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Social Media Phobic? Facebook is (Still) Your Friend

by Sharon Bially on August 24, 2018

The news about Facebook’s embroilment in a data-harvesting-cum-political scandal kind of makes us all want to unfriend the platform for good.

For sure, our collective conscience would be cleaner and we’d all be a lot less distracted without it. Some of us would probably even feel a vengeful twinge of self-righteousness seeing Zuckerberg and his cohorts caught at last with the smoking gun that proves their invention is not only bad for us, but just downright bad.

While a breakup with Facebook might inflict some short-term suffering on most folks — pain from the loss of online friendships and a hollow void in that space between minutes that status updates used to fill — for writers and authors, it would pose a nearly existential dilemma.

For better or for worse, Facebook is still the platform for authors from a community-building and visibility perspective, with its unsurpassed power to spread the word, engage readers, and generate promotional opportunities. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat combined could never pack the same punch that Facebook schmoozing can.

Throughout all my years as a writer and a publicist helping writers, a few constants about Facebook have reinforced this belief:

Friends

Yep, Facebook connects friends. Meaning, generally, you have an actual, organic connection with most of the people in your Facebook network–especially on your personal page, and even on your author page if you don’t use boosted posts (advertising). Even as your network grows, there is typically a common thread among the people who join it: friends from high school, from college, from your first job way back when. People your older sister knew when you were kids who you kind of remember drinking your first beer with. Even old love interests.

Most other social platforms bring a lot more total strangers into the mix.  But when real friends are involved–or friends of friends, or ex colleagues and ex lovers–the interest in what you’re doing and what you’re writing is a lot more real. Authors have told me time and again that Facebook has had an incredible ability to interest people in their books. That people were actually listening. And that they cared enough to comment, shared, make introductions and, yes, to buy books.

Think about it. If someone you used to tease or have a crush on in high school wrote a book, wouldn’t you be the least bit tempted to read it?

Book club invitations

This is something else I’ve seen time and again: with all those friends come invitations. When they see you’ve published a book, people you know or once knew magically crawl out of the woodwork and open their doors. Neighbors, teachers in town, your kids’ friends’ parents….Invitations suddenly pop up in your message box.  Beyond your own network, book clubs have Facebook groups. Joining them, or “friending” the organizers is a great way to get a foot in the door.

Speaking and writing invitations

You never know where connections forged on Facebook may lead — especially when you start connecting with fellow writers. Many authors I’ve worked with have been invited to guest post on blogs and online outlets by simply interacting with like-minded authors and bloggers on Facebook. I’ve seen speaking opportunities beyond book clubs materialize too, such as at Rotary clubs or schools. All of which brings more connections, and more visibility…

Encouragement of sales

Although it’s nice to fantasize that your author event at a brick-and-mortar bookstore will drive significant sales, it’s (almost definitely) not going to happen.

That’s because most sales happen in one place these days: online.

Facebook gives you the venue to link to your book’s Amazon page, converting regular people in their pajamas into paying customers if you’ve come up with something clever or interesting to say. Make sure your posts are genuine, and only post about your book once every five or six posts. You don’t want to be “pushy”, but you do want to celebrate your book and make sure others know it’s out there!

Exposure to new opportunities

Facebook is the place to soak up knowledge about all sorts of new opportunities you can seize. Facebook’s “events” feature — one if its most popular features — allows you to find author readings, get-togethers and conferences that you can attend to foster connections with the writerly community in your area. (Keep in mind, this will also be a great place to create an event about your upcoming launch party or reading).

Aside from events, Facebook can also reveal new contests or outlets to submit your writing to.

User Friendliness – Even for Social Media-phobics

Even in this uber-connected world there are plenty of social media phobics — especially in the writing community, surprising though it may sound. Some feel, understandably, that something as precious and well-thought-out as a novel shouldn’t be touted around in a noisy, careless echo chamber filled with Trump memes and live videos of the Kardashians. Others simply can’t get their minds around all the likes and retweets and hashtags and feeds.

But while it’s far from perfect, Facebook is relatively simple to use. And once you’ve gotten the basics down, there’s no need to learn too much more.

So if Cambridge Analytica-gate has brought you to the brink of unfriending Facebook, my advice is: let it go. Friends do have flaws.  And if you’re resistant to jumping into the social media fray but are hungry for community, conversation and some exposure, I’d say: give it a try.  While you’re at it, join the Writer Unboxed Facebook Group if you haven’t already. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised – and rewarded.

