Monday, 16 February 2009

How writers can promote their books online with free Social Media tools

Many writers are aware of the growing power of Social Media but many have little idea on how to get started, so I thought I would knock up a quick and dirty guide to promoting your books online.

Step 1 - Your Blog
This is the key to your whole network. Writers need to set up a blog (Wordpress or Blogger) and maintain it regularly. The blog is your centre point and without it the rest all kind of falls apart. I would suggest a writer blogs two or three times a week and sticks to posts related to their potential readers. This means that if you have written a book about knitting, then blog about knitting. DO NOT blog about your dog, kids or other boring, mundane stuff. Readers will just stop reading as soon as they are bored.

Step 2 - Facebook
Go set up a Facebook page - once again the key is maintenance. Make sure you are adding to the site regularly. Include photos, details of your book, interesting links, basically anything you think your potential readers may find interesting. Facebook is perhaps the least powerful of your outposts but the most popular so you need to be there.

Step 3 - LinkedIn
Go set up an account at LinkedIn. Then trawl through all their groups and join every one that has some relation to your topic (knitting remember). Then, on a regular basis, go through all the groups and offer good, honest advice to other people’s posts. You must be an active member of the groups but DO NOT directly promote your book. This is LinkedIn suicide. Instead when you leave a comment many people will be interested enough to click your profile. It is at this point that you have a link to your blog and Facebook and Twitter (we are coming to that). See what you are doing?

Step 4 - Twitter
Go set up a twitter account and twitter regularly. Twitter is a bit more free form and you have some freedom with your topics but try and stick to your general theme (knitting). Also try and @reply to as many people as possible. Twitter is all about conversation. However, you must make sure that in your Twitter profile you provide a link back to your blog.

Step 5 - Linking it all together
This is the most important step. Make sure that every outpost (Blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) have direct routes to all your other outposts. This way your net will be spread wide and when someone spots an interesting tweet it will be directed to your blog. On Facebook post a link to your latest blog post - you get the idea.

Using the same Outpost approach you can easily add other applications (Flickr, YouTube etc) to your network. The size of the network is limited by the time you can spending maintaining your Outposts.

The aim is to make friends not contacts. Over time (we are talking a year here) you will build a network of followers - all of which will buy your new book (hopefully).

Here’s BubbleCow outposts:
Facebook - search on Gary Smailes

Here’s what Chris Brogan has to say about Outposting: