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Social media tactics: Avoid the Twitter time-suck

Social media tactics: Avoid the Twitter time-suck

My goal with this post:

To give you clear tips on how to arrange your Twitter activity. The tips will be practical and will help you manage your personal and professional sharing. Let me know how I did in the comments!

I did it. I finally did it.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, which means, well, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about tweeting since 2007. Oh, I have a lot to say. I have a lot to share. I always spot interesting conversations. The problem for me has never been finding things to disperse. The problem has been The Twitter Time Suck.

The Twitter Time Suck is:

  1. The black hole of starting to tweet interesting material and not being able to stop.
  2. The anxiety around whether my tweets are having maximum impact, which leads to more tweeting.

I’ve spent the last several years trying to find a way to make posting take less time but be more rewarding. What do I mean by rewarding?

  • Just as every conversation I have with a person is part of the fabric of my life, I want my posts (on every platform) to reflect who I am (NO PRESSURE!)
  • I enjoy connecting with someone.
  • I like to get traffic to my site.
  • I like to sell books.

If those four points sound familiar, and you also fret about The Twitter Time Suck, then I may have some good news. I’ve found a perfectly reasonable system to keep my tweeting to 15 minutes per day.

Last year I started to manage social media for The School of Visual Arts’ MFA Visual Narrative program in NYC. It’s a fantastic low-residency Masters degree with faculty like Benjamin Marra, Joe Kelly and Edward Hemingway. Because the focus of the degree is on visual storytelling you can imagine how daunting the task of sharing information via Twitter was to me. Remember, I still had to manage my own social media efforts. Having so much to dig through easily led to brain-hurt.

So I started to try a few things to help me juggle it all. I’ll spare you the trial and error.

This is where I landed

1) Use your morning activities:

We have coffee, we shower, we brush our teeth, we read the news. Morning routines (even busy ones) are where many of us quietly review our priorities and our dreams/wishes/aspirations for the day. There’s a lot to find in that mental landscape. Be mindful of your thoughts. Don’t just think them and let them go. If the warm water on your head makes you think of something funny, say it out loud. That will help make it real and memorable. If you want to share it with the world, well, then you have your daily observational tweet!

If you come up with more than one thought, jot it down in a txt file asap. You can tweet it later using…

2)  Hootsuite. Use it.

Hootsuite allows you to queue up your tweets. This is the critical task in any effort to simplify tweeting. You can also use Hootsuite to post to Facebook and LinkedIn. Yes, I’ve used Buffer and Klout. Hootsuite is the best.

3) Set your tweet limit for the day.

My limit is six tweets. For some, that’s low. For some, that’s high. Find your limit and stick to it. But don’t worry about it if you go over or under your number. Worrying wastes time ;-) If you have an account that bridges both personal and professional, then break it down like this at first. Adjust as needed:

50% content tweets (cool articles, helpful posts, beautiful images, quotes)

25% professional tweets (book excerpts, deals, product images)

25% personal tweets (jokes, observations)

4) Tweet your best stuff again. And again.

Be sure to tweet your good stuff often. Don’t worry about it being seen by everyone every time. It won’t be. To stand out in the noise you need to put your best foot forward, and sometimes that best foot is wearing an old shoe. Yeah, my metaphors suck today, but I’m still right.

Tip: If you sign up for Twitter ads you can get incredible insights into what tweets get the most engagement.

Twitter-analytics-to-avoid-

Track this data and retweet the posts that have legs to them. Logically, you wouldn’t lean on tweets that are based on breaking news too many times. But if you make a funny observation about life, really it’ll never get old!

Sticking to these rules for my Twitter-life has cleared up my head so I can pay attention to work and family and Angry Birds Star Wars.

What do you do to maximize your time-spent:impact ratio?

Add your book to Goodreads

Add your book to Goodreads

add my book to goodreads

I’m not sure why Goodreads hides their “Add a New Book” page from us. Are they afraid of some kind of literary hack? Or an avalanche of white papers? A storm of porn? Whatever the reason, just try to search for “add my book to goodreads” and you’ll find what you’re looking for waaaaaaay down on the search results page.

All you have to do is go to this url, and you’re set:

Add my book to Goodreads

Simple post for a simple process. Made hard by Goodreads.

Good luck!

