By P.M. White
Writers aren’t social, are they? Aren’t writers at their keyboards, head lowered, with their fingers moving furiously for hours on end? Don’t they hear dialogue in their minds and not out loud?
That’s how it used to be, if we’re to believe historians.
Writers these days, however, have to be both social and prolific if they want to make enough from their stories to stave off a day job. And most writers have day jobs, often two jobs, to support their writing habit. But whether or not one needs a day job, it’s still it’s a full time job just being social—by which I mean the current primary definition of this term: marketing yourself and your writing with social media. Like it or not, most believe it’s a vital part of the literary world these days. In erotica, authors are online chatting it up on a regular basis. If they want to sell more than five books, they have to be.
But often, all the socializing in the world won’t help. So what are the tips and tricks to getting noticed? How do authors market both their work and themselves?
Author Hunter S. Jones recommends loads of reading and loads of research:
As an artist you should have the capacity to read trends. Find out what works for your genre and what feels good for your work. That seems to be the most important thing, really.
Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, offers both advantages and shortfalls, she added.
You can gain scores via some sites, gain followers on all sites, but maybe the important thing to remember is not to lose sight of your own publishing goals. What do you want and how can you obtain it?
Author Kay Jaybee recommends setting aside time each and every day to promote your work. The easiest and most obvious marketing tools, she said, are Facebook and Twitter:
By setting up an author page on Facebook, as well as a Twitter account, you can quickly post buy links, cover reveals, and writing news to help build up an audience of readers. If you haven’t the time to dive into these social media networks more than once a day, you can use Hootsuite to schedule as many posts as you like in advance—that way your work has an online presence on and off all day.
Keeping and updating a blog or a website is equally important, she added. Jaybee herself gets more than a thousand visitors a week on her blog.
Another recommendation I’d make is to go on a blog tour whenever you have a new, full length, novel or novella to market. Ask blog-owners who specialize in your genre to feature your work for a day. You can pay for professional agencies to set up such tours for you, or you could offer to swap blogs with other writers, featuring their work in return for them featuring yours. Blog tours are a great way of introducing your work to a wider number of potential new readers.
Author Giulia Napoli suggests staying active in one to two social media sites at a time when pushing your erotic writing:
You can lose hours per day—hours better spent writing—by getting sucked into long discussions or writing dozens of notes that aren’t directly applicable to marketing your books. For example, a friend of mine who writes sci-fi started to get involved in a discussion of whether or not sci-fi authors should use faster-than-light travel in their stories. He was strongly opinionated on that topic, but there was no return on the time he spent debating it.
Napoli herself can often be found on Goodreads, her preferred choice, due to the author communities found there.
Become known in the communities of readers and authors within your genre. All social sites have ‘interest groups’ of some sort. For writers, Goodreads may be the best site for this—for example, if you write fem-fem erotica, there is a Goodreads group for that. Participate in a handful of groups directly about, or related to, your genre—within reason. Toss out your ideas, but avoid arguments. Above all, be courteous, and observe the group rules!
Street teams, fans who advertise your writing on social media, also work for some authors, said Jones—but what works for some doesn’t always work for others—
What works for me is a pair of black Louboutins, black dress, pearls, small Chanel bag, Chanel lipstick and Bardot hair. And a pair of red leather gloves. This may not work for others. If you write, you live it and surely you love it. Whatever your vocation, you are selling something to someone else. Why not your book or books? If you do not believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Why deny the world your greatness? Get out there and let them know about your work.
Jaybee cited the importance of an author page on Amazon as well, as a majority of book sales in both the United Kingdom and in the USA begin with the online giant. Sprinkle that with a helping of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest, sometimes LinkedIn—whatever will reach your readers. But no matter which social media strategies and venues you choose, you remain quiet and off-radar at your peril:
LinkedIn works for some people, but not for others, as it is very business based. It is no good writing a book and expecting people to magically have heard of it. If you don’t shout about your work it will be lost in the swamp of the hundreds of thousands of other publications out there. Each and every time you put a book or even a blog post out—tell everyone! Tweet it, Facebook post it—spread the word! Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time. I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t stress that enough.
In a world where publishers do less and less marketing, promotion has become as much a part of an author’s job as the creation of plot twists and placing of commas. I resent the time I spend marketing my work. It takes up a good two hours of my day—time I could spend writing—but sadly, it is essential. I did an experiment last year to see if my daily round of tweeting, posting and blogging made any difference, and did nothing marketing-wise for a month. My sales disappeared! Needless to say, I am back to marketing my work every day!
Offline, getting a mention in a magazine or newspaper, reading your work at an event, or doing a radio interview is also something Jaybee strongly recommends.
