Marketing Tips From The Publishers Roundtable

Book Publishers Northwest’s February 2016 meeting was a meet-up of local publishers and authors to discuss what works and doesn’t work for them. For many, the major task remains marketing. Here’s a few suggestions made during the evening and at earlier meetings in 2015.

BookBub was mentioned by several members as one of the better sites for advertising ebook deals.

Advertise In Ebook Reader Newsletters
One of the largest e-newsletters out there for ebook readers, BookBub drives sales for publishers by allowing them to advertise ebook deals to their readers. This is not an inexpensive advertising option. BPNW members suggested this marketing tactic works best for publishers of genre fiction, particularly romance, and also mentioned that it can take several months to get a slot in a popular newsletter like BookBub. Several similar enewsletter sites are listed below. Each has different requirements for the type of book that they will advertise. Some required a minimum number of reviews on Amazon. Others will only take new titles. Read directions carefully. One tip from a publisher is to spread out ads on such sites so you never have more than one ad running during a set time period. This allows easier tracking of impact than running several ads simultaneously. All of these sites depend upon an ebook version being available via a major seller such as Amazon:
robinreads.com
readcheaply.com
www.bookgorilla.com
bookbasset.com
fkbt.com/for-authors
ereadernewstoday.com
digitalbooktoday.com

Create Box Sets or Anthologies
This topic will be explored in-depth for BPNW’s March meeting. Largely used by publishers of fiction, “box sets” allow authors to partner with several people to present several ebooks sold together as a “box set.” For those with short fiction or essays, an anthology serves the same purpose.  Whether single author or multiple author, box sets are priced so that readers spend less than if they had purchased each book in the set individually. Anthologies also serve as a way that authors can reprint stories or essays previously appearing in several different publications. This technique is used to build word-of-mouth as well as better results in sale site search engines for authors. Such sets work well for “deals” in the ebook newsletters listed above.

Send Out Review Copies
A variety of websites offer ways to get digital review copies, aka galleys, into the hands of readers, librarians, and booksellers. The best-known and, according to some, most expensive is NetGalley. Unless publishing multiple titles per year, BPNW members suggested joining with other authors or publishers to defray costs. Another site that offers “giveaways” of galleys is GoodReads. GoodReads suggests running a giveaway about one month prior to publication but the timing is up to the author or publisher. Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association runs a program for publishers to send review copies to interested booksellers called Northwest New Title Preview. Information about this and other advertising programs is available on PNBA’s website.

Show Off Photos On Instagram
Instagram is all about posting images via smartphones or tablets. It can be viewed but not accessed through laptops or desktop computers. Nonfiction publishers with photo-heavy books can tease a topic with selected pictures or using pictures that didn’t make the final printed edition. Several mentioned that using hashtags (#flowers or #Seattle) are essential for building a following. It was suggested that for each photo posted that people should put three or more hashtags in the comment section.

Reader Magnets To Build Newsletter Lists
The idea of creating “reader magnets” to build a newsletter following for an author or publisher comes from a site called www.yourfirst10kreaders.com. A free copy of his tips are available from author Nick Stephenson by emailing nick@yourfirst10kreaders.com or you can watch his webinars on his site. His methods rely on building value for the reader to encourage them to sign up for an enewsletter. Said one BPNW member: “He does simple step-by-step graphics for building an email list that I really like.”

Got a tip that you’d like to share? Post it in the comments section.

Guest Article: Typesetting. Who Needs It?

by Rosie Gaynor

If your text is long—and if you want it to be read—then chances are it’s going to need some typesetting.

How much?

An easy way to decide how much time and money to devote to typesetting is to consider your choice of printing house and paper stock. For text that is meant to be read, I’d recommend that…

  • The typesetting be as good as or slightly worse than your printer. A bad print job is going degrade your type, so it’s worth paying for good printing.
  • The typesetting be as good as or slightly better than the stock. Good stock cannot cover up bad typesetting. Good typesetting, on the other hand, can help the reader forget a lesser stock. (Bad stock can degrade the type, though, so go for stock that is at least good enough.)

