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Indie block party small The last post of the Indie Block Event discusses Social Media and Networking.

Social networking is important to authors, especially indies, for the World Wide Web gives a reach further than ever before.  However such a beast should be treated with caution, for it has teeth and may bite back.  It is useful to remember what is posted on the internet stays on the internet.

Listed below are some examples of the good and bad behaviour when dealing with social media, and suggestions of what might and might not work for you.

Spam. No one likes spam, well except Monty Python. There are many ways to promote a book online, but don’t overdo it. I made this mistake shortly after I released my first book but learned quickly form my mistake. Of course you want people to know about your shiny book, and preferably buy it but it is easy to look like a pain in the arse. BUY MY BOOK in every statement on every group on Facebook and people will soon switch off. It is a difficult to know how much is too much, but think about this – how do YOU feel when you see people trying to sell you things all the time? Check the forum/group rules before posting up promo and try and interact.

Share. Share articles, blog posts (hint) and advice. Listen to advice as well as take it. Some people find something which works for them, many don’t but often just chatting with other authors can provide enlightenment. Other writers do not have to be rivals, the market is VERY large. If you have the time to join events then they are a good way to meet writers and readers.

Facebook.  This CAN be useful, there are more groups about writing, reading and books than I thought possible. As with most things some are better than other, (see below). Many let authors promote, many such as Unblocked Writers Group only allow promotion on specific days, which means on the other days the processes of writing (plus many other things) are discussed.  There is a lot of useful advice. (See sharing above)

Authors Helping Authors is another good group, again promo is limited but does vary. Facebook pages, Goodreads listopia, books, freepost weekend, but again there are a lot of useful articles and support.

There are plenty of promotional groups too, which tend to be free for all. I am lazy, I rarely scroll down to the lower posts so if they are just pages of spam (funny image) then I tend to switch off.  Promo interspersed with other articles is more likely to catch my attention. Try and alternate your promotion. Saying the same thing on 50 websites probably won’t help.

I HAVE bought books from Facebook promotions and I have also sold a few that way.  It can work but it really depends on audience and manner of promoting.  There are also paid ads, although how successful these might be I cannot comment.  It is certainly worth getting an author page of some sort there.

Goodreads. I like Goodreads, I spend far too much time there.  It is primarily a group for READERS and this needs to be taken into account. There are plenty of readers who will object to having an author’s book shoved under their nose.  Authors can get an author account, which allows for a blog, limited librarian status as regards adding your own books to the substantial database and, I believe there are paid for ads there too.

As with Facebook, be careful. A lot of the groups don’t allow any sort of author promotion and those that do usually ask authors stick to the relevant threads.  Readers can shelve books, and of course there are reviews. The reviews permissible are …wider than Amazon and as long as they don’t breach guidelines then anything goes, which is not always a good thing, but it does allow for a wide ranging mix of reviews and a lot of Goodreads folk review. There are groups for read and reviews, recommendations, Book of the Month, Author of the Week etc. so can be useful for promotion as well as finding other authors to hang out with and readers. I found Book of the Month particular useful, both as an author and a reader.

Interviews/Guest posts. These can be a lot of fun and a good way to meet new authors. A lot of bloggers run these and blog hops are popular. Spend some time on the answers and vary them, no one wants to read the same interview on seven different blogs. Running interviews on your own blog can be worthwhile as well. New fans, new followers and widening your network is never a bad thing. I have to say before I started running author interviews I wasn’t really that bothered about the authors themselves. It can bring an author closer to the reader, of course, this can back fire. If the author sounds an utter arse or dull as dishwater then they won’t do themselves any favours. I now find I like to read the interviews.

Blogging. My blog is fairly new and I was hesitant to get one as I spend too much time online as it is, I also wasn’t sure what to write.  As mentioned earlier it is not just about the book, a blog is an aspect of the writer, another side if you like and a good way of getting followers who may then check out the books. It is good writing practice and the research needed for articles can be most helpful.

Blogs can provide all sorts of opportunities and although some time is needed to maintain them that is time well spent.  I have found new contacts, written articles I would not have considered before and found useful links.

I have noticed, far more people look at the reviews, reader interviews and non-promo posts than the promo-related ones.

Advice:

Vary your networking, no one social networking site covers all eventualities.  Each is useful in its own way but together they are more powerful and will reach a larger audience.

Don’t post anything you might later regret. Whilst it is tempting to rant about that reviewer leaving you a one star review, your boss, your neighbour or whatever often it will backfire. For writers we are judged not only by the books we write but our interaction with others.   Bloggers and social networkers share posts and articles and what is said in anger could soon be all over the internet.

You get out what you put in. This is obvious, if you have a blog and never post people will stop following you. If you only go online to spam then you are likely to alienate people. Mixing and matching is a fun game to play.

Do not feed the trolls. Trolls are there and love to be fed. Some people thrive on making nasty comments or winding others up to do so. Ignore them.

Find two or three networks which suit you. Spread yourself too thinly and either you will spend all your time networking and no time writing or one post every three months won’t do you much good. Less is more.

Useful sites, blog posts and links:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/authorsHA/  Authors Helping Authors.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/244350892612/ Unblocked Writers Group.

http://lissywrites.com/2013/08/09/the-reason-every-writer-should-have-a-blog/comment-page-1/#comment-329

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/05/21/how-important-is-the-timing-of-your-social-media-posts/#more-38810

http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/authors-how-to-pitch-your-book-to-bloggers/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog

http://www.feverbee.com/2013/02/how-to-build-an-online-community.html

http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/06/04/linking-books-to-author-central/

http://bestsellerlabs.com/most-effective-author-social-media-method/

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