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

Think Outside the Book

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention is my guest blogger today. She says:

I am a “Shameless Promoter”. In fact, I enjoy promoting my novels and helping others learn to do so, and I speak at writers’ conferences on this topic. I am even known as “Shameless Promoter” amongst my peers and many in the book industry, and it’s a name I wear proudly. As an author, promoting my books is my #1 responsibility after writing them. I partner with my publishers and distributors, and that’s the way authors need to see this-as a partnership. Now, enough of me. 

Most authors, when faced with the daunting task of promoting their books, think of the most obvious ways–book signings and via their website. I’ve discovered that it’s crucial to the basic survival of an author to “think outside the book!” We’ve all heard the phrase “think outside the box.” This simply means: “Be creative!” Don’t get stuck in a small rut of small activities that lead to small results. 

Dreaming big has led me to much success. And it can for you too! 

My motto for years has been “Dare to Dream…and Dream Big!” And I tell people, “If that doesn’t work, Dream BIGGER!” I’ve been a published novelist since 2003, and all of my novels have gone on to be bestsellers on Amazon in the US and Canada . They’ve also attracted a lot of film success. Why? Because I thought “outside of the book”. 

In 2006, I partnered with a screenwriter and we wrote the screenplay for my critically acclaimed novel Whale Song. This led to writing a movie treatment. I had never thought I’d be writing either, but as soon as I pursued this, opportunity knocked. A film producer in Canada wanted to see the screenplay. While he eventually turned it down, this experience taught me that I must see further than a book on a store shelf. Frankly, that used to be my dream-seeing my books in bookstores. I’ve now come to realize that the real dream is to see those books MOVE off those shelves and into the hands of avid readers. 

So how do you reach the multitudes and market your books to them? 

Think outside…okay, you should have it by now. Instead of thinking “bookstores” as your main market, think “consumers”. You want to reach your readers, those wonderful people who will become fans of your work and email you every time they read one of your books. So go where the readers are! 

You’ll find booklovers on MySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, AuthorsDen, AuthorNation, NothingBinding,TextNovel, Chapters Online Community and hundreds of other websites. 

What do you do once you’re a member of these sites? Network, make friends and shamelessly promote your work without being pushy. Being genuine is far better, and if you’re like me you’ll enjoy making new friends. For more information on how authors can use online social networks, please check out my 5-part article on exactly that: 

How Can Authors Use Online Social Networks? 

How else can you “think outside the box”? 

Have you contacted your local book clubs? What about nonprofit organizations? Maybe you could partner with them and help them raise funds by donating a portion of your proceeds. Could you benefit from a corporate sponsor? What about trade shows, special events and library talks? And have you held a virtual book tour (VBT). I have a step-by-step plan on how to organize one at: Authors Tour the World with Virtual Book Tours

Have you checked out your local hospital gift shops, specialty gift shops?

You can learn more about me an my novels (Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention) by visiting my website and official blog:

http://www.cherylktardif.com
http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com