over. They don't seem to feel good enough as they actually are, and so they try covering it up. They don't need to do it though--they're already cool on their own. They're just looking for an easy way to get a boost, not realizing that there's no easy way with social media. More on this later.

One other note: Facebook's analytics tell anyone where a page's audience is, not just the page owner. One of the people I know had around 85% of his followers from a former Russian republic. It's there for all to see, and it looks plain bad.

3 - Most importantly: it won't deliver results. There may be a few little metrics here and there that will boost, but mostly it won't work. Why? Well, if you're paying for followers, and the vast majority of them are fake/inactive, you are not expanding your audience at all. You're only buying a bigger number and nothing more.

The 30,000 followers you bought? None of them are going to buy your graphic novel. They aren't going to share your book with anyone. If they do--by some crazy chance--they're sharing it with other fakes. It's a waste of your time and money, and you don't have enough of either, right?

It's possible a few people who stumble across you will be impressed with your numbers, but you know what? If you're posting useful, relevant stuff already, they'd have followed you when they stumbled across you with or without high numbers. Also, the more savvy people get about fake followers, the more likely it is to be a turnoff. Once again, I refer you to #2.

In all my research I saw no one, even anonymously, saying that they were thrilled with their results (aside from a few stray blog comments that were so awkward and ham-handed that they were obviously from people who sell the fake followers). Surely someone out there would boost them if they were effective, but I don't see that. Have you seen a trustworthy source ever say it was a good idea? I personally have not.

I also interviewed three people who have bought followers or likes, some on Twitter, some on Facebook. (And yes, I know this is not a scientific sample. I just wanted some directly shared anecdotes!) All three of them say they saw no tangible results. Two of them are specifically unhappy and regretful and one has neutral emotions about it. One said that some of the Facebook "likes" occasionally interact with his page, but that there's been no boost in sales. That person also wonders whether it might have made more sense for his business if he'd waited. I concede that it is possible that this purchaser might appear a bit more often as a suggested page on Facebook because of the likes; however, I still think it won't likely boost sales since the purchased followers have zero emotional connection/interest with you or your product/service.

The main thing to remember is that it's really tempting to buy followers for many reasons. Some of that is what I mentioned above: feeling unsure, desperate, insecure, worried. Some people are more mercenary and genuinely think that they're going to improve their standing on social media and they see it as legitimate. I can understand all of those reasons and more. You want to look good. I get it, but this isn't the way.

"So how do I build audience?", you ask. It's actually not too difficult. The problem is it takes time and effort, and that's why it's hard. Time is short. We're all tired and hoping for a shortcut. The only good way is to interact with people. Share other people's content and ideas. Share about your dog, your wife, your kids--and also your books and creations. Try not to let all of (or even the vast majority of) your tweets be "BUY MY BOOK" stuff or "READ THIS EXCERPT NOW!" stuff. Some rules of thumb say 10% of your stuff should be about your stuff. I think that may be about right. Some weeks it will be more, some weeks it will be less. Mainly remember that (and yes, I am repeating myself) social media is social. Be a real, integrated human being who sometimes shares his or her work, and you will build a following.

Will you ever have a million followers? Almost certainly not. The followers you have, though? They're actually interested in YOU. Respect them. Cultivate them.

Check out Zenni Optical on Twitter. Whomever does their social media is skilled at building loyalty and feelings of community. They tweet back to people who mention them. They ask about what the potential customer is interested in. Not only are they building followers with genuine interest and interactivity, but they're offering a good, high-touch customer experience and that's going to garner a healthy percentage of followers who are likely to spend money. Not only that, but Zenni is getting real data from consumers about what they like and don't like, and what products are popular. This is incredibly valuable information.

"But, I'm dark and serious and not that social. Plus I don't sell glasses. This advice sucks!" you say. OK, I'll grant you that. It's not the same thing, selling glasses and selling dark fiction or surreal graphic novels. And, well, yeah, that overly happy voice isn't a good fit for everyone, but that isn't the point. The point is that they are social. They interact. They participate with potential customers instead of broadcast, so despite that perkiness that may not appeal to you, those principles are the same, and I'll cover them more specifically (along with examples that you may find more relevant) in next week's column.

Thanks for joining me for the inaugural Book Marketing without BS. Let me know what you think, and you have my deep appreciation for reading this far. I hope you come back again, and if you're forgetful like me, you can sign up by email.

