5 Ways to Get Your Posts “Shared” on Facebook

Did you know that Facebook “shares” is the most popular way to drive traffic to your author website or blog? Yup … according to the most recent statistics, people visit a website more often because a link was shared by a friend than as the result of a Google search.

But there are certain types of articles. blog entries or Facebook posts that are shared far more than others. With that in mind, here are five different techniques that you can use (ideas courtesy of Internet & Marketing Report) to make sure that your post gets spread around the world of social networking.

1. Be an advocate. Write Facebook posts that are helpful and informative, or advocate for a cause. People love to share something when they feel like they’re doing it for the greater good. A great example is sending around a link about an injustice related to the subject matter of your book, or information about how a percentage of your sales this week will go to charity.

2. Connect people. Some people love to share links because it helps them strengthen relationships with others. So give them something that tugs on their heartstrings and they will enjoy sharing it.

3. Be provocative. There’s nothing that gets people talking — or sharing — like a provocative post. Talk about a hot-button issue related to your book’s subject matter, or ride the coattails of a controversy in the news that’s somehow similar to the book.

4. Offer information. Provide lots of helpful information and people will want to share it with friends and co-workers. Offer a “how to” list or Q&As related to being an author, getting published, etc… It’s almost guaranteed to go viral.

5. Start trends. Everyone loves to be the “first to know.” So stay on top of the news related to your book’s subject matter, and post immediately about it. People will want to share it with their friends …. whomever knows before everyone else is automatically the “cool” person.

3 Ways to Use Your Website to Sell Your Book … Before You Even Write It

Aren’t we all secretly authors? Some of us have already published books, others are working on books. But the majority of us are just thinking about the book that we dream of writing, be it a novel or an autobiography.

Regardless of your status, there are tons of things you can do to get your author career off the ground. Not surprisingly, I’m going to recommend that you start with an author website.

Before you even ask: yes, it’s okay to have an author website even if you haven’t published anything yet.

But what should be on that author website? And how can you use it to catapult your writing career? Here are a few ways…

1. Offer writing snippets. At some point, you will be reaching out to agents and publishers in the hopes that they will be interested in your works. Well, how will they know how good a writer you are unless they can actually read your writing? Make sure to offer articles, short stories, book excerpts, etc… on your author website so that they can get a taste of your work even before it’s published.

2. Show your personality. The publishing field is much like the music industry: it used to be all about talent, but now it’s as much about “sellability” as anything else. All of this means that it almost doesn’t matter how great a writer you are. You also have to be personable, outgoing, funny, etc… in order to make it in today’s publishing world. Make sure to include photos of yourself on the website, any audio/video of yourself, and a blog that really lets your personality shine through.

3. Build a fanbase. This is probably the most important of the three items listed here. Why? Because a publisher is far more likely to work with a writer who already has 100,000 followers than one who doesn’t have a platform. Here are some creative ways to start building that platform and watching your number of followers climb:

  • Blog, blog, blog. This is the best way to drive traffic to your website and keep people coming back from more. Pick a subject to blog about and stick to it. Make your blog informative, humorous, and a must-see destination. You’ll be surprised how many people keep coming back …. and even better, “sharing” your content.
  • Interact. People visiting your blog will start commenting on it. You need to comment in response. Join the conversation with your readers. They will appreciate it.
  • Offer email sign-ups. Give readers a good reason to enter their email address. Maybe it’s a little trinket or something. Regardless, collect as many email addresses as you can. That will be invaluable when you talk to a publisher.
  • Use social networking. It doesn’t matter if your preferred network is Facebook, Twitter, etc… Ideally, it’s all of them. But make sure you build fans/followers and keep them informed on what you’re doing. Pose questions, offer tips, etc… Whatever is working, just keep doing it. And watch those numbers continue to rise.

No one said becoming a professional author is easy. But it is doable. And hopefully these ideas will help you get started.

Ready to talk with us about building you an author website? Contact us today for a free consultation.

