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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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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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Headline Heaven: Get People To Read Your Emails

October 16, 2009

emailAuthors and publishers know that to get their press releases read by the media they need a catchy or alluring subject line for the email carrying that press release.  So how do you craft the perfect headline or subject line that makes others want to read the rest of what you wrote? Follow these 15 steps.

1. It needs to be short, especially a subject line for an email, so use words sparingly.

2. Take into consideration who is receiving the email—write for your targeted audience. An email to the media is not the same as an email to a friend or potential customer.

3. Forget what you know about the English language when it comes to writing headline copy—abbreviations and slang are in; lack of punctuation and syntax go out the window.

4. You can make a statement, a prediction, raise a question, state a statistic, report news, or use any number of vehicles to get one’s attention. Write a headline for each one and compare them.

5. The headline statement can be something bold: "President Obama's Healthcare Plan Will Pass, Says New Book".

6. The headline question can make the reader ponder: "Is the Federal Bailout Working? Asks Economist in New Book".

7. The headline statistic can paint a picture: "50% of Allergy Sufferers Can Be Helped, Says New Book".

8. News hits hard: "Diabetes Book Can Cure Millions".

9. Predictions have lots of latitude: "Republicans May Run a Celebrity in 2012, Says New Book".

10. Do not state something basic such as "Pitch idea” or “New Book” unless it’s followed by more info, such as, "Economist’s New Book Details Bush Missteps".

11. Using humor or the outrageous could work—but only if the subject matter or reader lends itself to that.

12. Referencing something in the news is always helpful: "King of Pop Is Gone, but Branding Expert Details How He’ll Live On".

13.  Borrow popular language from other genres: A cookbook can be referenced using sports lingo: "Chef Nancy’s Chocolate Mouse Is a Home Run!" Or, sports can be discussed using business terms: "Pro Athletes Bankrupt Their Sport, Says Steroid Author".

14.  Link your headline to things that matter most: love, death, health, wealth, fun, beauty, art, nature, education, children, etc.

15.  Nothing works better than prefacing your story idea with one word: "EXCLUSIVE." Let someone have the first crack at a story and let them know they have a limited window of time to respond.

Brian Feinblum is Chief Marketing Officer for Planned Television Arts, the nation’s largest and oldest book promoters. He can be contacted at feinblumb@plannedtvarts.com.

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The Huffington Post on How Not to Pitch Your Book to a Blog

October 8, 2009

1055089_no_spamThis week Jonathan Fields of the Huffington Post posted an e-mail exchange he had with a publicist from a major house who was pitching a new self-help book. The publicist not only sent the same cookie-cutter release twice, but then engaged in an argument with Fields—the person he wants to be on his side—about why his outdated methods work for everyone else. Fields uses this almost unbelievable exchange as the starting point for an insightful commentary on book publicity as it should be today. You may have heard the basics of how publicity has changed already (broadcasting to old media doesn't work anymore, social media requires joining the conversation, etc), but the post is a graphic demonstration of what we hear all the time.

Fields, who wrote and promoted his own book, Career Renegade, also points out a truth that held for both himself and 4-Hour Workweek author Timothy Ferriss: mentions on top-notch blogs and other social media can do a lot more for book sales than advertising in national newspapers and magazines or even appearing on national television.

As further evidence of the power of conversation, some great points are made in the comments section of Fields's post, so check that out as well. HuffPost blogger Lisa Earle McLeod chimes in with a piece of wisdom we've given you already: it's critical for authors to understand how media and publicity work today. Depending on your publisher and/or publicist to do it all for you is a sure formula for weak sales.

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: National Reading Group Month is Here!

October 5, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2103October is designated as National Reading Group Month by the Women's National Book Association. The mission of National Reading Group Month is to increase public awareness of the joy and value of shared reading. Special events are being held throughout the month in each of the association's 10 chapter cities: Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Charlotte, N.C. These events are open to the public, so you might consider doing some mingling with reading group members if you live in one of these cities. If you do attend, consider preparing and bringing a discussion guide for your book, as well as some free copies of the book, to hand out.

