Friday, September 9, 2011

Getting Yourself Out There in 30 Minutes or Less

Dude, so this week of BLLuRT-ing has been super fun, yeah? I've enjoyed seeing your posts and reading what you love about books. It's been fun for me to see the enthusiasm we readers have. On Wednesday we talked a little bit about publicity, and what the average reader can do for authors.

Today, I'm going to touch on a few things authors can do to promote themselves in just a few minutes each day. (And we're talking authors like me, not say, authors like Scott Westerfeld, or someone equally as huge.)

1. Respond. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it's not. I know that you're busy. So am I. So is everyone. IF POSSIBLE, respond to the emails you get, the blog comments, the tweets, the Facebook messages.

Everyone drops the ball sometimes, but no one wants to feel like they're talking into a vacuum. I can usually respond to every blog comment I get via email in about 30 minutes/night. (Whether I do it or not is entirely another matter...)

2. Blog regularly. That way, when you do have something to say about your book (or an event, a cover reveal, a deal, etc.) it won't be THE ONLY thing you say. I'm not saying you have to blog everyday. You'll have to analyze your schedule and see what works for you.

I typically write all my blog posts for a week on the weekend. It takes me about an hour. (Short posts, FTW!) Then all I have to do is respond to comments, try to get to as many blogs as I can, etc.

3. Repay the favor. If someone comments on your blog, comment on theirs. Remember that every time you do something like this, you're leaving your name and link behind.

Something else that goes here is: celebrate the success of others. Retweet their amazing news. RT-ing takes virtually no time.

Those are the big genralities. Let's zone in a little bit:

Twitter:
Twitter is designed to be fast and easy (140 characters or less! You don't have time to talk forever!). Make it so. Organize your lists if that's what it takes. Respond to those who tweet to you. Seek out other people in your genre.

All of this can be done in 15 minutes/day. (Of course, I spend a lot more time than that on twitter, mostly as a procrastination technique. Ha!) How?
1. Tweet during "dead time" from your phone.
2. Take one day per week, and use those 15 minutes to find people to follow.
3. Target one of your lists, tweet to those people for your allotted time.
4. Tweet something interesting, and then field replies for 15 minutes.
5. Join one of the many hashtag chats. Participate for the hour. Follow those in the chat.

Facebook:
Facebook is a plethora of different things. Photos. Videos. Links. Blog posts. Status Updates. For me, I choose to participate only in the status update realm. This helps me get through many hours of updates in only 15 minutes.

Other tips:
1. Like stuff. This is a one-click wonder that lets the person know you came, read, liked.
2. Type a quick comment. It's way easier than blogging, because there's no word verification. And everyone likes comments.
3. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Comment/like status updates until it goes off. Move on with your life.

Social networking doesn't have to be all-consuming. Publicity doesn't have to always be about shoving your book down someone's throat. Simply interacting--genuinely--online with people is publicity.

Because, remember, everything you do, you're leaving your name behind. The trick is to make it abundantly clear who you are and what you wrote when someone clicks on your name. That's where the real publicity happens--and you won't even know it.

What do you think? Is this the kind of publicity you can do?

81 comments:

Enid Wilson said...

I try to blog every other day. I start to like to use Facebook now but I'm still rather inexperienced about twitter.

Every Savage Can Reproduce

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I blog three times a week (unless it's summer). That takes a lot of my time since I comment back on everyone's blog. It was easy when I got only ten comments. Now it takes me hours. But I still love doing it.

I have a FB account, but don't do anything with it. No time. And I do tweet, but not as often as I should.


Awesome post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most of it I've been doing, although Twitter sometimes slides and I'm not on Facebook.

Christina Lee said...

YES, YES and YES! I blog, comment, tweet. FB I use and want to keep mostly private for family and friends (so great for those out of state). And I've learned that if I want to get things done, I exit in and out of social media to do it (no more keeping it on in the background).

Miranda Hardy said...

All excellent tips! Although I try to do them all, I'm guilty of dropping the ball every now and then. Hard to believe, I know. Lol Enjoy your Friday!

REINHARDT! said...

Thanks for these tips. I think that I've gotten into a good blogging groove, but Twitter still confounds me. I will surely try your 15 minutes at a time approach.

Creepy Query Girl said...

all really great tips to remember!

Laura Pauling said...

I think all of it is more important than we realize. But the important thing is not to let it take over and like you said - respond to people. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the advice. I spend too much time on blogs so I'm afraid to get on Twitter too. I think I need to accept your limits.