6 Must-Have Plug-ins for an Author Website or Blog

We build all of our author sites on WordPress. And if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know that it’s all about plug-ins. They’re what turn a flat site into a dynamic one. They’re how you integrate SEO and social networking into static text. Here is the list of plug-ins that we’ve found to be most effective for authors. Best of all, these are all free!

If you have other plug-ins you’d like to recommend, share them in the comments box below!

  1. All-In One SEO Pack: This plug-in automatically submits your website to all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc…). It also allows you to write unique metadata for each site page and each blog post. That information is then submitted to the search engines and can help your placement on results pages.
  2. G-Lock Double Opt-In Manager: Want to start collecting email addresses? Of course you do. This easy plug-in allows you to have a sign-up box anywhere on your site. You can customize the text to offer promotions, etc… for people who sign up. All the email addresses collected are then stored in a database and you can use them as you wish.
  3. WP-DB Backup: We’ve all done it. We’ve made a mistake that we wish we could undo. That’s the beauty of this backup plug-in. It backs up all of your work so that you can go back in time and undo any screw-ups that may have arisen.
  4. Simply Sociable: You want people to be able to share your site and/or blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc… right? That’s what this plug-in does. It automatically adds those sharing options to every page and every post.
  5. Ultimate Google Analytics: What good is a website if you’re not keeping track of how many people are visiting it, what they’re doing there, etc…? Set up a free Google Analytics account and use this plug-in to implement it on your site. Just enter your account information and you will automatically have access to a wealth of information about your site traffic.
  6. Akismet: If you’ve ever had a blog before, you know the biggest pain in the neck that can accompany it: SPAM comments. Akismet can block a HUGE percentage of that SPAM before it even comes into your mailbox. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but even 90% can make an enormous difference.

What plug-ins can’t you live without? Share them with us!

5 Most Common Social Media Mistakes Authors Make

I read another great piece in Internet and Marketing Report today. This article focused on the most common mistakes people make using — or not using — social media. I’m going to relay some of this information, putting an author slant on it, of course.

Mistake #1: Waiting too long to get started

Are you on the fence about whether or not to build profiles on Facebook and Twitter? Well, stop thinking and act now. There are many problems that you can avoid by getting started sooner rather than later. First, it’s important to grab your profile name before someone else does it for you. Also, you should be aware that other people are already discussing you and your book somewhere in the internet universe. If you don’t start talking about it too, you’re letting others dictate the conversation.

Mistake #2: Only talking about yourself

Much like what I’ve discussed in terms of website content, the posts/tweets on social media sites must have some value to the people you want following them. Your friends may be interested in your family or your trip to the store, but potential readers are not. Write posts that ask for comments and opinions. Offer insight into topics of interest. Keep this in mind as you write your next post: Fill-in-the-blank questions generate nine times more comments than regular posts.

Mistake #3: Posting infrequently or without a strategy

To answer your question before you even ask it … No. Posting once a month on Facebook or Twitter is not enough. Nor is posting randomly about things unrelated to one another. Create a strategy for your social media page. Decide how often you’re going to post (ideally, at least once a day), who your posts are targeting, and what they’re offering people. For example, if you’re an author of a nonfiction book, you might want to decide to post once a day — say, after you read the morning paper — with links to interesting news articles on the subject matter of your book.

Mistake #4: Writing posts that are too long

Don’t confuse your social networking profile with your blog. If you want to write a few paragraphs about something that’s going on in the world, your opinion on the political scene, etc… do it in a blog post. Then use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to write an exciting blurb about your post and include a link to it. Posts with 80 characters or more receive 40% less engagements (likes, comments, and shares). So keep it brief!

Mistake #5: Outsourcing social media

Take classes in social media. Ask for advice from experts. But don’t ask someone else to actually do your social media work for you. While it may be tempting to have an intern (or your teenage daughter) manage it for you, the only way to really get the most out of it is to do the work yourself. Social media may be free, but it does require that you invest something just as precious as money: your time.

Are you ready to start talking with us about building an author profile on the web? Contact us today for a free consultation.