As we’ve mentioned before, reading groups can be an effective way for authors to find a readership and build word of mouth. Reading groups love author contact and will be more inclined to select your book if you offer to participate in discussions in person or via audio/video conferencing.

If you can’t attend the National Reading Group Month events, here are a few other places to find and connect with reading groups:

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National Bookstore Day is Coming!

September 21, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2103Publishers Weekly has announced the date of their first annual National Bookstore Day, which will take place on Saturday, November 7, 2009. This special day was designed to to celebrate bookselling and the vibrant culture of bookstores, but authors can also find ways to contribute. One suggestion is to offer free copies of your book to bookstores for use in promotional giveaways or raffles. If they stock your book, you could mention their bookstore event to your email list. You might also offer to contribute to free workshop or seminar series that your local bookstores might be planning for that day. Email PWEvents@reedbusiness.com for more information and to find other ways you can participate.

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Mom Knows Best: Mom's Choice Awards

September 14, 2009

Weekly Tip 210The submission deadline for the Mom's Choice Awards® is just around the corner, so if you want to get the attention of the parents and educators of the world, listen up!

Authors of parenting guides, children’s books, and young adult novels know how beneficial a publicity campaign that strategically targets women can be. What better way to market your book to moms than to have an official Mom’s seal of approval? The Mom's Choice Awards represent a mark of distinction that parents, teachers, librarians, and booksellers trust when selecting quality, family-friendly materials.  Winning a Mom’s Choice Award is not only an honor for an author, but it brings its winners added benefits for their marketing and publicity campaigns, such as product reviews posted to Amazon.com and BN.com, a national media release, cooperative advertising opportunities, promotional opportunities at BookExpo America and ABC Kids Expo, product promotions via the Mom's Choice Awards website, great discounts on radio, television, and print campaigns, and much more!

The entry deadline for this year’s awards is October 1, 2009. All published books with copyright dates of 2007 to 2010 are eligible. Click here for more detailed information and entry guidelines.

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: Social Networking Timesavers

September 8, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2101If you've started to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) for book promotion, which we recommend for most authors in varying degrees, you may find yourself wondering how you’re going to keep all of your profiles updated. As you start to add additional networks, posting the same thing in multiple places can begin to feel tedious and burdensome. Not to worry—there are, of course, online tools that can help you manage your online tools. Here are some free tools that allow you to easily post a single message to multiple social media accounts all at once:

For more information on the capabilities of these types of tools, check out this article from Computer World. Don’t let your online networks get the best of you!

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: What You Can Do To Get Your Book On Shelves

August 21, 2009

Weekly Tip 210It’s more obvious than ever that the publishing industry is changing, and combined with the current retail slump, it is even more difficult to get independent books onto bookstore shelves. However, in addition to keeping your book distributor updated on your upcoming media appearances, there are some other things that you can do as an author to help make headway. One recommendation is to develop a strong following in your local community from which you can expand upon into other markets. Click here for some great tips from Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., on how to get in good with your local bookstores.

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Makin' It Easy . . . For People to Buy Your Book!: Why You Need an Author Website

August 7, 2009

Weekly Tip 210Your website offers the unique ability to sell directly to consumers. However, not everyone is comfortable providing their credit card information on an unfamiliar website. People may also wish to use a rewards membership with their favorite bookseller to buy your book. Therefore, it is wise to supply multiple purchasing options in addition to your own personal online store.

Bookstores may also check your website to see if you are supporting them by including them as a purchase option, so if you want to give your distributor its best shot at getting a corporate buy for your book, be sure to include purchase links to the corporate bookstore chains. If you want to get support from the independent bookstore community, then you'd better also link to IndieBound. Of course, there is the bookselling beast that is Amazon.com, but be careful not to irritate bookstores by linking only to Amazon. Sign up for the affiliate programs of the aforementioned retailers for easy linking options and to get yourself an extra little piece of the pie.
Here are links to the most common bookseller affiliate programs:

Barnes & Noble

If you want to build strong support in your local market, you might also consider linking to specific bookstore websites in your area. The more purchase options, the more likely your website visitors are to buy!

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