Another Idea for Snowballing

What if you’re too shy to tell people to do a favor for you in order to get the word out about your books?

Reading Alex Frey’s guest post gave me an idea for writing a post on how I would social network and use the snowballing effect to my advantage.  There are several ways to do something, and I thought while Alex’s way might work for some, for those who are more introverted (like me), another approach might work better.  I couldn’t ask someone to tweet or blog or even review my book.  I’m not comfortable doing that because that method is not a good fit for my personality. However, I do believe in the idea of snowballing.  So after thinking about it, I came up with this post.  :D

I agree that the current way of pitching books on Twitter and Facebook aren’t very effective.  So he and I agree on a lot of points.  I’ve also “liked” Facebook pages but never went back to them.  Why?  Because there was no reason to.

After a couple years of fiddling with different ideas on Twitter and Facebook, this is what I’ve come up with in regards to snowballing.

The first thing I do is have a WordPress blog which people can subscribe to, so make sure that “follow” button is up for them to click.  That way, they can get an email whenever you make a post, and this will remind them you exist.  :D

Now, what do you put on this blog?  I used to have a first draft blog on mine.  After my run-in with copyright infringement, I post a book that is already published, which means I have the US Copyright registration form in my hand so I can run down to the copyright lawyer should the need arise.  The minus is that the readers are no longer involved in the creative process, which I admit was a lot of fun and made me more aware of what they wanted than anything else I’ve done.  But you know, that’s what beta readers are for.  :)

What is the benefit to posting your book on a blog?  I believe your best marketing tool is your book.  What do readers get excited about?  The book. They might be interested in you as a person, but until they enjoy your work, I don’t think they’re going to be overly concerned with you personally.  It all starts with a book and the desire to read more of your books.

A story blog allows them to find you.  But…how do you get the word out?

This is where my version of the snowball effect takes place.

1.  Make a 500-700 word post on your story blog. (This can be first draft or the finished product.  It’s up to you.)

2.  Put the link to this post on Twitter and your Facebook Page.

I used to post the first draft blog posts on my main Facebook page, but now I have a blog dedicated to updates on what I’m doing, character interviews, and excerpts from my works in progress.  I use this blog to post on my main Facebook page.

I also have a “Ruth Ann Nordin’s Author Page” (aka my fan page) on Facebook.  I use my story blog to daily posts of 500-700 words a day from an already published and copyright registered book.  And when each post is done, I link it to my author page on Facebook.

I think it’s important to make it the Facebook Author Page a general one, meaning it’s just your author name like “Ruth Ann Nordin’s Author Page”.  I see authors doing a page for every book, but honestly, I don’t have the time it takes to update every page for all of my books.  When you have one or two books, it’s easy enough, but 23 romances and counting?  Life is easier if you simplify and make a basic author page for all of your books.

3.  Your readers can share your story posts on Facebook and Twitter with their friends.

I agree that word of mouth is far more effective than anything we can do, and it’s the one thing that you can’t pay for or do yourself.  You have to rely on others to do this for you.  The free story on your blog is incentive to get people to check your work out, and since you’re making posts every day, it’s an ongoing process, which allows more and more readers to find you and spread the word.  It’s a slow process and will take about six months to a year to gain serious traction, but I believe if you stick with it, offer a compelling book that makes them want to keep reading, and are dependable with posting every day or three days a week (whatever you choose), you can make it work.

5.  Another idea is character interviews or a tabloid paper.

I use character interviews for my upcoming books, and I’ve found these posts to be very popular with my readers who then get excited about the upcoming books. (As a side note: I usually do an excerpt from my work in progress and then do a character interview so the characters can talk about the excerpt.)  On this blog, I also post updates on my writing and announce when I publish a new book.  I also have widgets to the right that lets everyone know how far along I’m in my works in progress.  I also state when the first draft is done, when it’s with the editor, when I’m tweaking on it, when it’s with proofreaders, when it’s in the final stage (last look-through) and then when it’s published.  The widgets keep people updated on the new books at a glance.  I will make blog posts to update in more detail, but for the most part, the widgets are the “Hey guys, a new book is coming soon!” promotion that I do.  I also have the book covers already made to help gain enthusiasm (for me and for the reader) because a cover is worth a million words and helps gain an impression of the book before it’s even read.  It’s also good to gain familiarity with it so it’s easily recognizable when you publish it.  I already linked the blog, but I’ll do it again in case you didn’t click on the link before or want a better look at what I do over there.

(As a side note, you can do updates on the story blog, but I’d make it a quick blurb before the post.  So you can say, “I just published book X and it’s available at…..” and then do the 500 to 700 word daily post.)

Regarding a tabloid, Stephannie Beman does awesome tabloid posts.  They take events that happen in her books and makes them sound exciting.  You can see what I mean by going to her site.  They’re brief and uses keywords that entice readers to want to know more.  I wouldn’t do well in this area, but I do better with character interviews.  She said she doesn’t do well with characters interviews but loves doing this.  So this is why I say different methods work for different authors.  But see, she shares her posts on Facebook and Twitter where her readers can share them with others, and that helps to get a snowball rolling as well.

