I had the pleasure of listening to Blog Talk Radio’s “Author Spot Light” the other day featuring JaVonna from Review-Worm.com. If you’re writing a book and have an hour, do yourself a favor and listen to it.
During the podcast, host Nanci Arvizu and JaVonna Smith spoke about how to create a great author website
and how to effectively use social media. Given that I’ve put in countless hours reading articles about how to blog, use Facebook, and tweet about my book, I thought I was somewhat of an expert on these subjects. Alas, I was incorrect. Doh!
I’m not going to focus on the website portion because I think authors should hire professionals to design their websites.
In regards to social media (and particularly Twitter), the most common advice I see is the idea that our posts need to bring value to our followers. Yet, it is often broken. After all, we’re getting opposite advice from supposed gurus like Guy Kawasaki (blogger, venture capitalist, exec at Apple, Inc. back in the day) who propose using services like TwitterHawk (an automated bot which targets key words and sends automated replies to them) which Kawasaki called, “the ultimate spamming tool.”
So who do we authors believe? Kawasaki and those like him, or those like JaVonna or John Locke (not the philosopher but the self-published author who sold over 1 million e-books by himself then wrote a book on how he did it), who counsel for value added content and less promotional content.
I personally hated the advice of many who advise “follow anyone who follows you unless they’re a bot.” Kawasaki gives this advice – so does Locke. I did that for a long time (okay, about three months), and ended up having about 1,000 followers and following 1,000 people. But I never had a chance to read any of my followers’ tweets because they were gone too fast – lost to the feed. My feed was so back-logged with people spamming me their books, I started pulling my hair out. I cut those 1,000 followers down to 60. And you know what? I still have around 500 followers. I would rather have 500 people who want to hear what I have to say than 1,000 who don’t.
This leads me to the central theme of the podcast – the content of the tweet/post. Everyone advises the same thing, post “value-added” content – which means don’t just spam your book. I don’t want to be spammed so why should my readers? Besides, if they follow me, they probably already like my work. This is the most common rule I see broken and I do it too. The problem is what is “value-added” content?
I wish the podcast went into more detail about this, but most people define “value” as what your customer is looking for and what you provide.
That’s great except I’m an author. People want my book for entertainment purposes (and hopefully they learn a little something about Greek mythology and Egyptian spirituality along the way). So my “value” by conventional standards is my book. But that puts me in a Catch-22. How do you give a “valuable” tweet that is not about your book but is about your book at the same time?
The Emerald Tablet is based in Greek mythology and Egyptian mythology, particularly, the Hermetic law of alchemy. It is also a science-fiction story that encompasses portals, space travel, and futuristic technology. So there is an ancient and futuristic component.
To me, value added content is posting stuff about scientific advancements (space/astronomy), Greek mythology, Egyptian history, or anything related to the book that is informative to my readers/followers but not me saying, “Buy my book! Buy my book!”
Other than continuing what I’m doing and building relationships on Twitter by re-tweeting, conversing, and commenting on other people’s tweets, I haven’t found a magic solution to help market my book. As JaVonna said, social media is about time, commitment, consistency, and effort. Like writing a book, to get value, you must share something of value.