Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Let’s Talk About Writers And Social Media

I attended this workshop at my local library last week in which a marketing and PR consultant talked to writers about navigating the brave new world of social media. And do you know what everyone said at the end of the guy’s talk? How informative it was.

Well, of course it was informative. The insane array of resources that are available to us writers (and also are waiting to suck our time) — that explosion of information and connectivity — yes, there is a lot to talk about there, for sure. And I don’t care how comfortable you think you are in the world of Web 2.0, or how often you blog, or how many followers you have on twitter, if you are a writer, I guarantee, you could pick up a whole bunch of tips from this guy.

So with that, I present to you, Don Lafferty, a Pennsylvania-based social networking guru. Let’s talk about writers and social media!

Don, in my opinion, success for writers in publishing and in reaching many readers takes some sort of a combination of the following:  a) talent, b) tapping into some sort of a right vein in the public consciousness and c) promoting your work. Don’t you agree? I mean, I’ve heard and read stories of authors who had no online presence whatsoever who hit it big, and I’ve also heard of people who marketed like crazy only doing so-so. (I’ve also heard of authors whose marketing and promotion work really carried them through!) So… in your (very) professional opinion, where does the truth lie? How much of a difference can marketing make in an author’s career?

Don: The need for talent is a given, and will never change. Marketing has always made a difference in the success of an author whose work possesses all the right stuff. And while a big marketing and PR budget can indeed vault a debut author to great heights, the Internet has “democratized” the marketing component of publishing, enabling every author to identify and engage readers, colleagues, booksellers, and media types in a way that was once practically impossible. With the advent of digital publishing, the former model of success is officially a thing of the past. Writers today have more opportunity than ever to publish and find their readers through online channels including social media.

KR:  You speak of having a “social media time budget” — a time limit to dedicate to your marketing and promotional activities. I love this idea! It seems so obvious, and yet, how many people actually do it? But what would you recommend as the ideal “time budget” time per day — something that would allow an author/writer to hit all the sites and still get her work done?

Don: Once a writer’s online platform is built out, the amount of time she spends engaging in social media marketing activities depends on her position in the publishing cycle. An aspiring writer’s objectives are slanted more toward platform-building while she’s writing her book. At this time the writing should take priority, so self-promotion time should be budgeted to a reasonable number of minutes each day. During the “hot zone” starting about a month before book launch and extending two or three months after, the author will spend the most time promoting. Some days, all her time will be wrapped up in promotion. 

KR: You also talk about having something useful and unique to offer readers on your blog or your site. But what can it be? What could writers blog about except . . . um, writing — or worse, talking about themselves all the time? Could you toss some examples our way?

Don: While many aspiring writers provide book reviews, I don’t recommend it. Writing a negative review benefits nobody, and writing a bunch of good reviews can make the writer look like a shill. I recommend doing short, informative interviews of the authors who write books in the author’s market space. This serves several purposes: it’ll likely teach the aspiring author a thing or two about craft and the business. It also gets the attention of the subject author’s readers where they have an opportunity to meet the aspiring or debut author – somebody who writes just the kind of books the reader likes. And while there are thousands of blogs about writing out there, the writer’s journey from aspiring to published and beyond is a very unique experience, one that other writers might find interesting and informative. Always keep it positive and don’t succumb to the temptation to pursue justice when you feel wronged. Burning one bridge in the publishing industry can flag an aspiring author as a prima donna, which no agent or publisher has the time or energy to deal with.

KR: During your talk in Barnegat last week, you discussed a heating oil businessman for whom you created a Facebook button with a picture of a cat — and suddenly, people started clicking like crazy, where before they didn’t seem too interested. Can you share an example or two of one of your client authors do something off-the-wall like this that worked?

Don: Brands and businesses face a much greater challenge in connecting with people on a personal level than authors do in a social media environment. Readers are passionate about the authors they read, and are always thrilled when their favorite authors are “present” in social media. Consequently, all an author usually has to do is reveal a more personal side of themselves in their social media channels to elicit a response from their readership. Author Jonathan Maberry is my poster child for authors who have fun with social media. Maberry writes books in the Young Adult (Rot & Ruin), the Thriller (Patient Zero), and the Horror space (Ghost Road Blues), and his social media presence taps into his well-tuned sensibilities for all three of these diverse readerships. But it was his recent post of a picture with him and his new rescue dog, Rosie, that generated the most action on his Facebook page.

Author Kelly Simmons has a sharp sense of humor, so when she began tweeting her thoughts about everything from The Bachelor to her “Seasonal Rules” series of tweets, the Twitter community embraced her with open arms.

This, as you might realize, is only scratching the surface. For more super-handy social media tips, check out the article I wrote about this for Patch, and then go to Don’s website and download even more here.

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April 20, 2012 - Posted by | Interviews, Writing Mirror

9 Comments »

  1. It was great reading the examples and the timeline of what an author should do during the pre-promoting and promotional phase. And thank you for the links.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | April 20, 2012 | Reply

    • I’m so glad you found some of it helpful. I know you’re very much out there already, Medeia, but I think just about any writer can learn from Don’s great tips 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 20, 2012 | Reply

  2. Seconded. This is pretty neat. Thanks, Katia!

    Comment by Ben | April 20, 2012 | Reply

    • Glad to be of help 😉 I think you’re way on your way, Ben btw. I can’t believe you just started blogging not that long ago. You seem to be an old hand at this.

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 20, 2012 | Reply

      • Aw, thanks! I got a lot of advice from my dad and from reading other good blogs such as your own and Medeia’s!

        Comment by Ben | April 20, 2012

  3. Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing Don’s wisdom!

    Comment by Julie Hedlund | April 23, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks, Julie. He truly does have a lot to share.

      Comment by Katia Raina | April 23, 2012 | Reply

  4. Don, is a wise expert to follow when it comes to social media! He is right about the time of social media around an author’s writing schedule – especially leading up to and just after a book launch. Some days its all promotion it seems! Finding a balance is key – and that just-right personal touch to share with your readership.

    Comment by donnagalanti | April 24, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi Donna,
      I am sorry I somehow missed this comment — wordpress does this once in a while… sneaks in a comment without notifiying me. (shakes fist at wordpress).
      Anyway, the whole six months window thing was totally new to me, but I can see how it makes sense. Thanks for stopping by!

      Comment by Katia Raina | May 5, 2012 | Reply


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