The Search for Discoverability


I attended the Bookbaby conference last weekend.  It was a marketing conference, from a company that does a lot of marketing.  I expected a lot of selling of the services and books, like a lot of those one day training workshops.

What I got was a big goal that I’ve been looking around for: Discoverability.

I want to write full time, but people have to find my books. So far…well, I’d like to do better.  So I thought it would be fun and interesting to write about what I’m going to do here.

Social Media for Writers

When I first started playing around with social media, it was about collecting numbers.  Somehow, if you got XXXX followers, you would have publishing success. And everyone had their personal preferences:

  • Get on everything and start posting on all of them
  • Twitter is it! Start Tweeting
  • Facebook is the way to go!

Most of them ended up with the same problem.  No writing at all.

I was in a blog writing class–now seems like ages ago, but probably 2010.  We all got our tag lines (another area I will be playing with a later date) and blogged three times a week.

Soon, the other writers were dropping off their blogs because they were spending all their time laboriously writing and revising and revising their blog posts.  No work on the writing project.

I also had a hard time with the personal side of social media.  It was partially because of the military, because there’s a lot of emphasis on not giving out personal information.  We saw some of the early signs of that during Desert Storm, where we were told not to mention troop numbers to anyone.

Meanwhile, the Tacoma Morning News Tribune was counting how many soldiers in an individual unit was leaving and was publishing it!

The other part was that I’m an INTP on the Myers-Brigg scale, and I think that plays into it.  Twitter, the social media highly recommended in the blog class, was like having a lot of details thrown at me. I started out overwhelmed with Twitter and struggled a lot with it.

Anyway …

One of the panels suggested something different.

Sign up for ALL the social media.

But pick which ones to use that will work for your readers.

The reasons to sign up for all of them?

  1. If you start writing in a new genre/category, you already have the social media account.  For example, Pinterest is the place to go for YA.
  2. Google ranking.  It just gets your name out there in more places.  The important part here is the the profiles all have to be as complete as possible.  Writers tend to leave off a lot of information, like the bio.

And the slides showed a list of all the social media accounts.  Yikes!  It was a lot.

But it also sense.  Sometimes you have to do work up front so you don’t have as much later on (a lesson I’m getting at work now and suffering the pain for not doing that).

Linda’s Goal:

Check on and update all my existing accounts first:

  1. Twitter
  2. Pinterest
  3. Asian Efficiency Dojo
  4. Facebook
  5. Google+
  6. YouTube
  7. Website
  8. Linked In
  9. Rabbit Bundle
  10. Amazon
  11. Smashwords
  12. Draft to Digital

It’s shocking writing these down, because it’s just the ones I’m on.  I haven’t even touched the ones I’m not on.  It’s amazing how many of these are out there.

So I had to first update my bio, since I found that just about every social media I’m on had a different bio and different photo.  Some had my old website address and others were missing my middle name…arrgh!  This definitely needed some attention.

For the writers here, if you want to try the same thing, let me know what you find.

Meanwhile, I’ll be posting up my next installment of Broken Notes soon.

Rule F: writing has to come First


Linda’s Rules of Writing

Four Asian children play tug of war.
Sometimes social media feels like a tug of war with other priorities.  But I made my priorities by writing 75% of these posts over several months.

We’re onto the letter F in Linda’s Rules of Writing of the A to Z Challenge, and on making sure writing gets done First.

There are so many things now that are in a tug of war for our attention: Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Pintrest, you name it.  Writers have been told they need to build their audience, even before they’ve finished the first book.

I took the We Are Not Alone blog course with Kristen Lamb.  One of the striking things was that all these writers got online and started blogging three times a week.  I immediately stopped the recommendation to find link lists and videos because, frankly, it took too much time, and I wanted to hold onto my writing time.  It’s hard enough working around the job.

About 6 months later, I started seeing my fellow WANAs posting that they had to take time off blogging so they could get back to writing.

Writing the book has to come first.  Without the book, all the social media in the world isn’t going to matter.

How have you taken back your time from social media?

 

Not Shooting Yourself in the Foot With Your Online Image


I have a confession: I’ve been going to science fiction conventions since 1976.  My goal for many of those cons were to see actors.  Some of them were nice people and others I wouldn’t want to know.  One I became friends with.  He was always a gentleman and very aware of his image he presented to the world.  At one con, he did an interview for a horror magazine.  So when it first came out at Borders, a friend and I snatched up copies right away.   I called my friend, a little worried because the interview was laced with f-bombs.  We’d both read all his interviews in the past, more than 20 years worth, and he’d always kept it very clean.  We debated about it and wondered if the writer had added the words for that magazine.

Nope.  The actor had gotten to drinking during the interview and said the words himself.  When he saw the interview, he was livid because he’d gotten the writer to promise not to use the profanity.  But the true problem was that he’d said them in the interview in the first place.

On a backdrop of a grid, a gun with the muzzle tied in a knot

There’s been a lot of that online lately from writers.  It’s like people have forgotten … Read the rest on Unleaded: Fuel for Writers.

Cover of the Darkness Within shoing a monstrous face in shadows.My short story “A Soldier’s Magic” appears in the anthology The Darkness Within, available from Indigo Mosaic Publishing.  It features two women soldiers who have to make a tough decision to save a lot of people.

Attack of the Twitter Zombies


A seated zombie tries to pull apart its head, looking for more brains.
Can I give a tweet a one brain review?

