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Establishing Your Platform, 140 Characters at a Time: Why Twitter Matters to Authors and Experts

December 8, 2009

Picture 2For author and experts in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, participation in social networking is a must. Lucky for us, the technology to help us build meaningful professional relationships now exists. So authors/experts: if you aren’t already tapping into the power of social media, we have one question for you. Why not?

How does social media play into the overall promotion of you and your book? Here’s how it boils down. While your publicist works to make connections for you with the media, you ought to be working on your online visibility; once we generate interest with a reporter, guess where that reporter is headed next? Your blog. Your Facebook page. Your Twitter account. Your LinkedIn page.

That’s right. Your name will likely be Googled, and if the results don’t reveal your expert knowledge and your well-honed message, that interview just might go to the next person on the journalist’s list.

Whether your first book is still months away from pub date or you’ve already published three, the time to get started is now. The options are numerous, but the road to establishing yourself as a credible expert source through your online presence doesn’t have to be confusing or overwhelming.

Before you log on, read up. We’ve compiled a quick guide to one social networking platform you can’t afford to miss: Twitter. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way to streamlining your personal brand, boosting your credibility, maximizing your exposure, and broadening your fan base, too.

Start with Twitter

Called “micro-blogging,” Twitter allows you to post short, bite-sized updates about your life to a community of followers. The updates are 140 characters (or less) and bring you closer to people who share things in common with you. Twitter has quickly become the most essential online networking tool for authors.

Why Twitter?

First, reporters use Twitter. Journalists often post questions as a time-saving tool to help develop angles and gather targeted feedback for their stories. Some outlets go straight to the Twitter-verse during news meetings. Following media who you want to reach with your message will help you not only stay “on the radar” and interface directly with the media you aim to reach, but you’ll be up on the trends and know what’s happening in the news before it reaches the paper. You’ll be educated on a reporter’s news beat, making you a more relevant, newsworthy source when the time is right.

How to tweet?

Sign up for a free account at Twitter.com. To help build your personal brand, use your real name along with a headshot, rather than a more elusive, creative handle. Regular, frequent updates are the key to using Twitter. Chime in with your thoughts on breaking news item, post details on your upcoming book events, host a book giveaway, join “Tweet-Ups,” or discussion groups on topics in your area of expertise. Get the most out of Twitter by interacting with your community of followers. Use the Direct Message feature to send a brief note to compliment or congratulate someone on a big announcement, or even to make an introduction with someone you might not know personally.

Download applications like OpenBeak, TinyTwitter, Tweetie, or TwitterFon and post virtually from anywhere!

Who should I follow?

Clicking the follow button will likely cause that user to follow you in return, as long as you prove to be a legitimate Twitter-er (with a track record of regular, frequent posts). Here are a few places to start.

  • Follow your publicist: twitter.com/prbythebook!
  • Follow the newsmakers you want to feature you in turn (for example, the book editor at the Dallas Morning News: twitter.com/mmerschel).
  • Follow the radio host who just interviewed you and you’ll show them you respect and appreciate their work enough to keep in touch.
  • Follow your fans! Use the search box to find mentions of your book or your name and see who is Tweeting about you.
  • Follow industry trendsetters and bloggers who cover your area of expertise.

Note: Aim to keep your follow/follower ratio close. In other words, Twitter is a two-way discussion; no one wants to follow someone who won’t follow them back.


Contributed by PR by the Book, LLC., an Austin-based literary publicity firm. Contact Marika Flatt at (512) 560-6787 or marika@prbythebook.com. Learn more at www.prbythebook.com.

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Decorate Your Email Signature with Holiday "Give Books" Tags

December 1, 2009

Our friends over at Ingram Book Company are getting in the holiday spirit; they designed these cute little "Buy Books" and "Give Books" images you can drop right into your email signature. What a great way to remind all your friends that books are the perfect gift for pretty much anyone. Seriously, there are books that appeal to pretty much every taste and affinity (as Auburn points out in the previous post). And don't hesitate to buy them for the non-readers in your life: they need to be given great books most of all!

Give books this season and you'll be giving lasting enjoyment, promoting literacy, and, if you've written a book of your own, earning some book-sales karma. Selling books is, of course, what keeps publishers, booksellers, and authors going! Here for you to download and drop into your email signature are the images Ingram created:

Give books_winter-


Buy books_poinsettia-


-Buy books_fall


-Give books_holiday


BONUS: The Austin Chronicle's book blog has compiled a great list of gift ideas for the book lover in your life, including jokey literary baseball shirts and accessories for Kindle owners.

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The Year of the Gift Book

November 25, 2009

giftbowsHolidays. They’re upon us, as always, coming too rapidly, though months ago they seemed like glittering, far-distant things that we would never reach. When I was younger and privy to gifts from my parents, I asked for (and often received) gifts that were attractive, shiny and new—and for which I cared very little after a month or two. And the gifts I presented were often just as meaningless, last-minute trinkets given with little thought or care.