It feels so heartless to do this kind of triage, to engage in lowly budget-based bargaining when books are involved. But our goal is to get the book out the door and into people’s hands without losing our shirts (or hair), so we do the very, very best we can with the resources we have at the moment.

The illustration below shows the difference typesetting can make. (To really see the difference, download the PDF and print it on a good printer.)

BPNWRosieGaynortype

Book designs differ, but usually a good typesetter’s goals look something like this:

  • Word spacing, letter spacing, and line length work together to create lines that read evenly and easily. (It is important to see a print-out of this. An onscreen PDF is not going to show you what you need to see here. Print out the PDF of the sample above and you’ll see for yourself how big a difference it makes to view type printed on paper.)
  • Hallmarks of good typography have been considered, such as curly quotes, hanging quotes, curly apostrophes instead of prime symbols, proper use of hyphens, en-dashes, em-dashes, and real small caps (instead of InDesign’s approximated small caps). Old-style numerals, lining numerals, proportional numerals, and tabular numerals have been used purposefully.

DIY? Maybe.

If you are used to looking carefully at type (say, maybe, you’re an editor?) and if you’re comfortable on the computer, you could probably pull off something like Example #1 above on your own. I did, years ago, before I took design classes.

You’ll need to know the basics of InDesign and you’ll need to have a good feeling for what typeface and type size fits your text block well. If you go this route, I’d highly recommend you take a short class in InDesign (at, say, my favorite: School of Visual Concepts in Seattle) and that you find a copy of Mitchell & Wightman’s Book Typography: A Designer’s Manual. (It’s a gem of a book, content-wise and beauty-wise. Just turning the pages—a Precision fine 130 gsm stock—is an experience!)

Example #2 above? That kind of work takes some training and a really good eye. And it takes time. And dogged patience. Generally speaking, it takes a pro.

If you do hire a typesetter, ask to see a hard copy of a book that s/he has typeset. One page is not enough, as you’ll want to see how s/he managed the awkward paragraphs. (There are always paragraphs that refuse to cooperate.) With that book in hand, you’ll also be able to tell whether s/he had the stamina to make the type look even throughout the entire piece. If you go with a printing company’s in-house typesetter, ask to see a sample book done by the person who will be working on your book. They might fuss a bit, but I’d ask anyway.

How Much Do Typesetters Charge?

Typesetting fees are all over the place. But, like olive oil, cheese, chocolate, and shoes, the cheapest ones are generally not the best. The 2013 Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines suggests $6–$12 per page for a simply formatted book, like a novel. Figure $900–$1,800 for a 150-page novel.

It’s daunting. I think it helps to consider the printing–stock–typesetting balance. And to go back to the very basics: What makes the most sense for your goals, for your budget, for your preferences, and for your timeline? What’s your gut telling you?

Why bother? Because good typography will set you apart.

Scribes of old knew: Well-drawn pages paid respect to the words and to the author. Eventually, we figured out that well-set pages allowed for easier reading, greater comprehension, and better sales. And we book lovers today still know: When we hold a well-set book in our hands, we are holding a treasure.

We live in a world of typographical atrocities. Alas. But it’s also true that we live in a world of near-perfect typographic masterpieces. Your book will be somewhere on that typographical spectrum. The nice thing is that you get to choose where.

Rosie Gaynor owns Seattle Scriptorium—the business of beautiful communication. She has worked in the design departments at Tiger Oak Media, Puget Sound Business Journal, and TCS World Travel. She has typeset three books and would love to work with you on yours. She can be reached at rosie[at]seattlescriptorium.com.

Are you a publishing professional or a service for publishers? Would you like to submit an article to Book Publishers Northwest? Email bpnwnews[at]aol.com.

