U is for Using Social Media as an Author

22-Better-Grades-Social-Media-00I’m a moderately technical person. My brain works in a technical way- seeking to understand underlying principles and piece things together in a logical manner- and I’ve never had a problem grasping anything technological. Hell, my husband is a network engineer, and I’ve spent my entire career working with technology companies. But social media leaves me feeling more than a little perplexed from time to time, and, stubborn as I am, I am determined to conquer it. Why? Because as an author, it’s a necessary part of my platform. Ignoring it won’t make it less important, less relevant, less needed.

Other than WordPress, though (which has been amazing), I have not seen any significant success in any of the channels I’ve used so far. Below are my experiences with each. Oh, and yes, this is also a veiled shameless plug for my sites, so feel free to Like/Follow/Share or whatever the relevant actions involved are. I always Like/Follow/Share back 🙂

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Facebook

Link: The House of Crimson and Clover Fan Page

I started my Facebook fan page about two months before the release of St. Charles at Dusk, my first book. I thought releasing it early would help generate some hype, and it did…of course, it was all friends and family. I think I had around 100 “likes” when the book launched. Many of them were initially very excited, and I thought I was going to sell as many books as I had “likes,” but initial sales were very low. I learned quickly that support and excitement does not translate equally to purchasing power. Not a huge deal (no one is under any obligation to buy my book, no matter how well they know me), but it was my first wake-up call as an author.

I ran some contests to generate more page traffic. Did book giveaways, etc.

Some of the folks who were initially my biggest cheerleaders have died off. A few of them are cheering stronger than ever, and I will probably leave everything I own to them in my will.

I try to post a variety of stuff on the site, and only put up “buy my book” type posts when there is a good reason to (price drop, change in format, etc).

I imagine that when The Storm and the Darkness finally comes out, the activity will pick up again. To be fair, it’s been two years since my last book was published and updates about the current book may be less than thrilling at this point.

Also- I am currently running a sweepstakes where I will be giving away up to 40 free copies of my book. Nothing fancy to enter, just have to be a fan and click the Sweepstakes” button on the top menu.

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Twitter

Link: @thewritersarah

Of all the social media platforms, I find this one to be, by far, the most confusing. I’m by no means an idiot. I understand the hashtags (although, we never called them that, way to make shit up Twitter) and the use of “@” to draw attention to someone individually. I get the concept of being interactive and spending time building relationships. I just don’t understand how to USE Twitter in a meaningful way that actually keeps people interested, brings in new readers, and does so in a not-so-obnoxious way.

So far my tweets have either been WordPress reposts, tweets about the Spartacus finale (HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, PLEASE TELL ME I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO WATCHED THIS GLORIOUS GIFT OF A SHOW), and updates on my writing progress. I get some favorites and retweets, but I’m still not sure I am doing it right. It seems like “doing it right” will require a huge time investment that I don’t know if I can make.

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Goodreads

Link: Sarah M. Cradit Author Page

Awhile ago, I created my author page and linked my WordPress to it so anyone who ventured over there would be able to keep up with my updates and would know where to find me. So far, I am not sure how to tell whether this has been successful (my stats don’t show any clicks directly from Goodreads to my blog), but its a pretty nifty feeling either way to have your own author page on the largest social media site for readers.

Once my next book is released, I am going to start utilizing the contest and giveaways features and see how they pan out.

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Pinterest

Link: House of Crimson and Clover

I don’t have much to say here. My experience with this platform is very new. I’d resisted the wave of women flocking there when it launched, because I could see how addicting it could be. But when it occurred to me that I might be able to leverage it for my writing, the metaphorical light came on, and I created a page.

So far, I don’t know how to tell if its had any traffic, or being used by anyone other than me. But I do rather like being able to and see all my images from the series in one place so I guess even if no one else uses it, at least I have it for me.

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OTHERS

While I use LinkedIn, Google +, Instagram, and Flickr, I’ve not determined yet if they can or should be used for this part of my career. I do try to share my links to StumbleUpon, but haven’t received more than one or two hits from that.

The most important thing I’ve learned (and I learned this not just from my own pages but from observing those of others) is that you can’t make every post a pitch or an attempt at a sale. People need to get to know the real you. They want to know about those long nights you stayed up writing, and they want to know what you’re reading, and what you thought of the last episode of Game of Thrones. If they connect with you, they are more likely to want to connect with your books. Anne Rice’s Facebook page is a perfect example, although it may also be a terrible example in that she did not have to build her fanbase using it. Her posts, however, reveal herself as a real person fans can connect with.

Any other experiences, tips, or general social media woes to share?

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16 thoughts on “U is for Using Social Media as an Author

  1. Social media is something that scares me in regards to the upcoming launch of my books. I’ve never been very good with social media (or anything with “social” in it, frankly). I don’t particularly enjoy it as a consumer, and I don’t know what people want from an author on social media. But I know it’s part of marketing in the digital age, so I’ll have to wrap my head around it.

