Yesterday, I spoke at the CanWrite! Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, on the Hot Trends, Hot Markets panel. I had a great time and I hope that attendees left with a better understanding of how they can market themselves online through the use of social networks.
Today, I want to talk about one of the three main categories of social networking--'book collection or catalog networks'. These are social networks that invite users/members to catalog their personal book collection, recommend books to fellow members/friends, discuss books and authors with others, and to send notes and virtually "meet" people from all over the world who love books.
The three sites that are top on my list are:
The first thing to do if you're an aspiring or published author is to sign up on these sites. If you're a published author, you'll want to sign up as an "author", which will give you some extra perks. If you don't see how to do this, just email the site's contact. They can get you set up as an author very quickly.
5 main ways to promote yourself on these sites:
- Request to be friends with others on the network
- Add your own published books to your list of books read
- Review books, especially ones that are comparable to yours
- Get involved in group discussions
- Send your friends notes, comment on their posts and recommend a book
Social networking ethics:
In general, these sites are set up to bring people together. However, most people don't want a hard sales pitch, especially one by an over-exuberant author. So be careful when you approach others on these networks. Find a common interest and get to know your friends here first. Chat about where they live, their family, their own book recommendations and reviews. But be real!
I genuinely love meeting people, and I also love to promote my books. It's tough for an author to hold back sometimes, but it is worth it to do so when you first start checking into the social network market. There is a fine line that I don't want to cross, and what I've learned is this: if you're patient and take the time to get to know people, they'll start asking questions. And the great thing is, you'll know their interest is genuine too.
The benefits for authors:
It may seem obvious that the benefits are more exposure, but I've met a lot of authors who just don't get this. Think of that old shampoo commercial--"and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and..." This is a form of "viral marketing"--a way of promoting to one person or group that will create a chain reaction of word-of-mouth referrals.
Once you sign up on GoodReads, for instance, thousands and thousands of people will have access to your author profile. Every time you post some writing, add a book, review a book, discuss something in a group, the homepage shows your activity. This is updated instantly, and brings new visitors to your profile and activity pages.
You can contact "top reviewers" and arrange to send them ARCs or galleys. These are ordinary people who love to read and write reviews, and what better reviews are there than that? :)
You can contact libraries and bookstores and introduce them to your book(s). Offer to send them bookmarks or your publisher's catalog--or one book to sample.
And of course, you'll meet lots of wonderful people. You will connect with housewives, teens, entrepreneurs, business owners, teachers, librarians, other authors, but above all--readers.
Personally, through these three sites I have met some wonderful people, some fabulous authors and many terrific reviewers. It's like going to a huge party, or a multi-author book launch, where all the talk is about BOOKS. And for an author, is there anything better than that?
So...get social! Start networking! If you're an aspiring author, use these sites to start gaining fans now! Why wait? If they like your writing now, they're going to buy your book when it's finally published. Plus being a part of an online social network allows you to do the one thing you love most--WRITE! :)
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song