Tag Archives: Twitter

Is it Tacky?

Hello there, Scribes fans. Sugar, here.

I’ve been published for almost a week now. And these past few days people kept asking me how I felt about it. Like they were expecting me to be irrevocably different just because I had a book on the shelves. I’m not sure how it is for other debut others, but I feel…. exactly the same. I still go to work and get teased by my brothers. I still write my thousand words a day and doubt every sentence that goes on the page.

The only other difference is that extra layer of worry that I carry around with me, that nobody is going to buy my book and if they do they are going to hate it. But other than that I’m still the same person I was a year ago. Just with a different set of worries.

And one of those worries is promotion related. How much is too much? We all know the “BUY MY BOOK” messages we see authors splash across their Twitter and Facebook accounts are annoying and not effective. Some might even call them tacky. I don’t think those writers spam us with those things to be annoying. I think they just want to attract more readers to their books and as writers we all want that.

But how do we do it?

I keep asking that question and nobody seems to have the answer to it. I’ve heard blogging is dead and that Facebook is passe and that tweeting is like screaming into the wind. I heard people say that ads on websites are like white noise and that most people don’t notice them because they are inundated with so many.

So what’s left?

Street teams? A street team, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is basically a group or team of people who hit the “streets” to promote something. For authors a street team might hand out books marks, request that your book be carried in store and leave good reviews for the author on Amazon and other sites, talk to your book up to anybody who will listen and a variety of other things. In return these dedicated fans get swag or free books and the author’s many thanks.

I personally hold all judgement on Street Teams. They seem to work beautifully for some authors. But lately I’ve been seeing a few authors bash them. One author I follow is of the mindset that it’s the author’s job to promote their book and it’s wrong to ask fans to do it for them. That readers should only leave reviews if they want to. They should only recommend books that are truly worth recommending, not because they are loyal to the author. And that word of mouth should spread naturally.

I think it’s an interesting position to take. Doctor’s don’t ask for reviews, and neither do hairstylist, restaurants or teachers. Could you imagine if after a meal your waiter asked you to immediately go home and get on Yelp and rate his performance and the food that evening and tell everyone you met about how great their restaurant was? Wouldn’t you be a little taken aback if that happened?

People do leave reviews for restaurants and hairstylist and even doctors nowadays but only because they want to not because they are asked.

But on the flip side of that argument. Nobody is forcing anybody to join these teams. People do it because they want to support an author and in the end is that really such a bad thing?

I do think there is a certain etiquette a writer must have when conducting themselves. But what is it? There are no written rules.

So I have some questions I hope you can all help me answer about what is tacky and what isn’t.

This week I have gotten six emails (from strangers!) telling me how much they loved my book and can’t wait to read more of my work. Would it be tacky to ask them to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or leave their reviews on Amazon?

Is it tacky to email a blog that you have never commented on and don’t regularly visit and ask to be featured there? (Having a blog tour set up for you is a different story.)  Isn’t it like inviting yourself to a party?

Is it tacky to ask your friends to pimp your book on their Facebook pages? I have wonderful friends who did this for me without asking. And I have never been asked to do it myself. But if I enjoy a book or simply like an author I will.

Is it tacky to curse of social media? I don’t know if you know this, but elementary school teachers curse more than anybody else on the planet. Simply because we have to keep it together all day and be positive role models for small children. Sometimes I find really funny someecards that I want to post on my fan page that have the bad words in them, but I don’t because I’m trying to keep it classy, even though I’m a little bit trashy.

Are naked man pictures tacky? If cursing is taboo then why isn’t man butt? I’ve seen some authors post pictures that are just shy of soft core porn. Would we stand for it if a male author were posting pictures of nearly nude women everyday?

Keep in mind I pass no judgement on any of these things. I’m simply wondering what folks find tacky these days? Please share your thoughts with me.

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Updating Your Web Presence

As you read today’s post, I’m probably on a flight to Atlanta to attend the National RWA Conference this week. I know, I know…we’ve all been buzzing about it for the past several days, but the event is a big deal for writers. And this year should be especially fun since most of our Scribes will be in attendance.

Katy Lee, Vivienne Lynge, and Suzanna Hardy
Katy Lee, Vivienne Lynge, and Suzanna Hardy

PJ here, 30,000 feet up, and there’s something else I think is kind of a big deal.

