In Your Corner: Nixing the Social Media

I know, I know, who cuts social media marketing in the modern era?

Well, consider the question. It is entirely possible in the age of social media saturation that many people are at or past a tipping point into social media exhaustion. After all, we’ve been exploiting the digital sphere in every possible way we can imagine ever since it was invented, practically speaking, and people are growing weary of quite a few “overdone” mainstream marketing moves, including holiday sales. Consider REI’s “opt outside” program, a push-back and against Black Friday insanity.

(Incidentally, this is nothing new. The Puritans banned Christmas/Yuletide carols back in 1600s, claiming that to sing them was a political act and an embrace of a “‘popish’ and wasteful tradition […] with no biblical justification” and we all know how far, literally, they were willing to go to enact their beliefs … so, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun.)

Back to book marketing. One of the very good reasons why some authors are pulling away from social media is that they’re over-extended. That is, they’re trying to do too much with too little (time, energy, money) and need to refocus on areas where they see good traction and meaningful engagement. Spending lots of time on maintaining a Twitter account with a following of 25 is a waste if one has truly tried all of the tips and tricks of the trade, particularly if one has, say, a robust following on Facebook.

Growing up, my father always told me time is money. He wasn’t wrong.

time is money

As author and blogger Delilah Dawson writes on WhimsyDark:

We are glutted with information, and yet our answer to “How do I get people to buy my book?” is social media marketing, which is basically throwing more information out into the void.

She’s got a point, too. More information isn’t always what’s needed; meaning and value are what’s needed, and most appreciated, by readers and book-buyers today. Just tweeting or blogging is not enough … each tweet and blog post must provide something the reader can’t get anywhere else, and which adds in some measurable or immeasurable way, to the book-buyer’s life.

Otherwise it’s just white noise. And as Nancy Peacock writes, there are a lot of small ways in which social media can eat away at our happiness and our productivity as authors:

Something was going on in my brain and I knew it. I knew I was in trouble because I could not focus on the book I was trying to write. There’s always self doubt with writing, but this was different. This was more than the question of whether or not I’d be up to the task. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even enter the flow. My mind was fractured and splintered, my spirit in constant agitation. I felt like I was failing at everything.

I think we’ve all been there, and we may even be there more often than ever now that our computers have become hubs for all manner of distractions, including (as Peacock details later in her piece) social media in all of its forms.

Srinivas Rao, in an excellent piece for The Mission, writes that quitting social media can actually improve quite a few aspects of the author’s life in addition to providing more meaningful content. Says Rao, the benefits include “less anxiety and more happiness,” “presence,” “increased focus,” and “improved productivity.” I don’t know about you, but this month those benefits are sounding preeeetty fantastic.

So, this November, take a moment to consider the possibility of nixing social media. If your immediate knee-jerk reaction is “but I have such great followers!” and it feels like shutting down something vital and important to your creative recharge process, then maybe this isn’t a move you need to make. But if your response is more along the lines of “well, I don’t see much engagement there anyway” or “I probably won’t miss it” … then maybe it’s time to take a step back from marketing your book on social media, or at the very least refocus your efforts on platforms where you have a good toehold.

I know this isn’t a terribly popular sentiment, especially to the companies (like Twitter and Facebook) who monetize your access to social media and turn a profit off of the free content you’re posting on them, but not everyone needs to use every tool in the toolbox. It’s always, always about picking the right tool for the job. Let the other tools wait for authors who will find them better suited to their work, and focus on being “you” and the “best you” possible, in branding as well as other efforts. And as always, we’re here to help support you in your decision!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Making Your Presence Felt

It would be hard to get to 2016 and not feel convicted of the importance of social media in selling books–and, just as importantly, in selling readers on you, the author. The power and influence of social media is uncontested–after all, it has helped feed and foment revolutions in the Middle East, toppling dictators and spinning the mythological webs that create internet celebrities. They have also, demonstrably, created the framework by which self-published authors become self-sufficient and successful. Authors like Lisa Genova (Still Alice) and Hugh Howey (Wool) often credit their devoted social media fanbase for moving their books out of obscurity and into the blockbuster realm.