Several Ways To Avoid Formatting Headaches

blankbook_freeimagesOne of the most frequently heard questions at BPNW meetings boils down to “is there an easier way to do all the formats that we need?”  Here’s some suggestions that have popped up recently during meetings or online discussions. We welcome comments about user experience (please keep them polite as well as forthright) and suggestions from those reading the blog.

Smashwords
In Internet years, this site for creating and distributing ebooks to a variety of vendors is practically ancient. Everything is based upon having a manuscript in Microsoft Word and there is no fee for using their “meat grinder” to reformat for various vendors. Instead, Smashwords retains a percentage of the list price for every book sold through their site.

Draft2Digital
This service is used by LostLoves Books and mentioned by a couple of other members as less cumbersome than Smashwords. There are no fees for formatting or distributing an ebook. Draft2Digital handles the conversion from a Word doc and listing on ebook sales sites. They keep about 10% of the retail price whenever a book is sold.

Bookalope
A newer service promising “interactive and smart software tools that help you with the style analysis and the extraction of structured content from your book’s manuscript, with cleaning up and checking the text for many different punctuation and spelling problems, and with generating e-books for different devices and for print.” Fees vary based on quantity. Not currently used by any BPNW members (that we know of) but they have reached out to the group to alert us to their service.

Book Design Templates
For those who like to keep everything in Microsoft Word, this site has a number of templates for purchase that are suitable for creating manuscripts for print-on-demand services like Create Space or Lightning Source. Templates run around $37 for most styles and members who have used this site report that queries about issues receive a quick response.

Canva
This graphic design site has basic templates for ebook covers. Users can upload their own images or purchase stock images for $1.

Lynda.com
This educational service is available for free through the Seattle Public Library and many other institutions or by subscription for as low as $20 per month. Lynda.com provides video tutorials on how to create both print and ebooks by using such popular software as Adobe’s InDesign or Apple’s IBook Author.

Guest Article: “Something Every Day” Book Marketing Tips

by Wendy Hinman, author of Tightwads on the Loose

WendyHinman_HeadshotYou’ve spent months or years crafting that perfect book. Now you need to get it into the hands of readers. Readers read to help them make sense of the world and the struggles they face and to explore what interests them.  If your book offers this, they will be glad to learn of it. Effective marketing means finding the people who would be most interested in your book and letting them know about it. It’s like finding the right match, so your story can do what it is designed to do: engage your readers.

Get creative. Brainstorm. Just as you spent countless hours finding clever ways to tell your story, you can be innovative with generating exposure for your work. If you use creativity to make marketing interesting, you’ll want to do it. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Below is a list of ideas for marketing that have worked well for me. Each author and book is different, so do what feels most comfortable for you and your book.

Crystallize your book description and bio into 25, 50, 100, and 250 words. Find that universal truth. These blurbs will come in handy.

Identify your audience and the topics your book touches upon. 

Create a professional website to use as your home base (see www.wendyhinman.com)

Add your book title and website address to your email signature line and all materials you produce, so people can find you.

Plan to send periodic newsletters with links to information housed on your website.

Draft a press release. Be sure to include images, such as your book cover and a professional author photo.

Keep in mind what’s in it for the reader and why the media would be interested.

Identify local media/publications in each market where you have a connection (an event, an audience, places you lived/worked/studied/are doing a book event).

Tailor press releases for each purpose or event with addresses, dates, times, and contact info

Use various angles to appeal to specific topics that your book touches upon.

Craft a good story and headline (specific event, timely topic, anniversary) so media can use it without extra work.

Send a release one month and, again, two weeks before an event.

Post book events on local DIY website calendars (Chamber of Commerce websites, local blogs, clubs); Look up officers for local clubs and contact them.

Reach out to your community in a mutually beneficial way.

Share your knowledge through articles, blog posts and public speaking. Make sure each party gets something out of it: audience, attendee, and you.

  • Libraries, clubs, conferences, schools, stores
  • Radio and TV need good stories. (Pitch program producers with info from your press release.)

Plan to give away books.

