Monday, September 13, 2010

A Reluctant Convert’s Tale

By Dana Marton
My first social networking experience was MySpace. I’d just built a modest friends list when people in the know declared that MySpace was dead.

Facebook was the next big thing. I figured this fad, too, shall fade. The very idea of Twitter made me shudder. Communicate in 140 words or less? My email signature line is longer than that. And, seriously, whose idea was it to ration words? It’s like rationing chocolate. (Banish the thought!) There wasn’t a single part of me that could get on board with that.

Then came the wakeup call from my publisher: low sales. They weren’t picking up the last couple of books I submitted. Picture a cartoon alarm clock with the top opening, a large hammer coming out and hitting me whack! over the head. I’m a fairly fast learner, so I grasped the significance pretty quickly: lack of promotion can kill a perfectly good writing career.

Do you think I have Facebook and Twitter accounts now? Plus, I’ve sent 20+ advance reader copies of my next release to online reviewers, requested author interviews with every book site that offers it, I’m blogging, guest blogging, taking and giving online classes. And it’s not as bad as I’d expected. I swear. If you haven’t yet, you could:

--Open Twitter and Facebook accounts and set up a profile.

--Post every day. You don’t have anything brilliant daily? When I don’t, I post something funny I’ve come across. My last Tweet: “Love is like a booger. You keep picking at it until you get it, then you don’t know what to do with it.” You’d be surprised how many people it made laugh.

--Interact with others. Give advice, send a virtual hug. Talk up your favorite books. Other authors will return the favor.

--Make it easy. I use TweetDeck, which lets me see at a glance if anyone mentioned me or responded to anything I’ve sent. I added links to my online presences to My Favorites window on my Yahoo page. I click down the list and quickly check and post a few times a day.

--Link. When I Tweet, it shows up on my Facebook and on my blog. When I blog, it shows up on my Facebook and Twitter.

--Take a class. I’m currently taking two, one from Beth Barany and the other from Marcia James. They each doubled (at least) my previous knowledge on this subject.

--Keep going. It WILL get easier.

Does it work? I’ve been doing this for only the last month, but already have higher Amazon ratings. I hooked up with a writing partner. I was asked to be part of a cookbook for charity. Was sent a link to WITS, and hey, here I am. I’ve made friends I wouldn’t trade for a multi-book contract.

As far as hard numbers go, I should have them soon and I’ll report back. I have two more books left on my previous contract. The first, THE SPY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, is coming out in October.

Dana Marton is the author of 25 romantic suspense novels. She’s the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and a RITA© Award finalist. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and are available all over the world; one was even turned into a full-size graphic novel in Japan. She would love it if you looked her up online and shared your own promo tips with her.

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