Social Media Mistakes with Laura Kamoie – #HNS2019

Laura Kamoie amazes me with her ability to co-write such wonderful novels as America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton with Stephanie Dray. Combine that talent with a talk on the dos and don’ts of social media and I was lining up for this presentation at #HNS2019.

Laura gave us her qualifications immediately: she used to write romance and that genre is very good at social media so she learned from some of the best!

#1 Mistake – too much time on social media and not enough time writing. Don’t get overwhelmed by social media. You don’t have to do it all. Figure out what you’re comfortable with and be authentic. And if you’re going to be selective, according to Laura, Facebook is where readers hang out, particularly the 40+ crowd. Twitter is where influencers and industry folks hang out.

Laura offered the group several tangible ideas to keep in mind as we work on our social media presence.

EASY TO FIND = EASY TO PURCHASE

First, make sure you have a social media presence such as a website with your name prominently displayed. Use the PIN feature on Facebook and Twitter. Include retail links – all of them, not just Amazon to make it easy and to reduce clicks for readers. Include the covers of your books to create a branded look.

YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE SERVES READERS

Make sure that what you write and what kind of stories you write serve readers. Again, Laura mentioned retail links. Include quotes about your book(s). Find ways to take people through the stages of new to you ==> reader ==> fan ==> superfan. Superfans will bring other readers to you.

PURPOSE OF ONLINE PRESENCE IS TO SELL BOOKS

Goals of social media book promotion are to gain exposure for you as an author and what you write. To foster discoverability. To build you name, brand, and book recognition. To build relationships with existing readers so that readers will feel invested in you and feel some sort of kinship with you. To network and build relationships with authors, bloggers, reviewers. These relationships will get others talking about your books. (See, I did that at the beginning of this post!) To find new readers. And ultimately, to sell books.

Mistakes on Facebook and Twitter:

  • your posts are either too sell/buy or too personal/diluted
  • you don’t engage/interact – remember that social media shrinks the distance between author and readers; you need to engage and readers want you to engage
  • you don’t post regularly enough – Laura recommends 2-3 times per day
  • you have no custom URL on Facebook
  • you have no branded cover image
  • you don’t have an author page on Facebook (as distinct from your personal page)
  • you have no description and/or no links on your Facebook cover image
  • you don’t pin a post to signify its importance and to prompt shares
  • check out Laura’s Facebook page for ideas; click on her header image for Ribbons of Scarlet to see what she has included;

AT A GLANCE YOUR WEBSITE SHOULD CONVEY

  • your genre
  • your personality
  • whether visitor’s interests match your offer
  • Laura recommends checking out the websites of: Kristin Hannah, Steve Berry, Geraldine Brooks, Christina Baker Kline, Susan Meissner, Alma Katsu, Jennifer Robson

Mistakes on Website:

  • unclear branding/messaging about who you are and what you write and what kind of emotional reading experience your books offer
  • missing retail links
  • no master book list, no information on what’s coming soon
  • out of date/stagnant information
  • inactive blog
  • hard to spell/difficult to remember URL

Website Must Haves

  • newsletter signup
  • about page to convey who you are in an engaging way with headshot and short bio
  • separate page for each book that includes cover, buy links, short description, social proof

In closing, Laura reminded us not to be overwhelmed and to do what you are comfortable with. In her own case, Laura is on Twitter at least once a day; on Facebook 2-3 times a day; she has a virtual assistant; and posts about her backlist on TBT (Throwback Thursday).

Well, if you aren’t exhausted, I was at the end of that session (I know I didn’t capture everything!!) and as I prepare this post I admit to feeling daunted all over again by the work involved with social media. I already spend many hours to sustain my blog — clearly that’s not enough if I want to serve and engage with readers!

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch JoelAfter I pestered him with questions about marketing and social medial, my son, who’s in marketing and buys lots of books in this domain, gave me Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation to read. It’s a straightforward book – and I mean that in the most positive way, for what’s the point of writing if only a few can absorb the information – with the premise that everyone is connected and lots of advice about how to work in the new paradigms that are so rapidly emerging.

Joel pitches his book with entrepreneurs and business managers in mind, but the messages apply equally well to any author who is building a brand and a writing business and I thought some of the ideas that stood out for me might resonated with those following A Writer of History.

