What’s Ahead in Social Media?

I’ve been watching the latest changes to our beloved social media apps and wondering, what will our future hold?

I thought I knew, but I was wrong. So, so wrong. Changes came more quickly than I’d expected, spurred partly by a need for accountability. Accountability is a good thing. The safety of our children is another good thing. But, will the pendulum swing too far?

Throughout the month of June, we’ve covered some of the basics of social media as it pertains to the writer. I was pleasantly surprised by a unified theme in many of the articles. What was it?

  • Less selling. More social interaction.
  • Build and keep friendships.
  • Be a blessing, not an irritant.
  • Serve others.

Hmm…

So, I asked my fellow Inspired Prompt contributors, what lies ahead for social media?

I have mixed feelings about social media and its future. From what I’ve heard from publishers and agents, there is not always a direct correlation between social media platforms and book sales. I still think word of mouth sells more books. That is better accomplished through meeting people face-to-face, which can happen through speaking engagements and, of course, writing a quality book.” —Harriet Michael

I enjoy social media, and see its value in promoting books and making connections with readers. On the other hand, there are unrealistic expectations for authors to have thousands and thousands of followers. I feel that quality writing is important, and social media can help in the promotion of quality work. I think social media will remain a part of everyone’s lives, but it will continue to evolve.” —Carlton Hughes

“I actually enjoy social media. I like meeting people and chatting. I believe if you view it as a place to build positive relationships instead of a venue to sell your wares, there will always be some type of social media that’s a positive for authors. I also believe you should follow the Golden Rule and promote others as yourself.” —Jennifer Hallmark

“I also like the idea of promoting each other through social media. That way, I can introduce my friends/followers to new authors and other authors can introduce me to their friends/followers. I think social media is here to stay, and can certainly add to interest in our books!” —Shirley Crowder

I enjoy social media. It helps me stay connected with people from all over the world that I’ve met throughout my life. It gives me snapshots of what’s going on in their lives. I think social media is here to stay and can be equated to conversations at the water cooler or across the backyard fence with a neighbor.” —Bonita McCoy

So, what’s your take? Do you have an opinion? Please share in the comments section. And be sure to join us in July for a brand new topic: Summer Fun! 🙂

Click to Tweet: What’s ahead in social media? I thought I knew, but I was so, so wrong! Our contributors weigh in on the subject via @InspiredPrompt #socialmedia #marketing

Pinterest: Your Neighborhood Billboard

I find Pinterest an ideal place to goof off when I have some extra time on my hands. I found through some research that it’s also a great place to promote as an author.

Now that I have a novella finished I need to start building a platform to showcase my work. I’m not comfortable with the idea that I might make a big, hairy deal out of myself. However, I want people to get to know me and my writing, so I will need to learn how to entice folks to read my story.

One way I used Pinterest was to create a storyboard of my novella, Patriot Hearts. In fact, I used the same title of my novella for that Pinterest  board. I selected pictures from the internet of my hero, Major John Tennant, and my heroine, Miss Elaine Henderson, to represent them as my characters.  I also have elements of the story pinned to that board as well, such as images of a primitive church that may have existed during the American Revolution, or  colonial homes, fashion, and kites.

Pinterest can also be used as a marketing tool. I plan to create a new board to promote my book using the cover,  and a link where it can be found. I would also like to compare it to other published books during the same time period, and subject. I can also link a Twitter account or a Facebook author page to that promotion.There is still a lot of work to do even with a finished book. That book has now become a product. I am now the main promoter of that product, and need to find consumers who want to be entertained by a good story. Hopefully, after they are engaged with my work, a consumer will tell others about how much they enjoyed it.  I don’t know if my Mother counts, but she likes my story. On my Pinterest page you can also find boards for Colonial Trivia, Logos Sisters; which are writer helps. Books worth reading (of course I do need to add mine there), and Words that inspire.

In my spare time I also like to make jewelry and I have found wonderful examples through Pinterest to pin to my Jewelry board. With the popularity of Pinterest for recipe searches, and consumer goods, I see an opportunity to use it to promote my book also. It’s my hope that it will be a great tool to showcase my story.

Writing Prompt: Have you used Pinterest to showcase your work? If so, share your experience using Pinterest as a social media tool.

Click to Tweet: #Pinterest: Your Neighborhood Billboard via #InspiredPrompt –#how-to of self-promo and book marketing.