With that kind of a recommendation on the table, it almost seems a waste to not partake in the wave of social media platforms developing today, right? But wanting to start developing your social media strategy and actually building it from the ground up are two separate propositions. And ultimately, it’s hard to know where to start.

Luckily, there’s not so much one way to get it wrong, but rather so many ways to get it right. This is because there are so many platforms out there, including:

And so many more! Because social media is a moving target–for example, the short-video-hosting platform Vine, owned by Twitter, was shut down recently for its inability to turn a profit for company shareholders–there’s no predicting which platforms will be on the ascent in a given year and which will be on its way out, like the age-old example of Myspace, a platform which more or less lost all of its users once Facebook became peoples’ primary conduit of digital social contact.

This changing landscape isn’t a bad thing, in the end. It’s a strength! It means that yes, you need to be willing to continually adapt to new platforms and to pick up new skills, but it also means that if you’re not all that good at one, you can always capture your readers by making a comprehensive social media presence, rounded out with a variety of different smaller presences that weave together into something greater than the sum of their parts.

I guess what I’m saying is: Try everything. Try everything, and don’t hold on too tightly to any one of those things. Experimentation is the mother of invention, as is necessity, and these two forces will keep your social media presence in a constant state of evolution, well-suited to the M.O. of the Internet itself. Maybe soon we’ll have options to network not just with our friends and our refrigerators, but with our books as active participants themselves. Can you imagine what that might look like? I’d bet you five dollars that someone out there is already figuring out how to make it happen. And that’s the wonderful thing about change: it’s wild and wonderful and asks very little of us except the will to keep up!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

From the Archives: “Using Listmania to Promote your Self-Published Book”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: August 22nd, 2008 ]

If your self published book is available on Amazon.com, there are a lot of ways to promote it.  Since Amazon sales should account for a large percentage of your overall book sales, this site is a good place to concentrate a lot of your efforts.

I’m going to tell you about creating a “listmania” list on Amazon. Have you ever noticed when you browse for something on Amazon, there are lists that are related to that subject that are mentioning other books and/or products?

By strategically listing products on your lists, (including YOURS of course), you can start to generate more traffic to your book listing.

Here’s how YOU can create just such a list:

Sign up for an Amazon Author Connect account if you don’t have one yet. Or sign-in to your current account.

Click on your personal “store” on the top tabs. Then select “Your Profile” from the sub-menu.

You will see lots of things you can personalize, including your bio and your online photograph.

But scroll down and you will see a section called “Listmania!” And this is where you create a listmania list.

Creating a Listmania List is a good way to increase exposure for your book.

Obviously, you want to ensure that your book is on your list.

But the real trick to a successful Listmania list depends upon the OTHER books you put on your list, the ones written by other people.

There are two ways to go about it.

1 – Adding books to your list that are applicable to your subject. The idea behind this concept is easy — if someone reads your list because they were browsing a similar book, they’ll be more apt to buy YOUR book because they’re interested in the subject.

2 – On the other hand, you can add very popular books to your list, since more people may have a chance of seeing it, even if fewer of them will be interested in your book.

I recommend creating multiple lists and trying different tactics to see which is more successful. Amazon lets you track the number of times your list was viewed. Use these numbers to create better lists in the future.

If you have more specific questions about creating a listmania list, the Amazon FAQ will help you.

Amazon Listmania

So here’s the thing: Listmania doesn’t really exist anymore!  Back in 2013, Amazon ceased offering support and guidance on using the Listmania interface, and it was entirely dismantled and rendered unusable over the months following.  (Adrienne Dupree over at Leave The Corporate World Behind even wrote a lovely little lament to mark its final passing.)  And this fact means that, on the one hand, we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to our original post … but on the other hand, this presents the perfect opportunity to present you with new and fresh ways of utilizing Amazon for your self-promoting and self-marketing ends (as a self-publishing author).

