Wednesday Writing Tip – Engage

Navigating social media as an author can be tricky. If you’ve not already accumulated a good friend-base on any given platform, starting up new ones with the sole purpose of selling your books is hit and miss. So, why does this marketing strategy work for some, and not for others? I think Bobbi Holmes nailed it today. Before I go on, and add to what she’s already said, read her post FOLLOW ME, I’LL FOLLOW BACK – IS THAT TWITTER? 

Did you finish reading it? Good. Plan on reading it later? Okay, I’ll summarize: Bobbi, like myself, is a writer (check her out, she’s awesome). And also like myself, she’s been trying to navigate the Twitter scene for several years, trying multiple ways to make a place for herself and her readers. She’s recently cleaned up her follow list in order to see what she wants to see in her feed, and be more able to properly engage with her followers. Makes sense, right?

I agree 100% with Bobbi that engagement is key. And I’ll break down each site I  use to explain why and how this works for me:

FACEBOOK

Admittedly one of the most popular user-friendly social media outlets where real online friendships can be formed and kept, Facebook leads the charge for me in my marketing endeavors. Not necessarily because I want it too, though. I despise how our Timeline feeds are adjusted by the automated FB bots, not by ourselves, which limits what our own friends, family and followers actually see in their feeds. Marketing on FB is harder, with stricter rules, and harsh consequences (I doubt there’s an author on FB who hasn’t heard of another that was locked out of their account due to breaking or abusing FB’s posting guidelines). Not to mention there is absolutely ZERO Customer Support. Those with business pages, like myself, are now forced to pay for posts if we want more than a teeny percent of our followers to see our posts. But the numbers don’t lie, and compared to all of my other social media platforms, FB takes the lead with engagement and actual marketing success. Plus, FB is full of real people, who truly want to interact with friends, family coworkers and their favorite actors, singers, and yes…authors. I’ve met many amazing people via my FB author page. Engaging with my readers is very easy to do here. A warning about FB – it’s a massive time-suck for writers (pfft, for everyone, right?) and is why I now schedule my FB visits and even removed the app from my phone. A year ago.

My Recent FB Stats: Author Page Likes – 2,441. Post Reach for this week – 1,090 (Best individual post reach today – 123). Post Engagement – 72 (Best individual post engagement – 18). Reach this week is down 58%, Engagement is down 44%, Page Likes are down 25%.

TWITTER

Unlike many others, I don’t go to Twitter specifically for news, but news spreads like wildfire on this platform. Which means there is no shortage of celebrity drama. But it’s a fabulous place to find all sorts of discussions about current events – be them about the latest controversial Kardashian selfie, or the current US political debate. There’s what I’ll call an ‘epidemic’ of auto-following here and a never-ending race to get the most followers, even if this means you have to follow thousands of strangers to make that happen. There’s a lot of spamming, which makes the occasional marketing post get lost almost instantly. And the place can be overwhelming. But there are real people on Twitter too, and often times those readers of mine that don’t FB, find me on Twitter. It’s easy to share content on Twitter, a simple RT, which means that if a post is favored, the ability for reach can skyrocket. But, as Bobbi mentioned in her post, there’s little follow-through without consistent engagement, which is really hard to achieve when the Twitter Timeline flies faster than Superman. This is when ‘Lists’ come in handy. Engaging with my own readers is possible, but difficult. Engaging with other authors is no problem at all, because there’s a trillion of us on Twitter. A warning about Twitter – once you tweet it, you can’t delete it. I mean, you can delete the original post, but unless you did it instantly, and only have five followers, if it’s at all juicy, or controversial, chances are it’s already been RT’d by the time you say, ‘Crap’ and possibly even shared on other platforms. In other words – don’t drink and Tweet, people.

My Recent Twitter Stats: Followers – 10.8k. Following – 9,947. Recent Tweet Impressions – 5,710. Mentions – 7. Tweets Linking back to my page – 16. Profile visits, Mentions and Impressions are all down 20+ percent this week.

PINTEREST

Pinterest is a photo sharing site mainly designed to filter traffic back to business websites that sell a product or link to a blog or website article. Think DIY, How To’s, funny memes and Etsy listings, recipes, stores, just to name a few. I am a Pinterest addict. There’s something cathartic about pinning hundreds of hair styles I don’t know how to do, clothing styles that won’t support my bust, and meals I’ll mostly drool over because I don’t often have the right ingredients to make them.

But as for marketing, I love my Bookish board. And I have an inspiration board for each of my book series. All authors should do this. Why? Even if you are like me, and your most popular pin of the week is a piece of jewelry that has nothing to do with anything you write, your readers can get an inside glimpse of your fictional worlds, which makes them connected to your work in a unique way. Plus, a lot of people are visual. Book covers are a wonderful thing to Pin, and many readers do this themselves. It’s a fun thing to find new pins of your books uploaded onto Pinterest by your readers. It’s marketing without having to do all the work yourself. But…a word of caution…Pinterest can take over your life. Pin carefully.

