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In this weeks’ post, I want to offer some well-deserved encouragement and talk about quieting the voices that say “do more”.

I’ve been thinking about you, the Nelson Fiction authors.  I’ve been thinking about the stories you share with the world.  The sense of community you bring to our team.  The glory God gets through your novels.  And I know All of it matters.  The time you spend sitting at a desk or typing at the kitchen table.  The schedule you must manage to fit in the things we ask of you.  So today, I want to lift you up and tell you how much we value who you are and what you do. Thank you for being a part of our team.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had calls with several of you.  Often, the discussion is about things you can/should be doing to promote your books, ways to do social media better, etc.  And what you’ve been hearing from us more recently is that there is no “one size fits all” program that’s going to work for everyone.  Rather than us say that you need to “blog, tweet, update Facebook, and face North for three minutes each Monday”, what’s better is to personalize it.  Do you love to blog? If yes, then you’ll be passionate about updating your posts and sharing that content with others.  If you’re better at engaging with people through twitter or Facebook, then those are the places where you will shine.  And if you like to face North for no reason…well, I can’t help you 🙂

I could make this a longer post, but it’s not needed.  We’re partners with you on this journey, and being partners means we help wherever needed.  Do you need someone to help you manage your social media?  If so, let’s talk.  If you need help setting something up or just need to talk through what’s Not working, let’s talk.  And if you want to brainstorm ideas together, let’s meet in the Bahamas.  With all the comments you hear from the industry, friends, and consumers, we want to be the place you head when life gets noisy.

Smiling about you,

Jennifer

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Your social network

Hi, friends.  It’s been several weeks since we launched the blog.  I hope you are finding this to be a great resource and a place of connection with other authors. 

At this point, we all know the value of social media. So I’d like to take the next step and talk about ways to use things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging creatively to build connections and grow your audience.

Before I jump in, I want to mention something important.  Each of you was called to write.  It’s where the bulk of your time is (and should be) spent.  While we see the value in social media and growing your tribe, we know that your time is precious and writing the best story possible needs to be your primary goal.  I want to be sure you know that on the marketing side, we understand the challenges you face in being great storytellers while also wanting to do all you can to promote your books.  And while we expect to have a partnership with you in finding new readers, you are not alone.  We are truly walking together in all of these efforts.

If you are an author who has chosen to live in the social media space, it’s not enough to just sign up for Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Without engagement, these places will still be one-way conversations.  You have to do it with the intention of getting to know your fans, seeking out friends and followers, responding to messages, and building relationships.  Because once you’ve built an audience of people who are listening to what you have to say, you can begin to do some really creative things.  Things like:

  1. Author chats—connect with libraries, bookclubs, bookclub websites like goodreads.com, etc.
  2. Video—Why not create a video blog on your FB page or blog as a new way of engaging your fans?
  3. Contests—turn Twitter into a word-of-mouth machine.  Offer free books for the most retweets of info about your book.  Or offer a giftcard to winners of trivia questions about the story.
  4. Join fiction groups and topical groups in Facebook-spend time in Facebook researching potential groups built on topics from your story.  Join their group and then post info—offer the story, as pdf of the ms or galley to ten people who would like to read it and post a review on the fan page.
  5. Offer incentives for buying your books—signed bookplates, bookmarks, etc. are easy to mail (and we help get  them made) and give buyers something extra.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas on things you can do with social media.   If you have questions, email me and we can brainstorm together.  We love living the adventure with you.

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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So a publicist walks into a party…

I really get a kick out of telling people at parties that I’m a literary publicist, mostly because my marketing mind is constantly conducting consumer research—whether sitting in a corporate boardroom or standing in line at the movie theater. Here’s the word on the street: nobody really knows what it is I (read: literary marketing and publicity professionals in general) do all day. Some think publicist=publisher=printer (enough of the same letters, right?) and start asking me questions about how I make the pretty books. Some think I’m one of those faceless paper-pushers filling an Office Space cubicle. Some are even convinced I spend my weeks jet-setting in stilettos from swanky premiere to high-profile award ceremony á la Brangelina’s “people.”

Yeah, not so much. I trip just carrying books down the hall in my flip flops.

The truth is this: as a publicist, it’s fair to say I spend half my day communicating with media contacts in pitching our books or responding to their own queries; the other half is spent answering questions from authors and internal staff. Lots of questions, and lots of the same questions, about the parameters of what we can do internally to publicize books and authors, and what authors themselves can and should be doing. As you might have guessed, a lot of those questions are about social media.

I hear you over there. “But I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Shouldn’t I get some sort of certification as a social media expert before I jump in and risk… irrevocable writing career damage?” To you, a little relief: there are no true experts. And while “yes, Virginia, there is bad publicity,” for the most part, you’ll only grow more adept at this stuff from placing yourself into the fray. The beautiful, replicable concept here is about community—community of authors, publishing industry folks, media, and readers—figuring it out together. I love this quote from a Harper Collins marketing exec in a recent New York Observer piece on publishers’ involvement with social media:

“Nobody knows what they’re doing—you just have to jump in and work together. What I don’t understand about people who are hesitating is, what’s the alternative? Doing nothing? That doesn’t seem like much of a strategy.”

We’re so excited about the concept of The Back Porch because it’s a small mirror of the community vibe we want to cast as your ultimate goal as an author. Community building=readership building=book sales. It’s a place where we can share the wisdom we’ve gathered by sifting through lots of strong opinions and observations, and can work together set new standards for building readership. Let me make one thing clear: when we say we, it’s not the royal We The Marketing Experts. It’s we the Thomas Nelson Fiction team—each one of you working alongside us and alongside each other, sharing what’s working, expressing frustration about what’s not working, responding with new ideas.

To get you thinking and talking, a couple of helpful links and 101 articles:
The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter from Michael Hyatt, CEO, Thomas Nelson. Great how-to. Mike raises the bar for our team, authors and publishing staff alike.
Identifying and Connecting with Influencers from Brian Solis of FutureWorks. At times he’s a little heady, but makes some interesting points on furthering relationship.
Techipedia: Tamar Weinberg Tamar is a “social media enthusiast” (a lot more believable than “expert,” right?). Her blog’s one to follow and proves a concept I like: if you want to build your community of readers, your postings should be a mix of business and personal musings. The authenticity is refreshing and powerful.

So pass the sweet tea already, and pass along a question or cool find while you’re at it, will you? Let’s get this party started.

Cheers, friends-
Katie
Twitter: @ksbond

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