Have a questions you'd like to see answered? Email them to beverly@beverlybambury.com.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Secret to Contacting Traditional Media for Book Publicity

I haven't contacted as many traditional media outlets as I have websites and bloggers for publicity--if for no other reason than traditional media is on a decline or integrating with online media--but, as it turns out, the secret is that there isn't much of a secret. It still remains connections, politeness, reading directions, and being an all-around good human being.

I go into some of this in my earlier article 5 Steps to a Quality Blog Tour, but here is more info with an eye toward bigger sites/traditional media publicity queries.

Connections
The main difference I've found with my work is that personal connections and networking count for even more with bigger publications, print, television, or otherwise. It's not impossible to get into a major spot without connections; but it's much, much harder. I had a campaign recently that didn't go as well as I'd have liked, because it was outside of my usual industry and I had almost no connections. I got some traction, but it wasn't even close to my usual success rate.

Politeness
I am sad I even have to say this, but horror stories I hear time and time again show me it's still necessary. Say please. Say thank you. Don't be a jerk. Related to politeness:

Empathy
You're hoping for the best, naturally. You may even feel a lot of stress because you put so much of yourself (time and money) into your project. Those are all real and valid things and it's OK to feel them. What you mustn't lose sight of is that each of the people you're querying are also human beings with lives, hectic jobs--and often more than one of those. They are really busy, and you are not even close to the only person querying, so be patient and remember that everyone else's world doesn't revolve around you and your creation, even when you wish it were so.

RTFM
If you don't know what RTFM is, go to Google. I'll wait. For those of us who do know, though, you'll get it. Most places have submission or query guidelines, or at least a note about whether they are even open to hearing from you. Please follow the instructions. If you can't find instructions, they have enough content and aren't specifically looking for more. This is where your connections and networking come in.

Following Up Appropriately
Following up is a tricky one. I see conflicting info out there, but I think it's safe to say that if you send one query and you don't hear back for two to three weeks, it's OK to send a very brief follow-up, but don't send any more if you don't hear back.

An example of a brief follow up might be just asking if a (solicited or accepted post-query!) review copy was received. Don't ask when the review is happening, or if it's happening. That's up to them, not you.

Note: if you send a press release or an unsolicited review copy, don't follow up. With the advice above, I am only talking about emailed queries asking for publicity or asking permission to send a review copy.

Creators/authors: any experiences or tips that you want to share?

Journalists/bloggers: any thoughts on the way you prefer to be approached--especially with regard to following up?

I'd love to hear from you. You can post in the comments or contact me.

Also, coming soon, my new column about marketing your book, comic, movie, and (of course) yourself.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Hard Line Against Twitter DMs for Promotion and Marketing

Stop using Twitter DMs for marketing or publicizing your stuff. Just. Stop. (You're going to like this one. It's short to read and I am telling you to do less.)

Here's why:

A minimum of 90% of the DMs I receive parrot the exact same stuff/links that is already on the sender's Twitter profile or in a bunch of their tweets. If someone's already looked at your profile and decided to add you, you don't need to repeat yourself in a DM.

"But I've got free stuff to share with followers! I need to make sure they don't miss it!" Tweet it instead. Twitter is for tweeting. You can add it to your profile, too. It won't be that hard to find. Honest.

And really, if you're tweeting it AND DMing it AND it's also on your profile, how do you think you look to people? Not like a real person interested in connecting or being social on social media. You come off as spammy to most people. (Really. See my survey results from last year about this topic.)

Remember that a DM is a personal contact, and when you use it for advertising, it's completely impersonal and it's broadcasting instead of being social/communicating.

So what's the theme here? Once again it comes down to using social media to be social. Share your business stuff/creative stuff, sure. I do it, too. But you should also talk to people, meet people, share other people's stuff you think is cool, occasionally talk about your spouse or kids, etc. Be real. Be genuine. Be an integrated human being. Be social.

TL;DR: Stop DMing your promo stuff. There's almost never a good reason for it. Send your promos in your tweets or in your profile info. Not in DMs. Or any other private message for that matter. You are not special and different. Trust me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Authors Reviewing Authors?

A client asked me today about what I think of authors reviewing other authors, particularly in a negative light. It's an interesting companion with yesterday's blog post about writers commenting on reviews. I am of two minds:

On the one hand, I am a strong proponent of critical thought and discourse. There is just too damn much puffery out there, and it seems like people (at least publicly) are losing their ability to think critically.

