Everyone has seen Mr. Mom, right? My favorite line from the whole movie is when Michael Keaton is dropping his kids off at school, pulling into the circular drive against traffic, and like four moms tell him, "You're doing it wrong."
Look, I'm not saying I'm the Mother of Social Media (although I'm probably old enough to be), but I've seen and heard things there that make me mad. Not because Newbies don't know better, but because there's so much wrong information floating around out there. These poor beleaguered writers are running from one platform to another, freaking about their numbers, tearing their hair, and screaming, "BUY MY BOOK!" Then ramping up, when people don't.
I was a career business-person. Business doesn't mess around. They want results. So here's some common-sense advice:
It's NOT about the numbers.
I see people on Twitter (possibly other places too) either lamenting their dismal number of followers, or crowing that they've reached some round number they're excited about. Hellloooooo — there is no gold star, free Cracker Jack prize or even green stamps (told you I was old) given for an ideal number of followers. It's about ENGAGEMENT.
Unless you're someone super famous that people listen to, and look up to (sometimes for dubious reasons — this is SM, after all), all those people aren't going to engage with you. And numbers don't sell books — engagement does. More on this in a minute.
It's not about, BUY MY BOOK!
I don't do a lot on Twitter, but I really enjoy the #WritingCommunity — or I used to. It's a huge group of writers, talking about the process, or word count, or posting inspirational memes, etc. It was my warm fuzzy place — a place I could interact with other writers.
But in the past two months or so, it's become a billboard for selling books, writer services, and the like. UGH. That was my one place to get away from all that! I posted, asking what the deal was all of a sudden. Many agreed with me, some didn't mind it. What hurt was the one who said,
"Know what you mean, but publishers look for evidence of a strong social media presence when you pitch and they may want to take on an ebook."
That is so sad. Guys, you're doing it wrong. What agents and publishers want to see is that you have people on social media that you're "friends" with — and I don't mean you "friended" them on FB. They're people who like you, and what you post. Guess what? If they like your posts, they're probably going to like your voice, and it follows they might take a chance they'll like your book and buy it.
What do you write about? Here's an example. I write romance and women's fiction, but it is, and will always be, set in the West, usually small towns, and it may have a cowboy or two. Who do I engage with? Rodeo women, cowboys wives, farmers ... you know, country people!
Get creative. Who is huge in your genre? Who in that genre is similar to your writing? Go look at their followers. Follow them. Engage with them. After all, they're a consumer of what you write, right? That's doing it right.
Engage, Engage, Engage!
Hey, I'm not all that. I spend time thinking about how to do this better, and just a couple weeks ago, I realized I was doing it wrong too.
Seriously. I may require an intervention.
I spend a lot of time on FB. I don't use my author page much, because I believe people want a real human to interact with. I have built a following of around 4k. That's not a huge number. BUT I work hard to engage with them.
Every morning, I post: coffee memes for the Morning Brigade, a beauty pic for the day, a mom meme, an awwwww for the day (think adorable puppies and kittens, and yes, Jenny, bunnies), and something from the weird file (you'd have to see it to believe it). Oh, and SNARK! I've had over 800,000 likes, probably get 50 or more comments a day, and God knows how many shares.
That's good, right? By the way, you do follow me, right? You can, HERE.
It is, except I wasn't taking advantage of one of my strongest avenues to sell my books! Yes, when I had a release, or a cover reveal, or a great review, I posted about it. But I never gave away my books in my general feed — only the groups I'm involved with.
So I did a giveaway for three books — ONLY for those who had NOT read a book of mine. All they needed to do to enter was to comment which book they'd like. Do you know I got 200 comments on that post? That's 200 people who love my posts daily — like my voice, my twisted sense of humor. They'd like my books! Three didn't seem enough to give — so I got in touch with my publisher, who kicked in 20 more.
It's done — they're all out and, I hope, being read. I truly expect to turn most of those into fans. And guess what? My Amazon ranking went up for a week after the winners were drawn — I assume non-winners went and bought a book.
There's always more to learn — go out there and do it right, people. Sell a shit-ton of books!
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Laura, you are the queen of social media! I'm one of your fans! Love your sense of humor and absolutely agree that it's all about the feeling of connection 🙂
Thank you, Barbara! I love doing it.
Great read, Laura. I might try one thing you did as I have a book release coming up before the end of this month. People from my little town follow me because they know me. I travel a lot and they love my travel pictures. I also post a new and strange word most days. I get a lot of comments on that. And it's fun, too. Thanks and I am going straight to your FB page.
There you go! You're already doing it right!
Love your social media posts! And yes, you should be telling everyone about your fabulous books. Um, as should I... Thanks for the great advice! I have been doing it wrong. How did you know? 😉
Heck, so was I, Julie! We gotta sort this out by stumbling along, learning as we go....
Kinda like writing, huh?
Love this, Laura! I follow your posts, and think of humor/snark, awww posts and cowboys as your 'brand' (another nebulous term publishing throws around). You're great at engaging, and these tips are terrific for those of us still trying to figure the whole SM thing out. Thanks!
That would be ALL of us, Chris!
You've given me some great ideas! I find that promoting others also helps promote yourself at the same time without all the "buy my book" rhetoric. If I say I loved a book and interact with someone else who has read it, then they might think they'd like mine too.
Ah good point, Carrie! But if you're waiting for them to make the connection - 'if we like the same books, I may like hers' - it's a stretch. People are rushed, and them taking time to make that leap... it may not happen.
Hi Laura, thanks so much for the post. You've convinced a committed introvert with a serious resting bitch face to lighten up and ENGAGE with readers. I get it. But first I have to entice them so forgive me for poaching funny bits from your page. You've given me some really good ideas for the future -- thank you!
Poach away, Lorraine! I would appreciate an attribution though, because maybe they'll look me up, and... You know. 😉
You brighten up many many days on social media, Laura. And yes, you are doing it right (including the bunnies, kittens and baby goats. (Awwwwwwwwww.) It is all about quality engagement or, more simply, the "social" in social media.
One thing to note - since you are an extrovert, and retired, you have time to really get quality content. I always tell people to use their time wisely if they are a super busy with work or caring for others. Even if you only have 15 minutes, set up curation for quality content - StumbleUpon, hashtags, certain posters (like YOU).
Follow those things and get the great content. Heck, you can even schedule that content in advance on the weekends. Then use your social media time to engage with the people who engage you on that content. Make it worth their while - follow them back - repost their stuff. Without engagement, it's just broadcasting noise.
Great point, Jenny. I spend probably 2 hours total on SM a day, and I know lots don't have that kind of time. Love your bunny pics.
Engagement is definitely the key on all SM.
Preach it, Denise!
Thanks for the great advice, Laura. My debut novel releases this Wednesday, and I'm learning as much as I can about all of it.
Best to you, Leslie! Sell a bunch!
Great points. I'm not a Twitter fan, and detest being bombarded with "Buy my books" messages versus being engaged. And I learned about using a "call to action" with posts and newsletters this summer that I plan to implement.
And FYI, I just read that there is a show Mr. Mom this fall. It may be online as episodes are only about 15 minutes each. Channel is VUDU.
Oooohhhh, thanks, Tracy - I'm checking that out!
A great point, Joanne. It's great for interaction, but how does it sell books for you? I'm trying to learn, too!
Great post. Was guilty of exactly that, but have cleaned up my act.
Twitter I still enjoy, but the interaction on the blogging community I find more satisfying and substantive.
Thank you. Loved your article. Your link to Facebook didn’t allow me to sign up so I went into my Facebook page and found you.
I agree 100% that it is all about engagement. A great post.