Marketing. Most writers hate it, but we all need to do it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if we’re doing it effectively, and we often don’t know how well it worked until we receive our royalty statements-and, even then, it can be difficult to determine which promotion contributed most to sales.
In the interest of helping out our fellow writers, we at The Thrill Begins have decided to do occasional marketing Q&As. We’ll bring in marketing experts and ask them different questions about promotions. whether it’s social media, paid advertising, merchandise, book readings, etc. For our first campaign, we’re working with none other than the expert tasked with promoting ITW, Jillian Stein. Got a question that wasn’t addressed below? Got a marketing topic you’d like to know more about? Leave it in the comments, and we’ll put it on the agenda.
Living in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, son, and many books, Jillian Stein turned a voracious appetite for reading into a successful book blog, Read-Love-Blog. She also spreads the love of a good story as the social media manager for the 1,001 Dark Nights series and as serves as the Author Relations Manager for International Thriller Writers, Inc.
Should writers be present on all forms of social media, or just try and make their mark on one?
Great question. I would say to start out with the two I feel are the most important: Facebook and Twitter. That being said, I also want to point out that there’s a difference between a personal Facebook page and an author page. You can have both, of course, but I highly recommend having the author page. It makes it possible for a blog or organization such as ITW to tag the author in a post. Twitter is great for one on one fan interaction and because you’re limited with characters, it’s quick and easy. Facebook is great for longer posts with more info. Both are great for reaching your fans and audience. Other platforms like Pinterest or Tumblr are fun but I don’t feel they are as beneficial right out of the gate.
What’s an example of one of the best social media campaigns you’ve seen?
I tend to like the quirky, out of the box campaigns. Over the past few days I’ve noticed a campaign where the author is using funny memes and putting a tongue and cheek spin on her upcoming book release and the title. The title is “Murder” and she had a flock of crows sitting on a telephone wire. The caption read, “What is a flock of crows called?” and she inserted the Murder book cover graphic for the answer. It really stood out to me. Sara Gruen also had another out of the box with her release of At the Water’s Edge. Some of her social media ads had a picture of the Loch Ness Monster and a quote similar to “Buy my book or Nessie will get you.” I think it’s a matter of trying different angles and keeping an eye on what does well and what doesn’t and then tweaking accordingly.
What are some things writers should avoid on social media?
“Don’t engage the crazy!” At some point in time, you WILL have some type of awful comment. Whether it’s about your book or about something you post. You can totally delete it, or ignore it, but don’t comment back! It never ends well. Trust me. And if you do engage, and it turns into a war of words, even if you have a moment of clarity later where you remember this advice and try to delete the war of words, someone may have already screen shot it and it will never go away. So, don’t engage the crazy!
What’s the best way to promote your book without irritating or boring your friends?
I think there are some fun ways to promote without people realizing you’re promoting. You can pull a quote and post it and just give the character’s name and release date. You can post a picture of something one of the character’s loves, like a food or drink, and add a short sentence about it. A good guideline to stick to is for every promo post you post you should be posting three or four posts about something else. I love to find fun book related articles, artwork, or jokes. Still related to reading but not necessarily about your book.
What’s the best way for a writer to extend their reach beyond their immediate network of friends, family, and other writers?
To start, I would say to start following fellow authors outside of ones you’re familiar with on social media and start sharing the posts of theirs you find interesting. It’s a really nice way to show your support and it has the potential to have them reciprocate. Ideally, if you can get people to share your posts without asking, that’s a huge help as well. You also have the option of boosting posts on Facebook and targeting who sees the post (Ed. Note: “Boosting posts” refers to turning a post into a paid advertisement). You don’t have to spend a huge amount either but it will help reach people outside of your immediate circle.
Thanks, Jillian! And readers: Got a follow-up question? Leave it in the comments below.
E.A. Aymar is the Managing Editor of The Thrill Begins, and his latest novel is You’re As Good As Dead. He writes a monthly column with the Washington Independent Review of Books, and his fiction and nonfiction have been featured in a number of respected publications.
To learn more about E.A. Aymar’s books, click on the covers below: