Monday, February 18, 2013

10 Quick, Dirty Facebook Tips for Writers

As much as we all like to gripe about recent changes to Facebook, there are some good uses for the social media site that don't involve spending a lot of time or money. Here are some quick and dirty tips for writers that focus on: driving traffic to a blog, keeping in touch with a core group of fans, building your platform (Fans/Likes) numbers.

Using Facebook to Drive Traffic to Your Blog or Web Site

1) Post Links to Facebook Groups

From a Personal page, search for groups on your particular writing topic. For this blog on book marketing and platform building geared to writers, I searched on "writ" and generated the partial list in the screen shot below. Depending on your topic, you may also find some useful Fan pages. Some Fan pages will let you post links, others won't. Many may require you to Like them before you can post. (You can always un-Like them later.)

Note: If you post links to too many groups in one sitting, Facebook will warn you to slow down -- heed the warning or your account may get frozen.


2) Save Time Posting to Your Fan Page with the Auto Post Feature.

After you create a post, click the little clock icon beneath your post and schedule upcoming posts. For the week of Valentine's Day, I scheduled one post a day with blog links for single people who hate this particular holiday.

3) Post Photos

During a recent Boston snowstorm, I posted photos of the mounting snow outside my window. I posted photos of my dwindling beer supply as the night wore on. This was quick and painless and some fans reposted my photo to their Friends and Fans.

Want to add other types of free art, videos, and photos? Here's how.

Building Your Platform: Add Likes (and Caveats)

Big companies add Likes by offering freebies and product discounts on their Web sites and brick-and-mortar stores. You may not have that option. Here are some no-cost options. 

4) Convert Your Personal Page to a Fan Page

Adding Friends is easy. Adding Likes/Fans is tougher. If you have a personal page, one relatively easy way to build a large number of Fans is to add a steady number of friends and then convert your personal Profile page to a Fan page. Over a year, I built up to 1800 friends and then converted the page to a Fan page. I don't recall any of them complaining or un-Liking my page after the conversion.

*Facebook will warn you when you're adding too many people at a time to your Personal account. Heed the warning or your account will temporarily be shut down. Five to ten people a night is generally a safe number.

*To post to Facebook Groups, you will need to create another Personal page. Not a big deal, you'll just have to re-add the Friends you really care about. Just send them a note letting them know that you converted your previous page to Fan page and you're starting a new personal page just for close friends and family.

5) Add a Like Button to Your Blog, Web site, E-Mail Signature

I'm not clear how many Likes this has added for me, but it's worth doing. My version of this is in the right-hand column of this page, under "Pleading and Sniverling."
Here's how
*Note this is a convoluted process:
- You enter your Fan Page url (easy enough)
- Select the details you want to see (my choices in screen below)
- Next the fun part: when you click "Get Code," you'll get a bunch of choices. You'll need to paste this code onto your blog or Web page. For this Blogger blog, I chose the IFRAME option. You may have try a few options to see what works.

To add links to your Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In accounts to your e-mails, use a free tool such as Wisestamp.

6) A Word about Like Fests

If you already have a Fan page, like-minded folks on Linked In and follow-back sites may be interested in exchanging Likes. In my opinion, this is pretty worthless -- you'll add lots of people who probably don't care about your posts or your writing. It's also time consuming. But if you just want to see your numbers increase, here one site specifically for writers who want to add Likes.

7) A Word About Your Numbers

 Even if you're not generating or reaching huge numbers of people, a Fan or Personal page is a good way to keep in touch with a core group of people who you know are interested in you. (The folks who comment or Like your posts are interested.)

Other Facebook Tips for Writers

8) Link Your Facebook Fan Page Posts to Twitter

This feature automatically sends your Facebook posts to Twitter with a shortened url.

How a linked to my Facebook Fan page appears in Twitter.

9) Ask Friends to Send Their E-mail Address to Get on Your Mailing List

Remember that Facebook can change its rules any time to limit the number of Friends and Fans you reach. One way around this is to pay to promote a post that reaches all your folks. In that post, ask them to send you an e-mail so you can add them to your mailing list. Add the e-mail addresses to a spreadsheet and then upload the names to an e-mail management program like Mailchimp. When you have important news or a book announcement, send them an e-mail.