How Do You Drive Content to Your Author Website or Blog?

Someone started a conversation about this on LinkedIn a few days ago. The question was very simple:

How does one really get people to go to their web site so they can follow their blogs?

I thought it would be valuable to compile some of the responses. I will continue to add to this as I see more valuable recommendations posted…

  • Write stuff people want to know. They will tend to find it.
    – Emily Veinglory
  • Contact other bloggers and trade links. Participate in relevant forums and put the link in your sig line. (Not just forums for writers, but for readers, too.)
    -William Penrose
  • It takes time and lots of it. But content and guest blogs work.
    -Derksen Barb
  • If you build it, and search engines can find it, in my experience they do come. You can then add value with all these SEO and networking strategies.
    -Emily Veinglory
  • When I post a new blog piece, I blurb it out on Facebook and Twitter and I find that if I do it repeatedly, two or three times a day for a few days, my web traffic increases commensurately – often at least 9 or 10 times the norm.
    -Linda Hales

If you have any words of advice, share them in the comments box below. Otherwise, I’ll keep adding other ideas shared on LinkedIn…

UPDATED 2/21

  • So far, the only method I have found is to tweet like crazy, and tell people I have a website. I also have several people in my email contact list, and include my website URL with every email I send.
    -R Clint Peters
  • One easy thing–you can set your social media profiles to automatically pull in your blog.
    -Shel Horowitz
  • The first and most basic step, however, is quality content. We are all completely overwhelmed with information. Everyone is vying for our attention. The best way to stand out is the write something great that will create a strong emotional reaction or resonance with readers. Make them laugh, cry, scream, learn or think of something in a completely new way.
    -J Bennett
  • There are some aggregator which promotes your blog/ sites address. You have to be register there your blog or site. Also whenever you write something you can share the link on facebook or other social networking sites, from where the people will come to your blog.
    -Grijesh Kumar
  • Share your website on social media, share it with your friends, share your blog with other people who are using the same blog website. Link to other peoples blogs, post comments on other people blogs and websites so that they might take a look at yours in return.
    -Katherine Fish
  • Generous unselfish comments on relevant blogs are a great way to build connections. Your name will be a link to your site.
    -Joel D Canfield

The 4 Online Secrets to a Successful Author Platform

I came across a great post today (which I found through an author group on LinkedIn) on BookBuzz. It lists the 12 essentials to an author platform. But for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to pull out all of the things related to the online experience, since that’s the focus of what we do.

Here are excerpts from the post that are relevant:

1. E-mail list/Newsletter subscribers. Offer a freebie on your website – the first chapter of your book, an audio interview, or a white paper or report – in exchange for a name and e-mail address…. It’s important to keep your name and topic in front of the people who are most likely to buy your book; a regular e-mail newsletter is an excellent way to do that.

2. Facebook/Twitter followers. You don’t need a completed book to create a Facebook fan page [or a Twitter account]. Post content that gets followers involved and engaged. Invite your fans to bring other fans along, too.

3. A blog plus subscribers and traffic. I’m surprised at the number of bloggers who don’t make it possible for visitors to receive their blog postings by e-mail or RSS feed. They’re missing the opportunity to generate repeat traffic – and to measure their fan base. Google Analytics and other tools and resources help measure traffic volume, too, but a truer measure of your fan base is that list of people who sign up to receive more of your content

4. Syndicated column. Whether you’re self- or service-syndicated, your column helps you create fans all over the country or the world. Similarly, a regular column in a traditional or online media outlet makes a key contribution to your author platform.

Start by building your author website. Everything else branches out from there. If you’re ready to get started, contact us today for a free consultation.

New Tool Tracks Social Media Book Data

Everyone wants their book mentioned all over the world of social media. After all, the more you’re talked about through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc… the more exposure you and your book will get. That can only be a good thing.

But how do you keep track of how the word about your book is spreading across all the social media channels? That’s where this new tool comes in…

According to Publishers Weekly, Books-A-Million is teaming up with CoverCake, a a Silicon Valley based technology startup focused on book publishing, to create “a technology platform that can track overall and specific responses to titles and publishers made on multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads and YouTube.”