    I’ve got a blog set up for my books (http://worldspectrum.net/, if you don’t mind the shameless plug), I intend to establish a presence on Goodreads, and I’m thinking of setting up a Facebook page, but beyond that, I’m pretty lost. I’m worried about putting a lot of time and effort into something with no reward.

    One thing I do know is that I won’t be using Twitter. I don’t care how a good a resource it is; Tweets are a grotesque debauchery of language, and if I ever catch myself using a hashtag, I might have to stab myself in the eye with a screwdriver.

    Er, no offense to the Twitter uses among us…

    1. I think you hit it on the head…its a lot of time with an unknown reward. WordPress for me has introduced me to so many great people, and created a network for me of other writers I’ve never gotten through other channels. Most social media to me feels a little like a popularity contest. I felt the same way as you do about Twitter, and in fact swore I would never sign up. It wasn’t until I realized that most of the people I wanted to connect with were on Twitter, not FB, that I finally caved. I refuse to write poorly edited tweets, though 🙂

      And, you’re always welcome to plug your writing here. I sent you a follow.

  2. Twitter is by far my favourite social media to interact with people and to share any news I find interesting. It did take me a couple of months to understand how useful it can be to us writers, but now that I have, I love it. Pinterest is great too: it gives a sense of what your novel is about, and an idea of who you are as a writer.

    In unrelated news, SPARTACUS FINALE was amazing!!! I’ve been dying to post about it on my blog but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone…

    Drop me a line on Twitter if you want to talk about it 😉

    1. I don’t just want to talk about the finale, I NEED to. I feel like a gremlin is ready to burst from my chest. Expect a PM 😛

      Any quick tips on making Twitter work for me? One of the problems I have is that there seems to be so much noise, and its hard to distinguish the tweets I want to read and connect with others on, and the ones I just want to skip over.

      1. Yes, I forgot to mention I don’t actually use Twitter as Twitter, but through TweetDeck, which allows you to sort the people you follow into columns. Thus your Twitter feed actually becomes user-friendly and you can see when the people you enjoy the most talking to are online and reply to their tweets. Hope this helps! (NB: I use TweetDeck, but there are other desktop app available: HootSuite, Metro Twit, etc.)

  3. Hi Sarah – this was a really useful and interesting post. I love how you have broken them all down in to sections. I know you say you aren’t great with social media – but you’re certainly getting your presence out there and working hard.

    For me, Twitter has been by far the most useful. However, it only becomes useful by utilising saved searches, lists and groups – otherwise it is just a constant stream of unfiltered information and almost impossible to access. And, contrary to Tyler, I think hashtags are very efficient ways to form a conversation around a single group or idea – like #atozchallenge for example, which is how I got to meet you!

    I have also had some early positive experiences with Google Plus, which takes a bit of getting used to, but I’ve found the key with that is creating the right circles and joining lots of communities. Then, like all good social media, it is about getting involved in a real conversation – listening, commenting, helping and sharing – to get the most out of it. You only get out, what you put in. It can be very time consuming, but when you meet the right people, it can also be very rewarding. I look forward to hearing how you get on in the future.

    Kelly’s Eye – Writing, Music, Life

    1. Thanks Wayne! I’m just glad YOU were good enough at Twitter to find me, so we could connect because I still haven’t figured out how to master the art of finding great people 😛

      That’s a good tip about the lists and searches…right now I’m simply using my feed to browse, and it always seems like a mess of stuff that’s about 20% of what I want to see and 80% that I could just skip over. Maybe my eyes aren’t trained to look for things yet, either. I guess that takes time.

      That’s also interesting about G+…it seems like, in a lot of ways, it fell off the map after launch, but there seem to be a few folks who really get good use out of it. I wish there was a WP plug-in for it so I could feed my posts there as a means of easing back into it.

      I’ll definitely do another report-out at the end of the year on how these channels are faring for me.

  4. Wow…I’m seriously social media challenged! lol This was great on explaining to me what each of them do! Thank you for that 🙂 So glad you are part of the Crew!!

    1. Kira, you and me both! When I was researching this post, I was looking up other social media channels and there was something like a hundred different social sites that are used frequently enough to get mentioned. I almost fell out of my chair (for real, I had to catch myself). Most people seem to say that its better to master a few channels than to try them all, though, so maybe I’ll eventually get there!

      1. LOL…me too! I think I will master WP and then move on to Twitter 🙂 Thank you again for all of this information!

  5. I enjoyed your post. I do PR work for authors to promote their books via their social media accounts, and what I’m finding so far on Twitter at least is that the authors lose followers after just a few self-promotion tweets. People definitely tune you out when you are overloading them with information about your book and why everyone should buy it. That said, certain weeks the authors will have a surge in followers. There’s a fine line between interesting and annoying tweets — the trouble is figuring out what that is!

    1. I agree, finding the balance is the hard part! Right now I may be erring on the side of not promoting my work enough but, hopefully, my unparalleled charm will come through in my tweets 😛

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