On the other hand, from a public relations perspective, it is smart for people part of a small community (and really, the internet makes it a small commuity no matter how far apart we are,) to write critical reviews of other community members' work? Probably not.

So my answer? Sure, but be careful and make sure you support your assertions with examples.

But for the larger issue this puts us in a bind, and goes back to the 21st Century Criticism blog series on my personal blog. How do we get really good critical discussion and analysis when we're all so close to each other?

Once again I fear we lose something in the democratization of the internet: the professional reviewer, with his or her professional distance.

All that said, I am a deeply social creature. I like the closeness and community and I like the friends I've made. I feel at home with many of my writing and editing pals. So we lose something, which I firmly believe, but we also gain. It's complicated and I don't pretend to have the answers.

So where do you go for really good, fair reviewers--even for what they don't like? (I mean this aside from Goodreads and the like, which I think are the obvious choices--I am interested in what individuals are out there fighting the good critical fight.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just a Litte More: Author/Creator Comments on Reviews

In light of recent discussions I thought I'd clarify my thoughts on the authors (and other creators) commenting on reviews issue. I’ve said in the past “just don’t do it, ever”, but I think the time has come for me to expand that thought into more than just the idea of authors behaving badly.

My updated advice to creators is that they should pretty much never comment on negative reviews. If you want to thank someone for a good review, please do; but, don’t say much beyond a gracious “Thank you”. Especially if you have any negative or irritated feelings inside you. The reason I say this is because people can tell, and—at least from the publicist’s perspective—you don’t want people thinking of you as an author behaving badly. And that includes authors behaving in a passive aggressive manner. Or a whiny or entitled manner.

“But I have a right to talk to people online. They have comment functionality turned on, and that’s what it's for!” Yes, that’s true. You certainly have that right and privilege. But stop and ask yourself whether is it wise from a public relations perspective. If you are a wise person, you’ll realize that the answer is most likely going to be “no, I shouldn’t”. It’s similar to the adage about not emailing angry.

Think about what you want your name to be as a brand, because your behaviour feeds right into that idea of the personal branding, and for creators on the internet, word gets around fast. Negative feelings about you will affect fans’ perceptions of your work, whether or not you want to believe that’s true.

Not only that, the stuff you post on line can’t ever really be removed. People take screen shots, aggregators aggregate. So if you want to get on that train to interactivity, then feel free, just make sure you’re doing it for reasons that further your goals and cultivate the online image you want to have. Or you know, if you actually like and get along with people and are just socializing. Which is way different from commenting on reviews/criticism.

Anyhow, here’s a final piece of free advice: when in doubt, don’t.

Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Steps to a Quality Blog Tour


I recently had a correspondence with an author that asked about my publicity services. When we determined that the fit wasn't quite right, she asked me for a few tips on running a blog tour for her book's publicity. I agreed to share some tips and after giving it some thought, I distilled my best practices into these five tips for running a better blog tour for your book, comic, or web series. Or CD. Or many other creative enterprises, for that matter.

Step One: Quality Means Research
The most important thing to take away from this article is that--if you're doing it right--preparation for a blog tour is time-consuming work. So if you only have limited time, it's far better for you to contact five or ten quality targets than it is to send 100 ill-fitting queries.


Indeed, sending out queries scatter-shot is ineffective and a waste of your time. It is likely it will even make you look bad. For example, if you send a romance blogger your military fantasy or a kids' book blog your erotica, you're going to get a reputation as someone who can't read directions and doesn't care about anyone else's time or effort. 

So, ask yourself which bloggers are going to like your book or film, and then only contact those bloggers/media outlets.

Once you think you've found a blog or newspaper or magazine that seems to be a good fit, take the time to read a few of their reviews to get an idea of what they say about books, or the kinds of guest posts they host. Then you must read the "about", "policies", and "contact" pages (or anything similarly named) that outlines, usually quite specifically: 
  • What he or she likes to read
  • His or her name
  • Whether he or she accepts the kind of book you're offering (some don't accept ebooks, some only accept ebooks, that kind of thing)
  • Most importantly, whether he or she is even accepting queries and review copies at all--or even accepts guest blog requests. Some don't. 
You will make no friends among book bloggers if you go against stated policies and preferences. And you want them to like you... right?

