Happy Friday, everyone! If you missed our first post on social media, you can find it by by clicking here. But not now. Go later because today we have the second installment in the series by guest contributor, Veronica Bartles, author of TWELVE STEPS that will be published by Swoon Romance 25 March 2014. 🙂
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else. When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.
As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.
Congratulations on the release, Veronica! And now, let’s get down to business with…
DIPPING YOUR TOES IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA POOL
by Veronica Bartles
“If you want to get published, you need to have a web presence.” “If you want to sell your books, you should be marketing yourself online.” “Authors today need to be on social media.”
You’ve heard it over and over again, and you know you need to do something to give yourself that golden online presence everyone was talking about at the last writer’s conference you attended. But jumping headfirst into social media can be a daunting task.
Your critique partner swears that all kidlit authors need to be on Twitter. And YouTube. Your best friend swears that everyone who is anyone uses Tumblr and Instagram. You once read a blog post saying that agents won’t even look at a querying author unless she has an active blog, or at the very least, a cool website. The editor you met at that last conference was shocked when you said you didn’t have a Pinterest account. And you got an email last week from someone who mentioned that he searched for you on Facebook but couldn’t find your author page.
Twitter? Tumblr? Instagram? Pinterest? YouTube? Blog? Website? Facebook? Do you really have to do it all? Sometimes, the social media overload is enough to make you want to crawl under a rock. Or at the very least, turn off the computer and write all of your manuscripts the old fashioned way, with paper and pen.
The good news is, you don’t have to be everywhere. And it’s not really as scary as it looks from the outside. A few simple guidelines can help you jump start your online presence painlessly.
1. Don’t try to do it all at once! You know that old adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time? The same applies to building your online presence. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll burn yourself out before you even get started, and you’ll be left with a bunch of online ghost towns with your name attached. Start small. You can always add something else later, when you’re ready to expand your reach, but pick one place to start.
2. Start wherever you are the most comfortable. Are you already on Facebook five or six times a day, sharing pictures and quotes with your high school friends? You might want to start with an Author Page, where friends, family, casual acquaintances and even total strangers can find you and your books. Do you enjoy chatting via Skype or Google Chat with your long-distance friends? You might be more comfortable with a vlog on YouTube. You can record 5-10 minute videos on the topics of your choice and upload them daily/weekly/monthly to your YouTube channel. Are you more visually-oriented? You might enjoy pinning your artwork, or the pictures and quotes that inspire you, to a Pinterest board.
If you’re not comfortable with blogging, don’t force yourself to start a blog, just because “they” said you have to. You don’t want a half-hearted, neglected blog to be your major online presence. (And while we’re on the subject of blogging, a blog can be about anything you’re passionate about. Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you need to post weekly writing advice. My recipe blog posts are by far the most popular feature on my blog, and the source of at least 75% of my hits. Blog about what you’re passionate about. After all, the majority of your target audience for your books probably won’t be writers!) As much as a good blog can build your audience, a blog with only one post that you wrote six months ago can hurt you. So don’t feel obligated to embrace every form of social media out there. If it’s not for you, it’s okay to say no.
3. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. Sometimes, you have to be willing to jump off the cliff before you can know if your wings are strong enough to help you fly. I was terrified of Twitter, and I only signed up because when I went to my very first SCBWI conference (in New York in 2010), everyone was talking about how authors should be on Twitter. I came home and created an account… and made all the rookie mistakes. I followed a few people that I already knew in real life, and then I tweeted a few random thoughts, waiting for people to find and follow me.
I was completely lost until a kind soul (Heather Ayris Burnell, author of BEDTIME MONSTER) took me under her wing and taught me the Twitter basics, like how to join a conversation by replying to a tweet and how to send and receive DMs (Direct Messages). Then, I took Katie Davis’ Twitter for Beginners course and learned how to use hash tags and join in scheduled tweet chats and how to build my following. The biggest thing that both Heather and Katie taught me is that you can’t just tweet random things and expect to magically win followers.
Because, after all…
4. It’s called SOCIAL media for a reason! The whole point is to connect with other people. No one likes to be stuck in a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves. I’ve unfollowed a few authors whose writing I admire because I could only take so much of the “Buy my book!” tweets before it started to get irritating. At times, it might feel a little counterintuitive, but the best way to build your following, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube or any other social media site, is to forget yourself.
You don’t need to constantly inundate your followers with advertisements and links to your books or your blog posts. Take the time to shamelessly promote other authors/illustrators you admire. Scan your feed for people who are announcing good news and congratulate them sincerely, even if you’ve never “met” them before. (I’ve gained some of my best Twitter friends this way!) If an agent you’re following tweets about how much she’s craving chicken soup, and you happen to have the best recipe ever, feel free to jump into the conversation and offer to share a link.
5. If you get lost, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Four years ago, I was that girl who had a sporadic blog, updated once in a while and largely neglected. I’d never heard of twitter, didn’t use YouTube and couldn’t stand the idea of socializing online. Now, I chat with agents and editors on a semi-daily basis via twitter, offer advice to querying writers in my role as co-administrator of Sub It Club (via the club’s blog and Facebook group), and I’m even learning the ins-and-outs of Tumblr and Pinterest! But none of that could have happened without the support of friends who knew the ropes, and who have guided me through the learning process on each new social media forum. Find a social media mentor (or two) to help you through the chaos until you’ve got it all figured out, and then pass your wisdom along to the next person who’s struggling to learn the ropes.
You can find me on twitter (@vbartles), Facebook (Author Veronica Bartles), my blog (Love & Life & Learning) and author website (vbartles.com), as well as Pinterest, Goodreads, and Tumblr. And I might be still learning the ropes in some cases, but I’m always willing to help where I can, so feel free to contact me with questions!
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.) She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy. When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes.
Thanks, Veronica, for stopping by and sharing your social media knowledge! We appreciate it and best of luck with your TWELVE STEPS release in March, 2014
Happy writing and drawing, everyone! And now you can go to our first post in our Social Media Workshop series by clicking here. 🙂