10) How the Big Boys Add Likes

A good piece from the Social Media Examiner.


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More Social Media Tips for Writers

- Linked In Tips for Writers

- Facebook Fan Pages: Does it Matter When You Post? 

Had Enough Book Marketing for One Day?

- Video of Me Bungee Jumping in New Zealand

- Finding the Love of Your Life: The Five Romantic Personalities

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Image attribution: Facebook photo from Flickr taken by Geekpulp.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Bitter Single's Guide to Valentine's Day (aka Single's Humiliation Day.)

The medical staff at The Loneliest Planet has assembled the following guide to get you through the night.

1) Nourishment: Pint of Ben and Jerry's or a pint of Jack Daniels.
2) Fiscal Aversion Therapy:
- Cost of an engagement ring: $4,600
- Cost of a wedding: $27,000
- Cost of raising a child to 18 (not including college) $227,000
- Cost of a divorce: $8,000 to $133,000 (fees for lawyers and accountants for a contested divorce that goes to trial.)
- Intangibles costs: Average weight gain for men and women after five years of marriage: 6 to 9 pounds.
*Note on Sources: Sketchy at best; I grabbed first semi-reasonable results from Google.
3) Cognitive Therapy:
a) Light Reading: "The John and Lorena Bobbit Story"
Heart-warming tale of boy meets girl, boy abuses girl, girl cuts of boy's penis and throws it out the window of a speeding car, boy becomes a porn star.
b) Movies:
- War of the Roses: Still want to get married?
- Fatal Attraction: Think your last girlfriend was a drama queen?
- Caligula: Think your last boyfriend was a jerk?
4) Self-Improvement
a) Personality Test: Are you marriage material?
b) One man's pathetic story that will no doubt make you feel better about your situation: "Why I'm Over Forty and Still Single"

tags: Valentine's day singles, valentines day singles, singles humiliation day, singles awareness day, single's awareness day.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Old School Book Marketing, 10-month Progress Report

As harsh as the New England winter has been, the reality of book marketing has been even harsher. I’ve spent almost a year following the advice of book marketing experts – agents, bloggers, authors – and I’m coming to the realization that online marketing may not be the most efficient use of my time. My traffic and blog subscribers – my metrics for success -- have increased steadily, but will probably never yield the numbers I’d need to make a living or sell a lot of books.

As previously noted, my novel is not finished. If I were to get an agent and a publisher this might all change. "Might" being the operative word. If I were to self publish, I would likely not make a whole lot of money due to my current Web traffic numbers. However, I have not spent any time learning the ins and out of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book-selling sites, which would surely help sales, but I'm not clear by how much.

My Numbers

1) Web Traffic 

Page views (visits)
- Nov 2012.: 3,000  (2,000)
- Dec. 2012: 2,900  (1,860)
- Jan. 2013: 3,340  (2,140) My most current numbers.

Revenue from Google Ads posted on this blog:
- about $10 a month for the last two months, my highest ever, enough for two beers. (However, Google will not send me a check until my total ad revenue reaches $100. I'm currently at $55.)
- Each time you click an ad, I get some money.

Subscribers to Blog
- Nov.: 142
- Dec.: 150
- Jan.: 180

- January was my best month ever for traffic, but this is still not enough to impress an agent
- The traffic numbers have been rounded off and include traffic to this blog, my resume site, and my travel site, which I no longer update. 
- Subscribers, one of my metrics for success, continues to increase slowly but steadily. These are people who like my stuff enough to sign up, which means they would be more likely to purchase something from me. 
- Free e-book offering: 38 downloads since September. I offer this free to people who sign up. The ebook includes sample scenes from my novel in progress. In theory, having your writing circulating around the Web increases your chances of a serendipitous event -- an agent, editor, publisher, or published writer sees my stuff and thinks, "This guy is a genius, we have to sign him." I'm not holding my breath on this one.


2) Social Media

Twitter: 1,337, up about 500 from 840 in November (I'm, skipping December due to holidays.)
- I found a painless way to run up my numbers with people who are likely worthwhile. (see Tips below.)

