This guest blog post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller of Miller Mosaic Social Media Marketing describes her leap from learning how to promote her self-published novel — to teaching others how to use social media to promote their creative offerings.
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In December, 2007, as I approached my sixtieth birthday, my novel, Mrs. Lieutenant, had been turned down by several publishers. So I decided to self-publish with BookSurge (now known as CreateSpace, owned by Amazon), and then enter my novel in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Happily, it was chosen as a semi-finalist.
Amazon gave each semi-finalist a page on their site, instructing us to gather votes for our novels from our many connections. At that point in time, I had zero online connections. So how was I going to garner a zillion votes?
Then I noticed one semi-finalist using something I’d never heard of – a blog. That did it. I plunged into educating myself about blogs and related online marketing strategies. Soon after, I asked my daughter, Yael K. Miller (who’d graduated three years earlier with a degree in English from my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania — for me, Penn’s Wharton School of Business), to be my business partner — since by then I’d decided to start my own marketing firm. Everything we learned, we implemented for ourselves first and then for our clients — including building WordPress websites.
Fast Forward to 2011
What I soon realized was that I’d made a major mistake by not promoting my book with social media long before it came out. And in many ways, I’ve spent the last two and a half years making up for that oversight. I’m just now beginning to see a return on my time-and- energy investment.
A few days ago, Google Alerts notified me that Mrs. Lieutenant was the first book chosen for a new book club launched by the site, Best Army Wives. I contacted the site’s owner, Irion Arce, and offered to use my social media contacts – as well as contacts from my online efforts to support our troops – to get the word out before the March 1st book club launch date. I also offered to do four webinars, one for each week’s discussion, using the webinar software my company likes best (gotowebinar.com).
In the last few days, I’ve put into practice all that I’ve learned since my book appeared — and made use of all my appropriate contacts — to ask for assistance in promoting this new book club’s launch, featuring my novel.
(A case in point: Laurel Marshfield very kindly offered me this guest post opportunity. How do I know Laurel? We were both panelists for a BookBuzzr.com webinar on book marketing using Twitter. Afterwards, we continued to email and discovered that we shared several Philadelphia writing-community connections.)
Why was I on the BookBuzzr panel? Because more than two years ago, I created a connection with the site’s community manager, located in India. I offered marketing advice for her book-reader software site, and she and I have continued to exchange information ever since. “You need to give, in order to get” is especially true in online marketing. But, as writers, we have one very strong advantage in pursuing this kind of marketing: We know how to write.
What Are the Elements of a Good, Basic Online Presence?
- Create a self-hosted WordPress website/blog for your writing projects. (If you’re the author of a novel, but don’t know what to blog about, see this free article co-authored by me and Carolyn Howard-Johnson [note: see a previous post about Howard-Johnson on this BHC blog]: www.FictionMarketing.com )
- Share helpful information on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
- When your book is published, put part or all of it on BookBuzzr.com
- When you are comfortable with these social media activities, create a Facebook Page (formerly known as a Fan page, now referred to as a Page; not the same as your personal Profile page) for your book, or your blog, or your writing projects. (Facebook has just made major changes to the functions of a Page; you can read about the changes at: www.MillerMosaicSocialMediaMarketing.com )
- Leave insightful comments on others’ blog posts (if you don’t have a website yet, use the URL of one of your social media profiles), and write guest posts. (Sign up for free at BloggerLinkUp.com to get listings of blogs looking for specific guest posts.)
Everything I’m suggesting takes time away from your writing, I know. But what good is writing, if no one reads what you’ve written?
However you ultimately decide to promote your work, do participate in the social media community while you are planning and writing your book. It’s never too soon to build your social networking presence.
That said, want to help me spread the word about my book? Here’s the link to the March 1st book club launch info featuring my novel, Mrs. Lieutenant: http://www.mrslieutenant.com/march-book-club/