In addition to having published several short stories and articles herself, Dana is young, hip, and carries a heavyweight roster of clients like Marcus Sakey, Gregg Hurwitz, Michael Harvey, publisher Tyrus Books and on-line readers' community Book Country. Her list just got a little shinier: her client Steve Ulfelder is an Edgar Award nominee for Best First Novel and her client Tracy Kiely has been nominated for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award (along with our own Hallie Ephron!)
Like all good publicists, Dana works with traditional media and speaking outlets, but she really stands out in the sometimes-puzzling, always-evolving world of digital social media. Today, she shares some of her expertise with us.
Social Media Basics
By Dana Kaye
The most common questions authors ask me pertain to social media. From the basics (What exactly is twitter? What’s the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook profile?) to more advance questions (What’s the best way to translate your following into readers? How do you build a following through content?).
Today, I’d like to address the most commonly asked questions pertaining to Twitter and Facebook, from the basic to the complicated:
Should I make a Facebook Profile or Facebook Page? What’s the difference?
When Facebook first went public, authors were encouraged to have a Facebook profile. They became “friends” with their readers, posted book updates, and uploaded photos for their new friends to see. Most authors who got into the Facebook game early, have hit the 5000 friend mark (the maximum number of friends allotted).
Now I encourage authors to create pages. There is no maximum number of “likes”, you can create custom tabs for events, new books, or contests, and it serves as a more interactive website.
There are pros and cons to both a profile and a page, but right now, pages are more effective for authors. If you haven’t signed up for Facebook yet, start with a fan page. If you have a small following on your Facebook profile, create a page and let all your friends know that you will now be posting on the new page. If you have a large following (800+ friends) talk to your publisher or a social media expert about how you can migrate your friends over to your new page.
Whatever you post on Twitter and Facebook should be a part of your brand. This doesn’t mean that every post should pertain to your life as a novelist or the types of books you write. It means that each of your post should fall fit in with your online persona.
Before you decide “who to be” online (and don’t kid yourself, we all have or should have online personas), you should decide the type of audience you want to reach. If you write romance novels and your target audience is women ages 40-70, I don’t think posting about football or politics is a good personal characteristic to include even if you feel strongly about them. As yourself the following questions:
What do you write about? I don’t just mean the tagline of your latest novel. What are the themes, conflicts, and subjects explored in your books? Do you usually set your books in small towns or big cities? Are they high-concept or ordinary people trapped in extraordinary circumstances? Are your characters trying to fall in love, trying to kill each other, or trying to find themselves?
What are you about? Look into your background, the things your passionate about, the characteristics that make you who you are, and pick the ones that tie in to your writing. Do you have a passion for travel and write international thrillers? Do you write historical novels and teach history at a local high school or university? Are you involved in a charity, sports team, or other organization whose members might also read your books?
I approach twitter and Facebook posts as I do dinner party conversation: avoid the topics of sex, religion, and politics (unless those are directly related to your books) and always present the best of yourself.
I believe there are four types of posts:
Professional post – links to articles, comment on trends, etc.
Promotional post – encouraging followers to buy your book or attend a signing
Personal post – a tidbit about your personal life that fits in with your online persona
Interaction – replying or engaging in conversation with another user
Most people post heavily in one category. They only post personal things, or they only promote their books, or they don’t post original content and simply re-tweet or respond to other people’s post. Do your best to rotate through the 4 types of posts each day. It’s not a strict rule, you can interact more on one day and post more professional items on another. Just be wary of posting too much in any one category, especially self-promotion.
Will social media really help increase sales?
Though I don’t believe social media directly translates into sales, I know that the fringe benefits of social media will boost sales and name recognition in the long term:
Discoverability – potential readers are far more likely to stumble upon your Facebook page than your website. You have many more chances to “meet” people on Twitter than you do driving around the country doing book signings and networking events.
An active social media presence also increases your discoverability by the media. When Lynn Sheene began her “A Debut In Paris” promotion where she’d post photos of her book at famous Parisian landmarks, we began receiving emails from French publications, bloggers, even a hotel owner in Paris who wanted to throw a party for Lynn and the book. Her social media presence brought the opportunities to us, rather than us spending hours researching and sending inquiries to new media.
Provides Re-enforcement - I believe that people need to see a name or a logo three times before it sticks in their brain. When someone purchases a book online or from their local bookstore, most of the time, they have already seen an ad, read a review, heard a radio interview, or received a recommendation from a friend. Now, Twitter and Facebook adds to the reinforcement. If I hear a radio interview with an author, I may think the book sounds good and I may want to read it. But I’ll quickly forget. Then if I see people talking about the book on Facebook and Twitter, it will remind me and I will be more likely to actually buy it.
Making Connections – As was mentioned earlier, authors attend conferences, signings, and other events in order to build their network. But now, much of that networking can be done online. I treat Twitter like the bar of any conference: people are casually talking, debating, and meeting new people. It’s an online conversation.
Facebook does a similar thing. When I see people I haven’t seen in a long time, we can immediately skip all the small talk because we know what we’ve been up to based on our Facebook posts. We’ve maintained our relationship online so there is less need for reinforcement. If you have a book out every year, people will require less promotion before buying your latest release because you’ve maintained a relationship with them year round.
Dana Kaye is the founder of Kaye Publicity, a full service PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment. Visit Dana’s daily blog, 365 Days of Book Publicity, follow her on Twitter, and “like” her on Facebook.