Dare to be social
I’m always late for the party—whether it’s a gathering of friends, meeting a writing deadline, celebrating social media, or registering for a class two weeks after it’s begun, count on me to be the last to arrive. At this point in my life, I’ve accepted that fact and encourage others to embrace it, too. Friends are easy to convince. Publishers, editors, and college instructors? Not so much.
These days I’m anxiously awaiting the publication of my third book Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years & Still Cooking which is being published by the University of Akron Press. Twenty boxes weighing 44 pound each should arrive with a giant thud on my front porch in about six weeks but more will be shipped out of distribution centers and other will be stocked and stacked at bookstores. This is the third book I’ve written and the one that drove me to this class. I’ve made weak attempts in the past to use social media to promote my first two books: Farms and Foods of Ohio and The Locavore’s Kitchen. Weak, indeed. My blog has lain fallow for almost a year and my website is in need of serious updating, although my photo suggests I look much the same as I did three years ago. I never dabbled in social media marketing for either of these books but when I launched a West Side Market Facebook page in a panic moment just a few days ago, 200 people “Liked” it. They really Liked it! Even I know that kind of interest has a way of translating into book sales. I’m here to tell you that being humble about your work and waiting for people to find you does not a paycheck write. Authors are poor to begin with. Those who don’t promote themselves? Poorer still. It’s also important to note that most publishers throw their authors into a deep do-it-yourself pool (filled with their roster of writers trying to promote their own books) and then tell them to swim—or drown. Don’t hold your hand out looking to be saved.
So here I am at the doorstep of Social Media Marketing 245—on-line learning, also known as “going to school in your pajamas.” It’s time to reach out into the world of interconnectedness and get, uh…connected? It should be known that I have completely exhausted the resources of my very tech savvy son-in-law who fields every computer and social media question from extended family in the same way I get all the questions about cooking and recipes from friends and relatives. I should have known better than to lean on him but I do pay well—mostly in bacon and good coffee.
I’m going to use this class to learn about how social media will help promote my book(s) and I’ll post about my experiences, successes and foibles as a way to help others and humble myself. I’ll look for other sources of information and inspiration for getting the word out there and I promise to figure out how to use Yelp, Tackk, Twitter, and Tumblr. I also give myself permission and forgiveness to make mistakes—lots of them. From past experience, I know I won’t disappoint. After all, I’m already late.
To fulfill my first week assignment, here are just a few websites and blogs I’ve stumbled upon that have encouraged me to change my thinking about social media and self-promotion. I offer my humble, snarky, and possibly misguided comments about each.
Michael Seltzer’s Social Media Examiner delivers quite a bit of useful information. I tend to cherry pick through his suggestions and I like the idea of retweeting on a chapter or an excerpt. I’ll have to think about this but first I have to figure out exactly how to retweet. One step at a time.
Jesse Stanchak’s Smart Blog on Social Media struck a particular chord when he suggested, “Make connections before you need them.” It made me feel good that I’m starting things off on the right foot, stirring up some interest and excitement with Facebook weeks before the book is released.
Honestly, I was drawn in with About.com’s Valerie Peterson’s haircut and pretty colored scarf but as I read her blog about tapping into your audience through social media, I was intrigued with the comment on Google+Circle which is a tool for author networking. I was equally curious about the number of very young and hip people on this home page…with the one token older person. Let’s work on that.