Identify media, bloggers and online publications that are likely to be interested in your book.
Send Advance Review Copies (3-6 months prior to release)
Run ads on Book Bub and Goodreads for discount eBooks.
Auctions, fundraisers where your book is seen by many prospective readers.

Leverage your travel to reach new readers.

Always carry copies of your book or at least promotional materials.

Do something every day

Steadily working at it will produce tangible results and lay the foundation for future success. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur and keep in mind that old saying “If it’s to be, it’s up to me,” because no one is as likely to care as much as about your work as you do. Good luck and happy marketing.

Wendy’s recommended resources are:

How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore
Other authors

Guest Article: Kickstarter for Writers and Publishers

Bethany Joy Carlson recently gave a special workshop on Kickstarter for BPNW members in February. For those who couldn’t attend, she offers the following advice:

Popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has raised over $1Bn for artistic projects, including over five thousand projects tied to publishing. But most Kickstarter publishing category campaigns fail to raise even a fifth of their targets. Since Kickstarter fundraising is all or nothing, this means only a third of book projects launched actually go on to publication. Data nerds like me may want to visit kickstarter.com/help/stats for the full post-mortem. Suffice to say: raising money to publish your book is really hard.

A book project that was successfully crowdfunded.

A book project that was successfully crowdfunded by the author.

 

But it’s not impossible. I have produced successful Kickstarter campaigns for writers, ranging from a gritty New Jersey mob memoir with a ten-pin twistto an adorable children’s picture book introducing entrepreneurship. Their successes were not a coincidence. Despite their very different audiences, their paths to success were similar.

Three of the ten essentials of Kickstarter success that worked for these books were:

  1. Tap into your extrovert and PROMOTE. This is conjecture, but perhaps the reason book campaigns fail disproportionately is because writers tend to be introverts. We want that loophole whereby our work will be found without us having to tell anyone about it. Nope. The Kickstarter campaign is excellent sales boot camp. For both Bowling For The Mob and Camila’s Lemonade Stand, we had a month of promotion prior to the campaign before launch. The goal was to make sure everyone relevant heard about the campaign at least 10 times during the 30 days before launch, through the 30 days up to close.
  2. Map out the money in advance. The occasional Kickstarter campaign goes viral, even books. However, all 136,000 campaigns in the history of Kickstarter have not. In all likelihood, yours will not. So you need to know both exactly how much money you need to produce your book, and exactly where that money is going to come from. After learning the nail-biting hard way on Bowling For The Mob, for Camila’s Lemonade Stand we went through a detailed Kickstarter Estimator process before the campaign launch. This was like a wedding guest list, but with the added columns of how much money the invitees were likely to pledge, and for what kind of reward. Then we applied the 65% rule – because not everyone we invited to the campaign was going to show up (they didn’t).  So let’s say we need to raise $6,500 to produce a book. We sit down and tally up all of our friends, colleagues, family, and fans, and what they’re likely to pledge. That comes to $10,000. We multiply by 65%, get $6,500, and voila, this is a campaign that has a chance to succeed. If, on the other hand, we need $20,000 to produce the book, and then we tally up our likely pledges and that comes to $5,000, well… we don’t even need to bother with the 65% rule. This campaign is almost certainly going to fail.
  3. Shoot a decent, short video. Kickstarter makes a big deal about having a video – any video. People want to see and hear from you. Good light and good sound go a long ways towards making a homemade video watchable. For Bowling For The Mob we had Bob sit directly under a skylight and used a microphone and an iPhone propped on a soda cup; for the Camila’s Lemonade Stand video we used a bright floor lamp with the shade removed behind the camera and a Samsung Galaxy phone with a tripod and microphone. Neither of these videos will win any awards, but they are watchable, informative, and they are SHORT. Don’t underestimate how brief attention spans are. Keep it under 3 minutes.

These three tips are the tip of the iceberg. Please feel free to contact me at bethanyjoycarlson@hotmail.com at The Artist’s Partner to discuss your project and how Kickstarter might work for you.  If you’re considering Kickstarter to fund your book, it’s hard – but possible. No hocus pocus required.