Facebook fan page: 2.047 Likes, up 4 from 2,043 Likes in November.
- For a typical post, I reach about 150 of Likes/Fans, down from 250 in September and 400 last April. This is because Facebook is now charging to reach all your Fans, which we all know is a rip-off.
- On Jan. 6, I had one post that reached 750 people because New York Times tech columnist David Pogue commented on it, which brought some traffic from his followers. This was a fluke and not something I can reproduce at will. Actually, this is the first time this happened.

Linked In: 1,227 followers, up 60 from 1,167 in November.
- This is still where I get about 75% of my traffic, but the traffic is from other writers reading my book blog. Will other writers buy a novel? Unclear.

3) Old School Book Marketing: Readings, Lectures, Publications, and Press
- I added an events page list my appearances for the last three years and upcoming events.
- I pitched myself as a author/entertainer to a chain of sex-toy shops. We talked on the phone, but nothing has come of it yet. (I've written some humorous erotica, some of this has been published.)
- I pitched a book marketing class called "Build your platform before you finish your book" to a local writing school, an MFA program, and a local adult education center. Results: I've been selected to appear on two panels and give a lecture as part of a self-publishing class.
- I pitched a one-man show based on my novel to three fringe/theater festivals. I'll hear back at the end of the month.
- I've submitted some of my book-marketing blogs and had them published on a self-publishing tips site. (If you've got writing/marketing tips, it's easy to submit to this site. Is this a good use of your time, if your book is fiction? Probably not.)

My plan of action for 2013

Manage my online time better:

- Spend even less time on Social Media: It's just not a good use of my time and, except for Linked In, these sites do not generate much traffic.

- Spend more time finishing my novel and on old school networking activities that will get me in front of people who might help me find an agent. (Supposedly, the best way to get an agent is by having a published writer recommend you to their agent. Hence, my appearances on book-marketing panels.)

- Stop submitting my work to small literary journals that are not widely read. I've had several pieces published in little journals, so I guess I can say I'm a published fiction writer. But now it's time to try for bigger journals, mainstream newspapers and magazines -- places where I may get some real exposure. (I've been submitting to the New Yorker, New York Times "Modern Love" column, and Harper's with no luck. McSweeney's, well-respected humor site, sent me one personalized rejection -- That and $5.00 will get me a beer and not much else.)
- I had a free meeting with a small business consultant from the local office of the Small Business Administration. He specializes in artists and their money woes. (As a writer, we're all basically small businesses.) My question for him: Can I make a living writing humor and fiction? I will discuss his comments and recommendations later this month in a blog called “If you write what you love will the money follow?"


1) Twitter: 

 - Quick and easy way add Followers: 
Follow people who your followers are following. If you’re following the right people, chances are they’re following related people as well. I’ve been clicking on five to ten people a day, which takes about five seconds. (see #2) below
- Once I’m following 300 hundred more followers than I have, I use's flush tool to dump people who are not following me. You don’t want to be following too many more people than follow you or you’ll look like a loser. Also, if you follow too many more, Twitter will not be happy with you. (see #1 below)

 2) Rumors of Feedburner Disappearing (For geeks only)

- Feedburner allows blog visitors to subscribe to your blog. In October, Google killed off some features that have yet to affect me -- all I care about is providing an easy way for people to subscribe to my blog. (my sign up box below uses Feedburner). Feedburner still appears to be working.
- If you're worried about this, you can switch to another sign-up tool using advice offered here and here. (Note: I have not tried out any of these alternatives to Feedburner.)
- This whole topic makes my brain swell, so I've done the bare minimum: I've been backing up my subscriber list periodically. If I need to, I can upload the names to an e-mail management tool, such as Mailchimp, and send folks my blog that way. (I'd lose the 30 or so people who signed up via RSS.)
- Google seems to be noticeably absent from the online discussions regarding the fate of Feedburner.

- Note: if you're receiving this blog via RSS feed, you may want to sign up below using your e-mail address to assure continued delivery in the event that Google unceremoniously kills Feedburner.

More Book Marketing

- More Old School Tips


- Three Ways to Boost Blog Traffic

For Valentine's Day

- Bitter Single's Guide to Valentine's Day


- Are Men Doomed?

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Attribution for Boston Blizzard photo: Boston By Beau Wade from New York, USA [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons