Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doing It Right: Mary Pauline Lowry on Social Media, Pt. 2

Without further ado, read Mary Pauline Lowry's thoughts and advice on using social media as an author! 

When Mary finished this post she sent a response e-mail that started with, "OMG, I just wrote the longest guest post ever!!!" Which made me laugh,  but also made me like her even more. Thanks so much, Mary, for your time and effort!

First I want to thank Andi for hosting me here at Estella’s Revenge. In honor of Andi’s new job, which focuses on Interactive Media, I’m going to write about how/why I use social media as an author.

According to Wikipedia, social media “includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”

I love that definition, as it gets at the heart of what makes social media a rewarding tool for me as an author. Social media gives me a chance to have an “interactive dialogue” with readers, potential readers, and those fabulous divas called book bloggers who work so hard to encourage reading, spread the word about books they love, and create a world-wide community of passionate bookophiles.

Blogging was the first major form of social media; and it’s the main form I use to reach readers with information about my novel The Earthquake Machine. I started with a couple of large book blogger directories that I found on-line; and I began to look through each individual blog to find out if its author might be interested in reading and writing about my novel.

I looked to see what genres each book blogger is interested in and whether or not they are accepting ARCs for review. And because my novel has sexually explicit content and is shaped by my own brand of aggressive and intellectual feminism, I tried to find book bloggers who I thought would be likely to enjoy the novel, and not be appalled by it.

So far I’ve culled through over 1,600 book blogs and have emailed over 700 individual bloggers. And I try to personalize most of my emails, commenting on aspects of each blog that I like or find particularly interesting.

Is this incredibly time consuming? Yes.

But if I were a hard working and dedicated book blogger, would I be more likely to respond to a personal email or an obviously cut and paste mass email? The answer is obvious.

And has my strategy worked? Absolutely. So far almost 60 book blogs have featured a review of The Earthquake Machine or an interview or guest post with me. And it’s been incredibly rewarding to have a personal relationship with readers.

The other form of social media I have used is Twitter. Many book bloggers and countless readers are regular tweeters. I use Twitter to learn about what people are reading, as well as who has written or tweeted about The Earthquake Machine. Most notably, I participated in a FridayReads paid, promoted giveaway and Twitter Book Tour. FridayReads was created by book blogger and social media expert Bethanne Patrick. On Fridays, anyone who tweets what they are currently reading, along with the hashtag #fridayreads, is entered to win the book giveaway of the week. FridayReads currently has a Twitter following of 141,000 people.

Unlike my own work contacting bloggers, the FridayReads promotion cost me money, but I decided to give it as shot. I participated in two FridayReads Twitter Book Tours, which involved live on-line chat with folks interested in The Earthquake Machine. The FridayReads promotion didn’t result in a large and immediate spike in book sales. But it was incredibly fun and gave me a chance to communicate directly with curious readers. And a couple of days ago a reader who found out about the novel by “attending” one of the Twitter Book Tours posted a glowing review of The Earthquake Machine on Amazon. So I know the Tour resulted in at least one new reader and fan. Those curious can check that review out here.

I also created a Goodreads author page and a Goodreads Giveaway of my novel, which helped readers to learn about the book. Goodreads is a great go-to site for readers and authors alike.

I used Facebook—a somewhat more private form of social media-- to let friends and family know about my book release party. Facebook made it easy to invite even friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and as a result my book release party was jam-packed. I sold all 100 copies of the novel I brought to the party, and was able to sign copies for everyone from my junior high boyfriend, to my first boss. And it gave people in my community who love and care about me a chance to support me in a very tangible way.

If I had to give authors four quick tips for how to use social media I would say:

1. Personalize your messages to book bloggers.
2. Tweet about your daily life and/or books you love, not just about your own book.
3. Save mass emails for sharing urgent info or updates.
4. Read these posts from Insatiable Booksluts about:
a. how to use Twitter; and
b. how to launch an online presence as an author.
I’d also love to hear about some ways readers of Estella’s Revenge use social media to promote and find out about great books! Please leave us your great ideas in the comments section.

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