Social Media Marketing for writers

At the RomCon 2011 National Science Fiction Conference organized on Atlantykron (The Stone Ring Island, Romania) I had a workshop on Social Media Marketing and writers. It did not come out exactly as planned, but it went well and I used the ideas and arguments that were raised in several discussion panels afterwards.

The text I used as starting point is this:

If a 100 years ago you would have said to your friend that in the near future people will be able to instantly transmit through a network of wires from one terminal to another single terminal text, images, sounds and especially huge volumes of information, that would be considered fiction.
Especially if you have said that all these can also be used to communicate in real time. If it were a person with an open mind he/she would be considering your statement as science fiction. Wishful thinking. A description of some scientific facts that will be possible at some point in the scientific evolution of humanity.

The Internet as we use today was fiction until 20 years ago.

Well, the internet/WorldWideWeb as we use today was fiction until 20 years ago. Yes. Until 20 years ago. On 6 August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee presented online the first website as we see them today every day: www.info.cern.ch.
20 years. A very short period of time for a tumultuous history and many radical changes in the way we communicate.

Literary creation could not stay out of this revolution. And not just writing about it, but also modifying itself, adapting to the online phenomenon and how it has changed people’s lives.
Most opinions that I met on the meeting of ideas between literary creation and the online world are radical. They announce or herald the disappearance of certain ways to convey the written word, like printing, or the failure of new ways to read as the computer screen or the ebook readers.

The reality is more complex. But the principle remains the same from the beginning of printing until the Kindle: although support for the written word changes, a book remains a book.

Social Media is just another method of communication. It has its advantages because it is a bidirectional way to communicate one-to-one. It allows not only to be interesting to those who read you, but to be interested in their needs too.
In essence, a writer uses social media to promote himself and his books, but also to provide better customer service to his clients. It’s a business like expression that fits well the concept of professional writer. A professional makes money from the products and services he provides and the customer relationship management that goes with it. A writer must do the same.

Although support for the written word changes, a book remains a book.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are tools you can use when you want to promote your new book. You can do these things even before you publish the book. You can control the online marketing component of your book with minimal cost.
For example, a group set up on Facebook from your friends and acquaintances, those of them who are willing to read and criticize what you wrote, can help you improve the final version.

You can create events and contests to provide printed copies of the book as prizes. Do not forget that when you communicate with your friends on Facebook you also communicate with their friends. This social network can provide a huge exponential reach.
The most important thing remains to direct all social networks to a single source: your blog or your book webpage. This place is the center of your online universe. The best way you can control the information that you disseminate through social networks.
I don’t want to talk too much about technical issues. I want instead to talk about the way of thinking behind the launching of a book online.

So, you wrote a book. Good. Assuming that there are 17 million people in Romania and only 0.1% of them write a book, you’re one of those 17,000 creators who want to publish a book and become writers.
There are people who write for pleasure, but a writer is a person who wants to make a living from writing, from selling books that he writes.

Traditional Publishing in Romania – the absurd way of doing business

We will publish your book only because somebody from our team thinks it’s good. But: you will have to promote it yourself and we will stop money from your share we cover the huge expenses we had.

Independent publishing in Romania – the decent way of doing business

The costs to edit, publish your book are these (a good example is this one: http://editura-virtuala.ro/editura/). We can help you with this part of the promotion and we can intermediate (for a commission) the introduction of your book in distribution networks / online bookstores that deal only with publishing houses.

Self-publishing – the DIY business

If you want to make a business out of selling your talent, you have to act and to invest. You don’t wait to be chosen by some publishing house because you’re good. This method can use some elements of independent publishing or not. But lately it often starts with social media.

Starts with being a writer who is also a community manager for its readers.
Starts with writing for those who already read you and not for everybody.
Starts by working in a collaborative manner with your readers.

Continues with giving free or low price eBooks.
Continues with including the feedback from your first readers into the next version of your book.
Continues with having the confidence that, even before publication of the book, there are people who know you, who like your writing and trust in you, recommending you to others.

It ends with starting to write the next book.

It ends with the publication of the book in print.
It ends with selling your book in a sufficient number of copies so you can make a profit.
It ends with starting to write the next book.