Tag Archives: author

The Secret of Social Media Marketing

Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret today. It doesn’t just apply to marketing–it’s kind of a secret to living your best life. No doubt you’ve heard it before, but maybe not applied to marketing and social media marketing.

Be Yourself.

There’s a wide range of advice out there when it comes to managing your social media as an author. Don’t post about your work so often. Engage with those who engage with your posts. Post often. Don’t post about anything political. Avoid posting anything too racy or could potentially be divisive.

While I think that advice is sound, and have definitely agreed with it in the past, I’d argue now that all of that advice does not set you apart. You will not be a memorable presence on social media if you follow all the rules.

So does that mean you should break all the rules?

No. Absolutely not. In fact, you can still follow all the rules I listed above and still be a very memorable presence on social media. How? By being yourself.

That’s very easy to say, but how exactly do you express who you really are on social media? Do you have to start letting your followers in on your deepest secrets? Do you need to share pictures of your children when you don’t feel comfortable doing so? Absolutely not.

The golden rule of Being Yourself on social media is: only post what you are comfortable posting.

But can that make you stand out? Sure it can.

Think about the things that make you unique. Even more: make a list of things that you’re nerdy about. Make a list of your hobbies. Chances are, you have a lot of knowledge in those areas. And, of course, they are important to you! So why not share your knowledge? If you like to garden vegetables, share pictures of your harvests. Recommend products that work well for you. Post videos sharing tips about how to save beets from a late spring frost.

Do you love 90s R&B? Geek out over it. Post your favorite playlist. Share pictures of your favorite groups and little bits of trivia about them. Go to their concerts and share you experience online!

Do you watch a lot of cop TV shows? Compare them. Which shows get it right? Which are inaccurate? What are some common themes and writing techniques that the writers use in those shows, and how can you apply them to your own writing? These would be fascinating topics to share.

The point is, your fans and potential fans will love to see what you’re into, especially when it’s beyond the obvious (of course you’re interested in writing, Game of Thrones, and books! We all are). Some might not know how to engage because they’re not into what you’re into, but I guarantee they will find it interesting and fun to follow you on social media anyway. They’ll love to see that you’re nerdy about other things. Not to mention all the people who ARE into what you’re into and will bond with you over TLC and Blackstreet, will thank you for your tips on how to grow juicy tomatoes, or will love putting in their two cents about the best cop show on TV right now.

You can have an interesting and fulfilling social media presence if you choose to. Just be yourself, have fun, and only post what you’re comfortable posting.

Planet Comicon – Kansas City, Missouri

If you aren’t familiar with me, I’ve hit about 60 conventions in the past three and a half years. From coast to coast and north to south, I’ve hit most of the big ones and many of the medium-sized comic, genre, and media conventions across the country. I can honestly say that Planet Comicon is in my top five conventions of all time. I’ve been there for the past three years in a row, and I’ll keep going back so long as they have me.

I need to point out that my attendance has always been with either the Word Fire Press booth or Bard’s Tower. I’ve never attended it as an individual author. However, I can say that I have several indie authors who have, and they’ve all done well at the convention… if they were go-getters, anyway (more on what that means later).

Next season, Planet Comicon will be February 16th, 17th, and 18th in it’s usual location of Bartle Hall in beautiful downtown Kansas City. This is two months earlier than it’s normal April schedule, which puts it right before Pensacon, in Pensacola, Florida, and although I’m trying to avoid back-to-back conventions, I’ll probably still try and go, because I like it so much.

So, what is there to like about Planet Comicon?

Because it’s in the midwest, the prices for vendors and artists to get space is considerably lower than one would find at bigger conventions on the east or west coast. That can make your book sales and ROI propositions much easier to manage than in other places. They advertise the convention well, take care of their attendees, and have high repeat-attendance.

Another thing about this convention is that there are a lot of readers in the area, and not all shows do. No matter when I’ve been there, we’ve always had good sales numbers. The attendees are affable and open to being approached by new and established authors alike. The folks running the convention also take good care of the artists, actors, media personalities, and vendors. I’ve never heard of any issues, and I’ve seen most of the vendors there again and again over the years. This means there’s no reason for them to take their business elsewhere.