Bethany Joy Carlson is a co-founder of BACCA Literary, a WriterHouse board member, and founder of The Artist’s Partner.

Do you provide a service for publishers?  Would you like to write a guest article for Book Publishers Northwest? Contact us at bpnwnews@aol.com.

Create Multiple Sources of Revenue

It is difficult to make a living as an independent publisher if you view yourself as a purveyor of books through bookstores. Typically, when one responds, “I’m an author,” to the question, “What do you do for a living?” the inquiring party usually follows with, “But what do you do to earn money?” However, if you reply, “I’m a publishing professional,” you are usually received with nodding understanding. The difference is as enormous as it is subtle. A publishing professional runs a business, relying on multiple streams of revenue for maximum income.

Relying exclusively on book sales can limit your income. This wall could be reached because of seasonal demand for your content, or your reliance on sales only through bookstores – bricks and clicks. You may have a small target market, inadequate planning or insufficient funds for promotion. The list goes on, but the fact remains that a variety of circumstances can conspire to limit the sale of your books, and subsequently your income.

This concept of multiple sources of revenue does not mean adding additional titles. It implies various ways in which you could generate funds. This can be accomplished through a combination of products and services, such as product sales (line and brand extensions) combined with author extensions (conducting seminars, making personal presentations and consulting) or other activities that stimulate additional cash flow.

Two characteristics go into creating a profitable hybrid offering. The first is that the products and services are complementary. This refers to the degree that the value to the customer increases when both are used together. An example would be consulting with clients after they purchase your book. The other is independence, or the ability for your customer to derive value from each separately: your customer can learn from your book without also attending your seminar.

When combinations of products and services are examined through the lens of being complementary and independent, three bundles emerge. These are product-focused, brand-focused or author-brand focused bundles. Taken together as a hybrid marketing strategy they deliver a single message to several audiences in different ways. The result is increased revenue and profitability.

1) Product-focused bundles. If you prefer to focus on selling tangible products, you might choose a strategy of creating line extensions. Line extensions consist of introducing additional items in the same product category under the same brand name. Examples include offering an author’s content as an ebook, audio book, booklet or in a large-print edition.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul series provides examples of independent line extensions reflected in the titles Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul, Entrepreneur’s Soul, Parent’s Soul and Writer’s Soul. Yet this series may also be complementary because the content is delivered in the form of cartoon books, picture books, daily inspirations, large-print books and Spanish titles.

There are many benefits of product-focused bundles. They are independent because customers could buy them separately, yet complementary because combining them can enhance their value. For example, I added a CD-ROM to my book, Beyond the Bookstore. The content of the individually available CD-ROM augmented what was in my book without duplicating it. Product-focused bundles also expand your brand’s presence on retail shelves, offer customers more variety and can increase overall sales, revenue and profits. These extended lines yield more efficient prospecting since numerous titles and forms are more likely to meet the varied needs of potential corporate buyers. Independent, complementary extensions yield greater marketing efficiency since overall promotional costs are spread among a variety of products.

2) Brand-focused bundles. Implement this strategy by using an existing brand name to launch products in other categories. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen again provide good examples of brand extensions. There was a Chicken Soup for the Soul television series in addition to branded greeting cards, pet treats, giftware, puzzle books and sleepwear. These are also complementary since they may be sold in similar places and ways. These could be sold near their books online and through gift shops, direct marketing, pet stores, specialty stores, supermarkets and pharmacies.

There are many benefits for the publisher who implements a branding strategy. It can enhance brand equity among present and new users as it makes your brand more relevant and visible. It encourages sales of multiple products at the same time. And if you “own” the shelf it identifies you as the genre leader. In addition, it can help you build a customer following, maintain higher price and profitability levels, and meet price competition with one imprint while maintaining a higher price on another.