6.  The key is to talk about your books, not sales or writing trends, etc.

Your readers are interested in your books.  They don’t care what reviews you get, how much you sell, what’s going on with publishing, etc.  They want content.  If you want to share your writing experiences (and I do, too), make a blog dedicated to writers, and keep this separate from the one you dedicate to your readers.  And you can promote your books without saying “buy it”.  Make the books intriguing.  Maybe a character writes a scene that never made it into the book or wants to tell you off because you did something differently than what they wanted.  Characters arguing with the writer can provide a lot of humor.  Give life to your characters outside the book.  Chances are, your readers have developed an emotional connection with them, so seeing them again or even before the next book in a series is published can be a lot of fun.

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10 thoughts on “Another Idea for Snowballing

  1. Very interesting post, Ruth. I like the idea that readers want content rather than reviews or sales figures. I’ve been thinking about doing an interview with my character, Libby Fox, for a while. Maybe I should do that soon.

    • My readers love the character interviews. I find they not only intrigue people to read the book but also make the character feel more real to them. Sometimes they’ll even comment to the character and the character will comment back. :D That is a lot of fun.

  2. Love the post! I agree with Lauralynn. I love the idea that readers want content rather than all the stuff that seems to matter to us in a day-to-day survival way. I wonder, how do you decide what is appropriate to release in this way and what you should save for the book?

    • You mean what to post to intrigue a reader? I write romance, and if my characters aren’t happy with each other, they can argue with me about how wrong they are for each other and how they will never have the happy ending. I usually do this after I make a post exerpt from my book which shows a scene where they are arguing. I find doing a scene that I really like and following it up with an interview where the characters chime in on it gets my readers excited about the book. I don’t post anything that comes from the second half of the book where things are starting to get resolved. I pick out things from the first half. Now if you were doing a thriller and a great suspense-filled scene took place close to the end of the book, you could post that but leave it on a cliffhanger with the characters guessing how things will play out. I find the best interviews are those where the characters don’t like what I’m writing the book and argue with me. :) Does that help or is there something more specific you were thinking about?

  3. Thanks Ruth, definately another avenue / string to your bow. All very interesting too…be good to hear how it works for you over say a 3-6 month period … ie increase of blog hits or long term sales too. :) Have a great Sunday all.

    • I think I started using the character interview and story excerpt technique since last summer when Rose Gordon did it on her blog and I had a lot of fun reading her posts. I have more fun blogging now, though I do still give the general “I’m doing this or that” updates. I tend to get more hits if I do a character interview than the excerpts, which is why I try to put them close together and base the interviews from the excerpts. You write nonfiction though, right? Your area seems to be spiritual enlightenment from what I’ve seen. I wonder if giving a section of your book and maybe expanding on it in some posts would work. Obviously, you don’t want to give your whole book away. It’s easier to intrigue through scenes in fiction, I’d think, than doing that with nonficiton and character interviews wouldn’t apply. I wonder if you might find interest in commenting on news and trends going on right now. There’s a Christian author who writes on transhumanism in his nonfiction books who will do posts on news and other books out there that tackle the genetic research and robotic technology angle. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the spiritual area and your insight into it might make for some good posts. One technique that might also work is to take a popular author or celebrity who shares your thoughts on an issue and maybe expound on what they said or wrote with your personal perspective on it. Some people like to argue with others on blog posts, but I prefer to compliment people. This is why I don’t write political posts. :D But you can gain a following by arguing a point of view too if you choose that route. It’s how a lot of political commentators make their living.

  4. Ruth Ann, I really like your idea! I stopped by via a recommendation from Lauralynn Elliot, and am glad I did! I lack sufficient boldness to use Alex’s method…I’m uncomfortable with ‘pushy’. Your idea allows for exposure, leaving the reader to take it from there with no pressure. Now that’s a stategy I can feel comfortable with.

    • Lauralynn is one of the sweetest writers I’ve met, so I’m thrilled she recommended my post. :D I can’t get up the nerve to ask anyone for a review, even if they email me to tell me how much they loved my book. So I’m as shy as they come when marketing is involved. I have seen Alex’s method work great for some authors, but I was thinking, “What if someone can’t ask someone to pass along their book information to someone else?” And that’s what got me thinking about that post. I’m sure I have a lot less reviews and mentions because I don’t ask for them (since I think some people don’t even think about doing it), but I can’t bring myself to ask. I think part of marketing is knowing our personalities. While it’s good to go outside your comfort zone once in a while, I don’t think long-term marketing will be successful if we fight who we are. Sorry to ramble. But yeah, I completely understand what you’re saying.

  5. Great tips, Ruth. One of my partners in crime is using the tabloid approach as a method, and we’re thinking of expanding that into our collaborative work with interviewing characters.

    • I like your idea. I can see how a tabloid could easily expand to a character interview. Are you having fun with it? I recently decided to try a newspaper article and am following it up with interviews, including a character interviewing me because I’m a suspect in the kidnapping of another character. It gets confusing to explain it, but I thought I’d throw in a giveaway and have people guess who kidnapped one of my characters (me or another character).

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