First, we need to break down exactly what Listmania offered the average author.  Essentially, this featured compiled lists–and this makes sense, given its name–but it was not to be confused with Amazon’s wish lists, gift lists, and registries, or even Goodreads’ Listopia lists (which still exist).  These lists were designed to focus a reader’s attention on products that were similar or in some way related to products that a customer had already been viewing. By strategically listing popular products on your lists, including your own book, you were–in theory–able to generate more traffic to your book listing when people viewed your Listmania lists.  This brings us full circle to that one key word I’ve been lobbing around a lot lately: findability.  An Amazon Listmania list was supposed to render you and your book more findable, but to many people it remained just another one of the giant retailer’s many algorithmic mysteries.

And yet … findability remains important.  There simply are better ways of going about it!

Here are my top 3 recommendations for filling that gaping hole in your heart once occupied by Amazon Listmania:

  1. Start a Pinterest page.  Not just any Pinterest page, mind.  (And I’ve written about Pinterest recently in depth, so I won’t make like a broken record and repeat myself too much here.)  Whip up a Pinterest page (or “pin” to a “board”) where you collect together other books along with other somehow related objects that your ideal reader might want to purchase.  For example, someone who reads Hugh Howey’s Wool might want to pick up some tickets to tour the Titan Missile Museum outside of Tucson, or perhaps some Wool-inspired art prints.
  2. Create a public Amazon Wishlist.  This is easy to do, and it serves much the same function as a Listmania list–only, you’ll have to do a touch more legwork to advertise the list’s existence, since these wishlists aren’t necessarily designed to be searchable.  For more information, hop on over to the Amazon how-to page for wishlists, and peruse at your leisure.  Each wishlist is shareable across any platform you might wish, and you can snag a web link to copy and paste into emails or Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, or any other kind of social media feed you can imagine.
  3. Take a stab at an entirely new social media platform.  The reason why Listmania disappeared is that nobody was using it, or at least, too few people were using it to make it worth Amazon’s efficiently allocated time to advertise and maintain.  It had a function, but it wasn’t one that really connected with Amazon’s user base.  To make yourself findable these days, you must needs throw yourself into the post-millennial age, and go where your readers are.  I’m not necessarily an advocate of just trying anything–you should always do a little cross-demographic market research to see if your readers actually are the sort who use Snapchat or Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter–but as a good friend told me last week, “Just doing what you’ve always done and expecting things to improve is a special kind of lunacy. Sometimes you have to innovate.”  So–innovate, with calm but cautious optimism. ♠
KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Summary Edition

Well, it’s been quite a project, this social media primer of ours!  I hope it’s proven as useful to you, our readers, as it has been enjoyable for me to write!  I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to take a lingering glance in the rear-view mirror, and write a bit of a retrospective on what it means to carry out a social media marketing campaign–and how a primer fits in.

We’re here,” I wrote in that initial blog post, first and foremost, to talk about how to market your self-published book.”  And therein lies both the value and danger of social media as a marketing tool.  If you really are using social media effectively, as a natural and organic extension of your existing work and personality, then you’ll most definitely benefit, and your book sales will most definitely benefit as well.  If you approach social media as an all-purpose tool and the only tool you need in your toolbox–or if you present yourself falsely, inauthentically, or otherwise find yourself at odds with your fans–or if you bite off more than you can chew–or if you find yourself slipping into social media as just another time-waster–then you’re missing the point of being an author on social media.  These are the pitfalls, or at least a few of them, and they should not be taken lightly or underestimated.

social media

Here’s the trick to being a self-published author on social media:  You must always remember that you are, first and foremost, a writer.  And as we’ve said before here on Self Publishing Advisor, the absolute best decision you can ever make in marketing your book is to write another book.  If social media helps you spread the word, and helps you keep writing, then it has a place in your campaign.  If it distracts you, or distresses you, or eats into time you would otherwise spend writing, then you should revisit the expression “effective marketing.”  There is, however, a great deal of value to trying something new, especially when you hit a roadblock.  It is my hope that, by providing a primer guide to each of the major (and some of the minor) social media platforms, I may take some of the guesswork and fear out of launching yourself into the world of social media.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to bypass some of the misery and second-guessing and mistakes that I myself have made over the years–and find a new home, a new community, and an engaged readership in some unexplored corner of our digital universe.