Instagram Your Life

Snap a photo, send it to Instagram—instant sharing!

Instagram’s motto is: Strengthening relationships through shared experiences.

This was the premise for the original version of Instagram, and the younger set loved it! These days, everyone’s getting involved. As a result, Instagram is evolving.

With Instagram’s newest feature called “stories,” you can create a series of photos somewhat like a slideshow. So you can showcase those wedding pics or vacation snapshots in a quick story that will disappear … at the end of the day. Wait a minute—isn’t that kind of like that other platform—Snapchat?

Exactly!

You can snap photos throughout the day and add them to your story. Best vacation ever? Share it with your friends.

Researching your next novel set in Ireland? By all means, share the highlights with your readers. That’s an attention-getter! You may glean a harvest of followers with that one.

Disappearing what? You can shoot a photo and send it to a particular friend. As soon as they look at the photo, it disappears. There’s something a little sneaky about that, but if you’re interested, you’ll find the directions here: How to send disappearing photos in Instagram. Take care what you send, though. Just because it disappears doesn’t mean it’s not out there somewhere…seen by someone.

Instagram is another great way to connect with readers. And let me just say, it’s not another way to advertise your books. It’s a chance to engage readers, and gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests.

Are you a bird watcher? Share your beautiful photos of birds. Love hiking or early morning walks? Snap photos along the way.

Need suggestions? Look up one of your favorite authors and study what they share. One of my favorites inspires me daily with her morning walks in the country (she lives on a farm). Another posts what she’s cooking that day. Two very good suggestions, but don’t just mimic them, make them your own.

So far, I’ve talked about ways to connect with readers in a personal way, which I believe is the best way to make friends. But, what if you want to share your latest and greatest book release? Or a book that’s on sale?

Honestly, I hate to see Instagram go the way of the overstuffed Facebook profiles chock-full of ads. But, there are tasteful ways to get your message out there. I’ve seen some very high-end brands doing this, and if it’s artfully done, you can make a positive impression.

For instance, snap a photo of someone reading your book. Tell a story. Some companies hire storytellers to craft ads and marketing campaigns. Put your writer’s brain to work finding unique ways to market yourself and your books.

Remember the ad, “What’s in your wallet?” Involve friends and family members, and have them show what’s in their book bag, purse, briefcase, suitcase, or on their E-reader. Your latest release is there, of course.

Take the book along on your travels. Post a shot of a beautiful landscape or building with your book in the foreground. Just imagine it!

These are only a few suggestions. I hope you’ll be inspired to create some truly unique scenes. But don’t make it all about your books. Remember, social media is for connecting with people. Most of us are uncomfortable with an in-your-face salesperson pressuring you to buy their product. Don’t be that person. Have fun with Instagram, and don’t forget to visit your friends there.

A few helpful hints about Instagram:

  • Double-click on a friend’s picture to “love” it. You can also click the heart beneath the pic.
  • Click the little speech balloon emblem to comment on the photo (keep it short).
  • Click the paper airplane emblem to send the photo, or share it with a friend.
  • Click the ribbon emblem on the far right to save the photo. You’ll see “Save to collection”—click on that to save. You can also choose to view saved photos.
  • Instagram has some pretty cool filters for your photos, but don’t overdo. Less is definitely more.
  • Same with hashtags. Instagram has its own unique set of hashtags. Google “Instagram hashtags” to find the most popular ones. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Post often. You can post the photos from your phone on both Instagram and Facebook in a single move.
  • Super-simple icons at the bottom of your phone screen make moving around in Instagram easy.
    • Home
    • Search (easy way to find interesting stories)
    • Add photo (from your files)
    • Heart (who has liked your photos)
    • Profile

There are so many more things you can do in Instagram. You’ll find helpful tutorials and articles on the internet if you’re ready to get serious with your Instagram account. The best way to learn is to jump in and start posting. Just remember to add value with what you post. Your friends will ❤ you for it. 🙂

Click to Tweet: #Instagram is a great way to connect with readers. It’s a chance to engage with others, gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests. Instagram Your Life via @InspiredPrompt from @batowens. #socialmedia #marketing

Writing Prompt: Selfies from Marcella’s latest dog-walk adventure made a great story for Instagram, especially when Don Juan, the Great Dane, caught sight of…

How to Market with Attitude

Attitude: A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).

