Thursday, September 5, 2013

End of the road

Hello all. I'm afraid Social Media News for Writers has come to an end. My circumstances are changing vis-a-vis my day job and I will no longer be able to produce the column. Sorry about that. Hope you found it helpful for the months that it ran and best of luck with your writing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's new, sell more books online & everywhere else, social fiction

In this week's social media news for writers: new and improved at Twitter and Facebook; the state of blogging; sell more books online; and is the day coming when books will be sold everywhere?

State of the blogosphere (I used to love those Technorati reports): Many writers ask, 'should I blog'? Here's my answer: probably not. Blogging today is not at all like it was even a couple years ago. While there are tons of bloggers, internet users' reading habits have changed dramatically (see 'the link economy'.) It is harder than ever to gain traction with readers. That said, there are still a few times when having a serious blog makes sense--for instance, if you write non-fiction, it can help establish your bona fides. If you are interested in who is blogging these days, their motivations and, most importantly, if they make any money at it, you might want to see the entire infographic here.  The photo above captures the part of the infographic that talks about the highest-earning blogs, which translates into those with the most eyeballs on screens, which means maybe blogs on which you want to consider advertising or getting mentioned. Just a thought.

Sell more books online: Beth Bacon wrote a good article for Digital Book World on how to sell more books online and her advice is (1) brand curation, (2) relationship marketing, and (3) produce a quality book. Good basic advice here for self- and traditionally pubbed authors alike.

Marketing is a costume: Seth Godin on the function of artifice: "costumes are an artifice designed to remind us of something else. So packaging is a costume. The experience of entering a store is a costume." If you feel like your book's integrity--or even your own integrity--is on the line whenever you talk about marketing or promotion, you might appreciate Mr. Godin's advice.

Facebook allowing shared albums: Facebook just announced that they've created shared albums, where you can allow up to 50 friends to post up to 2000 photos in an album. I can think of one way to use this, maybe for events, you could invite people who attended to post pictures. It might be a nice way to share the magic of live events with a wider audience and improve engagement. More short Facebook links:

In case you were wondering why you're seeing these ribbons connecting some of your posts on Twitter, Twitter just introduced this way to track conversations. Do you like it, or find it annoying? Twitter links:

  • Another story on fake Twitter followers and what it does to your credibility.
  • Three things companies do on Twitter to brand themselves that people hate.
  • We've talked about Twitter lists before, but if you still don't get the concept, this article should explain it all to you.
  • I'm often asked by Twitter newbies, 'what do I say on Twitter?' This article talks about the five styles commonly seen on Twitter that should clear up the mystery.

Any store can be a book store: Is the day coming where any store will be selling books? So says new company Book Shout! "The day is coming where anytime you spend $100 or more on Nike shoes, you’ll get an ebook on Lebron James or Tim Tebow. When you buy lumber at Home Depot, you’ll receive Tim “Tool Time” Taylor’s ebook on “How to Build a Military-Grade Tree House.” If you get your hair “done” or buy monthly facial products at Aveda, you’ll automatically become part of their Book of the Month Club where you can dish with other fans about 50 Shades of Grey or Desperate Housewives. When you buy your Hunger Games movie ticket, you’ll be asked if you want to bundle the associated ebook." Read more about this initiatives here.

Social fiction: A new form of storytelling? Why shouldn't a story be more like our real lives, our social media lives? Why can't a story be told episodically through a character's Facebook page or Twitter feed? that's just what this company proposes to do and they call their invention social fiction.

Why this author isn't self-publishing right now. This video from Bookbaby explains why that might be: bestselling indie author says she writes 90 mins a day, does online promotion for 10-12 hours.

Instagram: Trying to figure out how to market on Instagram? Here's what these companies are doing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What do social media marketers do, anyway; a Pinterest primer and more

Welcome to the new site for Social Media News for Writers! Like a child who's turned 13, I figured SMNW had outgrown sharing its space with my personal book news and it was time for SMNW to have a room of its own. I wussed out on moving to Word Press, though (Blogger was easier. And free). Anyway, I would appreciate it a whole lot if you would invite your writer friends to check out the new digs. And feel free to subscribe to the blog by email so you'll never miss a new post. Now, let's get on to this week's news: a social media marketer shares her daily routine (and gives you an idea of how to manage your time), traditional vs. self publishing by the numbers (thanks, Courtney Milan!), a primer on the ins and outs of Pinterest, tips for a more successful live event, cheap help for minor graphic design fixes, and how to promote your book on Google+. But first--an infographic! 

Even more Facebook statistics: 40 percent of Americans use FB every day. And, according to Pew, which is absolutely obsessed with social media usage by Americans, it is a myth that youngsters use Pinterest and Instagram more than adults. Or that young people are staying away from Facebook. Another urban myth bites the dust.

A day in the life of a social media marketer: Many of us probably dream of being able to hire someone to take care of our social media duties for us (and some lucky writers do just that. I'd love to get a couple of them to tell me how much it costs and what they get for their money.) In case you were wondering what a social media professional does, take a look at "A Day in the Life of a Social Media Marketer" from Social Media Today. It should give you an idea what you should be doing to promote yourself and how much time you should spend doing it. Btw, I quibble with her estimate that she spends two minutes promoting her post across various platforms. Two minutes doesn't get you very far, no matter how fast you type. 

What are your rights worth? Smart cookie and romance author Courtney Milan shows you how to think about whether you're better off going with a traditional publisher or publishing yourself by running the numbers. *Your actual mileage may vary.

How to get more followers on Pinterest: The principles for building an audience on any social media platform are pretty much the same--interact with others--but this article from Social Media Examiner talks you through the ins and outs of Pinterest.

