Monday, May 12, 2014

Social Media in Real Time, Real People


Most of us know we’re not getting rich writing books. Royalty checks can be lean to non-existent; well-trafficked blogs with informative guest posts don’t necessarily translate into book sales. The competition is fierce.

So why keep at it?

One of the most powerful incentives is the people you meet. Connections that start in that nebulous space called social media can led to real people, real time.

                                       *****
Sonia Marsh arrived on a gray May evening from the airport in Philadelphia. She was here to present a workshop before leaving for Spain. Fellow author and friend Kathy Pooler arrived at the Amtrak station earlier that day. Before we knew it, the three of us were laughing and sharing stories over a glass of wine at a nearby Italian restaurant.

We traded “are we crazy?” stories related to the hard 24/7 work of being an author entrepreneur. When we got home, we shared more stories around my kitchen table with my yellow Lab, Lily, at our feet.

The next day the sun broke through, the magnolias and azaleas bloomed and our conversation continued as we walked Lily.

That night Sonia presented a workshop for the Women's Writing Circle called "The Author Entrepreneur."  Jerry Waxler, author of Memoir Revolution, who lives in the Philadelphia area, joined us on my deck before we left for the workshop. Sonia and Jerry, who had featured each other on their blogs, had never before met in person, nor had Sonia and Kathy who recently did a Google hang-out together. I had met Jerry and Kathy before; both had taught writing workshops for Women's Writing Circle.

By the time Kathy and Sonia left the following morning, we embraced and laughed, "See you on Facebook!" I felt renewed by these two amazing women who had so generously shared their hearts, their stories, their talents.

Kitchen table talk with Sonia and Kathy

Highlights from Sonia’s workshop:

  • If you have an idea, you can reach people.
  • Successful authors view themselves as entrepreneurs.
  • Additional ventures that branch off your book are necessary to produce income.
  • These are the worst of times to be an author because the competition is so fierce, but the best of times because with hard work and due diligence you can find a path to publishing.
  • The author is the brand. The best showcase is your blog.
  • Figure your niche early on. 
  • Print up ARC (advanced reader copies) of your book and send to other authors who have written about topics similar to yours and invite them to write a review or offer an endorsement. Try to have reviews on Amazon by publishing date.
  • Be ready to take on the role of juggler because the myriad tasks of being an author, whether you go the self-publishing route or publish through a small press, requires it.
  • Start your own Facebook group.
  • Hold raffles, offer prizes, seek donations from local businesses at your signings and author events
  • Promote contests and giveaways on your blog.
  • Sonia's memoir takes place in Belize so she pitched travel stores (REI) to speak and hold signings.
  • Print up cards to go on the inside of your book, letting readers know that reviews are an author’s best friend and if they write a review on Amazon you would be most grateful.
  • Make it fun.
  • Networking and social media are everything.
  • Google your theme. See what else is out there.
  • Before you publish, ask the following questions: Who’s going to buy my book? Who’s going to read my book? Who’s going to refer my book?
  • Seek out groups in the community; Meetups, TED talks about guest speaker opportunities.
With Jerry Waxler and Kathy Pooler


And from Kathy Pooler: "Most new authors feel intimidated and ill-prepared to be their own marketing agents. Sonia’s workshop is unique. She speaks from personal experience and tracks her own path to publication. She humanizes the marketing process through her creative ideas, sense of humor and shared success stories. The workshop appeals to writers of all levels. For me, it reinforced the importance of blogging and social media and provided me with some new ideas about my own marketing plan.

Just as valuable were the conversations around Susan’s kitchen table and patio as we shared specific ideas about our memoir writing journeys. I left with more clarity about my target audience and with some specific questions about my themes I will use to develop a Book Discussion section for my memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse. We really are all enriched, inspired and enlightened when we share our stories."

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