How to price your ebook

How to price your ebook

How to price your ebook can be a tough decision.

Which is surprising since there aren’t many standard price points to choose from!

$.99 – $9.99

That can be broken down in fifty cent increments or one dollar increments. ($1.49, $1.99, $2.49, etc.)

Sure, you could charge $1.27, or $6.73, but price points like that tend to make customers think they’re buying a used item.

So with a max of 19 prices, how do you price your ebook?

What does the competition charge?

Get a clear picture of what people expect to pay for your kind of story.The best place to start is to look at what the competition charges in the Top 20, then price-match the books that you’d like to compete with.

For those of us who write in those annoying little gray areas where it’s tough to find the competition… well… we need to dig a little deeper to find good facts to work from.

My Shirley Link mystery series for Middle Grade to Young Adult is a perfect example. Not many indys write in this specific category, which makes it hard to price match with competitors. I’ve found that most people just won’t pay a Nancy Drew price for an indy book.

Not enough competition to price-match? Try, and try again!

After a lot of trial and error, I’ve settled on my latest pricing strategy of:

Shirley Link & The Safe Case (#1): FREE

Shirley Link & The Hot Comic (#2): $.99

Shirley Link & The Treasure Chest (#3): $2.49

Shirley Link & Black Cat (#4): $2.99

It’s a cross between the pricing strategy of Romance ebooks and Kids ebooks. Start free, make #2 cheap, then crawl up to $2.99, where I can start to make some good money.

Frankly, it’s been a tough road to find the right price for Shirley Link! But I’m definitely getting closer as I try different prices and roll out new books.

Should I go free?

Perma-free is the term we use to describe a book that is free “forever.” Many series authors make the first book in the series free because it helps increase visibility. Going perma-free, when done right, can mean higher sales for the rest of your series.

If you write a series, then do the following to decide if you should go perma-free on Amazon.

1) Do 3 Free Promo Days with book #1.

2) Measure the sales of the entire series post-promo.

3) Answer this question: If your entire series did this well all the time would you be happy? If the answer is yes, then ask a follow-up question. Would you be happy if your series did half as well all the time? If the answer to that is yes then make the first book perma-free. Why? Because the book is strong enough to act as a good entry-point for your entire series. So it’s likely that it will drive satisfying sales. If the answer to either question is no, then perma-free is probably not for you.

If your free book doesn’t rocket readers into your other books, then permafree is not a good pricing strategy.

The bottom line is this: your audience will send strong signals if your price is wrong. For instance, if you see slow sales after a successful free promo day on Amazon, then one reason could be the price point. “But I charge one buck for my ebook!” you might say.

The problem could still be with your price.

Your price may be too low.

Try jacking it up 50 cents. Yes, really. It worked for my third Shirley Link book.

One last tip is to reach out to fans. Ask them what they think the book is worth. Your readers can offer some keen insights on topics ranging from pricing to book description to, of course, story content!

How did you decide the price for your ebook? Do you experiment a lot, too?

Check out my post on how to make your book free on Amazon.

by Ben Zackheim

You may also like:

Prepare your book for its KDP Select free promotion days

Amazon KDP Select has a bridge to sell you! No, really.

The $11 Million question: Is KDP Select worth it?

 

Want to do more research on pricing your book? Here’s some good reading:

Smashwords survey 

PBS

Nick Stephenson (with nifty graphs!)

 

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What’s your Digital ID?

What’s your Digital ID?


 

NOTE: In the coming months I’m going to write about how we present ourselves online. Digital ID, as I call it, is the sum of:

After two decades of doing business online, I’ve realized that we must know who we are offline to establish the strongest Digital ID. I’ll set out to prove that thesis in my articles.

We’re all learning how to maneuver this wonderful, liberating mess together! So I look forward to hearing this community’s opinions. 

I like the image above because it’s how I feel when I wake up in the morning and put on my marketing cap and get on Facebook. I feel like I’m immersed in a pool of people, some of us connected, some of us not, some of us wanting to be connected, some of us not. And I think it’s important to recognize that mess. I think understanding how messy things are makes it easier to understand how we feel about establishing a digital ID. And, just as importantly, what we need to do to set up our own Digital ID.

What do I mean by that?