The List:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Twitter
  3. Tumblr
  4. Instagram
  5. Snapchat
  6. YouTube
  7. Pinterest
  8. Goodreads
  9. Etsy
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Flickr
  12. Facebook

Thank you for helping me build this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Facebook

It should come as no surprise that we’re going to take a quick look at Facebook as we work our way down the list of social media platforms the digitally-savvy indie or self-published author should consider using when launching a comprehensive self-promotion campaign.  And it probably is similarly unsurprising that we’ve looked at Facebook beforeseveral timesso many times–and that we’re just one blog among many to have done so.

Facebook

There are, in fact, so many resources out there about how indie authors can make use of Facebook, that the greater challenge is not in finding information–in contrast to, say, my posts about Etsy and Snapchat and so on–but in discerning which information is actually useful!  To that end, I’ve compiled and curated some of the better (and more well-maintained, that is, up-to-date) resources below for your easy review, as opposed to listing our own “best practices.”  My hope is that you’ll find all the appropriate details you might need at your disposal in order to navigate the intricacies of the complex proposition that is Facebook.

Debunking the Great Facebook Myth: “It’s just one giant moving target–there’s no point to trying to master anything about Facebook, because it’s just going to change again in a few months!”

While Facebook’s developers are constantly tweaking the algorithms and codes and format of things (it’s true, we must admit), the website itself remains fairly stable in a number of ways.  First of all, the fact remains true that Facebook is where the people are–the people, the relationships, the possible connections, and the real market for your books.  Consider this infographic, courtesy of Rebekah Radice:

Social-Media-Active-Users

The people are staying put, and sticking by Facebook, despite the not-uncommon doomsday forecasts to the contrary.  But that’s not the only aspect of Facebook that is stable: the features may alter a bit in form and function, but the concept of what you’re using those features for remains the same.  I’ve written a great deal throughout this series of primers about social media marketing targeting certain specific pillars of the online experience: findability, adaptability, usability, and authenticity.  If any of these four aspects is missing from an author’s social media presence, they’re bound to suffer.  If, however, you are conscientious in maximizing your Facebook presence, as these resources should help you to do, then you’re practically guaranteed to grow your reading audience.

Top 5 Best Resources:

1. “The Power of Facebook for Authors” by David Henry Sterry over at The Author Online.

2. “30 Ways to Build Your Fanbase with Facebook” by the folks over at Duolit.

3. “My Experiments with Facebook Ads” by Rami Ungar over at Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors.

4. “Facebook Ads: Should Indie Authors Buy Them?” by Joel Friedlander over at The Book Designer.

5. “7 Essential Elements for an Author’s Facebook Page” by Antonella Iannarino over at the David Black Agency’s official blog.

And a bonus additional resource:

The tag archive for “Facebook” over at ALLi‘s “How-to For Authors” blog.

Please keep us posted of your own successes as you experiment with new platforms.  You’re our most inspiring innovators, and the internet is your laboratory.  We can’t wait to see what you do!  And make sure to check back next week, as I wrap up this social media primer with the all-important summary edition!

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Flickr

Remember when I wrote a primer for indie and self-published authors looking to make their debuts on Instagram?  Well, I’m back this week with a new primer geared towards those of a visual bent.  But instead of looking at one of the Big Five (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram), I’m going to take a quick gander at one of the less talked-about tools in the indie author’s toolbox: Flickr!

flickr

There are, of course, several key differences between Instagram and Flickr.  If you’ll remember, the top 5 “best practices” I recommended for Instagram users were to (1) “Go for the gut;” (2) “Think regular, but not too regular;” (3) “You’re in the inspiration business, so share yours;” (4) “Use the hashtags and @username functions;” and last but not least, (5) “Don’t posture.”  While intuition, inspiration, reliability, authenticity, and metadata remain important when you make the leap to Flickr, the platform is so different that their manifestations must also be.  In fact, I’d suggest we rethink what makes a Flickr image “social” altogether.

Debunking the Great Flickr Myth: “It’s just a place to store photos.”