Have you ever checked out an author’s website and found it terribly out of date? Most of us try to stay current, but with all of the responsibilities of today’s writers, keeping track of what needs updating can be pretty overwhelming. So I thought I would give you a list of sites that I go to periodically to make sure I do my updates, particularly after a new release or a big event (like a conference or a contest award). The links I’ve included below will take you to the site’s information page that will explain what you as an author can do to sell and promote yourself and your books on these venues (except for the ABOUT page, which is mine). If you keep the list handy, it’s really not so bad doing the occasional update. If you have to remember them all, it can be a bit of a nightmare, so definitely create a list of your own with links to your author pages or places you’ve posted a bio.

Website and Blogs-This is an obvious one.  Websites should be updated at least monthly. If you keep a calendar of events, make sure you have correct links and dates posted. And don’t forget to update your ABOUT page. You are constantly evolving as a writer and author, so be sure to share those changes with your readers.

Amazon Author CentralAlthough the benefits of even having an Author Central page are questionable, most of us who have books there are encouraged to create a page. It’s a place where you can list your books, book trailers, upcoming events, and connect your readers to your recent blogs and social media communications. If someone is checking out one of your books, they might want to know more about you. You can also use this as a landing page for your readers to direct them to all of your books available on Amazon, rather than the individual buy link pages.

GoodreadsYour Goodreads page is an important place for readers to connect with you. Here, you can do book giveaways, get onto listopias, and see your reviews. I’m still learning about Goodreads, but so far, I can see huge benefits in keeping current there so that readers can find and share your books with others. You can also join groups, be exposed to book clubs, and again, have your blogs, tweets, and other social media connections available all in one place.

BN (now NOOK Press) and Smashwords Author Pages-Don’t forget to update any other places you distribute your books. In addition to BN and Smashwords, you may want to create author pages for Kobo, Apple i-Tunes, Draft2Digital, or All Romance E-books (ARe). These are all sites where you can upload your self-pubbed titles and sell books! But just realize that for each distribution channel you choose, you’ll have more to manage. If you have a good system, it’s not so bad.

Pinterest, twitter, and FB profile pages-The main thing here is to change up your bio once in a while. Use the cover of your current or upcoming release as your profile picture, and if you have a “READ MY BOOKS” link on your FB page (check out “author app” for FB), make sure your books, descriptions, and prices are updated.

I realize this is a lot of housekeeping and busy work, and might be best left to a teenager in your house to do for a nominal fee, but it’s important to stay current so that readers can find you wherever you may be. Speaking of keeping you all updated, don’t forget to follow our tweets at RWA National by using hashtag #RWA13 or #RWA2013. You can connect with me on twitter @pjsharon or “like” me on Facebook at PJ Sharon Books for pictures and posts about what craziness is happening at the conference.

Have I missed any locations that you routinely find yourself updating? Any questions comments, or hair-pulling and screaming…now’s your chance!

E-mail overload…or etiquette?

It’s a lovely Tuesday here in the Berkshires with a billion leaves in full splendor. They’re turning and falling far too quickly, however. I spent the weekend in Vermont with family—a much needed break from my writing routine before jumping into Book Two of The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, called WESTERN DESERT. I would have liked to spend every minute enjoying the company and truly getting away from my work, but the truth is, I brought my computer and sacrificed some time with my siblings and the falling leaves to answer e-mails and stay on top of my blog tour. If I hadn’t, I would have come home today to a thousand e-mails and a to-do list that would take me into the wee hours of the morning to catch up on. You think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look…

I belong to several writer’s loops, without which I would not be where I am, or be able to do what I do. I love my writing buddies! There is no doubt that networking is essential to this business and that none of us can do it all alone. As part of various writing loops, I have a certain responsibility to participate, reciprocate, and respond helpfully whenever possible. In these digital days, it’s easier than ever to connect with peers, find support, and work together to help each other succeed. I’m happy to do it, and I budget a considerable amount of time to keeping current—a worthwhile investment, in my opinion.

Some of these loops have strict rules about promotion and participation etiquette. Certain days are allotted for such things as “liking” FB pages, Amazon Author pages, and adding “likes” and “tags” to books. Some groups have no promo or only promo on certain days. Other loops allow promotion of blog appearances and will help “tweet” the word. There are groups that are for information only, and I love them for the invaluable industry scoop that everyone shares. The moderators who keep these groups on task and call us out when we go astray are amazing—giving freely of their time to make this all possible and keep some semblance of order to the chaos. As much of a rebel as I can be, I am happy for the rules because with so many participants (over a thousand in some groups), it can become a bit…well…unruly. 