And if Pinterest plays big in the marketing plans for your book--say, if you have a cookbook or wedding planning guide--you or your publisher might want to subscribe to Pin League, a Pinterest analytics tool. For example, it will help you find the big pinners in your category. Analytics are still kind of scarce on Pinterest itself; hopefully Pin League can help fill this gap.

Graphic design help: I don't know about you but one of my biggest problems these days is finding a good graphic designer. Someone who is proficient in the style I need and can do good work quickly, but doesn't charge an arm and a leg. So I was excited to see that 99designs, a crowdsourced graphic design site, launched Swiftly, which offers small design fixes for a $15 flat fee. They're talking really tiny, though: adjustments to existing projects, like adding a new logo to your banner ads or cleaning up your business card.

Tips for a more successful live event: PW's Shelftalker columnist and bookstore owner Josie Leavitt tells us how she promotes live events in her store.

Using Google+ to promote your book: With 500 million users, Google+ is touted as the second largest social network in the world. That would seem to make it an ideal place to meet potential readers, yes? This article from Digital Book World gives five simple tips to get you started.

Mashable's list of the 10 most talked-about brands on Facebook: Coke has over 1 million people talking about it on FB. Maybe we authors have little in common with a giant brand like Coke, but we can take a look at this FB pages to see if there's an idea or two (a great contest, a theme) to steal.

How not to tell a dystopian tale: Okay, this isn't social media but it's in Wired so it's fair game. Using Elysium as an example, Wired tells you how not to suck the life out of your dystopian story.

For the geeks: This just in: Facebook uses four different kind of servers according to a manufacturer who supplies, uhm, at least some of them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How much money does Amazon make from Kindle, new publishing models and more

How much money does Amazon make off the Kindle ecosystem; a new publishing model for non-fiction with cinematic appeal; being positive on social media pays off; understanding recommendation engines; and more in this week's social media news.

An interesting new publishing model that you should know about: journalists Josh Bearman, who wrote the article that the movie Argo was based on, and Joshua Davis, who has also sold film rights to a couple of his articles, recently started Epic, a site for long non-fiction pieces. But not just any articles: the two men started the site specifically to launch pieces with cinematic possibility. As reported in the NY Times, Epic is "a kind of online literary platform that will commission and publish big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies. They are trying to build a model for long-form journalism where the revenue generated over the entire life of a story--magazine fees, sales on and Amazon Kindle singles, ancillary film and television rights--can be used to finance the costs of reporting." Is it a new way to support long-form journalism and to find it a new audience in these times of falling newspaper and magazine readership?

Another interesting new model: an author-run publishing company. Forty science fiction and fantasy writers working together have produced and published over 200 books. Read about it in this article in Publishing Perspectives.  

Amazon is really cagey about how many Kindles and ebooks they sell. Amazon just doesn't share its data. So it's interesting to see this story on All Things D, which reports that Morgan Stanley estimates that Amazon will sell about $4.5 billion in Kindles and tablets in 2013, up 26 percent over last year. It also estimates that Amazon will do $3.7 billion in digital media services (that includes movies, games and music in addition to ebooks, don't get excited that people have suddenly become more literate) and will jump to nearly $6 billion in sales next year. Morgan Stanley estimates that the entire Kindle ecosystem contributes 23 percent to Amazon's operating profit.

"Vilifying Amazon makes no sense": No doubt about it, Amazon plays a big role in the disruption of the publishing business today. It's not as simple as good/bad. There are reasons to dislike it, to question its motives and business practices, just as there are reasons to embrace it, like it--heck, even be grateful for it. In this interview for Publishing Perspectives, Seth Godin talks about why he thinks we're in a "golden age for books" thanks, in part, to Amazon, the evolution in book selling, and the role of book stores.

Positivity helps: This bit of research bears out what you probably know intuitively: positive news on social media is more likely to be widely shared than negative or neutral information. People were more likely to share your post on Facebook or other social sites if it already had a few 'likes', too, indicating that prior ratings can create significant bias in subsequent users.

Would you join a social site for instant messaging? IMO is still in beta but you can ask to join. You can search through profiles of all the members and IM anyone who strikes your fancy. I can see where this become like a Google Hangout or a Reddit AMA: a site you can use to talk to your fans or followers. Tell them to join you on IMO at a set date and time. If you're an early adopter type, you might want to check it out.

Recommendation engines are a special kind of algorithm. These are the algorithms that make suggestions for you based on your previous viewing or buying activity. It's hard to make a good recommendation engine. Those on commerce sites are, shall we say, suspect (who knows if someone is paying a fee to have their book or product pushed to you, regardless of its applicability?) If you'd like to learn a little bit about how recommendation engines work, you might as well as learn from what most people consider the best in the business, Netflix.

Let's play the lightning round! A bunch of quick takes:

  • Instagram has a video feature similar to Vine's. How might you use it? This article in Mashable shows how some brands--Gap, Lulumon, Nowthisnews--are doing it.
  • Do you sometimes feel like Twitter is just a bunch of drive-by conversations? Looking for a better way to connect with your followers on TwitterNestivity is a new tool that's supposed designed to do just that. Free at the basic level, advanced levels offers the ability to do tweetcasts.
  • Facebook continues to steal strategies to boost traffic from Twitter, now encouraging celebrities to post more. The other thing they lifted are trending topics. And of course, they launched hashtags just a few months ago.
  • Mashable has launched its own book club. They say that they'll be doing mostly fiction. If you're looking for a nerdy, hipster book club this may be the place for you.
  • Itching to do business on Tumblr? It now has a blog to help you do just that: Marketr