Five Social Networking Tips for Authors

Contrary to what one might think, simply joining Twitter and Facebook and posting once in a while doesn’t mean that you are actually networking. Networking requires human involvement and care and feeding of your various channels of outreach. It's important because having the right people in your network can propel you forward in ways that you may not even begin to realize. The right individuals can help you reach the masses, can help you land deals and score the best opportunities.

That’s fine and great, Crystal, I hear you say, but how do you know if you are connecting to the right people? Unfortunately, you don’t always know. Sometimes the best opportunities come in unexpected places. You have to strike a balance between targeting who you want to network with and casting a wide net. What I can guarantee is that those valuable connections won’t pop up if you aren’t putting yourself out there and building relationships with others.

And by relationships, oftentimes I am talking about memorable touchpoints that become something else. For example, one of the individuals that engages with me regularly on Twitter is another writer in the same genre as my forthcoming book. She doesn’t have a large audience on Twitter, but I do. The casual (not creepy, not stalker-y) conversation that she’s had with me over time has (even if she doesn’t know this yet), built in a near guarantee that when her next book is out I’ll be shouting that out to my nearly 18K followers.  Free advertising for her simply because she has expressed an interest in my content and what I’m talking about and done it in a way that feels genuine.

She is one step ahead for being nice. For being interested. That is mostly all you need to do…but you need to bust this side of you out in public regularly to truly build a network that will make a big difference for you.

So how does an author go beyond the page and make connections with other individuals?

1. Be selective—choose a few targeted individuals that you think may share an interest with you.
Figure out who the influencers in your genre might be, but be realistic. Engaging with Lady Gaga over Twitter to try and get her interested in your rock music memoir might not get you too far. But if you figure out who the Rolling Stone books editor is or identify an influential music blogger, you might have better luck.  But don’t throw your book at them. Don’t beg them to review it. Instead, hopefully many, many, months before your book comes out, you begin to comment periodically on things they are sharing. Be genuinely curious but respectful. Don’t talk about yourself unless it’s relevant to something specific that can help you create an affinity link, e.g. “I have a ragdoll cat too! They really are the stoner of cats, aren’t they?” Don’t be weird, or too in their face. Be honest and interested. A tweet or post once every few weeks is all it takes. Then, when your book lands across their desk, or you ask them for a blurb, or if you want them to consider you for an interview, your name is already familiar to them.  And maybe, even more importantly, you have the beginning of a friendship that is way better than what you expected. It’s happened to me more than once.

2. Join relevant groups and comment.
Recently, I joined a Facebook group for food writers and as part of that group, I’ve made a number of comments on various topics. One my comments caught the eye of someone who happened to know a historian who might be a good fit for me to speak with as part of my research on my second novel. She made the connection for me and now I'm setting up time to meet with someone who I think will be invaluable for me in helping to get my story details right. I would never have had this connection if I hadn’t been an active part of the group. I’ve seen this time and time again…participating regularly in a group where you get a chance to know various people pays off in the most unexpected ways. I still have contacts that I have interacted with for nearly 15 years that I met in online groups way back when. In many cases, those original groups are gone but those connections are still there. These are people I will always champion and I know will champion me. Which brings me to...

3. Champion others.
If you love a good book, tell the world. Go to readings and tell other people about them. Congratulate authors on their new book deal. And when you do, connect up with the author at the same time with a mention. 

I call this “Book Karma” and when you give out the goodness, you’ll get it back. And the best part about this book karma is that when you give this book love out in a genuine, interested way, you get far more back than the connection. You get a new story, a new experience and pretty soon you realize that what you are doing in championing the people around you is something good and wonderful and fun. And down the road, the bonus is that they may help you and they may tell others to help you. It’s a win-win, in my opinion. And for the record, I AM honestly super excited about Michelle Hoover’s book and the event!  Next Thursday, March 3 at The Burren in Somerville. Sign up here.

4. Share great content and do it regularly
I wrote a whole blog post on where to find great content, so I won’t dive too deeply into that here, but I do want to talk about how it will help you build relationships. I post a lot of content to my channels and I do it on a fairly regular basis, Buffering content to queue up at certain times. This does a few things for me. It helps me to:

  1. attract an audience
  2. retain that audience
  3. make my name memorable for others and
  4. provide all sorts of fodder for great discussion.

In other words, I give people a reason to interact with me. And they do! All sorts of commentary, congratulations, sharing of experiences. Even better, they share my content because it’s interesting, thus spreading my name out even further into the world. It’s work, but it’s one of the best things I can do to build a network of potential readers.

5. Ask questions
Be curious! People love to talk about themselves. In asking a question you are creating a potential memorable touchpoint. You are opening and creating new dialogue. You can ask questions on your social channels to get feedback from others. Ask others about their projects. Find out what inspires other people. There are so many great places to ask questions—comment on blogs, in forums, on Twitter, in Facebook. Your interest will open new doors into places you hadn’t imagined, helping to forge important, new bonds.

Crystal will be speaking at the upcoming Grub Street Muse & the Marketplace Conference in two sessions:
            The Writer’s Electronic Toolbox – Organize and Streamline Your Writing
            How to Use Social Media for Self-Promotion and Not Be Annoying
Time is running out to register! Get your ticket to the country’s best writing conference now!

About the Author

Crystal King is a 20-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website: crystalking.com

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