By Derek Cross – Cross Publishing Services
The third annual Self-Publishing Conference covered a multitude of useful topics for aspiring and established authors alike. One topic in particular held resonance: using social media to promote books.
On May 9, the third Self-Publishing Conference was held in UK’s Leicester University. Over 150 budding and published authors congregated to hear key figures and publishing industry experts offer advice on topics covering every aspect of book writing, publishing and marketing, from the first draft to publication. Topics covered included: landing an agent; for authors; getting reviews; selling to libraries and retailers, using NetGalley; rights and licensing; choosing print or ebooks.
I found one of the most informative (and amusing) speakers was Emily Benet, who runs Blogging and Social Networking workshops and who talked about how self-publishers could use social media to promote their books.
Emily explained that social media offers authors a platform for their work and creates opportunities for interaction with their readers and gain their loyalty. It’s also more affordable than traditional marketing. She suggests that you need to engage with your community to be effective – it’s a dialogue, not a hard sell. And it takes time.
Regarding tweets, they can be informative and entertaining, but be consistent and update them regularly. She suggests you include your image, otherwise you’ll appear as an egg! Engage and don’t spam, and use a link shortener, such as bit.ly or tinyurl.
Emily gave useful blog tips for an author blog. She suggests they be between 300 and 500 words, perhaps weekly. Create a catchy headline and have a strong first paragraph. Make the style conversational and informal. Use plenty of white space (it makes the blog more readable and it’s free!). Take time to write the blog, the first draft, on a word processor. Have a strong identity and make it easy-to-read and shareable, update it regularly, be on-topic, and ensure it’s useful and entertaining. Don’t forget to add your contact details, your book information, make commenting easy, and link it to your website or published work.
Regarding the benefits of Facebook, Emily reminded us that it is a massive platform and that some people do ‘everything’ on Facebook, that the content has a longer lifespan than Twitter, and that it’s better than Twitter for sharing images. You’ll find (or establish) your community on many forums, and you can also include contests and giveaways, and integrate other networks on to a Facebook page.
Other ways to increase your traffic is to participate in conversations and forums, offer interviews, add your blog to blog directories, add your blog to your email signature, and use social networking.
Emily’s debut book Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog about working in her mum’s chaotic chandelier shop; the blog became so successful it was commissioned as a book by Salt Publishing and later turned into a short film starring Katy Wix which was shown at The London Short Film Festival 2014.
You can see this book and details of her book Blogging for Beginners at her Amazon page:
You can access more information about the Self-Publishing Conference and some of the useful presentations from the past conferences here:
Derek Cross is a UK-based book publishing consultant. He has spent much of his working life working for major publishers such as Collins, BPC Publishing, and Macdonald and NGOs, including Amnesty International UK and the children’s charity, NCMA. Derek has worked on publications of all kinds, including general fiction and non-fiction, educational, and children’s books. He has also worked in collaboration with the major publishers, including Penguin, Bloomsbury, and HarperCollins, producing co-editions. Derek holds post-graduate diplomas in publishing and network media environments. He now helps self-publishing authors, smaller publishers, and organisations produce and market their publications via traditional print-based media and for the newer digital platforms, including the Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.
Learn more about Derek Cross at www.CrossPublishingServices.com.