Reviews are another important piece to the marketing puzzle, Napoli said:
Get reviews of your work. Get them on review sites, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc. Follow everyone’s rules in submitting or offering your work for review, but get reviews from pros and regular readers of your book. Assuming most of your reviews are good, an occasional two-star review is better than no review at all. There is no such thing as bad publicity.
That said, Napoli cautioned,
An author should never, ever resort to arguing with critics.
This can destroy your reputation faster than anything. If your book gets read, as you want it to, there will be some people who’ll feel they’ve wasted their money on you and want you to ‘pay’ in return. The way they make you pay is by giving you a poor rating. Suck it up. Ignore it and go on, no matter how unfair it is. You cannot win that battle.
Book giveaways, Napoli added, are another way to generate buzz:
I’m not a big fan of giving books away over a long period, unless you’re trying to channel readers into your sequel. I think targeted giveaways, e.g., in Goodreads contests, are the way to go. When you’re getting started, contact readers who show an interest in your book(s). For example, for my erotic novel, Oh Claire!, I sent a friend request with a short note to every reader who put it on their ‘to read’ list. In addition, if a reader writes a particularly well-done review, contact that person, and tell her/him what you liked about the review. But never argue.
Despite all the tricks of marketing and promotion, Napoli said writers shouldn’t lose track of two important points: finding the right publisher and having a polished finished product.
Find a publisher if you can, even if it’s one that only publishes online. For a [rather small] percentage of the online fees, they will help with editing, publishing, distribution, and marketing. Note that online publishing fees range from 65 to 70 percent, if the book is priced between U.S. $2.99 and $9.99. Online-only publishers forward most of that to the author.
Editing is a very big deal. In my opinion, it can make all the difference in acceptance of your book. It takes time, but results in a high-quality product. I write erotica, and I know that erotica publications (short stories, novelettes, novels) are among the most poorly edited. When you find an author whose books are quality (e.g., Lindsey Brooks), you tend to read more of their works. Typically, more enjoyable stories go with better editing, because everybody involved is trying to do their best—quality, not quantity, is the key.
When it comes to editing, Napoli recommends working with other authors and reading one another’s work. But again, a word of caution:
Remember though, a good writer is not necessarily a good editor—at least not without practice.
About Hunter S. Jones
Hunter S. Jones is the author of September Ends, Fortune Calling and other works. When not writing novels and stories, she contributes to expatspost.com. Over the years she’s published articles on music, fashion, art, travel and history. Jones, a lover of all the finer things in life, says, ”The art form I create when writing is much more interesting than anything you will ever know or learn about me. However, since you ask, I have lived in Tennessee and Georgia my entire life, except for one ‘lost summer’ spent in Los Angeles. I was always a complex kid. My first published stories were for a local underground rock publication in Nashville.”
For more information, visit Hunter S. Jones online at HunterSJones.com , Exile on Peachtree Street and Facebook.
About Kay Jaybee
Kay Jaybee is the author of numerous novels, including the Perfect Submissive Trilogies, Making Him Wait, The Voyeur, as well as the novellas Not Her Type: Erotic Adventures with a Delivery Man, Digging Deep, A Sticky Situation, and The Circus. She has also written the short story collections The Collector, The Best of Kay Jaybee, Tied to the Kitchen Sink, Equipment, Yes Ma’am, Quick Kink One and Quick Kink Two. Kay has had over eighty short stories published by Cleis Press, Black Lace, Mammoth, Xcite, Penguin, Seal and Sweetmeats Press (Immoral Views).
Visit Jaybee online at kayjaybee.me.uk, or on her Facebook page.
About Giulia Napoli
Thirty-something Giulia Napoli grew up in East Lansing, Michigan where her father was a professor at Michigan State University. She earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Journalism from a prestigious Great Lakes area university. While an undergraduate, Giulia studied abroad for three years—a year each in London, Florence, and Brussels. Her interest in the many forms of erotica started and grew during her time in Europe. Giulia writes romantic erotica with themes of submission, hair fetishes, body modification and some surprising, unexpected, erotic twists thrown in. Her settings are often exotic and, especially in her new novel, Oh Claire!, global in scope, reflecting her own well-traveled experiences.
For more information on Napoli, visit her Goodreads page, or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the columnist
Writer P.M. White has toiled on a number of sexy stories over the years, including his newest novella Volksie: A Tale of Sex, Americana and Cars from 1001 Nights Press. His previous publications include the Horror Manor trilogy from Sizzler Editions: Eyeball Man, Desire Under the Eaves, and You are a Woman. White’s short stories have appeared in Sex in San Francisco, The Love That Never Dies, Bound for Love, Pirate Booty and many others.
For more information, visit him on Tumblr at pmwhite.tumblr.com, at his Amazon author page, on Twitter @authorpmwhite and on Facebook.