3) Author-brand focused bundles. Multi-talented authors may chose this strategy to stimulate revenue. While the publishers are not paid for the author’s additional services, they receive the revenue from the concomitant books sales. And the halo-effect from a well-known author stimulates book sales for current and future titles.

Your authors can extend their brand through writing articles, consulting or making personal presentations on their topics. They can also build revenue and an aura of expertise by conducting seminars and webinars, producing podcasts and contributing to blogs.

These actions are complementary since your authors can speak to groups and then sell books following their presentations. In addition to demonstrating their command of their subject they are paid a speaking fee and for the sale of their books. As their reputations grow from contributing articles and blog content their book sales increase proportionately.

An author-brand strategy is highly independent since each element stands on its own. Yet the combined impact of an assorted marketing strategy increases long-term revenue as it solidifies its base. It also helps authors differentiate themselves from their competitors while selling a commoditized product.

A hybrid marketing strategy can increase you top and bottom lines by using these examples to customize a productive bundle for each author. It can improve long-term market share and profitability by being scalable. Multiple sources of revenue permit sub-branding to leverage the halo effect. Hybrid offerings attract new customers and increase demand among existing ones by giving them more ways to purchase content. And they enable publishers to boost their revenue and improve liquidity at low risk.

Brian Jud is the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and now offers commission-based sales of nonfiction, fiction and children’s titles to buyers in special markets. For more information contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT  06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; Fax (860) 673-7650; brianjud@bookmarketing.com or www.premiumbookcompany.com  or follow him at twitter.com/bookmarketing

Social Networking 101 for Authors and Publishers

By Beth Whitman

There are many ways to build your web presence but I’m going to outline here the method that I used to build an online readership.

Start by creating a website
For an easy and inexpensive solution, you can check out Homestead.com which provides basic templates to choose from. For less than $5/month, you can create a site and have it hosted at Homestead. Not great for a site that you want to update often or as a blog, but it is OK for a landing area to direct people elsewhere… like to a blog.

Then create a blog
This is going to be the way you’ll reach your audience. By blogging regularly, even as little as once a week, people will come back to see what you have to say. Free blogging platforms include Blogger, WordPress and LiveJournal. You can also have a blog custom created, one that might include your logo and your own design, for anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Blog regularly and start creating your community of readers
Writing a blog is great, but not if no one is reading it :-). You’ll need to alert your friends and family and start getting the word out that you’re blogging.

•    Create posts that tie into your book(s) and become the authority on your topic.
•    Read other blogs and comment on them, linking back to your blog
•    Create a blogroll that includes the other blogs you read and request that those bloggers add you to their blogroll

Start a newsletter
Have a way to capture email addresses and the location of your fans by sending out a newsletter. Constant Contact is a great service for this but there are lots of them out there. Start with friends and family and encourage them to share your newsletter so that it can grow. Include a way on your website for people to sign up for this FREE newsletter and then provide them with relative, pertinent and timely information. Personally, I have found that a monthly newsletter works well but others may find that weekly emails work better.

Social networking
This is where the bigger payoff is. Though it can seem a bit overwhelming, spending a little time every day building up your online social network will eventually pay off and you’ll find dedicated readers subscribing to your RSS feed and buying your book(s).

Facebook – Probably the most interesting and easiest to understand, Facebook connects friends (real and virtual) and allows them to share website articles, blog posts, photos, videos and much more. Start by locating your real friends. Join (or start) groups that have like-minded people and then friend those folks. When you post information about your latest book, they will see this. Drive traffic back to your site and to the pages where you’re selling books.

Create a Fan Page so that people can stay posted about your events, book signings and anything else you want to alert them about. You can find my Fan Page by logging in to Facebook and searching on Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Stumbleupon – Though the traffic from SU isn’t always “sticky” (meaning they usually don’t stay on your site for a long period of time), a good blog post or website article can get thousands of page views and, with little effort, can alert a lot of people about your site and expertise. You’ll want to build up your friends by finding like-minded stumblers and then sending them your articles to stumble and returning the favor.

