November’s Byte the Boook saw us gathered in The Groucho Club for the last time in 2015, and for the last time in the Gennaro Room to listen to Midas PR’s Chris McCrudden share his expertise on social media for authors.
Byte the Book will be starting afresh in the new year, on 25th January in the Soho Bar, another of The Groucho Club’s inviting event spaces, more suited to accommodating our ever-growing group of attendees.
A great mix of members and new faces were present at the event sponsored by City University, an institution which boasts one of the most varied selections of writing courses around.
Chris kicked off his presentation by identifying an attitude that he feels stunts the marketing progress of many authors, one built on the idea that social media exists in a space inaccessible to the work-driven author. While he conceded that social media isn’t the be-all end-all to becoming a successful author, Chris did assert that to not get involved would put you at a disadvantage. He explained that a social media presence essentially translates what one does as a writer into a more public sphere. While it is a lot of work to get it all up and running, it is often rewarding work.
Chris McCrudden, head of Technology and New Media at Midas PR has also written a book called Digital and Social Media for Authors.
Without further ado, Chris launched into a series of practical tips for authors. In no particular order:
- If you’re on Twitter, look at your analytics regularly to see what is working and what isn’t.
- If you want to make a point, illustrate it. GIFs and images are known to generate higher engagement on Twitter and Facebook.
- Know that, as an author, you are uniquely blessed on social media. You possess imaginative empathy – you have the ability to imagine yourself as somebody else, i.e. your audience. Since social media is really all about putting something out there geared at getting a reaction from people, you have an advantage already.
- Know that your claim to knowledge is your hook. You’ve looked very deeply into the heart of something so others don’t need to. Make them want to access your knowledge.
- Don’t let ‘My book is out today, please buy it’ be your first tweet.
- Know your audience. It is incumbent on you to find the audience that naturally exists for your book. You need to be where you’re welcome. Take the current rise of YouTuber books – they are successful because they come with so large a ready-made audience that they are marketing platforms in their own right. Publishers will ask a) is this author popular and b) does this author already come with an audience? Build one and your future self will thank you.
- Portray yourself as an author, not a struggling writer. Spend money on a well-designed book cover and website. Use professional typesetting and proofreading services.
- Market yourself truthfully. You can trick somebody into buying your book, but not into reading it. You want people to be your readers for life.
- Look to authors who do social media well, like Ian Rankin and Joanne Harris.
Chris ended his well-received presentation by urging the authors in the room to use social media – to create the beginning of a mutually fulfilling relationship between themselves and their readers, if nothing else. Questions that followed Chris’s talk included one from an author published several times, who had a difficult relationship with social media. What advice did he have for authors to whom social media is counter-intuitive?
An author member of the audience asking Chris a question.
Chris’s practical advice to this was to identify the platforms and activities that one felt the least antagonistic towards, and focus solely on these. If you feel like there’s too much going on that you can’t keep up with, you’re probably attempting too much. Also try to return to your natural mode of communication – once you realise you can communicate in whichever register feels right to you, things will get easier.
After the presentation, the party atmosphere returned as the group resumed networking.
If you enjoyed this report and want to keep up with the latest happenings in publishing as well as network with publishers and authors alike keep yourself posted by visiting our Events page here. Members of Byte the Book get in free to The Groucho Club events and you can join us for just £75 a year here.
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