Logistics Note: I also advise making a note of your findings about the blogger or publication's tastes and preferences in what ever way works best for you. I use a Google Drive spreadsheet because I like the ability to easily edit from whichever device I am using at the moment, but if Excel, Open Office, or paper work better for you, then use them. Whatever you do, do it consistently and clearly so you stay organized.

Step Two: Send Good Queries
Now you've got your targets and you know what they like, write each person a personalized and very brief email. Here are some components of a good query letter:
  • The subject line should contain the book/work's name, author/creator's name, and date of release. If you have space, you can also add "Blog Tour Query", but be mindful of a ridiculously long subject line.
  • Address it to the blogger by name.
  • The body should be polite, humble, and brief. The reader gets to decide whether your book is the best thing ever, not you, and not even your publisher.
  • Did I mention brief? Bloggers and columnists and entertainment editors get a lot of email. If you ramble, you've lost them. Use a clear and active voice, and don't use ten words where you can use two. 
  • In the opening paragraph mention something that confirms you read their guidelines and preferences (and make sure you are actually following them).
  • Give a brief (there's that word again) synopsis of your book or project. You can just include the cover copy if you like. Make sure you say it is the cover copy if you do this though, since you want to generally avoid a sales type voice and cover copy can verge into that territory pretty easily.
  • It's OK to include a personal touch. Is the blogger from your hometown? Did you both like the same book? Do you have a favourite track on the CD or a favourite episode of the web series? It is OK to say why, but again--brevity. Don't spend more than a sentence on this.
  • It is best to ask for what you want. If you are hoping for a review, say so. If you are hoping for a guest blog, say that, too; but, be polite and considerate. If the blogger isn't interested, though, then leave it at that. Never ask "why not?" or ask for exceptions.
I also suggest that when sending these queries you not follow up too much. I often don't follow up at all when it is a completely cold contact at a larger publication, since I know how busy they are and that they didn't ask for me to contact them. If it is someone I know or to whom I was directly introduced by a mutual acquaintance, I will follow up on the initial query at that point. If you do follow up, stick to the same general rules above about brevity and manners. Don't email a third time unless specifically asked to do so.

The entire blog tour process is a delicate balance of research, copy writing  and interpersonal skills. Never discount those interpersonal skills in this process.

Step Three: Writing, Proofreading, Editing
Once you have a reply and you decide on a mutually beneficial posting date with the blogger, then you can answer your interview questions or compose your blog post. Make sure the content you are writing is interesting. Don't just talk about your book, find a topic and give it a little effort. If you just write "buy my book, buy my book, buy my book" the audience will get bored with you. It's great to tie it into the topic once or twice, but the topic at hand should carry the blog post. 

When you finish writing, have a trusted reader look it over and offer suggestions. If you don't have someone who can help with proofreading and editing, save the file and walk away for a while. When you return with fresh eyes you are more likely to catch errors or unclear ideas. This writing deserves your effort. These blogs or media outlets are giving you publicity and you aren't paying for it. Respect what they're doing for you.

Be sure to include anything that will be helpful. Do they usually post websites, excerpts, and social media links and an author photo? Include those. Always include a very brief biography for use in the blog post. Here is some helpful information about composing a biography from Rachelle Gardner.

Step Four: Deadlines
Typically you'll want to get your blog post or interview to the blogger/publication two to three full days before the posting date. So, for example, if you have a posting date of June 1st, then you should have your copy turned in by May 29th. Confirm with each outlet what their preferences are. Some want the post a full week in advance. 

This is where the keeping careful notes I mentioned in Step One comes in handy. Be sure you have your due dates on a calendar or in some other format that will help you remember and stick to them. Again, I like to use electronic tools, because I can set up alerts at varying intervals to make sure I don't forget a commitment. 

If for some reason you will be late, email your contact immediately. As I said in Step Three, respect what they're doing for you, and respect their time and their editorial schedules.

Step Five: Manners and Consideration at All Times
Don't forget all the things I have shared with you about deadlines, respecting the outlet/blogger, politeness, humility (i.e. not using a sales voice and being realistic). I also like what Chuck Wendig said about this topic. His was in reference to asking for blurbs, but all of these things apply here. What you put out in the world becomes your brand. Make sure you manage your brand like the professional you are.

Questions? Leave them in the comments, or if you prefer to ask privately, contact me
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My inaugural blog post is cross-posted from my personal blog, elsewords.com. While you're here, have a look around, and thank you for your interest.