Although the rules are slightly different for each group, there are some common etiquette tips that are good to know and sometimes ignored due to the fact that we are all insanely busy, and we often drop a few of the many balls we are juggling. I know I do. This post came about because of a few of my unintentional faux pas. Here’s my list of etiquette guidelines that I try to follow, but that have slipped through my fingers more than once. Lord knows that if we could all follow these tips it would certainly save me, personally, about half of the 400 e-mails a day that I have to go through to find the 100 I need to pay attention to. I’d bet I’m not the only one.

1) Trim your posts– This means that you keep enough of the previous poster’s message to give the gist of the content, but trim or delete anything that isn’t pertinent. People on “digest” have to search through every lengthy posting before they get to the final message. This is one of the reasons I’m not on digest. I would be tempted to delete threads without looking at them at all, and would miss a lot of important information. Therefore, I continue to receive individual e-mails.

2) Respond privately to CONGRATULATE, or otherwise personally support another writer. I know we all get excited when someone signs a contract, has a new release, or celebrates an amazing milestone, but I’m sure I’m not alone in my e-mail overload plight where thirty responses to congratulate someone come blasting through my Outlook in-box…ten times a day. I’ve got my e-mail set up so I can get a glimpse of the subject and weed through comments quickly, but multiply the thirty by five different loops, thousands of daily participants, and lots of amazing successes flying through our groups, and it becomes a tad overwhelming. So instead of hitting “reply,” look at the bottom of the page and click on “reply to sender” whenever possible. This is not a hard and fast rule and some people might not agree, perhaps thinking that “congrats” are meant to be shared with the group, but I think public encouragement ends up being more about the sender than the receiver–intentionally, or unintentionally. I’d love to hear the argument for and against this.

3) Check your links-My bad! I did this today. I was at my brother’s, on vacation, and obviously distracted. I requested some “tweet” love from some of my writing loops and figured out about twenty minutes later that I had put an incorrect link in the tweet. Tell me this hasn’t happened to you? Six of my very busy writer pals had graciously tweeted my incorrect link to a few thousand of their followers before I went back and made the correction. Efficient, aren’t they? It’s a waste of their time and makes it appear that I am unprofessional, and therefore reflects poorly on them as well. As a courtesy, I will do my best to check my links in the future before I send information out to my groups. Accept my apologies, gang. 

4) Saying “Thank you”- This one is tricky. Do we say “thanks” to every individual who tweets or re-tweets one of our messages? Should we do it publicly or privately? Do we thank every person who “shares” our FB posts? Is it okay to just respond to the group as a whole or is it clogging up the loops to do so? This one is tough and I’d love to hear what you all think about what the proper etiquette is to show appreciation for all that our writer buddies do for us without clogging the loops and over-running everyone with e-mails saying “thanks” or “congratulations?” One idea that a friend on one of my loops had was that re-tweeting or sharing one of their posts was a good way to thank someone. I tend to agree. 
 
 
What do you think? Any other etiquette tips you’d like to share? How many e-mails do you get in a day, and how do you manage them?

Give a Hoot!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here! I hope you’ve had a great week.

One quick announcement – The Undead Space Initiative is on sale now! Thanks to everyone who purchased copies. I appreciate it!

I’m always looking for new ways to use my time more efficiently. I recently signed up for the free version of Hootsuite (thank you Jennifer Fusco for the tip). Now, I received this information a while ago from Madame Fusco, but I was reluctant to sign up for YET another social media tool. I’d tried Tweetdeck and was completely underwhelmed and gave up using it.

With another book release looming in my future (and a huge bout of indecision about promotion), and feeling disorganized and out of control, I did what I always do  –  step back, assess, and organize.

My solution: give Hootsuite a try. So I signed up for the free version and gave it a whirl. (And yes, I do love that little owl logo – see here for my admitted owl obsession).

After the initial set up (which took about two minutes because I had to create and document another new password), I was asked to choose the social networks I wanted to connect to. With the free version, I was limited to five. I had a tough decision to make because I also manage the Scribes’ Twitter and Facebook pages. And I belong to several Facebook groups too.

