Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Social Media, Marketing and Getting Connected Part I

@2011 Odilia Rivera Santos

By now, most artists have Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts but the problem is focus.
It is important to maintain focused while using the aforementioned sites; otherwise, you will become another person staring at a stranger's vacation photos and trying to figure out what that tattoo is on her thigh.

Start a blog
A lot of writers are doing a tremendous amount of freelance work in addition to finishing their own creative projects, so it might seem a burden to keep a blog. However, it is a great tool for getting additional freelance work, so consider your blog a job interview and write accordingly. Edit and make each post interesting and useful. This practice will sharpen your editing skills and cleanses the palate before an overwhelming undertaking: formatting a book for Smashwords, finding an agent, paying your rent this month, etc.

Finding and connecting with an audience:
The immediacy of blog posts allows a writer to be in the mix and not as disconnected from the living world while immersed in research for a historical novel.
Frequent posts allow people into your world and to learn about the things that matter to you.
Choose a theme prior to starting a blog in order to have some cohesion.
You can put the first five pages of your novel, nonfiction or poetry books on your blog.
Getting a site for one book is not as effective as one for you as a writer. This is branding yourself as opposed to introducing one work.
Consistency is key when maintaining blogs. Always commit to two to five posts per week.

Use your blog to create a niche market or connect with an existent one
Creating a niche market with your blog will help you gain an audience for a particular genre and prep readers for the book you'll publish on the subject.
I am a Puerto Rican born on the island with a strong connection to my culture and the majority of my family members still live on the island. While teaching college-level Spanish and literature courses, I met many Puerto Ricans born and raised in the U.S. who didn't know much about Puerto Rico and were studying Spanish for the first time. I decided to create People for the Ethical Treatment of Puerto Ricans, a blog on Puerto Rican culture, history and identity to reach out to those seeking to learn about Puerto Rico and to serve as a forum for those who want to be more engaged with Puerto Rican culture.
The response to this blog has been overwhelming; I receive a lot of positive feedback
http://latinalogue.wordpress.com/, a creative nonfiction essay blog, as well as this, Latina Author, my writing blog. At present, I am in the process of preparing Latinalogue as an e-book with additional essays not published on the blog and longer versions of those already online. I have gotten a lot of great response from readers via email, Twitter, and many have left comments on blogs. On Twitter, my essays have been picked up by twitterers who create Paper.li papers http://paper.li/ - this is another great source of free marketing handled by someone who enjoys your work. Your link goes on Paper.li with your name and subject of post.
I have also been approached by five bloggers about adding my work to their sites and through these connections, I have gained more followers.

Connect with bloggers
There are some very talented bloggers who would review your book or allow you to be a guest writer on their sites.
Search for blogs on your area of interest and contact the writers on your favorite ten blogs. You can offer to send a free book to each writer or a pdf file so they can write a review. Offer to write an article for each blog as well.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr:
Right now, the top three sites are Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Join all three but don't turn it into purgatory.
Facebook life:
One of the most effective ways to market yourself on Facebook is by creating niche groups.
In this morass of information, it is important to keep narrowing the focus.
If you are a romance writer, start a group for romance writers, etc. Each genre requires a different approach to reach an audience and a niche group offers guidance, mentorship and the opportunity to connect with other writers' fans. You can find me on Facebook

Twitter is where people with short attention spans go to nest. I have heard people say Facebook swallows up their time because they get distracted by the bells and whistles.
Create a tinyurl http://tinyurl.com of your blog and attach it to every post on Twitter.
You can use Twuffer http://twuffer.com/ or Tweetdeck http://www.tweetdeck.com to automate Tweets.
With Tweetdeck, you can send longer tweets and urls are automatically shortened.
The trick is to make sure they are different tweets because if there are duplicates, they will not go through.
Again themes and consistency are very important with Twitter.
Share writing information such as inspirational quotes, fellowship or publishing opportunities, contests, etc. In order to get a lot of followers, you will need to have an open, not a private, account. Remember that a private conversation on Twitter means you are no longer using the service as a marketing tool. You are now using Twitter as if texting from a cellphone.
You can follow me at one or all three of my Twitter accounts. I prefer to separate information and use each for a different purpose. @bezotes is where I am a generalist -- I tweet everything from music videos I love to political articles, @LatinaAuthor is reserved for writing articles, writing fellowship and grant information, @urbanbrainiac is where I tweet academic articles.

Follow writers whose work is similar to yours because you may get his or her readers interested in your work. @famouswriterilove with your tweets.

Tumblr seems to be where visual artists go, so I use the site to write what I call snapshots -- very short bits of writing and I attach the link to blogs with more extensive writing for those interested in reading more. http://odiliariverasantos.tumblr.com

People are more likely to check out a blog with nice images than one without images. There are exceptions of course, but at the beginning at least, put up some nice images as long as they're not too distracting. I just take a picture of myself with my Mac, but you may be interested in using images in the public domain. Make sure you can use an image before including it on any posts. Here is an article on public domain issues: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/technology/personaltech/20askk-001.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Sell your blog on Kindle. Kindles are very popular with people who travel a lot and at times, they may not have access to the Internet. Subscribing to your blog allows the reader to read your blog without Internet access, and you get to make a little bit of money. Travelers stuck at the airport are also more likely to buy last-minute e-books, especially if you price your books at the same cost as a print magazine: $2.99 - $4.99.

Support Fellow Writers
There are enough readers and enough money to go around. Be generous with encouragement and information. If you find a blogger you like, follow his or her blog. If this information is useful to you, follow my blog and consider buying it for your Kindle, or buy Latinalogue, Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I

Get this blog for your Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/6yjk637


  1. Thanks for the great advice. I am trying to become more diligent in posting on my blog more frequently, and agree with all of your great advice. I particularly appreciated the tinyurl tip and link to use on Twitter.

    Holli Castillo
    Jambalaya Justice coming 2011

  2. Excellent article! It never crossed my mind to use Kindle as a marketing tool. *thumbs up*