I totally follow your advice to read the blogs on my phone in dead time like waiting for my daughter at swim. And I bring a book in case I get done with the blogs.

Angela Felsted said...

This is a really good list of measures. I need to work on returning comments. Thanks for the reminder.

Christine Fonseca said...

Nice list! I'll tell you - shifting from daily blogging to 3-4 days per week - best decision ever. Now I feel like I have a little more time to get things done.

Lisa Aldin said...

Great, simple post! Social media overwhelms me sometimes. There's just so much! But you're right. Just be genuine and connections will be made. Writing brings people together, because it is such a crazy, difficult journey. No one should do it alone!

Tiffany Garner said...

All great tips here! I haven't been responding to comments on my blog, but I really should. I know it makes me happy when someone else responds to my comment :) And trying to get into the 'writing world' online initially scared the heck out of me, but now I'm realizing it's not as stressful as I thought. Though I'm still very much 'unknown,' I'm getting to know more people every day and loving it!

Lynn said...

Elena, I need help in being faster at commenting! And by the time I get tweet deck opened and figured out, 15 minutes has already passed. I'm going to take your advise and start emailing back my commenters though. That's one small step to get me better at the social networking world! Thanks for these tips!

Peggy Eddleman said...

I think you are totally on the money! Some of those things I already do, but there are several others that I need to get a LOT better at. Like thinking of stuff to tweet about. :)

Tracey J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracey J said...

Great tips as usual, Elana. Especially number three, it's always nice to repay the favor.

Erica said...

LOVE how neatly you've broken this down -- it makes the whole thing seem so much more manageable.

Kelley said...

All AWESOME advice. It's so important to give back to people who spent time commenting on your blog.

Elle Strauss said...

Terrific post. Time seems to slip through the fingers these days. Great tips on how to maximize it!

Leigh Ann said...

Awesome post. I have to say, I've always loved loved LOVED how you respond to tweets and blog comments. Then I'm stunned by how few authors respond to tweets.

In the past few months, I've mentioned authors in tweets PRAISING THEIR BOOKS - and they haven't tweeted back. It's funny, but it's social media, and it has a social effect. I'm much less likely to buy those authors' books now that they basically ignored my attempt to compliment it/promote it to my followers.

This is something I can definitely do. Let's just hope one day I have a book to do it with. ;)

Joylene said...

I'm so glad this is in print. I've been telling my new blogging friends for awhile. Treat bloggers the way you would like to be treated. Makes sense, yet you'd be surprised how many don't.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is the best post of the week, Elana. Everything here is true and you're right--it's easy and not overly time-consuming. Great stuff!! :-)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Joining hashtag chats = WIN! Not only do I meet new people, but I learn TONS about writing.

You can write all your blog posts for the week in one hour? I must see if I can do this. Writing blog posts takes up a huge amount of time. So does reading and commenting on blogs - but I'm trying to get better about visiting the blogs of my commenters.

Melissa Dymock said...

Great tips. But I have to say I laughed at how important it is to field responses on twitter. I have all of eight followers so that's really not an issue for me.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Honestly, I learn so much from you. I attended your blogging class at a writing conference and left feeling like, yeah, I can really do this! I think you are so inspiring with the practical solutions you offer for your readers who have busy lives, but really want to dive into social media without neglecting real life. So, thank you!

Patti said...

I like that you, even as a published author, still comment on people's blogs and respond to those who comment on yours.

When you break it down like that it doesn't seem like much. I still don't really like twitter and facebook is so so. I guess for now I'm sticking with blogging.

Nikki Jefford said...

Stock piling blogs in a given day or weekend is a good approach. I had a theme blog for three years that took a lot of time, but was fun. I followed a handful of similar blogs and felt like part of a small community.

I must admit I feel overwhelmed returning to the blogosphere with my first writing blog. Posting is no problem. It’s keeping up with a hundred other blogs and thinking up a thoughtful response that swallows my few free hours.

And now I have to tweet?

It’s a relief to have several novels already under my belt because I don’t see how the networking can’t chew away a large chunk of the writer’s time.

Nisa said...

Most of those things are the kinds of things I would do as a friend anyway. That's the beauty of it. I don't want fans/followers or whatever else you want to call people. It's forming friendships that's fun. Hey, no alliteration intended!

Short posts FTW!

Lori M. Lee said...

Love the tips and I completely agree. It's why I had to set blogger up with a different commenting system so I could have the ability to reply to each comment individually :)

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Elana J, you have left your name on my heart. You rock like no other.

