RWA Breakout session 4: Getting your feet wet – Blogging 101

Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) – Getting your feet wet:  Blogging 101
Discussing ways to connect with readers
Looking at different avenues to connect with one another and connect with readers
– note: facebook keeps changing, no-one is an expert on it

Social media exposure
Why is digital marketing and promotion important:
– the reader is your customer
– the reader connects with authors and publishers directly
– the reader is curious about what they want to read next
– connection to readers helps to build your brand
– brand is the promise that you are going to deliver X to your readers
– social media gives you lots of opportunities to connect to readers and become familiar to them
– it also gives lots of opportunities to mess up , but that is ok – everyone does that

Three rules to social media:
Rule 1 – the hard sell does not work
social media is a conversation is not a broadcast.  don’t only talk about the book you are selling.  trying to promote someone else’s book does work

Rule 2 – be a person!
comment on other peoples blogs, be an online presence, not a ‘thing’

Rule 3 – have a social media policy for yourself:
– check out some corporate social media policies as a guideline, they give examples of what people can and can’t say online
– eg don’t talk about work and family (use code-names etc if you mention)
– work out what you are going to talk about, what are you not going to talk about – work out away from the computer, set the rules
– your policy is up to you, just make sure you figure out what is on and off limits
– be aware of cultural differences (eg Australian humour vs American humour)

– why are you on Facebook?  1.11 billion active users
– a Page is different from a personal profile, and has to be created after you have a personal profile
– use separate browsers for professional and personal profiles (eg chrome and safari)
– can’t run a contest on Facebook, will be shut down by Facebook.  Need to use a third party app
– 3rd party app terms of service are very difficult – could collect data from your readers and spam them
– one way to start a conversation on Facebook is to ask people ‘what do you think?’
– Facebook is currently privileging images (and they get shared / passed around)

– use a site like bitly for links, it not only shortens them, it also gives you data on link traffic

Benefit of Facebook:  there are a lot of people on Facebook who only use Facebook

– twitter needs to be updated regularly (every hour) to get to different audiences
– hard to reach a balance between information and spam
– able to preschedule tweets during the time sleeping for when other users are active
– prescheduled tweets can look ‘tone deaf’ if there is a crisis – people are trying to get immediate news and you have your prescheduled tweets about your book
– set for a few hours in advance, but set a reminder for yourself in case you want to change it when it happens
– other writers are on twitter, readers are  more on Facebook

– about the wedding you are never going to have and the house you are never going to live in
– very aspirational
– Loretta Chases ‘two nerdy history girls’
– difficult to promote a book on Pinterest
– be very careful with the images used – have permission, make sure attribution is given – Pinterest strips out metadata and you could run into copyright issues with artists

– is for readers
– incredible opportunities for authors to promote
– not able to review openly as an author

when you post on a social media network, it no longer belongs to you
You own your website, you own its content, it is your real-estate
content:  aspiring author, works in progress, other interests, how to contact
later – mailing list
– book list
– how to reach you
– biography
– where are you? – blog / Facebook / twitter etc
Note:  when you are awake, it is up.  When you are asleep, it is up

– it is NOT required to have a blog
– if you don’t like blogging, not comfortable with it, then don’t do it
– if you like to have a discussion and get feedback, then blogging is a good option
– don’t start a shitstorm unless you have time to manage it (they take a lot of time)
– when you have thinks to talk about, think about how they come across to a reader
– visit other author’s websites and see what works / what doesn’t

What makes good blog topics / posts:
– generosity –
– authenticity – tell the truth
– consistency – let readers get to know you, what to expect from you

eg Smart Bitch Sarah – personal website
– check fonts when you aren’t logged in
– no autoplay music
– keep bio updated
– email mailing list – list of readers who have said ‘you are awesome – come to my inbox’
(eg Nalini Singh does short fiction about previous characters just for her newsletter)
– don’t harvest emails, make sure you have permission

What do you have to share?
– picture
– idea
– long essay?
that will help you to figure out where to go and where to share it

You are the centre of your universe
concentric circles – mercury and venus are website and mailing list (you have most influence / gravitational pull)
decide what the other placements are after that

Learn as you go, it is ok if you don’t know every answer
– goal: to reach readers
– everyone does it differently, and that is ok


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