Twitter – Though it’s not so easy to grasp why anyone would want to be on this site where you are limited to 140 characters in each of your posts, it has become an important addition to the world of social networking. Publicists, other authors and your readers are all on Twitter. Start following them (they are likely to start following you, too) and then post relative content regularly. The more you post and the more people you follow, the more followers you’ll have.

Ning, Google or Yahoo Groups – By joining or starting one of these groups, you’ll be involved with a community of people who share similar interests and may be the perfect audience/ buyers of your book!

Amazon Connects – Your book is already being sold on Amazon, make sure that you are part of their Connects program for authors. Create an author page and feed your blog to it so the world can stay posted on your updates.

LinkedIn – Some would say this is an important social networking tool. I honestly haven’t used it much as an independent publisher. It seems like a great way to network your way into a job and to let professionals know what you’re doing, but it hasn’t been an important tool for me (yet).

Shelfari – Part of Amazon, this is a social networking site for book lovers. Because I try to manage so many other things, I don’t participate here, but you might find it of value.

Goodreads – Similar to Shelfari in that you can social network with other booklovers.

MySpace – Probably more appealing to the younger crowd. Geared toward bands and the performing arts. Quickly surpassed by Facebook and other social networking sites.

The key with all of this is to get the word out there as much as possible to potential buyers. It’s difficult to measure the direct effect that any of these sites have on sales but I’d venture to say that I’d have about 1/3 the sales if I weren’t involved in all of these. In my community, travel, I’d have very little visibility if I wasn’t so tied in to other bloggers, travel writers and, in some cases, PR people through these sites.

Some key tips:
Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick a network that seems most appealing to you. After all, you want to have fun.

Spend 30 minutes a day for a month developing your friends/network. You’ll see how quickly this can grow with just a little time spent daily.

Once you’ve built up the network, spend 15 minutes a day updating your posts, events and other information. There are several programs that you can use that will automatically update your posts to these sites so that, in theory, you wouldn’t have to log on. However, giving these a personal touch is always better than an automated update.

Here are some ways you can automatically update your feeds:

Facebook – You can feed your blog posts into your Facebook account automatically by doing the following:
Manually import your blog to FB (preferred) – I like this method for a number of reasons. It allows me to have control over what images and text appear AND I can add multiple blogs if and when I want to. Sometimes I don’t add a blog post at all and because I currently write 3 separate blogs on my site, I am able to add these throughout the day, rather than having them all upload at once. In order to post manually, you’ll need to add a little widget to your web browse.

Here’s how to set this up so you can add yours manually:
1)    Search for “Applications” in the upper right hand side search box.
2)    Click on the Applications tab
3)    Search for “posted items” in the search box above the applications
4)    Click on the application that says “Links”
5)    Click on Go to Application in the upper left corner
6)    Grab and drop the box that says “Share on Facebook” into the browser bar of your browser. This box can be found on the right hand side of the page under the Post a Link box.

Now after you’ve posted a blog, all you have to do is be ON that blog post, click on Share on Facebook (in your browser) and a popup box will appear where you can choose the image and text to go along with that post.

Note that it’s best to already be logged into FB in order to Share your post but using this applications means you don’t have to go TO FB to create the post (we all know how easily it is to get sucked into FB once you’re actually on the site!).

Automatically import your blog to FB – Unfortunately, with the new FB site redesign, I have not been able to figure out a direct way to find the application needed for this, namely Notes. So, to find it, do the following:
1)    Search on “notes” in the upper right hand search box.
2)    Click on the Applications tab when you’ve got your search results.
3)    Click on the Notes application, should be the 2nd listing.
4)    Click on Go to Application in the upper left hand side
5)    Now look for Notes Settings on the right hand side and click on Import a blog
6)    Import the RSS feed for your blog

Note that you can only import one blog at a time so if you write multiple blogs you can only choose one that is automatically imported.

