Learn More from a Social Media Guru

Interested in learning more wisdom from Chris Bass? The social media guru maintains a frequent blog through Booktango (access it here) and welcomes author and customer questions and interaction. He can be reached for questions or comments at cbass@authorsolutions.com, and of course, the entirety of Five Essential Elements of Social Media to Market Your Book Successfully is available for only 99 cents through Amazon (in Kindle edition) or booktango.com (in Epub, Mobi or PDF).


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From the Tech Desk

An Expert's Guide to Social Media

“It’s all about being social.”

That’s the advice Chris Bass, director of marketing services for Author Solutions Inc., former marketing director for publishing imprint Booktango and an all-around expert in the publishing industry, gives to all aspiring writers.

According to Bass, the world of book publishing has been fundamentally altered in the last ten years, a metamorphosis carried along by technology and the resulting shift in the relationships between publishers, writers and the wider reading public. But Bass considers the here-and-now the best time ever be a writer, citing the ability of modern authors have to publish their work for free, distribute it to all e-reader devices on the market and collect all or most of the royalties, effectively cutting out the once-essential middle man.

But while modern publishing techniques create greater opportunities for writers to get their work out there, they also engender more competition. How does an author distinguish themselves from the crowd when literally thousands of manuscripts are hitting the Amazon marketplace every single day? How does one build a following in a world of disposable media and of the “here one day, gone the next” mentality? The answer, as Bass says, is all about forming a social mentality.

Social media marketing has become what the major publishing houses once were: it will never be an absolutely fool-proof route to success, but it is certainly an essential one. Still, for many not-so-tech-savvy writers out there, navigating the perilous cliffs of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogger and Myspace (oh wait...nevermind on that last one) can be as full of frustrating pitfalls as writing the book in the first place. Enter Chris Bass, whose latest book, called Five Essential Elements of Social Media to Market Your Book Successfully, offers independent authors a treasure-map to technological fan base-building.

So what are some of the tips that Bass suggests entrepreneurial authors follow? Naturally, readers will have to check out the book for the full scoop, but the Tech Desk recently got an opportunity to speak with Bass, and he briefly outlined each of his points for us. Here’s the sneak peak:

1) Master a few social media tools: Bass knows better than anyone that keeping up with the wide range of social media options can be a daunting task. But he advised that, instead of trying to juggle a blog, a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile, or to always keep up with the biggest, newest web tools, authors should try to zero in on which social media platform(s) best suit their promotional goals, personality and, perhaps most importantly, how much time they are willing to spend on their social media management.

“Fundamentally, you need to really think about what you’re trying to accomplish and how you want to be seen,” Bass said. “You can’t just get on Twitter and talk about your book—people get bored with that really quickly. There’s this great chart that MarketingSherpa did that shows the effectiveness and reach of different social media outlets and the time it takes to deal with those outlets. It shows that, if you’re going to do a blog, that’s going to take a long time and you’re going to need to be committed to blogging regularly and building an audience. Otherwise, you can reach more people with Twitter or Facebook.”

2) Build relationships: According to Bass, social media marketing is like going to a cocktail party and meeting a bunch of new people—a throwback to old-fashioned networking, “minus the handshake.” In his book, Bass goes into detail on just how one can optimize this form of networking to build an interested following and keep them coming back. And even with Ifnternet anonymity, interaction and rapport is a key ingredient to maintaining a social media following and turning it into a fan-base.

3) Search engine marketing: After completing their books and establishing a few key social media presences, the next big question for many writers is, “okay, now how do I get on Google?” Bass notes this stage as one of the most difficult in the social media game, stressing the importance of Internet tagging as a means of complimenting search engine keywords.

4) “Plan your work, work your plan”: Based on one of Bass’s oldest mottoes, this category revolves around keeping an editorial calendar and, as touched upon in the first tip, maintaining consistent discipline with blogs, Tweets and Facebook fan pages. A successful marketing campaign, in any industry, is born with a good idea and a well-drawn plan, but solidified with effective follow-through action; in the fickle world of social media and modern Internet interaction, that rule counts for double.

5) Be yourself: While it seems like everyone has adapted to Internet interaction in the past decade, Bass noted how regularly he still hears things like “I don’t know what to Tweet about!” or “It doesn’t feel natural!” from authors after sending them down a social media path. Not surprisingly, the solution is one of the oldest in the book.

“It’s just about being who you are,” Bass explained. “Writers just need to be imaginative in social media, need to ask how they can connect their work to relevant topics? And writers are by nature very creative. Sometimes they just get concerned about not knowing how to do it, but all they’re doing is taking their writing skills and applying them in a different medium.”

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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In edition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953@gmail.com.