Monday, January 11, 2010

The art of promoting books in 140 characters

Book promotion is the delicate art of getting attention and leveraging the attention toward a sale. The first part, getting attention, is pretty easy. You can blog, and tweet, and spam email, and howl at the moon. A lot of people will notice you.

The trick is getting that attention directed to the place you want it: the cash register. Often times these days the cash register is called "one click buying" at Amazon.

So, how do you do that?

You can't just tell people about your book. Much like you can't just tell me about your characters in your book.

You have to SHOW me.

You have to entice me with something interesting. If you got a good review in PW, that's not enough. I'm sorry, but it's not. It's nice, I'm glad for you, but I subscribe to PW, I read the reviews, I've seen good ones before.

What makes you different, special, interesting?

One of the best examples of showing was on Twitter today, and it wasn't even about a book. It was a tweet about a lousy agent (mind you, I've got a predilection to investigate those links even if they aren't enticing, but this one was.) Here's what it said:

Apparently I'm a Boring Wrinkled Self-Published Lesbian

It's funny, and it's interesting. I know the blog poster and she's none of those things. So, I'm interested to find out why "Apparently" she is.

I've posted before about the efficacy of twitter for book promotion, but it's a complex delicate art. That means it requires study and practice.

If you think twitter is all about what people are eating for breakfast, you're not paying attention.

If you're not getting clicks on the links you post, time to start studying what makes YOU click a link, and employing some of what you learn.

The downside of social networking is that it's not just show up and broadcast: you have to study and learn how to do it. It's time consuming.

It also works.

9 comments: said...

It's also a good idea to keep in mind who buys books and who doesn't.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Wow. Doesn't he know that you never go off on someone with a public platform? And that if you do, said going off should be grammatically correct, spell checked, and more mature than a six-year-old on a playground yelling "you're an old doody head" (six-year-olds rarely call people wrinkly lesbians, they prefer doody.)

It's kind of sad that you have comment moderation turned on because from the sound of it, he likes to pop in on threads about him. There won't be a train wreck to watch.

The "show up and broadcast" method of Twitter Marketing seems to be popular with vanity published people (at least the ones who don't realize they're vanity published) who believe their company's hype that all it takes is "getting the word out" and people will magically find a book they've never heard of by an author they've never heard of.

(The 10 Things Crime Writers can Learn from Paris Hilton article linked in the linked blog post shows an error when I click on it.)

Janet Reid said...

Josin, I can click on it fine so can you try again? links are not my strongest skill for sure, but I can't figure out what might be wrong.

Larissa said...

The link worked fine for me.

Great post, Janet. Thanks!

~Jamie said...

Something else people really need to keep in mind is to make sure and track those links. You want to know if people are reading your stuff, right?

I think you can do it with hootsuite, but you can also use and :)

Then you REALLY know who's clicking your links.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I guess it's just me. I can click on the one in this post, but when I try to click on the one on Dec. 5's post I get:


Error 404

Janet Reid said...

Aha! I was clicking the wrong link. Josin, you were right. The 12/5 post had a broken link. It should be fixed now. Thanks for alerting me!

Josin L. McQuein said...

YAY! Now it works.

steeleweed said...

The issue with Twitter et al is the same as webstuff in general - no matter how great your website, blog, FB pages or Tweets, it's all moot if you have no following. Once you get followers at one place, you can leverage it: Twitter <--> FB <--> website <--> blogs. It's that first publicity that is tough to get. Writing forums might get you known among writers/agents, but what you need is to be known among readers.