Thursday, February 3, 2011

Are You Blog Worthy? With Guest Blogger Lisa Kessler

Welcome author, singer, and all around wonderful person Lisa Kessler to the Book Boost today!

She's here to discuss social media and blogs for writers. Here's what she had to say...



I thought I’d write about social media and blogs for writers. This topic tends to polarize people. I’ve heard the argument that social media and blogs take away time from writing a great book.

Which is true.

But in this crazy new publishing landscape with brick and mortar bookstores closing their doors, and the remaining stores carrying fewer titles on their shelves, how will anyone ever find the amazing novel you’ve poured your heart and soul into?

And even if they found it, what would make them click that buy button?

This is where social media can come in handy.

Now before you start cringing, thinking I’m about to talk about “branding”, I’m not. The truth is people who only use social media as a megaphone to shout their “brand” are usually wasting their breath. Readers aren’t on Facebook and Twitter to hear constant “Please buy my book” posts, and unless they know you personally, they’re probably not going to click on a “great review for my book” either.

The heart of social media is you. Not your brand or your book, but you.

I’ve been in sales my entire adult life and the bottom line always falls to a simple statement. “People buy from people.”

There have been studies that show someone needs to see a print advertisement nearly 7 times before they’re motivated to act on the advertisement. Seven times. It could cost thousands of dollars to build your brand through advertising alone.

However, when hundreds of your followers on Twitter or Facebook feel like they know you, they’re more likely to click your link or visit your blog or buy your book. Why? Because if I have the opportunity to buy one book this week, I would be much more likely to grab a copy of something one of my “friends” wrote than an author I’ve never heard of.

So if you choose to dip your toe into Twitter or Facebook, remember to be social. Reply to others and make yourself available not just to other writers, but to people who could someday be your readers.

I’m going to mention a few writers that are shining examples of “social” media users. (If you’re not following them on facebook and twitter, look them up…) Teresa Medeiros, Jackie Kessler, and Yasmine Galenorn just to name a few. They all dedicate a chunk of time to actually converse with readers and they have a loyal fanbase who follow them, visit their blogs, and buy their books.

And yes, after meeting them online I did go buy their books and I loved reading them.

This brings me to blogs. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably been told you need to have a blog.
The jury is still out on how effective blogging is for book marketing. From a sales standpoint, I think the problem is often that writers tend to blog for other writers.

It’s fun to share ideas and vent and sometimes network amongst ourselves, but in the end when you have a book to market, you want to be attracting readers who buy books. (I’m not saying writers don’t buy books! Of course we do! :) But there aren’t enough writers out there to get you on that NYT list we all dream of…)

I think blogs can help with this as long as you understand the purpose for your blog. Who are you really blogging for?

If you’re looking to attract readers, they’re probably not going to be interested in hearing about how to write a query letter. And if you’re not published yet, then you don’t have a book to offer them.

So what is the purpose of your blog?

This is an important question to ponder. Finding the purpose of your blog will give you direction for your posts, as well as an idea of how often you should post.

When I started my blog, I decided my purpose would be twofold. I wanted to build a base of readers who might be interested in my books when they’re published, and I wanted to hone my craft by writing new fiction every week.

And my blog was born. :)

In two years on MySpace, I gained 300 blog subscribers and over 65,000 blog views. I still post every week on Sunday nights. I usually share something about my week, and then post some new short fiction. Readers get familiar with my work, showing up each week to read something new, and it also forces me to stop editing or querying or whatever publishing business is sucking my creativity away to try new techniques, and write something new.

Everyone wins!

Once you’ve decided how often to blog and the purpose of your blog, you can drive internet traffic by using your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Like one big circle of virtual life. *cue the Lion King music*

You determine how much or how little you use social media… My personal experience has been amazing. I’ve met incredible people from around the world on my blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

The internet offers us a unique way to shrink the huge world we live in and interact with readers. No matter how amazing your book might be, if no one knows about it, your words won’t be read.

I’d love to hear about your social media or blog experiences. Are you thinking of starting a blog?

Do you have one already? Are we following each other on Twitter and Facebook?

Let’s get connected…

Thanks Kerri for inviting me to the Book Boost blog today!

A Note from the Book Boost: Thank you, Lisa. Great having you here at the Boost! I love the part of your post about "people buy from people" and I totally agree. I'm one of those non-fans of Facebook. I have a lot of personal qualms about Facebook because I believe it is used for a lot of bad that far outweighs the potential good but I guess that can often be said of the Internet in general. I do use Twitter and I'm starting to slowly build a following there. The jury is still out on the benefits. What I do love is blogging and although I totally agree with you that often times--writers blog to other writers--I find that the benefit is that each writer usually brings along some followers of their own and therefore cross promotes in the process. Great thoughts and insight!


Want More Lisa?


Lisa Kessler writes dark paranormal fiction novels and short stories. Her vampire short story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award. She’s currently working on compiling many of her short stories for an Anthology to be published this summer.

Lisa is an active member of her local RWA chapter as well as the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal online chapter.

When she’s not writing, Lisa is a professional singer with two CDs available, and sometimes performs in musical theater productions and operas.

She lives in San Diego with her wonderful husband who reads every word she writes, and two amazing teens.



Visit her blog/website here: http://lisakessler.wordpress.com

Follow her on Twitter here:
http://Twitter.com/LdyDisney

16 comments:

Lisa Kessler said...

Thanks for letting me visit the blog Kerri!

I'm not a huge fan of facebook either, but there are too many readers there to ignore it... Even my grandparents use it! LOL

It's definitely worth checking out, but as with everything on the internet, be cautious about what you're sharing with whom.