Four major components of attitude are (1) Affective: emotions or feelings. (2) Cognitive: belief or opinions held consciously. (3) Conative: inclination for action. (4) Evaluative: positive or negative response to stimuli. Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/attitude.html


(1) Affective – How will a reader feel when she looks at my book? Will the cover create a positive or a negative reaction? Will the blurb I’ve written bore the reader? Repel them? Or, will it draw them in to the story?

Of course, I want the latter to be the case, so I do my best to create a compelling blurb. A cover artist uses easy-to-read, eye-catching fonts on the cover, combined with an inviting image with colors that draw the eye. If I will be my own cover artist, I study the craft before beginning, because the cover is often the most effective way to sell a book.

Book cover, blurb, and advertising that touches a reader emotionally, will sell books. This is affective advertising.

(2) Conative and evaluative are behavioral responses.

Our words, advertising, memes, pictures, themes, and titles are all tools we use to stimulate and persuade readers to pick up our stories and read them. We not only want the reader’s positive response to the cover, we want them to buy the book, take it home, and READ it. Then pass it on, or give it an honored spot on their personal bookshelves, and tell others what a wonderful book it is.

We want to develop a following. Give our readers a reason to return when another book is released. We want them to care about our hand-crafted item. This outcome is a gold medal for the writer—an accomplishment that brings a collective sigh among a writer’s closest friends, street team, agent, and publisher.

(3) Cognitive

Can I persuade you to take a chance on me, a writer you’ve never heard of? A writer whose books have garnished few reviews, and those were possibly close friends and family? [I’m not talking about me, just using this an example!]

Cognitive marketing is the art of figuring out how to persuade a person to buy my product. It may seem overwhelming (and often does), but it is not impossible. By far, my best chance at this is face-to-face at book signings, conferences, and other functions where marketing can be very personal. At the least, I can give away bookmarks, brochures, or business cards that will keep my name in front of them.

So, I create my best product. I work every day to improve my craft. I do my homework to find out what readers like and want. I’m preparing myself both mentally and physically, figuring out how to touch my readers with the promise of a good story.

I’m also crafting memes and tweets and Facebook posts, short articles for blogs, all with a positive theme. All with an eye-catching design. Using prose, I skillfully form sentences to draw the reader in and persuade her that she really wants and needs to read what I’ve written.

Create marketing with attitude. All my life, I’ve struggled with attitude. I was an introvert who’d just as soon crawl under a rock or hide behind a door than face a buyer. I’m the daughter of a successful insurance salesman, but sales is the last thing I ever wanted to do. I don’t like salespeople who get in my face and try to talk me into something I don’t want. Thankfully, Dad wasn’t that kind of salesman. He was a good ole boy who never met a stranger, and made friends of all his clients.

See? That’s the goal—to make friends. To change my attitude from one of hard-sell to how-can-I-help-you. Touch hearts with my message. Persuade with a smile and let them know I’m happy to make their acquaintance, even if they don’t want or need what I have to sell. Invite them to follow me on social media. Give them something valuable in content on my marketing sites, offer occasional free gifts. Be a servant.

In my opinion, that, my friends, is marketing with attitude.

Click to Tweet: I’m preparing myself both mentally and physically, figuring out how to touch my readers with the promise of a good story. #marketing #amwriting 

Writing Prompt: You’ve written a book about an elderly lady who raises prize-winning roses. One day, she goes out to find her newest creation has been stolen. Write a short sentence to hook your readers.

The Most Important Book Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!

And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.

Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.

Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…

(Don’t read on until you have your list!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.

Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.

How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.

Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.

Is anyone left? Do they know you by first name? Then take them off the list, too.

And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.

Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?

Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.

So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.

When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.

By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog. (If you want to see a dork announce her book news—click here.)

My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.

What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months prior to my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.

There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.

Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?

Obviously, my mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?

Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationship. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!

If building relationship is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about building relationship. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.

A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.


Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, is the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. A romantic element is woven within. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and online at Writer’s Digest and Southern Writers Magazine Suite T. She is the volunteer coordinator for WFWA and a member of ACFW, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. When she’s not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com.


Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.

LINKS:
Website: http://www.karensargentbooks.com
Blog: http://www.karensargentbooks.com/blog/
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/KarenSargentAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KarenSargentBks