Engaging in social media is critical for authors for building an audience and developing your readership. While plenty of social networks are gaining in popularity—including Google+ and Pinterest—we suggest starting with the three platforms below, which are widely used by authors to promote themselves, their ideas, and their books. You can always grow your presence from these starting platforms.
Remember: participating in social media is not about pushing your own agenda; it's about connecting with readers and cultivating your community. You will also want to keep in mind that the social media landscape is always changing—be ready to change with it. That said, here's a great set of rules of the road to keep in mind while using social media (Adapted from some of the standards presented in The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to Social Media by Paul Gillin)
But before we get to the big networks, we'll start with a few fundamentals. All too often, when people consider social media strategy, they overlook the social media network that starts with their address book, be it paper or electronic. The people you connect with professionally, current and former students, and friends are the best place to start when promoting your book. Don't get us wrong, the established social networks are wonderful in reaching people with a personalized message, getting you and your message out there in a very authentic way, but think about how you really interact with people, when you send an email as opposed to when you connect with them on Facebook or LinkedIn. By and large, an email from a known friend or colleague will carry more weight that just about any post on Facebook or Tweet on Twitter.
Add sales information for your book to your email auto signature. This should include the book's title, ISBN, publication date, and link your product page on the online bookseller of your choice (UCPress.com, Amazon.com, IndieBound.com, etc.) Your book should be available at least one month prior to publication. Here's an example of information available on your book page:
Compile a list of everyone you know; clients, colleagues, the kind people on your holiday card mailing list, fellow alumni—you get the picture—anyone and everyone who has a connection to you. These are the people who will help to spread the word about your book in the most personal and powerful way. They know and respect you and will be happy to buy your book and, as importantly, spread the word. If you know that you'll be sending an email to a significant number of people and driving them to an online bookseller, let your editor or marketer know. This can help us to get additional promotion for your title with that account. Make sure you have their email addresses so that when the book publishes you'll be able to let them know. Beyond simply letting them know your book is available, they probably would also be more than happy to contribute positive reviews of your work to sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, if they're asked. This list can become one of your most valuable assets and you should continue to grow it at every opportunity.
Whenever we survey readers where they've learned of scholarly titles, L Listservs and Association Moderated Forums regularly come up on or near the top of the list. Of course, while the restrictions of membership are part of the reason that members of both value them, it also means that articles and announcements cannot be made by non-members. If you're a member of either a LISTSERV or an Association Moderated Forum, please let either your publicist or Marketing Manager know.
For additional assistance in composing an email to your mailing list or Listserv, please contact your Marketing Manager.
You may have colleagues who are teaching a course on a topic related to your book. We encourage you to publicize your book directly as your schedule allows. If you know professors who are teaching a relevant course, please feel free to include a link to our examination policy in your correspondence:
If you're passionate about your subject and are willing to write about it very regularly (no less than four times per week) a blog can be a fantastic – and free – way of building an audience for both you and your book. You can start your blog with Blogger or Word Press. Registration is free and simple.
If you'd like to communicate with your readers without the time commitment of a blog, Amazon Connect and the UC Press Blog are excellent options. They will both allow you to post entries for your readers, but does not require the ongoing participation that a blog would. For more information about the UC Press Blog, please contact your Marketing Manager.
About.me (https://about.me/) lets you quickly build simple and visually elegant splash pages that points visitors to your content from around the web. This can serve as a great way to coordinate your presence which can be scattered all across the aether into a single, easily constructed landing page. Think of it as your business card 2.0.
If you have an association with an academic or corporate website or association, ask them to promote your title wherever possible.
With over 900 million active users, Facebook is easily the largest social media site on the net. Here are some tips for those of you who already have an account:
LinkedIn is a site that allows you to connect with your professional contacts. With over 120 million registered users, they can, in their words, "help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return… to make you more productive and successful."
Twitter is an incredibly popular social network that now has 175 million registered users.
Continually shows promise of being a strong place to connect with others, if only due to the sheer number of people who already have some sort of account with Google. At present, the service is more promise than practical, but bears keeping a close eye on it. One exception to this rule is their "circles" approach to groups, which allows for very interesting collaboration without dealing with some of the overhead and distraction you could from Facebook.
Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. It also includes standard social networking features and is enjoying quite a bit of attention as the bright new thing. For any book with a strong visual component or one that deals with concepts that can be best expressed visually, Pinterest can be a good option, although there are copyright concerns that they are still resolving and the service is still finding its way. Best for the early adopters and adventurous.
The purpose of this guide was to give you an idea of the landscape in social media. As we mentioned at the start of the guide, this landscape is ever changing, so we decided to stick with essential techniques and tools that have proven their utility. As every book is different, every social media strategy is best tailored to individual cases. Now that you've come up to speed, be sure that you've completed your Author's Promotional Questionnaire, including supplemental survey in this guide and sent them in to your Marketing Manager. This will help us incorporate your book into our overall social media promotional strategy and answer any questions you may have on how best to precede.