My Recent Pinterest Stats: Followers – 2.4k. Following – 1.3k. Profile Likes – 15.6k. Average Daily Impressions – 9,559 – up 39%. Average Daily Views – 5,708 – up 12%. Average Monthly Viewers – 128k – up 2%. Activity via Pinterest to my website – 157 Daily Impressions and 131 Daily Views.

INSTAGRAM

Like Pinterest, Instagram is a photo sharing site, but more personal. It’s like a public version of your home photo album. Anyone from your neighbor’s hair dresser, to your mum’s dog, to Taylor Swift, can upload shots of their personal experiences here…all with the help of beautiful editing filters. I enjoy Instagram more for myself and my family, then for anything else, but readers do find me here. It’s easy to hashtag on Instagram, and the more creative the tags, the more fun. Whether it’s pictures of lunch, the dog sleeping on the couch, the child jumping off a cliff into the ocean, the local science fair, stumbling into a celebrity at the SDCC, or the cover of your newest book, people will see these photos and if they like them, they’re more likely to engage than on a place like Pinterest. A warning about Instagram – I know personally there is a rise in online bullying between kids on Instagram, which sucks. Also, unless your profile is private so only your approved followers can view it, keep in mind that your pictures are out there. In other words – keep your clothes on. Please.

FPetcoPark

My Recent Instagram Stats: I don’t have many numbers because there’s not much available to share. Followers – 1181. Following – 1295. Most recent post – 54 likes, 3 engagements. Most popular photos seem to be of my meat-free meals, or my kids doing strange things, like trying to taste the air. 😉


 

Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc…I’m on, but not active on a marketing standpoint. I know some who have great stats from these places, though.

If I was to take all four of my main social media platforms above, and pick the one with the best statistics, that would be Pinterest, no question. But when it comes to selling books and engaging with readers, FB is #1 and Twitter takes the #2 spot. These are the places I’m most active on, author-wise, so this makes sense. But I think these two places make it easier to converse with anyone, to engage with freedom, and to share the info your readers need to grab up your stories.

If selling a book was my only priority for every hour of the day, then I suppose you would find me hanging out on FB all day long. But since I have over 42.2k pins on my Pinterest account, it’s safe to say that I’ve other interests outside of writing. Like the perfect tiny tattoo that I will one day proudly display. The perfect beach I will one day lay on. The perfect ratatouille recipe to go with the perfect vegan brownies or protein bites. The perfect homeschool activity for a rainy day. The perfect midi ring set. The perfect derping dog face. The perfect fairy garden. And all of those things definitely share space with the perfect face for Riley, Piper, and A’ris.

PinterestProteinBites

It really comes down to which platform you feel comfortable being yourself on. And that’s what I think we need to be, in order to get that engagement – be ourselves. Be you. Share your work, but show off your humor, your fears, and your interests too. Because writers are real people too, and readers want to know about that.

Thanks, Bobbi, for your post today. It sure got me thinking again about how I approach my platforms and readers. I’ll be doing better, I hope, at practicing the art of engagement, and focusing less on the number game. *wink*


 

So, what are YOUR favorite social media platforms, and why? I’m interested in this!

 

I’ll Share Yours, if You Share Mine…

After getting my second private message on Facebook last night about doing a “review exchange” from an author I don’t know, I got rather pissy. Not with anyone in particular, but with this overall competition for book reviews us Indies have and how getting lost in that haze to be better than the next turns us into mindless drones.

I admit, I like positive reviews myself, but I’ve never paid for one, or bugged a stranger via their inbox for one. I wait patiently (or impatiently, depending on whether or not I have chocolate in the house) for reviews to come in organically. I ask for them after book releases – yes. I want my readers to know I appreciate their thoughts. And I expect honest reviews – which means they aren’t all favorable. But I don’t ‘trade’ reviews with strangers to boost the numbers. I mean, why? Are we so desperate to reach that magic review number, that we forget how to be polite to people we don’t know online? Where’s the tact? The respect for the craft? Pffft.

Let me point something interesting out: the two messages I got last night were from people I’m not ‘friends’ with online who saw one of the freebie posts I put up in about 20+ free book promotion sites on FB. I had no clue who these two people were, let alone know anything about their books when they reached out to me. There was no, ‘Hey! Nice to meet you! I’m an Indie Author, too! We should talk books sometime!’ It was straight on – I saw your free book. Take mine and let’s spit out reviews ASAP. Ugh. This is a turn-off, I won’t lie. I’ve heard about scammers claiming they will buy your book IF you buy theirs, then of course they don’t. I’ve heard of similar stories with review exchanges. I know that shiz happens. I’m not into shady, y’all. I want REAL reviews from people who REALLY read my book and ENJOYED it. Or, hated it. There are those out there too. lol

So, what is there to do about those who think a good way to promote their books is to seek out authors they don’t know and offer up the highly suspect ‘exchange’ to boost their sales or number of reviews as quickly as possible? I mean, surely, eventually, they’ll learn, right? Probably not. Instead, let’s stop competing. Let’s keep writing. Publishing. Marketing and promoting the hard way, and making REAL friends. Let’s not waste our time on the ones who could care less about us as people, or about our writing. It’s an annoyance most writers I know don’t have time for. Facebook has this nifty BLOCK button for these very reasons.