Not so this year. This year I do what I should have done years ago. This is The Year of the Gift Book—whereby every person on my gift list will receive at least one book catered specifically to their interests, needs, wants, beliefs or loves. (Lest I should worry anyone, other gifts will be given as well. But the truly special one will be the book.)

It seems painfully obvious that I should give books. I work at a publishing company. I endeavor to write professionally. Reading and writing are my favorite pastimes. I love books. (As one of my close friends is quick to remind me, our friendship began with her present to me of a Borders gift card, which I used to purchase the complete Chronicles of Narnia.) And as a reader of this blog, I can only surmise that you feel the same, at least to an extent.

Nor can we forget that times are still difficult for many of us, and casual expenses from holidays years ago are less feasible now. But I promised myself that I would never feel guilty for spending money on a book, and besides, they are not expensive gifts. It is in fact one of the least expensive purchases you can make, and—when chosen with insight and care—can be one of the most richly rewarding.

One needn’t forget too that the publishing industry (and the retail world at large) has high hopes for this holiday season, and it represents a prime opportunity to support local bookstores. Not only that, but the booksellers who work in these shops are more than happy to offer suggestions of books in a variety of genres and styles—my favourite local shop, BookPeople, has dozens upon dozens of recommendations coloring its shelves that can leave you browsing for hours— and that is how I intend to pick many of my gifts.

Looking for resources to pick one book or a dozen? Here’s a few links for a good start:

Happy Holidays to you all, and see you after Thanksgiving!

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Inspired by Young Adult Novel, Austin Boy Runs Away from Home

November 24, 2009

What Books Drove You to Do Something?


A few weeks ago we noticed a story in the news about an 11-year-old boy here in Austin who was inspired to leave home after reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  The boy filled a backpack with oranges and left his house in search of independence and adventureMy Side of the Mountain, published in 1959, is set in upstate New York, where a young boy goes out into the Catskills and survives the wilderness on his own.  This got us thinking, what books have we read that inspired us to do or change something?  Here are a few of those books.

on-the-road1“I first read On the Road by Jack Kerouac when I was 16 and reread it every year for the next five years. That book spoke to the wanderer in me, as cheesy as that sounds now. I read all of the writings of Kerouac’s Beat colleagues and wrote letters to many of them while I was in high school. To this day, one of my most prized possessions is a handwritten postcard response from Allen Ginsberg.  I had grand plans for a cross-country road trip, and while I got around to buying the VW Bus to make the trip in my college years, I never found the time or finances to set off. I think I’m manifesting the road trip cravings with frequent house moves. I still dream of buying another VW Bus and making the trip . . . maybe once my kids’ college is paid for!”

Tanya, Business Development Manager


babysitters-club“When I was a little girl I was totally obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin.  Every gift I got for several years running was the next few books in the collection.  I had an entire bookshelf dedicated to them in my bedroom.  I got together with the girlfriends I had on my street and we formed our own neighborhood babysitters club, complete with flyers that we peddled around to mailboxes on every block and weekly club meetings and yes, even a babysitting job or two!  It didn’t last very long; little girls have short attention spans, after all.  I did end up being the go-to girl in the neighborhood for sitting services into my teens, though, so I guess the resume building babysitter’s club start-up paid off in the end.”

Kristen, Distribution Manager


images“Just after college, I picked up Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 in a bookstore. I’d always felt a secret frisson of excitement when I mentioned a band no one else had ever heard of, but this book helped me grow out of immature name-dropping into a more comprehensive knowledge of an amazing period in popular music—and made me buy way more music than I could afford at the time. Reading about the charismatic, flamboyant, creative, and sometimes mentally unstable figures of post-punk, synth pop, and New Romanticism also prompted an ill-fated electronic keyboard purchase, but even after I sold that a couple of years later, the spirit and insight of this book stuck with me.”

Aaron, Distribution Associate

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: FiledBy.com Helps Authors Establish Their Online Presence

November 2, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2103FiledBy, which says it's the most comprehensive online marketing platform and directory of published author web pages on the Internet, is more than just another networking opportunity for writers and readers. FiledBy also helps authors by providing easy tools to host, link, and organize various marketing activities, as well as linking to online booksellers. Authors can claim their pre-assembled site and start using the basic features for free. FiledBy also offers affordable premium services, such as additional links and uploads (documents, videos, podcasts), a blogging and syndication tool, a customized header graphic, an event calendar, and much more.

If you don’t have an author website and are looking for an easy, low-cost way to promote and sell your book online, you might want to give FiledBy a try. Even if you already have an author website, it’s free to claim your basic FiledBy site and expand your online visibility and networking even further. For more information, click here.

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