The key here, and this goes for any convention you attend as an indie author with a table, is that you must be a go-getter. You have to engage your target market actively and non-stop. If you’re the sort of author who sits behind the table, butt in chair, watching people walk by and hoping they stop to ask you about your book, you might as well give up the business now. Stay home, write more, and submit to the Big Five. If you want to sell books, however, and put your sales in the green and well above your costs, then you need to be standing up at the table and engaging as may of the attendees as you can. The convention circuit is not for shut-ins. The second you hit that vendor floor, you have to put on your salesman hat and talk to as many people as possible.

That’s the trick to earning a living as a convention-going author.

Working a convention floor is a lot like hawking your wares in an old Turkish marketplace. It’s about being noticed, chatting up the passers-by, making friends with them, and making sure they walk away with a book in their hands and their money in your pocket.

Kansas City is a great place to do that, and once you get rolling, you may find you have an appetite for it.

I’ll add that the downtown area is a nice place to just walk around. There are shops and restaurants and a public transit rail system that lets you see more of the area if you want to take the time. There’s also some KILLER BBQ to be had all over the place. Now, if you’re on a budget, there’s a nice little market not far from Bartle Hall that allows you to get really good food by the pound, with a selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, and whatnot. They also have some pretty good sushi, if you lean that way–which I do.

Planet Comicon is on my list of favorites, because it’s a great selling environment, has a delightful downtown area, and is a relatively low-cost city to stay in, if you can manage it.

If you are looking for a solid, larger-sized convention with a strong reading audience, I heartily recommend you add it to your list of conventions for the 2018 season.

Good luck, and KEEP WRITING!

Q ~

Milestones

I’ve crossed a number of milestones over the past few years: first short story published, first convention panelist, first novel in print, first teaching gig at a writing conference. I’ve managed to predictably repeat those achievements virtually at will, and as nothing more or less than an act thereof. Each and every one of those milestones felt like the success it was, but they were all, at best, minor-league achievements.

Make no mistake, though. To achieve them I’ve had to climb the highest, steepest mountain in my experience. And I have a long way to go.

My career-change from “IT guy” to “writer” back in 2009 set me as my own task master, and I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder. However, every milestone I’ve passed thus far has been small—insignificant when compared to the summit I intend to reach. Added up, however, the sum of those milestones made possible my most current opportunity… and crisis… from which I should be able to derive my greatest achievement to date.

I’m under contract to write a novel.

There is something both thrilling and daunting about committing to a novel under contract rather than selling a completed manuscript.

Daunting.

That word doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Frankly, I’m nervous as hell, hoping I can get Last Stand at the Gates of Heaven written within a somewhat aggressive timeline… and on top of everything else I’m committed to for the first half of 2014. As I type this, the publisher has nothing more in her hands than a title and the pitch I gave her back in November. I, on the other hand, have a deadline and a deliverable of roughly 100k words by the end of May.

What this represents is a first step into the major leagues. Granted, it’s a smaller publisher asking for a stand-alone novel, but the fact is that a publisher asked me to produce a novel. I’m on the hook for delivery. My reputation is at stake. My future is at stake. If I can deliver on this, I’ll know that I can cut it when a large publisher asks me to produce a body of work.

There’s a reason I’m telling you this, and it’s not to sing my own accolades. Quite the contrary. I’m humbled by these circumstances. I’m telling you all this because the path I’m on is one of the primary methods by which part-time writers become self-supporting authors.

The pyramids were not built in a day; each one of them started with a single block. Everest wasn’t climbed over a weekend, and every man or woman who reached that summit started with a single step at its base.

That’s what you have to understand in the writing business. Skill is a factor. So is practice and talent and luck and a lot of things. But if you’re not prepared to build upon your small successes and turn them into larger ones, you should hang it up right now. You have to be in this business for the long haul and grind away as much as you can without losing your mind. You have to invest in yourself each and every day in some fashion, gambling with your own future and the harsh reality that you might not make it.

If you can do all of that, your odds of success increase exponentially. And in the absence of it all, you are virtually guaranteed to fail.

So get to work!

Q