Carolyn V said...

Oh yeah, everything is so so true. I think you have to be reachable to be reached and pass the love around. =)

Shannon said...

You're brilliant. That is all.

Maria Zannini said...

I do all these things, but especially respond to posts and messages. It's what puts the social in social networking.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I think I can, I think I can ... seriously, it's only the 15 minute part that I grapple with. But I'm getting there (usually I set my timer to 30). :)

Annalise Green said...

I'm just learning how to strike that balance, and I think this post does an excellent job of describing how! The thing is that Twitter and responding to comments aren't that time-consuming considering the rewards that they reap. Getting out there and following and reading and commenting on other blogs IS more time-consuming, but well worth it in the end.

Thanks for the post! I'm looking at your Building a Better Blog series and loving it. So helpful for a newbie blogger like me!

Tori Scott said...

LOVE this post! Great info! :)

jbchicoine said...

I really do appreciate posts on networking and platform-building--it all feels so overwhelming at times! I fall short in so many areas, but you make it sound doable and balanced. I like the idea of the timer--now, to know where to set it at! Thanks for all your great posts, even thought I don't always comment...

Melissa Sarno said...

Excellent advice Elana! If I ever have a book to publicize I will use it. But I use it already to build relationships with people who have helped so much with my writing. It's never a waste of time to reach out.

Richard said...

A lot of good advice.

CherylAnne Ham said...

Thanks for these great tips. I like the idea of setting a timer as I tend to lose myself on the internet for hours if I'm not careful.

Heather said...

This is the kind of publicity I enjoy doing. It connects us to others and builds friendships. Great post!

E.R. King said...

GREAT POST! I'm going to link it to your interview on Monday.
Elana, you truly are a rock star! : )

Wendy Paine Miller said...

You are the guru here. You motivate and inspire me with this!

And you really are excellent about responding. Makes me feel all warm & fuzzy (kinda like when I used to climb the ropes in gym...sorry, bad Wayne's World quote).
~ Wendy

Martha Ramirez said...

Great post, Elana! I love doing all these things. And sometimes it does feel like you are talking to the wall but it's those who do reach back make it all worthwhile.

Great tips. I think it all boils down to one thing: where there is a will there's a way. But dang. If only there were more hours in a day!
I've heard about the timer thing. I really need to try that:)

Donna K. Weaver said...

And you do a wonderful job, Elana.

Angie said...

I think we must have the best job in the world. This summer, I'd kick my kids off the computer and tell them that yes, I had to blog, facebook, etc. It's my JOB! Love it.

Marsha Sigman said...

You do an amazing job of juggling all those things. I am doing my best but it's a nonstop whirlwind of day job, kids, and needy husband plus writing as much as possible.

I love every crazy minute though.

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

All excellent advice. I try to do as much of it as possible...so time consuming and not as fun as writing. Thanks for stopping by and joining my website.

Natalie said...

Awesome advice, as always, Elana. I feel like I've been dropping the ball with social networking lately. It gets overwhelming sometimes, but it doesn't have to be!

Jenny S. Morris said...

This is a wonderful post. I love when an author is accessible, like you are.

I am just starting the whole Twitter thing, so I need to get the hang of all the hash tag stuff.

This is all great advice, Thanks!

Kasie West said...

Love these tips, Elana. I need to work on some. Some I have down. And others I didn't even think about. You=awesome. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I do about 1/10 of that! Schnikes!

Lola Sharp said...

I agree with you on every single point. It really IS about genuine relationship building and kindness, not promoting our own books or self.

I adore you, E. You always spread the sunshine. :)

Have a lovely weekend.
Huggles,
Lola

Kelly said...

I can do it and then some! :)
Have a fabulous weekend, Elana!

Randy said...

Since I'm fairly new to blogging, this was very helpful. I want to respond to comments left on my blog and didn't know if it should be a comment of my own on the blog or - as you pointed out - a response that goes to their email.

Thanks for all the tips.

June G said...

You do?! You respond to every blog comment? I never got an email from you! Lol... You do stop by and comment though and I always appreciate that! :-)

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Wow, I have to admit I admire your practices! This is all fantastic advice and the most wonderful thing is that you actually practice what you preach. Good work and thanks for sharing!!!

Now could you just invent some way for authors to promote themselves and their work that doesn't have that used car salesman vibe LOL? It feels so unnatural to talk about your own work that sometimes I just avoid it.

Have a great weekend!

Amber Argyle, author said...

