How much time should an author spend tweeting, Facebook-ing and MySpace-ing?

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention and book marketing coach is my guest blogger today. Tardif responds:

The quick answer: Not so much time that your manuscript is piling up around you–unedited or unfinished.

All writers need to find ways to use social networks; it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Only you can determine how much time you spend on your social networks. I recommend an average of 15-30 minutes each for MySpace and Facebook, 2-5 times a week, depending on your schedule. This would include reading and responding to emails, contacting friends with requests (especially reviewers), leaving comments on your friends’ pages (socializing), sending invites to events or a bulletin (MySpace) announcing your new article, book, event etc. It all boils down to time management. 3-5 hours a week is a good goal.

Twitter requires less time. 5-10 minutes a day is all that’s needed to make an impact on sales, word of mouth, and opportunities. One book marketing expert, John Kremer, likes to send out about 10 tweets (messages) a day. Mine will vary, but on average, I probably send out 5-10 messages every other day. More lately because I’m promoting a contest that is bringing new followers in by the hour. 🙂 I suggest people set small goals. Use a timer if you have to so you won’t go over — or stick to one thing a day. Start small, working up to your goals.

As I mentioned in my presentation at the recent Get Publishing conference, all authors will have various needs. The first thing you need to do is determine WHO you need to connect to and WHY. Who can help you move forward in your career? Publishers? An agent? Bookstores? Magazine editors? Readers? Book Clubs? Book reviewers? Newspaper reporters? TV talk show hosts? Radio hosts? etc. This is the first step–target your network.

In the past I have been reviewed by a New York Times bestselling author because of my friendship with her on MySpace. It happened very quickly after connecting with her. I also have 5 other known authors who will be blurbing my new novel once my agent finds a publisher.

I have found numerous book reviewers through all social networks, and through them found other marketing opportunities, like guest blogging on their blog and using them as hosts for a VBT.

I have had film producers and directors contact me through these networks. Some have read my novels and my screenplay for Whale Song.

I have been interviewed as a result of online networking. I’ve had book clubs pick up my books; schools have too–which means I’m selling books.

The main thing is by being on these networks it becomes a “viral” form of marketing. Like a virus, word spreads and we all know how vital word-of-mouth advertising is. Twitter is perfect for this. Just add “RT” to your tweet and others will re-tweet your message to all their friends. And so on…and so on…

The bottom line is this: if you want to be a successful writer who is able to continuously bring forth new works and get paid for them, you will want to spend time marketing your books EVERY DAY.

I always try to do at least 3 things a day that will move me forward in some way–even if it’s giving someone a bookmark at Starbucks. As with any kind of marketing, it has to be balanced with your writing and other life. If you’re spending more than an hour a day maintaining the top 3 social networks (MySpace, Facebook and Twitter), then you might want to look at how you’re spending that time. It’s totally up to you though.

Visit Cheryl at The Write-Type — Multi-Author Musings

Twitter: How to Use It to Promote You and Your Books

John Marion Francis, Romance Writer and Market Research Analyst, explains how he uses Twitter as part of his book marketing plan:

Twitter, if you haven’t discovered by now, is another powerful marketing tool and a way to gain more readers. How many people visit and use Twitter? Over 5 million visitors in September 2008!

So what is Twitter? Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. That’s right; your post can only be 140 characters each. There is no limit to how many times you can post.

How does it work?

Updates (your twitter post) are displayed on your profile page and delivered to other Twitter users who have signed up to receive them aka Followers. You can restrict delivery to those in your circle (Followers) or make it Open to anyone on the Twitter network. Followers can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as TwitterFon (iPhone feed) and even Facebook!

So, is it worth the time?

Here are just a few of the giants that use it. Large Businesses such as Cisco Systems, Jet Blue, Sun Microsystems and Whole Foods Market use Twitter to provide product or service information.

Several 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns used Twitter as a publicity mechanism, including that of Democratic Party nominee and eventual winner Barack Obama.

Using Twitter To Market Your Book

Unlike other users that setup Twitter profiles like a “personal communication tool”, I setup my Twitter like a micro story blogger. I post my short stories in Tweet Post Packets (post). I only post one current ongoing short story at a time. This way the reader can read the story from beginning to end or keep up with the story post. I gain readers by them “Following” me. This is done when a Twitter user wants to keep track of my story post. They simply click on my profile and click “Follow”. Now every time I post a chapter, they automatically receive it.

I post full chapters at a time which could be about 10-20 post. This is important because the posts are delivered to them one after another (synchronized) which allows the Followers to read the entire chapter(s). Here is my Twitter link so you can see what I mean:

Think of Twitter like the new service and device that Amazon has called Kindle Kindle as some of you may know is an e-book service by Amazon coupled with its digital e-book reader called Kindle ($359.00).

The advantage of Twitter as a micro story blogger is that anyone can access it from any internet connection, iPhone, PDA, Blackberry, RSS, or SMS enabled phone for free. You can also put your website link in your main profile which is an active hotlink to your website as well as weblinks in your post. I put a link to the short story at the end to drive more readers to my website.

Well, I hope I answered most of your questions and gave you another potent tool to market yourself and your books! Feel free to contact me if you have questions.