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BookSavvy Author News Roundup — July

by Sharon Bially on August 2, 2018

From beach to business reads, this summer has been a hot time for our authors in the media. Whether it’s on-air, online or in print, we’re always excited to help our authors gain more exposure for their books and brands.

Here are just a few places – beyond the bookshelves – you may have seen our authors:

Forbes ran this article by Nick Craig, author of Leading From Purpose, on the importance of pursuing one’s purpose before one’s cause.

Recruiter.com also featured a piece about purpose-driven leadership by Nick Craig.

TrainingMag featured  an essay by Tim Pollard, CEO of Oratium and author of The Compelling Communicator, about shaping leaders to be great communicators.

Indypendently ran this service piece by Ally Lozano, author of Be the CEO of Your Own Law Firm, on the importance of having a contract as a freelancer.

KZIM-AM / KSIM-AM in the St. Louis market area interviewed Michael Delman, author of Your Kid’s Gonna Be Okay about his expertise on navigating a competitive parenting landscape.

The Hemingway Society reviewed Mark Lurie’s Galantière: The Lost Generation’s Forgotten Man, calling it, “informative, and very readable”.

Martech Advisor featured the new concept from EchoPix — how to give selflessly through selfies. EchoPix is a nonprofit launched by the BookSavvy author writing as William Hawk.

The Day in New London, CT warmly reviewed Gary Maynard’s novel Plumbelly. We love local coverage!

Motherhood Moment interviewed Gary Maynard about how fiction can raise awareness about child abuse.

Library of Clean Reads reviewed Vandana Shiva: Creative Civil Disobedience, by Lionel Astruc, encouraging #seedfreedom for all.

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One Important Question You May Not Be Asking Your Publicist

by Sharon Bially on February 19, 2018

There’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to shelling out for a publicist. Don’t get us wrong, we’re firm believers in the power of publicity! But if you hire a good publicist, they will be the first to tell you that there are no guarantees where media attention is concerned. News cycles can change in the blink of an eye, which means that even if you want everyone to be looking at your book, no matter how good it is or how well it is being pitched, the media may have their eyes glued to the president’s latest gaffe, a major celebrity divorce, or what Stephen King just tweeted. Throw a new Ann Patchett novel into the mix and it’s absolute madness.

Because of the relatively high uncertainty factor, we get a bevy of questions from authors who retain our services. Most are new to hiring PR professionals and so, understandably, they look for ways to understand what we’re doing and to gauge and track our progress.

A vast majority of the questions we receive revolve around whowe are pitching. This is a sensible question — you can’t get your book into the hands of a reviewer unless that reviewer is pitched. We even hold a call with our authors to determine what their “wish list” is — combing through outlets and contacts they’d like to make sure we include in their press lists.

But there’s one question we rarely hear, and as PR insiders, we think of it as the magic question — the litmus test of whether or not your PR campaign will be as successful as possible:

How and when do you follow up with the press contacts you’ve pitched?

In the world of PR, follow-up is critical. This is true for two major reasons: First, you want to make sure you get a hold of the clips of reviews, interviews and features your campaign generates. Then you can get more mileage out of press coverage and magnify your book’s visibility by posting them to your social media channels. Next, follow-up fosters healthy relationships between your brand and the media. It signals to the media that you and your publicist take your product (i.e., book) seriously, and expect them to do the same.

There are several junctures at which follow-up should ideally happen:

After sending press releases and pitching your book, your publicist should follow up with the press:

  • By phone with outlets in your local market. I.e., If you’re from Santa Cruz, they should be trying to get someone from the Santa Cruz Sentinel on the line. Phone calls may seem old school, but in certain cases they are highly effective.
  • By email with all non-local media who requested copies of the book or author interviews during the initial round of pitching. Ideally, your PR firm will follow up immediately concerning interviews and within 2 weeks of book mailing to keep tabs on the status of  upcoming reviews and feature coverage.
  • By social media where email isn’t an option. Since some reporters don’t share their email addresses — ever — Twitter and sometimes Facebook or LinkedIn messages can be great ways to get their attention.

After the initial round of follow ups, your publicist should:

  • Check in at regular intervals (ideally monthly) via email with those who requested review copies, asking after the progress of reviews and features. (If monthly sounds too slow, keep in mind that people will actually be reading your book in addition to writing reviews or feature articles about it, all of which takes time.)
  • Follow up ASAP after any interview you complete in order to get a link to the published article or on-air conversation.

All too often, some or even all of these follow up steps slip through the cracks. But a PR campaign without follow up is like trying to start a fire with no spark.

So, is your publicist following up?

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