Social media marketing for indie authors, my experiences.

Social media tips for indie authors and anyone who is a writer or artist.

I have been studying social media and how it works for the writing community. Here I break down my experiences with each platform.

Twitter

Just recently I have been observing Twitter quite closely and how writers interact and support one another there and it’s heartening to see. Twitter has worked in the past for me when I was promoting The Eight of Swords and I got some great feedback and gained new readers. Fast forward several years over the period when I wasn’t writing and now I am back there finding my way again. Of course the writing community is massive and worldwide and even stronger than before.

There are two main trends at the moment it seems. One is to ask questions about any kind of subject ranging from what did you have for breakfast, to: you have been given a boat, you have to name it, what is the name of your boat? The other is: I only need 50 followers to reach 5000, let’s all have a writer’s lift, post your links.

The first method of interaction I really enjoy because there is a vast array of questions and it encourages lots of friendly conversations and interesting outcomes. I’m not so sure about the second one, some days my timeline gets a bit too filled with such requests and I avoid them. It feels like begging as opposed to genuinely connecting with people but there you go, each to their own.

What I always find interesting and useful is the shared experiences of writing. The honesty from people when they get their work turned down by agents. The encouragement from other writers to keep on going. The rightly indignant retorts when an agency, publisher or individual criticises the indie market. The shared experiences and the kindness of people offering reviews.

Writing is such a mixture of culture and business and the two make for an interesting mix. I still see authors who don’t get that it’s not enough to write a book, it has to be marketed if readers are to be found and money is to be made. In my other life I am a photographer and occasionally I see artists and sometimes photographers claim they aren’t bothered about selling their work (trying to look cool) and later on whooping because they sold something. There is no shame in selling your work! You are not considered a professional at what you do until you do sell it. Yes, it takes effort but how much effort did it take to write that book? Money is what makes the world goes round and enables us to keep writing so don’t fight shy of selling just don’t push it too hard and end up boring everyone. You have to find the right balance and a balance that suits you. I’m no expert, |’m still trying to find the right balance myself. Watch and learn.

I guess I am lucky because I have always enjoyed and been fascinated by social media. It is like most things in life, try not to take it too seriously, stay away from the crazy and unpleasant folk, be kind and enjoy making new connections.

Over the years I have made a lot of friends through Twitter and it has been pretty good for my love life too as it happens… so it is always the first place I go to when I want to promote something because in my experience it has been a friendly and encouraging place. If you don’t go looking for trouble it is unlikely to find you. If you are careful about who you follow and respectful about what you say, I don’t think you can go too far wrong.

If you are a writer who is reading this and haven’t already given it a try, go do it! I remember when I first joined, I didn’t have a clue how to use it but there were plenty of friendly tweeters there to greet me and help me on my way. Persevere.

If you are a reader reading this, go look for some authors, read their books and be sure to leave them feedback. Before social media, readers never had the experience of connecting with authors so easily so it’s a great privilege.

Facebook

Years ago, when I wrote The Eight of Swords I managed to gain quite a good following on Facebook. I let it lapse when I stopped writing for a while and when I revisited my page there earlier this year upon the launch of my new short story book The Isolation Sex Stories, I found I need to do quite a bit of work to get it going again and regain the interest.

While Twitter hasn’t changed all that much, Facebook has evolved in a number of ways. Now you can ‘go live’ and I used this to do my book launch. That was nerve wracking! However, it did create interest and great feedback plus some sales. It’s a great time for authors to be seen and heard as well as read so take advantage of it if you can. If you can’t face going live, try videos. People love watching videos, I know I do, so it make sense.

What I didn’t think about when I titled my book was the controls Facebook would put on such content so I’ve had to rethink a bit on that platform but it’s all good and I’m learning fast. Recently I learned that you don’t have to do paid advertising if you learn how to reach your potential readers organically. I’m still finding out about this so when | understand more I will do an update. It’s been a bit of a problem with Amazon too as they won’t allow me to advertise given the title/content of my book so bear that in mind if you are writing something that could hit this little wall. Where there is a will there is a way so it’s not stopped me, just slowed me a little.

I am trying to spend more time on my Facebook page so I will give more detail at a later date.

Instagram

As a photographer I loved Instagram from the off so I decided to see how it works as a writer. Obviously it is very visual which is good for me as I am enjoying learning to promote my books in this way. My photography account was relatively easy to build for obvious reasons but my writer account took more getting to grips with. Rather than posting my usual landscape pictures I had to be extra creative and personal with my writer account. I’m generally a private person so it wasn’t easy but I think I am finding my way now.