  • In a world where anyone can connect to anyone else, authors have the opportunity to match their content to consumers who are looking for it. Instead of a billboard at a bus stop with an image of your latest book jacket and absolutely no idea of who is going to take notice, you can interact with communities focused on your type of writing, whether it is historical fiction enthusiasts, haiku practitioners, Italian foodies, real estate brokers or any other group with a common interest.
  • People expect to be able to find you, either on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or some other social media tool. Or all of these places. Ask yourself whether your digital footprint is communicating what you want it to. In my case, this is definitely a work in progress! And, by the way, to do this effectively you need to decide what you want to communicate.
  • People love to share their experiences with others and to help others, even strangers. People also love to find others who are like them. If you are a writer with a blog, does it help others? Does it enable your community to interact and share their thoughts? Do you interact with others in the larger community? Do you create conversations?
  • Mitch Joel talks about the trust economy – people trust others in their communities – and the wisdom of crowds – opinions propagate through the community. For authors, one place these concepts play out is in the realm of book reviews. The communities interested in what you write will review your works, form opinions and propagate those opinions.
  • A corollary to the trust economy is that trust is built over time. Think of this as you engage with communities, begin your blog or website, activate Facebook and so on.
  • Quality is more important than quantity. Content rises to the top of search engines based on how valuable it is to those online and how long it has been available. Authors might conclude that this statement applies only to non-fiction, however let’s imagine a writer of mysteries who in his or her spare time, shares sources of information on police methods, forensic science, unusual crimes and other tidbits that interest mystery readers.
  • People are moving from consuming to creating. What might this mean for writers? It seems to me that writers can no longer think of their readers as passive players at the end of a long chain of events. Will writers find ways to co-create with their readers?
  • Joel uses the term ‘snackable content’ to advise businesses that their customers want bite-sized pieces especially in a world of so much content that we can only skim and can never expect to keep up. Time is a precious commodity – books require time. Writers might want to consider ways to deliver bite-sized content.
  • The digital space is like a big focus group and the key to conducting a successful focus group is to ask questions. Think about the questions you might want to ask your readers and potential readers.

This post merely highlights a few insights from Six Pixels of Separation. Mitch Joel provides 273 pages of advice. It’s definitely worth a read.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Authors Are Readers Too

Almost every piece of advice given to aspiring authors includes the suggestion to read as much as possible in order to examine and understand the techniques used by successful writers. It seems reasonable to ask what do authors read?

Over five hundred authors responded to the 2015 historical fiction reader survey: 77% female, 23% male, ranging in age from under twenty to over seventy with significant numbers from US, UK, Canada, Europe and Australia. 45% read more than thirty books a year. (Full survey report can be found here.)

Authors percent HFGiven the survey’s emphasis on historical fiction, it is not surprising to see 77% writing historical fiction covering time periods from pre-history to the first half of the twentieth century and a significant number reading historical fiction more than half the time (diagram is authors only). Based on write-in comments, many authors read to enhance their knowledge of a particular era and to improve their writing skills.

Sixty percent of these authors write about fictional characters within a backdrop of great historical events while less than 13% write about famous people. In contrast, while 85% of readers enjoy what writers prefer to write, 54% of readers want to read about famous figures (chart below shows readers only).

Readers characters and settings

Like general readers, authors choose historical fiction to bring the past to life and to understand how people lived in other times. When asked about their favourite time periods, these authors either choose from a wide range or read stories set in the 19th century and the 13th to 16th centuries (diagram shows authors only).

Authors preferred time periods to read

Like readers, authors who participated in the survey expressed a preference for stories featuring strong female characters or adventure (not surprising given the high proportion of women authors in the sample). However, unlike general readers, literary stories are also in the top three for authors. And interestingly, while more than half the readers expressed a strong preference for series with ongoing characters, less than 30% of authors agreed with them. (Chart is authors only.)

Authors fav story types

Asked what aspects make characters come alive in a historical context, authors look primarily for interesting and complex characters followed by behaviour that is realistic to the era and setting. Here’s a look at what authors appreciate in their favourite novels, which is likely what they try to write into their own novels.

Authors what makes characters come alive

In terms of social reading, more than thirty percent of authors use social media daily for reading purposes such as book discovery, book reviews, author interaction and book discussions. They place significant value on using social media to build new friendships with readers, tracking their books, connecting with other authors and discussing books with other readers.

As shown in the diagram below (authors only responding), over 60% of these authors agree that social media makes it easier to find books they like, gives them a voice concerning the books they enjoy, and enjoy the sense of community social media enables around reading.

Authors re social media

When I have a chance to analyze favourite authors and favourite books mentioned by authors, I’ll report back again. The full survey report can be found at this link.

Conclusions? I’m not sure, but would love to hear your thoughts.

FOR MORE ON INSIDE HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.