Every day when I check my current social feeds, I notice an author friend has joined the next new thing. I couldn't tell you how often a brand new social platform with a funny name picks up interest, but I don't doubt that with each launch there's an author trying to figure out how to use it for book promotion. As an author, I like to think outside the box where selling books is concerned, though I recognize the importance of reading terms of service policies to make sure I don't step on any toes. Nonetheless, if you're still trying to wrap your head around Twitter and become overwhelmed by new gadgets and sites, don't worry. They're here to help with word of mouth, and some are quite simple to use.
Let's take a look at some up and comers in the social realm. Some may prove more useful than others in terms of self-promotion, and if you can find something creative to do with these sites go for it.
Everybody I know is "pinning" things to virtual boards. I see notifications pushed through Twitter that somebody has found some kicky new boots, while other friends have set up entire sections of their account to categorize recipes and home decor ideas. I once saw a joke that Pinterest is typically used for the wedding you wish you'd planned years ago, but as I've come to know the social site I realize one can use it to draw attention to books.
While the site's TOS has changed recently and may again to reflect rules of blatant promotion, you can use Pinterest in a number of ways:
- Create a board for each book you have written, and "pin" items associated with the story or things that inspired you while writing. If you've written a romance set in Paris, pin images of landmarks that featured in the story. If your book is an account of history, find items relevant to the topic. Check out this one for the Lerxst Johnston mystery series.
- Create a "dream cast" board. It's not unusual for readers to imagine certain actors in the role of a book character. You can have a little fun with a board featuring images of people you'd cast in the movie version of your book.
- Connect with other authors to create a group board on a specific genre. By pinning books by various authors, you can create a library of recommended reads to share with readers. This board is dedicated to books readers may wish to check out after reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
Instagram is fast turning amateur photographers into enthusiasts. It's interesting, too, to see retro-style renderings of photos taken by friends, and with the network's recent acquisition by Facebook one has to wonder where it will go. Also, the marketer in me wonders how one can use Instagram for promotion. Naturally, you'd use it as you would a regular camera, and post appropriate pictures to your account.
- People holding/reading your book.
- Booksigning events as you meet readers.
- Visiting landmarks that feature in your stories.
- Unique author portraits to feature on sites and other social media.
Also, be mindful of TOS. You never know when they'll change.
Kathryn Lively is a mystery novelist and freelance writer specializing in articles on social media writing and Virginia web design. Clients include Fairfax personal injury lawyers, book publishers, Virginia health care services, Norfolk real estate agents, global trade portals, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.