Best of all, the technology uses sophisticated algorithms to aggregate vast amounts of data so that it can:

  • provide a list of all relevant comments and posts
  • categorize all comments as positive, negative or neutral
  • deliver an aggregate score of total comments
  • break down the level of activities on each social media site
  • isolate the individual posters on all the social media networks who are mentioning the book

Jeff Costello, v-p sales at CoverCake, told Publishers Weekly that by using CoverCake, “publishers and marketers can track individual titles and get specific data on how many people are posting about a specific title on Twitter, say, on any other social media site. Users can track the online discussion around genres—biography, fiction, travel, romance and so on—the gender of readers for a specific title or specific publishers and authors. CoverCake scans data and provides numerical assessments as well as color-coded graphs of activity across abroad range of social media channels. Using their account dashboard to navigate the site, users can even retrieve the specific posts, comments and reviews from Amazon and other sites.”

Watch the demo below of how the tool works:

I think this is going to be a really helpful tool for my clients going forward!

How Successful Authors Are Promoting Their Books

A GREAT article was released over the weekend in the Houston Chronicle. In it, they covered a variety of authors and the creative things each of them are doing to promote their books. Here are some highlights … don’t be afraid to steal ideas!

Kayt Sukel
Author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships
Release date: January 3, 2012

  • We kid you not …Kayt Sukel stimulated herself to orgasm while an fMRI scanner tracked the flow of blood to her brain. Her first-person story about this ordinarily intimate act appeared in New Scientist in May, under the headline “Sex on the Brain.” Talk about a viral book promotion!
  • Sukel tweeted questions to her followers, hoping to elicit comments that might provide fodder for the book.
  • She held contests on the book’s Facebook page, “This Is Your Brain on Love.”
  • When a similar orgasm story surfaced — this time with a video (of someone else) from the same New Jersey lab — Sukel blogged about it from a new angle.
  • On Jan. 3, when Dirty Minds was released, Sukel hosted a lively Twitter chat.
  • She is currently working on writing another piece for CNN about her research.

Rebecca Skloot
Author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Release date: February, 2010

  • Fast fact: Rebecca was actually Kayt’s inspiration!
  • Rebecca began reviewing books, using her own book’s title in the tagline of her reviews for publicity.
  • While she was working on her book, Rebecca started doing some freelance writing for O, the Oprah Magazine. As she got to know the editors, she took every opportunity to chat up her book and — not surprisingly — O agreed to excerpt the book when it was released in February 2010.
  • After the book’s release, she did more than 200 speaking events. Two years later, she’s still on tour today.

Mat Johnson
Author of Pym
Release date: 2010

  • Mat built himself quite a twitter following. As a creative writing professor, he built 40,000 followers. As a humorist, he built “a loyal, literary audience made up of magazine and newspaper writers, other fiction writers, even celebrities.” Together, he has a vast audience of fans of his writing and fans of his tweeting … that translates into book sales.
  • His humorous tweets, of course, all include some degree of self promotion. And retweeting doesn’t hurt either … many of his posts are retweeted and shared with an even larger audience

Tom Zoellner
Author of A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America.
Release date: 2011

  • Given the serious nature of the book, Tom decided against using social media to promote it.
  • Instead, the former journalist wrote opinion pieces and reported stories for a number of publications. All of them, of course, included elements from the book.
  • Several years before, he had appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote his 2009 title, Uranium. And there’s no denying: TV scoops up a broader range of viewers than a Twitter feed or a Facebook page.

Justin Cronin
Author of The Passage
Release date: 2010

  • With the full support of his publisher, Ballantine (which promoted The Passage at BookExpo America, by the way), Justin produced video trailers, and explored alternative advertising — including phone kiosk signs in New York and billboards in Los Angeles.
  • Cronin landed an interview on TV’s Good Morning America the day the book was released.
  • What he didn’t expect was what happened during the interview … Stephen King would call in to praise The Passage. Cronin says of the unexpected surprise: it was nice to “have the hand of the great father” on his shoulder.