Here’s my best explanation: I’m a strong believer in the independent storyteller’s power. Not just the power of moving people to think and act and feel, but the power to find an audience on your own that you can tell your story to.

 

The Slow, Agonizing, Delightful Death of the Gatekeeper

For a long time, storytellers have been ruled by gatekeepers who got to tell us, “That story is good enough and worth this much. But that one sucks and good luck!”

Those days are coming to an end.

And how do I know this?

Because I was a gatekeeper.

I told some brilliant people that their stuff wouldn’t make it in today’s market. Sometimes I was right, sometimes wrong. But the powerful emotions I felt when I saw some of them move on and do great things were undeniable.

I wasn’t regretful.

I wasn’t envious.

I was inspired.

I saw them leveraging brand new tools, online services, ways of connecting that no one had thought of. They found their audience without Viacom, ESPN, AOL, Sony and all those other places where I worked.

Those gatekeepers were wrong.

I was wrong.

For my part, I had enough confidence in my own writing talent to strike out and try this new world on for size myself.

Now, the jury is still out on whether that was a good idea. While I’m doing great, I’m not making a living wage at writing my books. But I like the trajectory and I love the process. The freedom is exhilarating.

And it’s messy. Like this post’s image.

 

So what does this mean for working artists?

We’re living through a fundamental shift in how people learn about us and how we learn about them. As a writer looking for an audience I know in my heart that I’ll find my readers only if I stay true to myself.

To be clear, I find the incredibly detailed tracking of people by big companies creepy. I don’t trust them with the information. The counterpoint is that most of them are sharing that data with everyone. Some charge (like FB) and some don’t (like Google). Does that make it okay? I don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that I can go online and have a universe of data on my target audience at my fingertips. If I work hard, stay true to myself and my work, I can reach them and I can make a living telling my stories. The sacrifice I make is that my interests, preferences, friends and behavior is also thrown into this messy pool of data — slicing my identity into little pieces for another artist or writer or entrepreneur to scour through and evaluate.

[Tweet "I'm a data point for someone else. And they're mine."]

It’s a fascinating, liberating, terrifying time. And I’m delighted to be a part of the mess every single day.

 

Book trailer or no book trailer? The question that burns…

Book trailer or no book trailer? The question that burns…

Many of us think in words. Authors are like that. Our thoughts take on a distinct inner voice — dependent on mood, muse and cups of coffee.

So when we’re faced with the option of building a book trailer, with words and pictures and animations… well, it’s daunting.

With an NYU Film School education and several years of playing the Hollywood game, I’ve set out to craft a trailer for my upcoming series, The Camelot Kids. I’m delighted with it so far, so I thought I’d share some basic rules that have helped me focus.

Here are my impressions of what works, what doesn’t and how to avoid the common mistakes I spot in book trailers every day.

 

book previews donts

start-simplebook trailers terrify me

keep-it-short

 

Here are some resources for you to dig into:

Tools for book trailer creation

Adobe Voice for iPad

A spectacular tool. I don’t use that word lightly. That’s the term I save in my quiver for special occasions.

The app on the iPad does everything and does it well. You can make a slick presentation within minutes. If you want to make a fast, elegant trailer that focuses on your writing style, character voices or humor then Adobe Voice can help you. Oh, and they have tens of thousands of stock images for free. The app adds the correct credit to the end of the video so you’re pretty safe.

I can’t recommend this app enough.

Prezi

Some quality book trailers have been done with Prezi tools. Like Adobe Voice, the service will help you look slick. But unlike Adobe Voice, you don’t have simple and searchable access to free, accredited images.

Graphicstock and BigStock are (as of this writing) offering a free one week trial to their library of images. You need to give a credit card to get access, but you can cancel if you don’t think the service gives you enough value.

Blue Yeti mic for book trailerIf you decide that voice is a critical component of your trailer, then you really can’t go wrong with Blue’s Yeti mic. It looks great and sounds even better. While the sensitivity can be high it’s nothing that can’t be adjusted for with a little distance from the mic.

Book trailers that work

Fantastic book trailers and the reasons they’re so good

7 Brilliant Book Trailers

A funny piece in The New Yorker about book trailers

 

Have you made a book trailer? What do you think of book trailers? Let us know in the comments!

By Ben Zackheim

 

You might also like:

How to write an author bio that sells books

Choose the best genre for your book on Amazon