And for those who don’t know HOW to get real reviews, in the back of your book, kindly ask for one! A simple reminder online every so often works too! “Hey, did you enjoy (insert book title)? Please leave an honest and spoiler-free review when you have time!” Some readers simply don’t THINK about doing this. Some don’t want to. And that’s totally okay. Because if the book is worth reading, the readers will want to tell others about it.

Unless you have a ginormous die-hard following when you release a new book, chances are your reviews will take time to come in. And this is TOTALLY okay. Just write the best book you can, get the best cover you can, and put that baby out there. Make friends with other authors so you can both learn, share books, reviews, etc…with people you trust. This is much better than pissing off potential writer-friends by filling up their inbox’s with ‘I’ll share yours, if you share mine’ requests. Use your manners online, friends, use your manners.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

Character Takeover!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]Krane Hutch from The Dry Lands will be taking over my author page on Facebook today. If you don’t already know, the inspiration behind Hutch came from none other than Henry Cavill. Of course, Mr. Cavill has nothing to do with my Sci-Fi Fantasy book, but it’s nice to put a face to the name anyway.

If you’re on Facebook, you should definitely check in at some point today to see what Hutch is up to. 😉

Happy Hump Day!

*thanks to HenryCavill.org for the visual stimulation, photos are not mine*

It’s ‘The Dry Lands’ Launch Party Time!

Who’s ready to have fun and win some signed print copies of ‘The Dry Lands’?! Play as many games as you can today to increase your chances of winning! Winners will be chosen randomly later this evening.

Game 1 of 5

Our first game today will be an easy one: a ‘Caption This’ photo. If you share this post on your media networks for your friends, please use the hashtag #HutchnAris okay? Leave one comment HERE for the photo! Have fun and be creative!

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Welcome to the Family Releases!

Welcome to the tour for Welcome To The Family! A debut vampire novel by Caroline F Levy, it’s out now at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and Moon Rose Publishing. Why not check out a little more about the book below?

Blurb

“Do you believe in things that go bump in the night?”

At only a few hours old, Angela is left on the steps of St Paul’s church. Alone in the world, the only link she has to her past is a pink blanket bearing an emblem with two crossed swords and a snake.

A troubled childhood spent in orphanages leads to Angela attempting to rebuild her shattered life as an adult. Meeting the priest who found her eighteen years previously, she gets a job and a boyfriend, and settles into her new life.

Until she meets Jack.

Drawn to her new boss, she throws herself into work, feeling an unusual bond with people she hasn’t known very long.

Angela becomes embroiled in this new life, feeling a change within herself. A change which isn’t altogether human. Within this change she finds a terrifying secret…a secret which involves her past, her present, and definitely her future…

Welcome To The Family

Trailer

Author Bio

Caroline F Levy

I was born in Chatham, Kent in 1970. I now live in Yorkshire with my daughter and our five mad cats.

My first memories of any book would have been my mother reading The Enormous Turnip. It must have driven her mad, as it was always our first choice when asked what we should read tonight.

I grew up with the classics; Little Women, The Railway Children, but it would have been The House That Died and Bluebeard that I remember wanting to read.

I can remember writing a verse for the school song, and being chosen as a winner for what was then 3rd year juniors. I stopped reading so much in my late teens to my mid twenties. Life seemed to always be too busy for that pile of books I so wanted to read. It was when I went into hospital to have my daughter, that I had time to read again–and thankfully I haven’t stopped since.

However, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I realised I wanted to write. I have spent a few years trying to complete an online creative writer’s course; without much success, but it led me to what I am writing now. So never give up if you really want to write!

I am very influenced by Fantasy fiction / Horror, most of the books I read are in this genre. I have many Authors I like to follow; Anne Rice was very influential in the beginning. I also discovered Laurel K Hamilton and many, many more. I could go on about different Authors I like to read. However, I will say that this year I have also discovered there are literally, well, probably thousands of very talented Indie Authors out there. And a very welcoming and friendly bunch they are too, but I digress–yes, I get very excited about the subject of books!

I have finished my first novel called Welcome To The Family, which will be published April 29th 2013. I also have other novels in the pipeline, Nikki’s Revenge and Protecting The Family, due out later in the year.

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