While it certainly is a place to store photos, Flickr isn’t just a high school locker we pack full to overflowing.  Other visually-oriented social media websites like Instagram or Pinterest “capture” their users by making it easy to interact with photos and share items within the platform itself, and while you can certainly share links to Instagram and Pinterest content, the format of said sharing creates a hit-or-miss prospect when it comes to non-users viewing your material.  That is, someone may choose to follow a link … or they may not.  You may also end up with duplicates of all of your pictures if you have Instagram set to upload photos directly to dedicated Facebook albums.  Not ideal, right?

A lot of people think Flickr is just another cloud storage option, like Dropbox, only complicated by the fact that you can also comment on and interact with the photos on Flickr itself.  Is it trying to be a social media platform, or cloud storage, or what?  When you approach Flickr with the expectation that it will look and feel and function like either Pinterest or Google’s outmoded Picasa Web Album system, you’re bound to get bogged down in a messy and unintuitive tangle of groups and discussion boards and so on.

It’s so much better just to skip all of that chaos and focus on what Flickr does really well, and what it can specifically do for you, an indie or self-published author.

Top 5 Best Practices:

1. Embed, embed, embed.  One of Flickr’s absolute best features is its embedability.  What do I mean by this?  I mean you can copy either a hyperlink for an individual photograph, or a hyperlink for an entire slideshow, and integrate this code into your blog or website to display continually there.  Why is this useful?  First off, you can create either one-off blog posts which feature beautiful high-resolution images (a Flickr specialty)––as The Daily Beast’s Nicole Villeneuve has done in her “Moveable Feast” article––or you can create a slideshow as a permanent feature of your website, as the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health demonstrates here.  While other social media platforms may enable you to interact with your friends’ photographs within the contained environment of their networks, Flickr fills in the gaps by breaking your images out into any web forum imaginable.

2. Ramp up the quality.  Instagram’s strength is that it relies upon timeliness, and a certain “in the moment” quality that brings immediacy and spontaneity to the table.  Flickr, on the other hand, allows its users to upload truly high-quality photographs with minimal compression and data loss (comparatively, at least).  Other social media platforms capitalize on users’ general satisfaction in simply sharing an image, no matter what quality that image is, quickly and easily.  But Facebook compresses all images by as much as 80 percent, which results in a great deal of fuzz and blur.  Flickr displays images at full resolution, making for giant and gorgeous incarnations of your photos in well-curated, smoothly synced pages.  It isn’t just a place where “hip” amateurs upload happy snaps; it’s a digital home for serious photographers.  Take advantage of both Flickr’s 1 terabyte of free storage and its cachet!

3. Think like a designer.  Perhaps this one’s a little … unconventional, but Elite Truong recently wrote a lovely article for Poynter that provides a lot of great pointers on how authors can learn a little from their more visually-inclined fellow artists––and I’m feeling inspired.  Think of Flickr as a medium, just as you do the white page of your word processor (or the physical paper of your notebook!).  How can you build narratives with images that reflect or complement the narrative you’ve already shaped into a book?  You don’t have to become a watercolorist or a professional photographer overnight––but, but––you can definitely steal a hand from their playbook when it comes to connecting with new audiences or better connecting with existing ones.

4. Cross-link your description fields.  As with any other website, Flickr is rich in possibility when it comes to metadata.  You can tag and even geotag your images, add titles and descriptions, and direct viewers to click on hyperlinks that lead back to your personal website.  You can create thematic sets, albums, and slideshows; each new collection that you curate generates its own wave of metadata, which renders you more findable.  There’s so much metadata on Flickr, in fact, that sometimes it can be a struggle to decide just where to begin.  The description field?  Definitely.  The title?  Oh, yes.  You can even tweak some of the camera settings (like aperture and focal length) that are displayed alongside your images.