Twitter – It’s possible to have feeds automatically update your Twitter account. I did this for a year before actually ever using Twitter in any kind of serious fashion. It allowed me to get set up quickly and build some followers but doing little work. I have found, however, that manually adding my Tweets allows me to personalize the tweet and, ultimately, get even more followers. So, while I recommend this as a way to get started, it won’t yield great results unless you are also manually tweeting the same items in a more personalized fashion.

There are probably lots of ways to set this up, but this is how I set mine up a long time ago, so I’ll start here:

1)    Log into Twitterfeed (www.twitterfeed.com) using one of the account sign in options provided in the sign in box.
2)    Click on Create a New Feed
3)    Click on Authenticate at Twitter to make sure that you’re logged into your Twitter account and that the RSS feed will link to that account. Allow access if the account is correct or Deny if it’s the wrong account (then enter the correct account).
4)    Enter your blog’s RSS feed and test it to make sure it’s been entered properly
5)    Note how often you want Twitterfeed to check for blog posts, how you want the url to show up (TinyURL is a good option), whether you want any words to precede your tweet and then click Create.

This will set up your feed to automatically publish to Twitter!

StumbleUpon
Stumbleupon is a social networking site for bookmarking your favorite websites or posts. Once you have made friends with people, at the click of button, you can start “stumbling upon” sites that those other people like. So, if you’re sci-fi geek and have lots of sci-fi “friends” on SU, you can see what sites they like and share your favorites with them.

Besides finding new sites that you might like, SU is great for building traffic immediately on your own site – but the traffic isn’t necessarily very loyal. They won’t stay long, they won’t click on ads and they may never come back. But, by friending the right folks, you may bring some more awareness to your brand, books, services and reputation which could get you more attention and links back to your blog or website down the road.

Here’s a primer on how you might build up your friends and traffic using SU:

1)    Friend as many people as you can. Start with real life friends or acquaintances and then friend the friends of those folks. I tend to friend people who have some sort of travel theme in their name.
2)    Pay attention to those with a large number of subscribers. People with 300+ are the best but you can still be friends with those that have fewer.
3)    Start a spreadsheet that has a row for their SU names, the article name and then the date you request a stumble. Make a note (mine are highlighted in red) next to those with a high number of subscribers.
4)    To request stumbles, usually I go into my SU account, go to my friends tab and start requesting stumbles from people who are currently online. Those people show at the top of your list and then it descends to who hasn’t been online in a long time. (Forget people who haven’t been on in weeks.) I send the people at the top of the list messages using the tab on the far right that says: Send a message. And then I just ask nicely…

Hi,

Would love a stumble on this article if you like it. Comments appreciated!

URL

Thanks and happy to return the favor!

Beth

There is a Stumbleupon application that you need to download into your browser that will allow you to give a thumbs up (stumble) to web pages. Be a good social networker and stumble other people’s posts and pages often. To find the SU toolbar, log in to SU, scroll down to the bottom, look under About and Download the Toolbar.

This same application allows you to send links to your friends for pages you like (like yours!) without signing into the SU homepage. This is the “Send To” link that has the dropdown of your SU friends. I get tons of requests from this and recently decided to stumble the requests I got and then ask for one in return. This method didn’t work so well for me. I hardly got any traffic from these folks. It could be that they aren’t stumbling in return or they aren’t quality stumblers so it’s not making the rounds. So, I’ve abandoned that method and am now only asking people to stumble when I’m logged in and can send them a direct message (see #4).

If you have a person who has a lot of subscribers “Discover” your article (meaning they are the first ones to Stumble it) – you’ll get A LOT more traffic than someone with few subscribers – even if that high volume person eventually stumbles it.

5)    I track everyone I request a stumble from (in that spreadsheet) so that I’m not asking the same people over and over and I’m not asking them too often.

With so many other of the social networking sites, spend 30 minutes a day for a month building up your friends and then start workin’ it to your benefit.

Now go outside and get some fresh air 🙂