By Collin Kelley
When I signed a contract with Vanilla Heart Publishing for my mystery trilogy (Conquering Venus and Remain In Light are out now, the third book is coming in 2014), I knew upfront that I would be playing a large part in promoting my novels.
Today, many small presses require their authors to actively engage in promotion and even authors selected by the “big six” publishing houses are finding that they have to organize readings, signings and media coverage of their books.
Using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Red Room has become second nature to me. I’ve even guest lectured on social media for writers at literary festivals and at Worcester College at Oxford University in the UK.
Yes, having to do your own PR distracts from the writing, but I’ve found it’s all about time management. Give yourself a half hour each day to engage on these sites, but don’t “oversell” your work. More on that in a moment.
An easy first step to building an audience for your forthcoming book is to post a sample. Six months before Remain In Lightdebuted, I posted the first four chapters on Scribd (www.scribd.com) and then linked it around to Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and my blog. In 24 hours, more than 100 people had read the chapters.
Similarly, when I decided to explore self-publishing an eBook of short stories in the Amazon Kindle Store, I put one of the stories from Kiss Shot on Scribd and social literary site, Fictionaut (www.fictionaut.com). As of this writing, more than 3,000 readers have sampled my work on these sites and I know it’s led to sales. If you have a website or blog, you can also post sample chapters there. It’s easy and free!
The best tip I can give for new authors about to dip their toes into social media is don’t be frightened and start slowly. When I guest lecture and lead classes on social media the most asked question is, “What do I do once I’m on Twitter and Facebook?”
I recommend setting up a Facebook page for your book, so that you can be more direct in your promotion and sales, but you don’t want to “hard sell” your book. The goal is to build community, so help other writers promote their books, find topics that relate to your books and interests, post funny YouTube clips – you’re selling yourself as much as the book and readers want to get to know authors, so let them into your world.
If you go on Facebook and constantly post “Buy My Book” it’s going to turn people off. The same applies to Twitter. If you want to engage on Twitter, become a source for good links and information, re-tweet links and information from your followers, and let your interests and personality shine through.
Cultivating and building community on social media sites takes time, so work on it daily, but don’t let it become a distraction from your art.
Collin Kelley is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestsellers Conquering Venus and Remain In Light, which was a finalist for the 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction. His poetry collections include Better To Travel, Slow To Burn, After The Poison and the forthcoming Render (2013, Sibling Rivalry Press). His just-published eBook of short stories, Kiss Shot, is available exclusively in the Amazon Kindle Store.