by Jean Henry Mead
When the price of gasoline reached such astronomical heights that I could no longer afford to travel the state for signing parties, I turned to the internet, where there are plenty of promotional sites. Most of them are free.
I tried MySpace, Facebook, Grouply, Goodreads and any number of online sites, which can be frustrating for someone electronically challenged. I then discovered Twitter, a worldwide communication center where writers can really shine. Although you‘re limited to 140 characters per message, or 20-25 words, it’s good training in brevity. You can advertise your latest book, complain about politics, tell everyone what a great day you’ve had or grouse about the weather.
It helps to have at least one blog site in addition to your website to advertise your work. Then, by pasting your site URL into your Twitter message, you can entice people to visit your blog site. Your messages will look something like one of my recent “tweets”:
Why did they hang “Cattle Kate?” http://awhh.blogspot.com/
Anyone currently on Twitter, and the least bit curious about Cattle Kate, clicked on my URL, which accessed my site. I’ve had as many as 85 hits in one day. Not too bad for a new blog site. My fellow “tweeter” then hopefully read my article and browsed the rest of my blog, taking notice of my latest book. Your site should contain not only your latest releases, but your brief bio, ordering information, etc. Long URLs may be shortened by accessing Tinyurl.com, which will reduce your blog address to a minimum.
The best thing about Twitter is that you can reach readers around the world. Last week I received a message from someone in Sydney, Australia, asking about my historical novel, Escape. He wondered whether it was a true story. I tweeted him back saying yes, it was based on actual events. He said he would order the book.
Twitter is also a way to meet other writers, editors, publishers, librarians and agents. Maybe even Joe the Plumber. When you notice someone on Twitter that you’d like to know, click on their site and the “follow” button. They will then receive a message that you want them on your list. They can either accept or reject the invitation. Others will do the same with you. And for that you earn Twitter grades, which lets you know how well you’re connecting with other people and potential customers.
I joined Twitter in May of this year and started out at zero, like everyone else. I’ve since worked my way up to 93 out of 100 by inviting people to follow me and by tweeting (sending) some 3-5 quick messages daily about my books, articles and blog sites. The process sounds silly but it works. And my book sales have increased because my name is out in the worldwide public eye along with my work.
An added source of keeping track of your contacts is to install a site meter that tells you not only how many people visit your site, but where they’re from and how long they stayed. It’s an invaluable tool to gauge how your Twitter messages are succeeding as well as who’s interested in your work.
Blog tours are also a great way to promote your books. Those who own blogs host you for a day or two with interviews, reviews and articles you’ve written about your work. I have two-week tour coming up in early December to promote my latest novel, A Village Shattered. By providing some of your blog hosts with articles about your book and genre, and others with interviews and reviews, you can gain a larger audience and new regular blog followers. Along the way, you also gain new readers. It’s a lot work but well worth the effort.
The best think about online promoting, in my opinion, is that you can conduct it in your pajamas in the middle of the night. If you’re a people person and enjoy meeting your readers, by all means supplement your online promotions in person. For a shy writer like me, online tweeting and blogging is the way to go.
About the author: Jean Henry Mead began her writing career in California as a news reporter and has since served as a photojournalist, magazine editor and small press editor. Her eleventh book will be published in December, and her magazine articles have been published domestically as well as abroad.
My website: JeanHenryMead.com
Blog sites include:
A Western Historical Happening: http://awhh.blogspot.com/
Write On! (Writing advice): http://advicefromeditors.blogspot.com/
My Blog Tour schedule: http://myblogtour.blogspot.com/
by Jean Henry Mead