Friday, July 02, 2010

An Author’s Plan for Social Media - Guest Post

Thanks to Chris Brogan, noted author and blogger, for the use of his lesson on Social Media.


If I were an author looking to get the most out of the social web (and I am), I’d do something along the lines of what I’m about to share. Your mileage may vary, but here’s a decent approximation of the things I’d do.

1. Set up a URL for the book, and/or maybe one for your name. Need help finding a URL? I use for simple effort in searching.

2. Set up a blog. If you want it free and super fast, WordPress or Tumblr. I’d recommend getting hosting like

3. On the blog, write about interesting things that pertain to the book, but don’t just promote the book over and over again. In fact, blow people away by promoting their blogs and their books, if they’re related a bit.

4. Start an email newsletter. It’s amazing how much MORE responsive email lists are than any other online medium.

5. Have a blog post that’s a list of all the places one might buy your book. I did this for both Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust and Social Media 101.

6. Make any really important links trackable with a URL shortener. I know exactly how many people click my links.

7. Start listening for your name, your book’s name. ( Covered in this post about building blocks.)

8. Consider recording a video trailer for your book. Here’s one from Scott Sigler (YouTube), for his horror thriller, Contagious. And here’s one from Dallas Clayton for his Awesome Book

9. Build a Facebook fan page for the book or for bonus points, build one around the topic the book covers, and only lightly promote the book via the page.

10. Join Twitter under your name, not your book’s name, and use Twitter Search to find people who talk about the subjects your book covers.

11. When people talk about your book, good or bad, thank them with a reply. Connect to people frequently. It’s amazing how many authors I rave about on Twitter and how few actually respond. Mind you, the BIGGEST authors always respond (paradox?)

12. Use Google Blogsearch and Alltop to find the people who’d likely write about the subject matter your book covers. Get commenting on their blog posts but NOT mentioning your book. Get to know them. Leave USEFUL comments, with no blatant URL back to your book.

13. Work with your publisher for a blogger outreach project. See if you can do a giveaway project with a few bloggers (here’s a book giveaway project I did for Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years book).

14. Offer to write guest posts on blogs that make sense as places where potential buyers might be. Do everything you can to make the post match the content of the person’s site and not your goals. But do link to your book.

15. Ask around for radio or TV contacts via the social web and LinkedIn. You never know.

16. Come up with interesting reasons to get people to buy bulk orders. If you’re a speaker, waive your fee (or part of it) in exchange for sales of hundreds of books. (And spread those purchases around to more than one bookselling company.) In those giveaways, do something to promote links back to your site and/or your post. Giveaways are one time: Google Juice is much longer lasting.

17. Whenever someone writes a review on their blog, thank them with a comment, and maybe 1 tweet, but don’t drown them in tweets pointing people to the review. It just never comes off as useful.

18. Ask gently for Amazon and other distribution site reviews. They certainly do help the buying process. And don’t ask often.

19. Do everything you can to be gracious and thankful to your readers. Your audience is so much more important than you in this equation, as there are more of them than there are of you.

20. Start showing up at face to face events, where it makes sense, including tweetups. If there’s not a local tweetup, start one.

21. And with all things, treat people like you’d want them to treat your parents (provided you had a great relationship with at least one of them).

This sounds like a lot of steps. It is. But this is how people are finding success. Should this be the publicist’s job? Not even a little bit. The publicist has his or her own methodology. The author will always be the best advocate for his or her own work. Never put your marketing success in the hands of someone else. Always bring your best efforts into the mix and you’ll find your best reward on your time and effort.

You might have found other ways to be successful with various online and social media tools. By all means, please share with me at my website. What’s your experience been with promoting your work using the social web?

Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at [].

7 comments: said...

It is, indeed, a long list. Does it leave time for writing if you're not a full-time writer? I think we're all getting used to the idea that it's largely up to us, as writers, to do whatever we must to get our names and work recognised in this fast-expanding electronic age. Separating the banal from the worthwhile when searching for reading matter is becoming more difficult due to sheer quantity but easier because of the many opportunities for review and peer comment. I do some of the things suggested in this list and, so far, have increased my followers on Twitter and increased traffic to my website, which is actually very useful for writers, by the way, but haven't yet increased following on my blog, which is also of use to writers and readers. Neither has it had any positive affect on book sales. Of course, this may be because the book is rubbish - though the reviews suggest it is well received by those who've read it. It's the usual story with all this activity; do what you can and accept the limitations of time, money and opportunity. But, whatever else you do, keep writing.

Hope Clark said...

Stuart - some suggestions:

1. When you leave posts like this, make them positive, using your best writer's voice so people want to check you out.
2. Post your blog/website/Twitter connections in the comment as well.
3. Never say anything negative about your book. If you aren't 1,000% behind it, no one will crack the cover.

Chin up, man,

Hope Clark said...

How right you are. I was attempting, obviously without success here, to be ironic re the book. It's had only positive reviews but could do with more sales.
As for the links, I felt I might be intruding on your site. But I take the point. And thank you for the advice. I shall take it to heart.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Thank you guys for the great tips. Very useful. I'll employ some of these when I get a book out. I employ some already. It's certainly a lot more complicated for writers these days.

Cheers Chris and Hope.

I have nothing to sell but here's my blatant plug.

Anonymous said...

Good list. I've already thought about this approach, but you've come up with some new suggestions for me. Thanks.
@Stuart Aken - I know where you're coming from with the hangdog downbeat style. However...
@Hope Clark - You can rest assured I will not fail to suggest people check out my blog at to find out more about the exciting historical thriller, called Blackwatertown, that I have recently finished writing.
(Just noticed that ironically the word verification below is "pants" - that might mean something only to UK-based readers.) said...

OK, I surrender. Click on the link to go to my brilliant blog. And visit to discover loads of sites of interest to writers and a sample of my amazing romantic thriller, Breaking Faith. But, beware, once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished. You have been warned.
By the way, blackwatertown; 'pants' to the English is a mildly derogatory term for anything that's just not quite good enough.

Julie Johnson said...

How interesting that I should stumble upon this blog this morning as I just wrote my own blog entitled 'Self Promotion Without Cringing?' last night (to be posted today on I've also written one called 'I want a business cap' where I lament that I am a writer...and not an advertiser! (All my blogs also come with a comic!)

I used to be very shy about even putting my blog 'calling card' on other people's blog (as I just did now) but it has gotten easier with practice. And also I've watched to see what other people are doing, and it seems to be acceptable so ok, I'll do it too!

I don't have a book out yet (still working on it!) but I am interested in getting people to my blog site ...which in itself is awkward. I don't want to 'over do it' and be 'impolite'.! I don't want to be pushy about it! It's hard to know where the line is, between being assertive and being obnoxious and I tend to err on the soft side.

I think building relationships is key, as is participating generally in the writing community, as you mention.

Thank you for this great post. I am marking this blog for future reference!

Julie Johnson