The eye opener is Reels. If you can create some fun stuff they work well and this attracts more followers and I’m hoping in time, it will encourage more interaction. While Reels may seem an unusual way to do this, it’s a challenge worth trying I think. Keep an open mind. You wrote a book to entertain or inform, this is a way to extend that to people who wouldn’t necessarily be your usual audience but may be encouraged to check out your work.

Of course you don’t have to go on about your books all the time and this is the fun part. Show off your interests, be interactive and encourage conversations. Enjoy yourself, this applies to all the social media platforms. You simply need to find the one that you feel most comfortable with and work at it. It’s probably best to focus on a couple if you can but one is fine. I am spread across three because I like to see how they all differ and develop.

Obviously this isn’t an in depth analysis of social media and how to market your book on the different platforms but I hope it will help if you are dipping your foot into the writing world.

One thing I will say… it’s not cool to try to be cool, just be you.

Don’t be shy, come say hello at Instagram @PetraKiddWriter

Find me on Twitter @PetraKidd

And of course on Facebook where you will find me reading excerpts from my short story book The Isolation Sex Stories

Author adventures in marketing…

The sun is out, the sky is blue, there are a few clouds but they aren’t spoiling the view. As tempting as it is to go out and enjoy the fresh air, here I am in front of my screen trying to get my head around book marketing.

I love writing my stories but it’s another thing altogether spreading the word about them. Writing is fun but hard work, marketing is even harder. I enjoy producing graphics, I know my way around social media (to a point) but when it comes to advertising, it’s a whole new ball game. Suddenly I need to know target audiences. I have to create a budget for spending. I have to measure results and assess what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched lots of instructive book marketing videos. I’ve read the experiences of other authors. I’ve listened to podcasts galore. Somehow I still feel a little adrift because everyone has a different experience, what you have to do is weigh up the common denominators that lead to success. Even then, luck comes into it. In truth, writing is like any other business and a book is a product. However, it’s more of a personal kind of product to the author who has to do the promotional work so sensitivities have to be quashed.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to market a product as I’ve always worked in business of some kind but a book, well that’s a bit different. I see a book as an emotional product, it’s much more personal. The stories I write will strike a chord with some and may leave others cold. I have to put this at the back of my mind and decide that everyone will love them. Positivity is the only way forward. Once upon a time I sold books by other authors, that was easy. When you come to sell your own, it’s a very different feeling.

The only way to deal with things you aren’t comfortable with is to make them fun. Quite by chance I came across a site called AllAuthor.com and they provide all kinds of useful tools for promotion. It’s a great site for readers too, well worth a look if you want to find indie authors and the genres you enjoy.

When I wrote The Eight of Swords, I didn’t do much promotion other than through social media. This time I want to stretch my readership far wider. I’m thinking of the future and the next books I will write as much as my existing ones.

My first proper ad via Facebook taught me that it’s not only your book you may get commentary on, it’s the way you plan to sell it. For The Isolation Sex Stories I decided to sell it exclusively via Amazon. This is partly because I wanted to test how that would go and it meant I got a free ISBN (a number which simply put, is a product identifier and almost every book has one). At the time of publication funds were tight and it seemed the best way to go. Also, let’s face it, Amazon is one of the largest book selling sites in the world and Kindle is massively popular. In business terms it was a no brainer to use them.

Amazon has come under fire for alleged tax avoidance in the UK. Tax avoidance isn’t illegal but of course it is emotive. When my ad for The Eight of Swords popped up on one Facebook user’s newsfeed, he decided to plant a gif in my post’s comments concerning Amazon not paying tax. Unfortunately I had to point out that Facebook had been accused of similar and that the person commenting on Amazon’s tax avoidance happened to be using Facebook to promote his work and comment on my post. We may not like what these big companies do but we shouldn’t be bringing one another down over it.

The other thing the commentator pointed out was that he didn’t like unsolicited advertisements popping up in his newsfeed. Well, this is easily fixed, all you have to do is adjust your settings to say that you don’t want to be shown personally targeted advertisements. In truth, I didn’t mind the commentator being grumpy about the advertisements, I get a bit fed up with them at times too. Sadly what he didn’t want to acknowledge was that we are both people trying to show others our work, and yes, obtain sales. If you don’t like what Amazon does business wise, if you find it doesn’t fit with your morals, fine, don’t use it. But if you moan about Amazon while using Facebook, I think that might make you a little hypocritical…

Next time I will publish on a wider variety of platforms. Experimentation is always fun and interesting. I will write more about my experiences as I progress.

If you are a writer or a reader and want to comment on this post, please feel free to do so. I love to hear what people think.

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