We should all be so lucky. But maybe one or two of these ideas can turn you into the next bestselling author.

Penguin Group Snags Author Off Online Pool

According to the NY Times, “Penguin Group USA has plucked its first author from its new electronic slush pile.” Slush pile? Really? Do they have to be so snobby in referring to it?

Regardless, this is yet more encouraging news for authors who are trying to get themselves known as respected authors without following the traditional route. See my post from last week about Darcie Chan as another example.

Anyway, according to the report, “Ace Books, an imprint of Penguin, has signed the debut novelist Kerry Schafer to a two-book deal, only weeks after Ms. Schafer posted writing samples on Bookcountry.com, a Web site Penguin introduced in April that invites writers of genre fiction to share their work.”

Bookcountry is described as “a place where readers and writers of genre fiction come together to read original fiction, post work or comments, and make a name for themselves.” But, really, it’s just as much a self-serving tool for Penguin as it is for authors. The creators are hoping that some of the authors who post their work on the site might be good enough for Penguin to snap up. Apparently, that has finally come to fruition.

Kerry Schafer, a resident of rural Washington State, posted chapters of her latest attempt, “Between,” a fantasy novel about a woman named Vivian who must destroy a powerful sorceress on BookCountry.com. Within weeks, her work was discovered by Deidre Knight, a literary agent, who happened to be browsing submissions.

It all happened pretty quickly after that. Shortly after their first conversation, Deirdre Knight had taken on Ms. Schafer as a client and negotiated a deal with Ace Books. The deal even included a second book, “Wakeworld,” a novel that Ms. Schafer is only in the early stages of writing now.

Is this a wild and crazy story that’s unlikely to happen again … like winning the lottery? Or is it something that all authors should aim for? Well, probably somewhere in the middle.

You always hope,” Kerry said. “You always have in the back of your mind that maybe something like this will happen. It was an act of faith on my part.”

We offer her our sincerest congratulations on a job well done!

3 Ways to Make the Most of Facebook

Most authors today are well aware of the fact that it’s almost a must to have a Facebook presence. But what most authors don’t know is exactly how to measure their performance on Facebook.

In other words, how do you know that the time you’re putting in to social networking is actually promoting your book? Or leading to book sales? The truth is, the majority of authors don’t. Which is why so many of them continue to make the same mistakes over and over again on social networking sites. If there’s no way to know whether or not your efforts are successful, how could you ever determine whether or not it’s worth your time? Or how to improve what you’re doing?

Instead of just looking at how many friends/followers you have on Facebook, use these tools to determine the success of your efforts:

1. Traffic to your website. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up for your site yet, do so ASAP! It’s free, and it’s an incredible way to keep track of what’s working on your site. In the section called “Traffic Sources,” you can determine exactly where the traffic to your site is coming from. That includes Facebook. If you’re not getting much traffic from Facebook, then consider tweaking your social networking efforts.

2. Engagement. Have you been using Facebook Insights? Much like Google Analytics, it’s a great (and again, free) way to factually determine the success of your Facebook campaign. It will show you how many likes and comments your posts are generating, which is super important: the posts with the most engagement will appear higher in the feeds of fans and friends.

3. Shares. This refers more to the content on your website and how you can try and increase the number of people sharing your information with friends via Facebook. First, make sure to include a “share” button throughout your website: it’s especially important when it comes to blog posts. Then, follow how many people are actually sharing each of your posts. If one happens to take off, then try to replicate it in terms of subject matter and tone in future posts.

Facebook recently came out with a list of the most shared stories of 2011. See what you can cull from the list and try to follow the lead of other writers who have had their stories go viral. Some of the ones from this list that I recommend you take a look at include Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps, Stop Coddling the Super-Rich, and Why You’re Not Married. You don’t need a journalism degree to write a story that goes super-viral.

You just need a good idea, some opinions, and a little bit of wit.

Happy Facebooking!