Lisa :)

Robin Covington said...

Hi Lisa! Just wnated to stop by and I'm glad I did. I do have a blog and I need to get in a routine for posting - one of the goals of 2011. I talk about writing, my thoughts on the industry, books I like and why, how music influences my writing and I plan to start offering eye candy as a "gift" to my readers (and myself!) I decided to do it as a way for me to collect my thoughts about my goals and my writing - it is a touchstone of sorts. I tweet and FB as well - but that's just mostly for fun, a way to connect with people who have a common interest. If it leads to them being a reader someday - great, but it isn't the focus for me.

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Robin! *waving*

Great to see you! :)

I think one of the hardest parts of blogging is being consistent, and that's probably the most important part to building a readership! LOL Urgh!

And if you're connecting on social media for fun, then you're using it for all the right reasons... When you do have a book to promote you'll already have a following of people who are interested in reading it! :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Lisa :)

Melissa Bradley said...

Hi Lisa,

I'm glad I stopped by today. I started a blog about six months ago and one of my goals for 2011 is to be a more effective blogger with regular posts. I was considering putting some original fiction up, but I've always heard that one shouldn't do that because people might steal your ideas or something. I don't believe that, but there is a hesitation. How do you protect your work on your site? And I have both a My Space and a FB author page as well as Twitter. I try to talk about things I'm doing, reviews, etc. I get some regular responses, but what kinds of things should I be putting on my author page?

Thanks so much for any advice you can give.

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Melissa -

There is always a chance people might steal someone else's work. Ebbok pirates even steal published author's work.

There are sites you can use to check and be sure your work isn't being posted by someone else. I use http://www.copyscape.com/ It's free and very simple to use.

In over 3 years of blogging and sharing short fiction, I've never found my work posted by someone else. *knock on wood*

In the end, I think you have to make that decision if it's worth the risk. Would I ever put my novels up? No. But I do have excerpts available.

As far as what to put on your author page, you need to determine the goal for your blog. If it's just to journal about your writing journey that's fine, and that will give you a focus for blog topics too.

The most important aspect is to set a blog schedule and stick to it so you don't lose readers along the way. :)

Hope that helps!

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Lisa

PamelaTurner said...

Hi Lisa! Great post. :-)

I have two blogs (well, three, if you count my personal LJ). One is devoted to dark genre fiction and is where I invite authors to guest post. The other focuses more on the writing life in general. At some point I may even invite authors to post there too.

I try to balance posts so that both readers and authors can benefit. Haven't put up any free reads, although I have flash fiction on my site.

Anyway, I'm rambling. :-) And my muse is ordering me to return to my novel-in-progress. So back to work!

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Pamela -

Wow! You keep 3 blogs up and running??? You rock!

And it sounds like you have a purpose and target audience with each one which is perfect! :)

Flash fiction is a great way to attract readers too! If they get you a few minutes for something short and you deliver a fun tale, they'll keep coming back for more...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!! And great job on all your blogs! I can barely keep up with one! LOL

Lisa :)

Linda Wisdom said...

Terrific post, Lisa!

Yes, blogging is important and a great way for people to see what you're like. Normal, demented, fun, you name it.

Melissa said...

Lisa,
I really like your comment that writers tend to blog for other writers, not their market. That's so true and I'd never considered that perspective before. Thanks for broadening my horizon!

Melissa

Lisa Kessler said...

HI Linda! *waving*

Thanks for coming by the blog today!!! :)

Linda has a great author blog with insider information into her series, short flash fictions, recipes, and plenty of ways for readers to interact with her!

And I agree Linda! Your personality can really come through in your blogs...

Lisa :)

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Melissa -

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog today! :)

THere's nothing wrong with blogging for other writers as long as that's the purpose for your blog.

But if you want to grow your readership you might want to focus on blogging more for readers offering them reasons to keep coming back...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Melissa!

Lisa :)

Marianne Stephens said...

Lisa, commenting on Facebook is challenging, and trying to keep up with everyone takes time. But in the end, you're right about it being a great social media spot. Blogs need to be enticing enough to capture readers' attention and authors need to be careful how much personal info they display.

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Marianne -

You are right on target about how much you share...

It's easy to get carried away with a blog, but unlike your personal locked diary at home, your blog is public.

Not only that, but it's searchable on google. So if a writer spouts off about a rejection letter it could come back to bite them later if another editor or agent googles them.

Since blogs are public, it's best to stay professional. :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting Marianne!

Lisa

Linda Thomas-Sundstrom said...

HI Lisa! Waving, and kudos on this post! I don't FACEBOOK or Twitter at the moment... too busy with my day gig and my writing deadlines to even splurge on something so cool. But I know you're the person to come to when I need to indulge!

And I've heard your CD - and you are a fantastic singer!

xo

Linda
www.lindathomas-sundtrom.com

Lisa Kessler said...

Hi Linda! *waving*

Thanks for stopping by!!! :)

You know I've got your back whenever you're ready to jump into the social media fun!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!!

*HUGS*

Lisa :)

elengreywriter said...

This is a great post, Lisa. I agree with your statement that "people buy from people."

I've been blogging and tweeting for awhile. I use both to connect with people and to give people a feel for my voice.

I'm just learning Facebook. It is the biggest challenge for me because -- forgive me Facebook -- there is just so much of it that I'm not comfortable with.

That being said, it was Ken sharing on my wall that you were blogging here today that sent me over.

I could probably do a better job of using all of these things, but my primary goal is to engage people and to continue to build a readership for my blog.

Cheers!