I'm terrible at following people's blogs. I just don't feel like I have time. *sigh*

ali cross said...

You are brilliant! Thanks for sharing these tips Elana!

Meredith said...

This is so incredibly useful--thank you so much! I've been thinking about using Twitter more, and this advice is exactly what I needed. Have a great weekend, Elana!

Nichole Giles said...

Great tips! I totally agree, and love your suggestions for not allowing these things to take over our lives. Thanks!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Elana,

Great advice.

That sums it up beautifully. I need to organize my time better and this is a great way to do it.

As always you're always looking out for our best interests and I so appreciate it... Thanks again.

Laura Barnes said...

I love this post, Elana! It's exactly the kind of insider info I enjoy reading:)

Canda said...

Short posts. I'll keep practicing. I like how most of your posts also invite us to respond. Thanks for the tips.

Cynthia Lee said...

Yay! Great post. Thanks so much!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great advice! I need to get back to blogging. I used to blog M_F. I think I'll ease back into it - maybe 3 days a week and maybe get back up to 5 days a week. And I should make more use of twitter than I do.

Angela Brown said...

An author bud of mine, Maria Zannini (http://mariazannini.blogspot.com/) gave me a piece of advice that I didn't heed like I should have.

A few years ago she recommended I hop into the blogosphere, get my name out there, make my presence known so that it won't feel contrived only for the sake of networking my novel - whenever the gods see fit that I publish one of my YA babies. I was too nervous and timid, but I got over that this summer and have loved blogging ever since. I wish I had listened to her then *shaking my head*

I'm glad I blog now - still no publish-ment in sight - because getting to know others in the blogosphere has been AWESOME!

Deborah Walker said...

Ah, these are great tips. I need to control my time. I could spend so long hoping from intersting place to interesting place. I think I should set a daily limit.

Joanna said...

Great tips, and I too need to bring my time use in social networking under control. I truly enjoy it, WHY? because I have met some wonderful people this way, some of whom are now great friends! I also have to stockpile blog posts at the weekend or I couldn't cope :)

Ian Conrad Young said...

Great tips for a noob like me!

Also, thanks for the follow on my blog!

Ian

Nadja Notariani said...

Elana ~ I'm stopping by via the shout-out on Angela Orlowski-Peart's 'Cheerios and Pearls Stories' blog page. What a great post! It is exactly what I needed to read today/this week. As a brand new author and fairly new blogger, the concept of promotion has been weighing heavily on my mind. Your tips, when listed so concisely, sound quite 'do-able'!
I'm looking forward to following you - Best regards ~ Nadja

Beth Kemp said...

This is all such good advice (and I'm over here because you commented on my blog - thank you!).

Nothing's more annoying than the twitterers who do nothing but 'read my book', 'I've got a book out' - except perhaps those who do it by DM!

Rachel said...

Great post! I was actually just thinking about the whole social networking thing(and my lack of time for it) the other day, so this was way useful! :D

WritingNut said...

These are great tips Elana - thanks! I'm currently failing miserably at #1 and #2, but improvement is on the way! :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

You had fantastic, realistic, and valid advice. As a rare blood courier, I have so little spare time since it seems I am always on call.

Still I blog daily, answer my comments, and reply to my emails (unless pesky Yahoo dumps them in my spam account before I realize it!)

I really appreciated your comments on my posts this week. It meant the world to me. It was a bad week like most of have sometime or other.

Have a great new week, Roland

Amanda said...

Absolutely! Great tips per usual Elana! I studied your Building a Better Blog page before starting my own blog and your tips have given me focus and direction. Thank you so much!!

J.R. Johansson said...

So, pretty much, you're a genius. Thought you'd like to know.

Also, I'm bookmarking this post for posterity, future generations, and all that. ;-)

lauriesanders said...

I blog and use Twitter. I have both Facebook and MySpace accounts as well but don't do as much with them. I keep saying I'm going to but there usually is not time.

We have some kind of a post on the blog almost every day. Some days those are giveaways, other days updates on our Million Pages Challenge, a discussion topic or a guest author. The blogging takes a lot of time but it's also an engaging medium and I like it a lot.

I also use Twitter quite a bit. I find it a great source of information...and because I feel that I should pay back for all the great info I get I keep my eye out for things to share too.

It does all fall under the heading of promo...but it's fun as well.

This was a great post. Especially the part about responding to people. VERY important. We want to have two way conversations with people not talk AT them. :-)

Nick Hight said...

This is gold, thanks! :) Definitely helpful.

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