Social media is a necessary evil for all writers. If you are serious about driving sales to your book, you’ll know that social media is the hard work and that writing your book was the easy part. I spend a few hours a day on social media, socializing on Twitter, trying to drive traffic to this website. I need to start working on my Goodreads account and thinking of things for my FB author page. This social media is planned work, not something I do during my leisure time. In fact, my leisure time is reading and being with my fiancé.
How do you navigate this maddening world of social media? I can only give you my experiences, but hopefully they’ll be of some service to those drowning in the social media cesspool.
For one thing, a blog is a great thing to have, especially on your website. I use WordPress as my website because there are more templates available, they have a cleaner, professional look than BlogSpot, and it is so easy to follow others and leave comments without having to go through the annoying captcha crap because BlogSpot doesn’t have a good spam filter. Eventually I’ll buy the domain and change it, but I’m saving up my money. Having a blog on your website helps drive traffic to your other pages: your about me, your writerly works, and so on and so forth because it’s all right there. No need to have your website and blog separated. Heck, WordPress allows you to create your own template if you or someone you know is HTML efficient.
You can use your blog to update on you, your life, your writing life, you in general. You can do guest blog posts, interviews, book reviews, and giveaways. I’ll be doing a giveaway once I hit 200 followers. I’d like 1000+ by the time my book releases, but we’ll see. You’ll also want to give back. Comment on people’s replies to your blog posts. If you don’t have time, please mention this as a courtesy to your followers. If time allows, comment on their blogs. Go to the Reader and find blog posts there. Make Followers. Don’t expect anyone to follow back or read your stuff.
Get a Twitter account and use it correctly. I have been having genuine conversations with people on Twitter and have been gaining more followers as a result. Link your Twitter account to your blog so you can get more from there. Share links to your blog on your Twitter account, but only after you’ve conversed with people. Don’t spam your Twitter feed with links.
Get accounts on other popular social media sites, like Instagram and so forth. Keep blogging. Blog as often as you want and/or can and/or what works for you. Be persistent. People don’t build a following by sitting back and waiting for people to come. You will have to do some serious leg work to build a following. Quality blogging/Tweeting/whatever is first and foremost. Create something your gut tells you people will want to look at. Also, join writing forums to get you and your book out and around. While I’m not wild about AbsoluteWrite, it’s a great forum to converse with other writers and talk about your book without being branded as someone tooting one’s own horn.
Do whatever you can think of in the social media sphere. You and your book will thank you.
Everyone, say hello to Shannon Thompson! I decided to interview her not only because we will be helping one another in AEC Stellar, but also because I read the chapter one of her novel and absolutely loved it. You can find it in here in my lit magazine. It is in issue 9. Read it. It will hook you if you are a fan of young adult. You can find her here. Enjoy!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on June 23, 1991. Since then I’ve lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia, and Stilwell, Leawood, Overland Park, and Lawrence, Kansas. I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a pen (I’ve always disliked pencils ability to disappear over time) but I began taking my passion seriously at 11 when my mother suddenly passed away. At sixteen, my first novel, November Snow, was published in her memory. My second novel, Minutes Before Sunset, will be published May 1st by AEC Stellar Publishing. It is dedicated to my college roommates, Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen, because the time we had together is very precious to me. Unfortunately, Andersen passed away in October, 2012. It brings me a lot of happiness to be able to dedicate my work to my loved ones, including my father and brother (not to mention my fat cat, Bogart—named after Humphrey Bogart, my favorite actor.) And I have eight other novels in various publication stages. I’m very excited to move forward in my career, but I’m even more excited to be able to help others follow their dreams!
2. What inspired November Snow? Minutes Before Sunset? Both my novels had very different inspirations, but they ultimately came from my dreams. As a child, I suffered from vivid nightmares and night terrors. I didn’t really understand, so my mother taught me to cope by turning my nightmares into stories. “November Snow” is purely based on one nightmare I had shortly after she died. It was very violent and had very young children in it. I imagine it happened due to the depression I was going through. But “Minutes Before Sunset” happened years later. I was in a very dark time in my life, and, without going into details, I began having a series of dreams. These involved a boy simply coming to visit me at night. He’d talk to me, ask me if I was okay, and we’d talk until sunrise about how I was coping and what I was going to do. Once I got out of the bad time of my life, the dreams halted, and I was saddened, because he seemed very real to me. Despite the insanity that can come within a blurred reality line, I decided I had to cope with losing him as well. So I created an explanation, even though I know, upon reflection, my mind created a person in order to protect itself during a hard time.
3. I read that you’re also a poet. What inspires your poetry? I am! I was in the poetry collection, Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets, which was also dedicated to my late roommate. Poetry brings out a different kind of inspiration than my fiction writing does. It’s harder for me to figure out what inspires it though, because I still consider myself a very young poet. I’m still experimenting to find my voice, but it’s definitely helped me with my other types of writing! And I love writing and reading poetry on a regular basis.