In the end I chose to use my own pages for the trial run. So I hooked up my Facebook profile, fan page, my Twitter account, and my WordPress blog. Once I did that Hootsuite presented all my information on a series of dedicated tabs and then asked me to choose the “streams” I wanted to view.

 

Basically that means – how much information do I want displayed? For example on Facebook, you can view wall posts, news feeds and events (to name a few). With Twitter, I can view lists, mentions, the twitter feed, and sent tweets.

The best thing about Hootsuite is scheduling messages. Hootsuite allows you to add photos, documents, and links. Then you can decide the date/time where you want them to appear (FB page, Twitter, your blog).

I have to say – it’s pretty sweet. With minimal effort, I can now schedule my tweets etc. for my weekly blog posts or announce my latest buy link therefore saving me time. If I were to upgrade to the full package ($9.99) a month, I could use their bulk scheduler, connect to an unlimtied number of social networks, and more.

Hootsuite has other free features like analytics that I have yet to explore, but I’m taking baby steps for now!

So far I’ve had a good experience with Hootsuite and I would recommend it for those of you who are time-strapped. Especially if you are on a blog tour or gearing up for your next promotion. The scheduling aspect is my favorite part.

Anyone else using Hootsuite? Any time-saving tips you want to share with the rest of us? And if not Hootsuite what other time-saving applications would you recommend?

Social Media Melt Down

When I found out my agent had read my blog I was more than a little surprised.

“You read my blog!?”

She seemed to think this was funny and pointed out that since my manuscript was out with editors they probably were going to do a little google stalking of their own. They might have a hard time stalking me because there really isn’t much out there about me under my real name and nothing under my pen name. I figured I could start doing all that social media stuff when somebody actually bought my book but I guess promoting yourself never starts too early.

But where to begin?

My agent recommended that I join Twitter. Sigh. I did and have a whopping 62 followers. But I honestly don’t get Twitter. Yes, I can see the potential. I can see that it’s a way to connect with others but I’m finding it more like a chore than anything and yet I find myself spending exorbitant amounts of time on there reading other people’s tweets.

My issues…

  • Unlike Facebook I don’t get that homey getting to know you feeling from Twitter. I hardly know any of the people who I follow and therefore don’t find myself interested in what they have to say. And a lot of what they have to say is buy my book. I don’t see the pictures of their lives or see how they have changed over the years. I don’t know their birthdays. And while Facebook may seem a little voyeuristic I like it because you really can find out a lot about a person just by looking at their page. (Not that I’m saying I don’t have my issues with that site, but I’ll get to that next week.)
  • I’m a little long-winded and find the 140 character limit slighty restrictive. I had a really cute anecdote to tell to my 62 followers but no matter how I tried to cut it down there was no way I could fit it into 140 characters. That’s less than a text message.
  • Most people are not as interesting as they think they are. I don’t really care that you need to do laundry or that you ran out of milk. Mundane is boring and I fully admit to not being the most exciting tweeter.
  • The numerous people I have had to block who are mostly porn spammers.(Eww)
  • Anybody can follow you or see your tweets and while there is a setting to make your Twitter feed private that seems to go against the whole point of it. People can be mean and have no problem saying nasty things. This week alone a celebrity I follow was threatened with violence all because she asked where she could find a good poker club.
  • The people who only tweet snippets of their book or links to buy their books dozens of times in a day. Really? Do you honestly think that people want to be constantly bombarding with your book. How about you talk about your process of writing the book, or some of the ups and downs you face as a writer.

I don’t plan on canceling my account anytime soon and am going to try really hard to collect followers like little trophies but as of yet I’m not sure how this is going to help book sales. How many of you have bought a book from an author just because they kept tweeting about it? Does a big internet presence really make all that big a difference? As a reader I have never visited my favorite author’s website, much less looked her up on Twitter.

That being said I don’t think it’s all bad. Where Facebook might be limited to the people you know Twitter can introduce you to people on a global scale. And I’m going to keep plugging away to get where I need to be.

However, I just want to write. I need to get those thousand words in everyday come hell or high water and really don’t need many more distractions.

So tell me what is your favorite social media outlet? Do you tweet? Will you follow me? Think it makes a big difference book sales? How do you spend your time avoiding writing? Any and all comments are welcome.