5. Think “Portfolio” rather than “Scrapbook.”  This is not to say that scrapbooks aren’t awesome.  They are.  They simply aren’t a one-size-fits-all tool for every situation.  Sometimes, you need a beautifully-built, professionally-presented, visually stunning home for your images.  And whether you, as an author, are posting behind-the-scenes pictures of your writing space, or perhaps high-resolution illustrations of certain pages of your upcoming children’s book, or even art prints of certain favorite quotes from your works, there’s no better way to get new readers to do a double take than with a Flickr slideshow.  A handy rule of thumb might be: If a picture is something you simply want to share, then Instagram or Facebook may be well and good; if it’s something you want to sell, then Flickr will showcase your product to maximum visual impact.

Most Overlooked Feature:

Let’s face it, Flickr as a whole is an overlooked feature.  Sure, it may be making a bit of a comeback since its makeover at the hands of former Yahoo! executive Marissa Mayer, but it’s still not the first social media platform that authors think of when they’re looking to branch out into something new.  And as I mentioned before, there are some ways in which it converses easily with other platforms––there are groups, discussion boards, metadata fields, and profile pages to fill out––and ways in which it stands out.

When push comes to shove, Flickr is not a substitute for any of the Big Five, simply because its many users don’t quite amount to the critical mass of millions or even billions that the upper crust of social media websites has locked in.  Its specialized tools are, however, an asset and a credit to a much-needed niche if you happen to be looking for something a little … glossier … than Instagram.

I hope you’ll join me in building this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer |LinkedIn

If you’re not already a member of LinkedIn, perhaps you’re familiar with the following scenario: you wake up on a lovely Monday morning, high-tail it in to work with only minutes to spare before your shift at the factory plant or in the cubicle farm or out at the library begins; you pull up Microsoft Outlook to check your email and set up your day’s schedule, only to find … thirteen emails from friends who want to “add” you to their “professional network on LinkedIn”?  What in blazes does that mean?  Is it a scam or something?

linkedin email

No, it’s not a scam–I promise!  The emails are just an incredibly weird side effect and the only negative feature I know of to setting up a LinkedIn account.  (When new LinkedIn users have the chance to add friends to their network, the website mines their email contacts to generate networking possibilities, and doesn’t visually make it clear which of the folks you click on to connect with already have accounts and which ones do not).  So while the emails may clutter up your inbox, they’re not meant to be malicious–either on the part of LinkedIn, or the friends who send them.

linkedin

All this begs the question: What exactly is LinkedIn, and how can a self-published or self-publishing author best make use of the platform?  This social networking website touts itself as “The World’s Largest Professional Network,” is run by CEO Jeff Weiner (of Yahoo! fame) and a board chaired by founder Reid Hoffman (of PayPal and SocialNet.com fame) with the purported goal of connecting users interested in more career-driven networking than is made possible by, say, Facebook and Instagram.  It seems to be doing a fairly good job of achieving this end, as its approximately 364-million-strong user base can attest.  Any self-published author looking for a new weapon in his or her repertoire should definitely keep LinkedIn at the top of the shortlist!

Debunking the Great LinkedIn Myth: “It’s all work, and no play.”

LinkedIn certainly attracts a different user base from, say, Snapchat–but that doesn’t mean its users aren’t making full use of the platform’s more “social” aspects for recreation and enjoyment.  And as this article on the Daily Dot points out, industry professionals are being led into blogging and socializing by the platform–book lovers and self-publishing author’s don’t have to fight or struggle to carve out a niche … it already exists.  Users log in to LinkedIn, on average, less frequently than the average Facebook user (according to Mashable in 2013, the average Facebooker checked the app 15 times a day).  But engagement on LinkedIn is, contrary to some folks expectations, extraordinarily high.  This may be because LinkedIn is a destination website, a place to go rather than a place to go through to get somewhere else or to burn some free time.  Users see LinkedIn as a tool, and they’re more likely to actually read the blog posts (for example) that they see on there than ones they might stumble across elsewhere.

But what is a self-published author to do?  Setting up a LinkedIn profile will benefit anyone, but what are some ways that an author can make special use of the platform?

