And I did. Right after. I dashed to a reading at Barbes, where I ran into a professor--the one who got a friend a publishing internship, which was then passed on to me. This woman set in motion, well, my whole life.
I was able to tell her a few tips about blogging and finding an audience. "This means a lot to me," she said. I was more than happy, of course, to oblige.
I was wishing, today, that I had one of those tiny, purse-portable laptops (with silent keys, though) so that I could live-blog from the panels--they were that good.
But here are some wonderful tidbits I learned today:
With regard to social media (much of this is from the lovely Cinty Ratzlaff, who's created the campaigns for more than 150 bestselling books):
- If you want blog readers, the most important thing to do is to find blogs in your area of interest and start commenting on them--leaving, of course, a polite signature with your name and blog/site address. Make sure your comments are relevant, and you can be sure people (including the owner of the blog) will see them and go visit your site. Instant traffic. Hint. Hint.
- Many of you leave lovely comments, but then forget to include your blog address! I know, I know, I can eventually find it if I click through your profile. But minimize clicks, include the URL, and you'll have more hits.
- To find the top blogs in your field (keep in mind that some have a larger readership than even The New York Times!) go to Alexa.com and Technorati.com and search by topic.
- You can also do this at the sites for relevant magazines. The comments section of New York Magazine always seems to read like a who's who of NY culture.
- If you write fiction, it's perfectly acceptable to write a blog from the perspective of your character. See kittencuckoo.com.
- Facebook is good. A Facebook Fan Page (the ones you see that say "Become a fan of ____!") is better. First of all, it's Google-able--no one need join your network to find this page. Also, you can use it as a discussion forum. Just be sure that when you form the page you like the title you give it--you're stuck with it and it can't be changed.
- With regard to (sigh) Twitter, as one of the panelist said, "120 is the new 140." If you keep your tweets to 120 characters, people can easily Re-Tweet you (that's when you see the RT) and your words will travel quickly an easily over the Tweeting interwebs.
- In terms of time, one of the panelists suggested spending no more than an hour per week. "Remember," she said, "this is a tool, not your master."
- She says she spends five minutes each on Twitter and Facebook each morning, makes one quick YouTube video a day (she demonstrated and made one in front of us--she seriously plugged in her video camera, clicked "Post to YouTube," and it was there four seconds later), and two blog posts a week.
- The most important things in social media are authenticity and transparency. So if you're making a YouTube video and you knock over your coffee, that's just fine. It makes you human and--though it's a very strange version of humanity, this YouTube--it works and gains loyal viewers.
- Remember: "Imperfect action is better than inaction." Typos are better than no posts at all.
- The point is to create what feels like a community online.
- "First and foremost," one of the women on the panel said, "I'm begging you: watch television." Want to be on a show? Well, have you seen it? You may say, "I haven't, but my friends insist I'm perfect for Oprah"--well, that doesn't mean much. You may say you want to be on The View, the panelist continued--but have you watched it? If so, you'd see that they very rarely feature authors.
- Remember your local media. The fact that you live nearby means infinitely more than blind-press-releasing to everyone in the country.
- Can't get on television? Make your own show. A great example (again, from the panel) is Gary Vaynerchuk, who simply chats a bit and then tastes four wines on every episode. He has more than 850,000 hits a month. His book, Crush It, is right now #137 in Amazon book sales. Him on social media: "Your business is your hot dog, and then social media is maybe a mustard, at best."
- Rick Warren shipped 10,000 free copies of The Purpose-Driven Life to members of his online community. I imagine his publisher wasn't thrilled--but, of course, everything's worked out just fine. In this case. Not sure I'd suggest it.
- You could have a program by which a visitor can add their email (you know how at the top of some sites there's a small text box and a button you click that says "subscribe" or "submit"? One of those) and you will, in return (after adding them to your mailing list) e-mail them a chapter of your book.
- There is now technology in e-books that tracks--and sends the author an email--whenever the file is shared.