Mashable: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media

May 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Audio/Video/Media, Social Networking | Leave a comment
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mashableWriters, if you haven’t yet taken the head-first plunge into networking and promoting yourself and your writing through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging via WordPress or Blogger, it’s time for you to join the online revolution. For a great go-to place for social media news and information to get you up to speed, check out Mashable.

All of this “online stuff” may seem daunting to writers who spend their time in quiet seclusion, creating characters and engaging stories, or writing to share information or a message. I know a lot of you feel that in social networks there is just so much noise, so many people… The technology is advancing so quickly. How could you ever keep up? Where do you begin? What do you do to get your message out there? How do you get noticed? What is it really all about? Does any of it really matter?

The answer is—Yes, it does matter. Social media is a great way to get your message heard, to reach out to people with common interests, and to make a difference. There are so many positive reasons to embrace and participate in social networks and not a single negative reason not to.

Here’s a quick-start overview of basic tools to get you going in the right direction:

  • Explore the articles in Mashable’s How-To List
  • Carve out a piece of cyber real estate for yourself—establish a blog. (I recommend WordPress.)
  • Begin to expand your social networking circle by joining Twitter.

Twitter is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get your social networking feet wet. I wrote a post about Twitter back in August last year that also included a video tutorial. Since that time, Twitter has gone even more mainstream and has been used in so many great ways to connect with people—even by our current president!

On the personal side, Twitter has been directly responsible for my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, being optioned for adaptation to a cable television series; book sales; reviews and interviews on high-traffic websites; increased traffic on this blog; visibility and personal connection to major players in the publishing industry—and just this morning, I was surprised and excited to find myself on Mashable’s list of Nonfiction Authors to Follow on Twitter! All of it has grown organically from sharing what I’m thinking and doing, providing help when I can, commiserating and offering support, chatting about random topics, and generally enjoying the people I meet. That’s what it’s all about.

Writers, if you need some help getting yourself and your writing out there, I have an upcoming workshop, Online Author & Book Promotion, that launches in June. You can drop me an email with any questions you have or sign up on the workshops page.

Social media is here to stay. It will only get bigger and better with an incredible global reach and so many diverse and wonderful ways to use it. Check out this video interview with Mashable’s Pete Cashmore about Social Media for Social Good.
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Media Training Will Help You Teach Ellen A New Dance

December 2, 2008 at 10:12 am | Posted in Audio/Video/Media, Promotion | 9 Comments
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ellenOprah is great, but my goal is to get the opportunity to teach Ellen a new dance. I’m not famous and my book isn’t a bestseller (yet), but in preparation for that eventuality, I figured it was time to kick my media game up a notch and learn what it takes to get booked and be a great guest, so I can get my message out there.

I signed up for a three-day workshop, Excellence in Media: The Language of Impact, hosted by Joel Roberts. Yes, the Joel Roberts, a dynamic, big-hearted, former prime time talk show host for KABC Talk Radio in Los Angeles. And I have to say, it was probably the most solid info I’ve ever gotten from a seminar. Joel definitely knows his stuff and he did a great job teaching everyone to implement his techniques. By the end of the weekend, I saw a huge improvement in the way everyone pitched themselves and performed in their mock interviews. My head buzzed with ideas of how to showcase my expertise and experiences for the media.

I can’t even begin to sum up everything I learned, but here are a few basic points Joel covered in much greater detail:

  • Watch the show you want to be on as often as you can, especially during sweeps (Nov. Feb. May) to see the types of segments that bring the biggest audiences.
  • Check the show websites in the middle of the week, at least weekly for segment updates.
  • The segment producer is your first audience. Pretend you are face to face during the initial pitch call. Smile and bring your energy to your voice.
  • Do not be afraid of controversy. It’s a show segment dream.
  • Check for incidents in the news that you can use to tie in to your message. The best topics are topical.
  • Use interesting elements from your life to sell your story.
  • Take your passion with you, don’t tone yourself down.
  • Anytime you can take an accepted idea and turn it on its ear—that’s myth busting. Media wants the counter intuitive element.
  • Key message points should be delivered in 1 minute = units of impact, nuggets of wisdom, sound bites.
  • Your power as a communicator is a balance between your humanity and your expertise.
  • Decide what you are claiming and what you are not. You are either a guru or a witness. A guru knows what’s best for you. A witness shares their experience and says derive from it what you will.
  • Do not pitch books/products, services, businesses; pitch issues. Do the producers work for them.
  • If you want people to move, you have to move them. What moves others about you? Find the nuclear core of your idea. Grab ‘em fast and keep ‘em long.
  • Prompt the attack you want to defend against. Provide the suggested questions that will give you the opportunity to answer in the way and with the content you want to.
  • Never give away your trademark phrases to the reporter in your sample questions—have the pearls come out of your mouth in the interview.
  • Every show has a population target, only two axis on the graph = young/old and male/female. (Oprah = Women 28-65; Howard Stern = Men 18-35)
  • If you can’t skew your message to the demographic of the show audience, you’re dead. Find a way to be inclusive with your message.
  • Don’t have only the story. Have take-away tips for the audience. How can they replicate your success?

