I’m no marketing expert, and I certainly wasn’t when I started Victorian Mistress a year ago. This year I’ve focused most of my marketing efforts on Twitter which does have negatives, the major one being that it leaves you open to attack from trolls (internet bullies), but so far my experience has been mostly positive. While there are the publicised negatives of Twitter it also has a large and, largely, supportive writing community. Due to this large writing community it also has a few features that can help in promoting books and serials.
There’s an array of writing hashtags that come in three main types that I’ve used: writing questions, themed quotes, and general writing. Writing question hashtags are sometimes daily questions, such as #authorconfession, or weekly, like #WhyIWriteWed, where the hosts set questions or themes for writers to talk about. There’s even a special one for writers who consider themselves to be ‘slow’ writers, the #TurtleWriters. The ‘themed quotes’ hashtags I referred to are hashtag games where writers can post quotes from their stories based around themes, there are different ones each day and the themes change weekly, for example on Tuesdays there’s #TerraTues or Wednesdays there’s #TalesNoir, plus many more. Finally there’s more general hashtags like #writerslife, #amwriting or #amediting, that allow writers to post anything about that aspect of writing they want. Similar ones include #ShareWrit, which runs on Saturdays, and allows writers to post links to their work that make it easier for people to find. These can be a great way to find and connect with other writers or find stories that might interest you and inflate your To Be Read pile.
On a similar note when we’re serialising a story it can help to turn the title into a hashtag so we can post on any of the above hashtags and attach out title so people can easily find our work in one place. The only problem with this can be finding a hashtag that isn’t already in use. The advantage though is that we can attach this hashtag to anything we post relating to our story which makes it easier to find and search for. We may, for instance, post a collection of quotes and an interested reader can click the tag where they may find the link to our story.
Tweeting marketing links can be tricky because we don’t want to over tweet the link and lose followers because they think we’re trying to spam them. I have seen suggestions that posting three or four links spread across a day can work well by covering all the time zones. This can be achieved using things like TweetDeck, an extension of Twitter, that allows tweeters to schedule tweets to post at times when they can’t do them or don’t have time. Using individual tweets rather than retweeting the same post can be helpful because retweets don’t move the tweet up the hashtag feed but a fresh tweet will as well as appearing to our followers. Marketing tweets can also be good practice at creating taglines and short summaries of our story because we have to fit in something to entice the reader, related hashtags (generally three or four at most to avoid looking spammy) plus the link. Here having a cover or a header picture is helpful because this will appear in the tweet.
One last technique is simply engaging with other people on Twitter, whether through likes or commenting. The trickiest part can be inserting ourselves into conversations, such as joining in debates or simply tweeting another writer to say we like something they posted. It can be nerve-wracking wondering if we’re being too forward. Often though people will post questions looking for different opinions or recommendations on articles or books. One thing I try to do if I’m going to recommend one of my own articles to a writer I’ve not interacted with before is I tweet them to say I have an article on whatever they’re looking for and offer the link and don’t give it until they ask for it. This isn’t necessary but I find it helps to avoid looking like spam.
Finally there are also writing hashtags that offer prompts where we can create tweet length stories. For instance there’s #tfteotw which offers YouTube video prompts to create a short sequence of tweets to make a story. I’m listing this type of hashtag separately as it doesn’t specifically relate to promoting a particular piece of work.
NOTE: Each article series comes in five parts published between Monday and Friday. Check back tomorrow for the next part.