4. What inspires you as writer in general? Everything between life and death. I hate to sound so dark by saying my own mortality pushes me forward, but it ultimately does. I’ve known (very seriously) that life isn’t guaranteed at 11, so, ever since then, I wake up every day, striving to be inspired and to inspire. The world is new to me every time I open my mind to it.
5. What is your favorite genre and why? That is very difficult! I can’t pick that for reading, because I love reading everything. I mainly love memoirs, young-adult fiction, fiction, and poetry. But I love writing young-adult fiction the most. I enjoy the simplicity of it, meaning the innocence of characters and how much room they have to grow. I also like it because of the audience I write for. My goal is to create stories with capable characters (not perfect, but characters willing to learn and value morals and question life) so they can relate to the struggles while learning possibilities of what maybe they can do, no matter if I write fantasy or not. Within genres, I definitely like fantasy and science-fiction, because I love how limitless it can be.
6. What writer(s) inspire you the most? I have so many, but my young-adult authors include Meg Cabot and Cassandra Clare, while my poets revolve around Ernest Hemmingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sylvia Plath.
7. What about AEC Stellar Publishing made you go with them? I love how in-tune they are. They really wanted to make sure my ultimate art message didn’t change during the process. They’re really open to the artist, and I love how much control they allow the author to have in the ultimate decision process. My managers, Ray Vogel and Christie Heisler, are so sweet and very passionate about writing!
8. When you graduate college, what are your plans? I graduate in December, 2013 with a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas. I hope that I can continue writing novels, but I’ve always had other plans in place. As long as I’m doing something with writing, editing, and/or reading, I am happy.
9. Anything else you’d like readers to know? I have a website ShannonAThompson.com that includes more information about my novels. I have extras (maps, music, fan art, and more) but I also post regularly on my blog about writing tips, publishing/marketing, and reviews. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me on either this website, Facebook, and/or Twitter! I’m here to help others follow their dreams
10. What are your other hobbies? I’m always reading and writing, including journaling, but also run, play with my cat, and drink a lot of coffee! And I love traveling, and talking, talking, talking, and talking. I’m never disappointed to meet new people and learn about their lives. I’m fascinated by psychology and all topics like it. I also love the History Channel and murder shows, but I don’t watch a lot of T.V. because of how never-ending it is. I’d rather watch a movie (like my favorite, Casablanca) or write.
I met up with a writer’s group tonight just so we could all sit down and write away while talking about writing. I was speaking with one woman there about how annoying Twitter is as a marketing platform, and we both came to the same conclusion: People have no idea how to use Twitter. A great majority of them, in fact.
I have over 900 followers. When I tweet about a blog post, guess how many people click on it? 2. Yes. 2. That is because my post drowns in all the other posts vying for attention trying to sell their wares. Apparently you’re supposed to tweet it a lot, but then Twitter becomes a dumbed-down advertising website that’s about as useful as Google ads.
Twitter is a social network like any other network out there. Use it to, I don’t know, socialize. Twitter’s purpose is not to dump your ads into it and expect a yield. I don’t care that your book is 0.99 cents now. I care more about your dog crapping on your carpet because I want to know the person in you first before I get to know your product. Otherwise, your product is going to drown in all the others crying for attention. And maybe every so often I’ll click on it, but I’m really searching for the posts where people are talking about themselves as human beings.
Twitter is great for hosting chats, but terrible for advertising your book. Apparently you’re supposed to advertise it every 20 tweets, and those 20 tweets are supposed to be either tweets from you or conversations with others. I don’t know. All I know is that if I’m interested in you as a person, I’ll click on you and your website. Twitter is supposed to be about selling yourself, in 140 characters, a basic pitch of yourself that explains why I should pay attention to you. And once you’ve sold yourself, we can go from there.
But, please writers, don’t flood your feed with ads of your books. I hate those. Makes me want to quit Twitter, but I’m sure I can’t.
I have fantastic, super amazing news, Stars. But…I’m not unveiling this news right now. All I can promise you is it is super, awesome, fantasticness of fantastic news. It’s epic. At least, to me it is. When I get 50 followers on this blog, I will unveil. Right now I’m at 33. I’d probably be at more, but I didn’t start actually tagging until a few days ago. I know. I had the dumbz then. Turns out it is not easy trying to get attention on Twitter, even if you do have lots of followers.
In any case, in order to get this news, you need to share the crap out of the stuff I post. I’m going to start putting my published works on my blog (since they’re mine now again anyway), and I’m thinking of continuing one of them on this blog. Also, expect more guest posts and possible interviews in the future.