The Twitter Zombies out there — they stalk mindlessly through Twitter.  “Twwweeeetttts.  Must send tweet.  Must promote book.  Must promote self.”  And then we, the recipients of these brains tweets, end up with spam (not the kind you eat).

For the last few months, I’ve been overwhelmed by writer spam.  If you put writer in your bio, writers flock to you, and then they send link spam: Writing links; “My book got five stars”; and retweets of other writers’ spam.  It is insane!  How can people think this sells books?

I have bought books based on tweets, but it’s been when someone else other than the author mentions the book — and it’s a real recommendation, not the cheer leading squad of RTers.  But because Joe Writer sends out multiple tweets about his books — no, no, and NO.  I like my brains very much, thank you.

BRRRAAAIIINNNNSSSS

However, all my frustration with writer spam made me think about what I was doing.  That plus a class on social media I took.  The class was focused on the business side, but had the unique aspect of being by people who are still trying to figure it out rather than an expert.

So I looked at my Twitter timeline.  I was surprised as how unfocused the tweets were.  I’m a jack of all trades.  I like a lot of things.  When I was in college, it was, “You mean I have to pick a major?”  I ended up with 94 credit hours and an AA in General Education.  If I went back today, I’d still have trouble picking a major!  Platform may be a challenge for me because of this, so the first thing I did was narrow my focus a lot.  I took it down to three topics:

  1. Science Fiction and Fantasy
  2. Fiction/Reading
  3. Women in the Media
Dead hand reaches up from the group, one finger a bone.
“Retweets! Give me retweets!”

Then I cut the number of linked tweets I send out to 4.  Social media experts say you have to do at least 10 to stay visible, which is probably why so many writers are sending link spam.  Ten was hard to keep up with, so I originally cut mine to 7 — which was still hard to keep up with.  My intent was to find conversations, but that was difficult because one of the hashtags I was on was overloaded with writer spam (the hashtag owners started reporting them as spammers.  We’re now down to about 5 spammers, 3 of which are one person, and the other 2 are RTing her.  Like I said, Twitter Zombies).

But it’s the other thing I did that seems to have made a huge difference in the responses I’m getting with fewer Tweets.  Most people will send out the name of the page or post title as the Tweet, maybe with a short comment.  I used to do that.  But to help keep me from going off in the latest shiny direction, I delete the title and write my own comment about the link.  It has to stand up on its own.  With that requirement, a lot of links haven’t made it to Twitter, but the quality of what I’m sending out is much better.  The links are coming from major blogs I subscribe to and TrendSpottr (that’s from the social media class).  The rest of the Tweets are conversations.

MMMM.  BRAINS ARE GOOD

And the results have surprised me.  Before, with 7-10 link tweets using the post title, I would get maybe one Tweet clicked on, often by one person.  With fewer links much more personalized, I’m regularly getting 5-7 clicks per tweet.  My Klout score’s also jumped up (it had  been declining).

Maybe things are changing.  Sending out so many links might have worked early on, before so many writers got online and starting repeating where early successes were.  Have you reassessed your role in social media?  What things are you trying?

Images are from http://www.clipart.com

Triberr Review: Useful Tool or Shiny Toy?


Does social media eat into your writing time?  There are plenty of social media tools that can help with reducing the time spent, while others can turn unexpectedly into time black holes.  I like checking out new tools, because sometimes I can find one that helps me out.

So what about Tribber?  I was introduced to it in Kristen Lamb’s class.  All the “We Are Not Alone” (WANA) writers of the class jumped into, built a tribe, and started sharing blog posts.  Triberr is a fancy blog reader.   Where it’s different from other blog readers is that you are getting all the blogs from your group, or tribe.  You can “Approve” or “Like” a blog post and send a link to it over Twitter.  There’s also a discussion section similar to Facebook.  The whole idea behind it is to support your tribe, and to reach a larger audience.

Digital image of five computers connected together on a grid, with a cityscape in the background.

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT

It made all these blogs easy to scan and read.   I’m all for anything that cuts some of the time involved with social media.  It was also fun interacting with the other writers.  When I saw people sending out my links, it felt like maybe I was being successful in my blog.

THE PROBLEM AREAS

There’s two:

1. The Help section is terrible.   It’s poorly organized and incomplete.  I ran across a useful topic by accident but when someone else asked about the same topic, I could not find it again.  Other topics frustrated me because terminology was not explained.  A visitor should not have to go outside the site to find information about the site.

2. Link Spamming.  This was the more problematic area for me.  Initially, I thought it was great to see my blog getting tweeted out everywhere.  But then I started to notice that people doing the tweeting weren’t visiting the blog itself.  They either had Triberr set to autotweet, or were just clicking send.  I want people to send my links because they think my posts have value.  Otherwise, it adds to all the junk on Twitter now.  Many bloggers like me are selective about the links we send.  I read everything  first before I send it out to make sure it’s going to be relevant to my brand and platform.

Triberr has since turned up for link spamming — from writers in my WANA group! — on Twit Cleaner.

RECOMMENDATION FOR THE BUSY WRITER

Is it worth your time to help promote your platform?  In my opinion, it’s a shiny toy.  It looks cool, will consume time, but will not help you build your platform.

For you: Have you tried Tribber?  What has been your experience with it?  Post your commentsbelow.