Top 5 Best Practices:

1. Groups, groups groups.  Other social media platforms have group discussion boards–last week, for example, I specifically pointed out Etsy’s group features–but not all groups are created equal.  What may seem perfunctory or underdeveloped or a programming afterthought elsewhere has been brought close to perfection on LinkedIn.  You can tell that group memberships and discussions were a priority of the website’s developers, as the interface is clean and smooth and easy to interact with.  You can find or create groups, manage groups, join groups, and participate in groups you’re interested in without worrying about the content being dumped straight into indexing search engines for everyone running a Google search to see–LinkedIn’s algorithm is much more picky in what it offloads than, say, Goodreads’.  You can customize the privacy settings of the groups you manage, rendering some public and free to join, and others private or invitation only.  And all that I said above about user engagement being high on LinkedIn?  There’s no better place to see this engagement lived out in the round than in LinkedIn’s many active groups.  So: join a few!  Start a few discussions!

2. Keep tabs on the “Topics” page.  A simple search shows a beautifully put-together page in the Topics section of LinkedIn dedicated to none other than the subject of self-publishing.  These Topics pages serves as a kind of constantly-updated newsletter of everything posted to the website–articles, blog posts, groups discussions, presentations, companies, and industry trends–that relates.  You can find what characteristics or “skills” LinkedIn users engaged in self-publishing share (“Creative Writing” and “Editing” the top two–no surprise there!), or you can access a slideshow on “How to Write a Book in 10 Days” … just to provide two examples among many.  Don’t underestimate LinkedIn’s Topics!

3. Make it your first stop on the research train.  Are you looking to self-publish and you haven’t decided what company best represents your interests?  Many indie, hybrid, and self-publishing companies keep active LinkedIn pages, and you can take full advantage of this by connecting with the company itself or any of its employees who also have LinkedIn profiles.  Outskirts Press is a great example of a hybrid publishing company with a rich LinkedIn presence–many of its authors, author representatives, and executives are present there.  You can do your due diligence with ease, just by perusing a company’s profile and exploring the information presented there.  Want to know if you can trust a company to provide the best quality print on demand books for you?  Want to find agents, editors, or other collaborators?  Check LinkedIn.

4. Boost your credibility.  As I’ve mentioned already, LinkedIn attracts users who are highly engaged but who are also looking specifically to build business-oriented networks.  Accounts are reviewed by LinkedIn staff to verify that users are not using fake or ridiculous names, which is just one layer of the self-reinforcing professionalism that makes LinkedIn special.  If you want to create a brand around your name as a self-published author, there’s literally no better place to get started.  Creating a polished LinkedIn profile that takes full advantage of the metadata and the form available (enter as much information as possible to make yourself as findable as possible!) will allow you to feel confident that a publisher or agent who Googles your name comes up with something that confirms your reliability, credibility, and professionalism.  There’s not much more you can do to help yourself stand out from the pack!

5. Use the Pulse.  Just over a year ago, LinkedIn opened up its “Pulse” blogging platform to all users–a privilege that had previously been reserved for about 500 key “Influencers.”  Perhaps because it began with such constraints, Pulse retains some of its aura as a voice for the truly expert, and it’s a beautiful illustration of how a blog can indeed be seamlessly wound up with a social network.  Pulse offers all or most of the features you might find on a blog platform like WordPress, with great customizability and the option to include hyperlinked text.  Posts on Pulse automatically display as both a part of your user profile and your connections’ home page feeds.  They show up in search engine results, too.  The best part about Pulse is that you don’t have to use it as a blog if you don’t want to–you can use it as a secondary publishing platform.  Because Pulse allows for beautiful long-form posts, you could feasibly offer whole chapters or even an entire book (in chapters) for your connections to read!

Most Overlooked Feature:

The “Projects” section of your LinkedIn profile is an excellent–and under-utilized!–feature that you should definitely take a second look at.  Why?  Because it’s not just a spot to list ongoing works in progress … it’s a fully linkable and functional tool.  You can connect a project to an Amazon book listing, an author webpage, and to its actual editorial or publishing team!  I mean, how neat.

linkedin projects

Best of all, the projects section is a dedicated space, which means that the information you input there won’t get shuffled off of your profile page or lost in the aether.  Unless you choose to remove it, a book you list as a project becomes a permanent feature of both your page and the page of any other collaborators who confirm their connection to it!

I hope you’ll join me in building this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.