Overall, Joel’s workshop was so comprehensive that I’ll definitely use his pitching and interview techniques to craft my current and future messages for the media. There was one thing in particular he said that really resonated with me. You see, I often sing from the rooftops about people and products/services I think are of great value, but I have a tendency to be more humble and subdued about my own contributions. Call it an anti-arrogance gene. In response to this, Joel said:

“It is essential to be comfortable demanding the attention of the public. Anything short of that won’t do. You deserve the attention of the media. Humility is not the denial of your gift; it is acknowledging the source of your gift and then giving it fully. By the time you go to the media, you should stand for your value, your contribution, and the solution it provides.”

Well, there ya go. That’s just what I needed to hear. Now, it won’t be long before I’m teaching Ellen my signature Booty Bounce.


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Random Bits & Bytes of Book Promotion Advice

August 22, 2008 at 6:12 am | Posted in Audio/Video/Media, Promotion | 1 Comment
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Recently, I attended a panel discussion about book marketing and promotion because it’s always good to consider tips from other authors and marketing professionals. You never know when someone might share an idea you haven’t thought of, or will say something that resonates with you in a new way.

Here are some of the suggestions I’ve gathered:

Write about something you have a passion for.
Hopefully, this was something you considered before you began writing. It’s definitely something to keep in mind. You’ll be working on writing, publishing, and promoting your book for a long time–many years, so make sure it’s something you will have a tireless passion for.

Connect with your target audience. Craft your marketing copy for the visual impact that will appeal to your demographic. Ask yourself these questions: What do they want? How do they communicate? What media do they use? What are they reading? Where do they live? Make a visual board of whom they are and write/promote to that visual.

Don’t rely on someone else to do your publicity. No one knows your product better than you do. Don’t ever give up. When you are contacting media outlets, if you get turned down, realize that “No” is only temporary—it just means “No right now,” not “No forever.” Make contact calls to radio stations and create a relationship with the show producer or assistant. Don’t ask, “Are you busy.” They are always busy. Call with a specific point to make and explain to them how your information will entertain or inform their listeners.

Develop a diverse promotional plan. Always give out postcards and leave them places—you never know who will pick them up. Nothing is ever too small—go to everything and promote, promote, promote. Set Google alerts and follow up with journalists who write articles about your topic—introduce yourself and offer to be a source for any of their future needs. Connect with a charity that ties in with your book. Keep your mind open to any marketing possibilities that arise.

Maintain a blog. This has become standard piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many writers have still not taken the plunge into the blogosphere. Once you do, pursue opportunities for blog tours. Post on topic relevant blogs. There are many ways you can promote your book online. Join social networking sites and get involved in the groups. Create video trailers. The internet is moving toward video everything.

Use Amazon to your advantage. Read the popular books in your genre/topic, go to their book pages on Amazon and post a review. Use “Author of __your book title_” in your signature. Create a Listmania and So You’d Like To list of books in your topic/genre—and include your book. Align yourself with the bestsellers.

A book is only one part of your platform. Your platform is everything you do that goes along with your book that you can sell. Information is the most important commodity. You can have a book for $10 and offer a course for $99. Think of all the other possibilities of things you can create related to your product. An author of a humorous relationship book about not kissing frogs created toad bags, frog shirts, frog notes, etc. You can go to a licensing show to sell rights for other merchandise related to your book. She is now shooting “frogisodes” for downloads on cellphones. Continually ask: what other things can I provide?

Repurpose your content any way you can. People want information in a variety of formats. You can conduct teleclasses, in-person workshops, and webinars about the info in your book, sell special reports or tips booklets. The more ways you can find to repackage your content, the faster you will be able to grow your business and reach your readers.

Get proper speaker training. I received a call a few days ago from Mark Victor Hansen’s office (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and during our discussion, his marketing assistant mentioned that Mark’s philosophy is that speakers should be writers and writers should be speakers. So, if you are following this growing trend and you plan to speak on your topic, don’t speak without training. Mark has a seminar coming up November 7-9 that can start you on that path. You can look into training opportunities with The National Speaker’s Assoc. (NSA). Some of their local chapters have a program called Pro Speak. You can also join a local Toastmasters to help hone your skills.

Post an audio excerpt on your website. Audio Acrobat is a $19.95 mo. service that has the ability to create audio messages you can place on your website, blog, and emails or newsletters. Check out the way it’s used on www.speakerservices.com. Speakers need audio on their site. No one is going to hire you without some sort of demo.

Become a shameless self-promoter. Understand that what you are doing is valuable. Tell people about your book because you know your information may help them. Connect with what you have to offer and believe in it. Consider your return on investment–for your time, effort, and money–in everything you do to market your book. Put together a marketing plan and be diligent with following it. Stay focused. There is only so much time in a day, but you need to be flexible enough to change your plan if you need to. Look at what is most strategic for your goals.

If you are selling a story instead of information, ask: What is in this memoir or novel? Where is it set? Target the individual audience of the kinds of characters, careers, sports, etc., in your book. Tie in to trends. There is no time window when a book becomes old. Jane Austin is still selling books.

Keep your eyes on the news. No matter whether you’ve written fiction or nonfiction, if any news ties in to topics or themes in your book, you can use the current event to renew interest in your book. Timing is everything. If you see something, jump on it immediately. Tie it to an event or a holiday. Find gift shops or organizations or companies—think beyond the bookstore.

Don’t let your books sit on the shelf. Do whatever you can to move them! It’s never too soon to begin marketing your book and building your platform. And it’s never too late to get started.

On your mark, get set—PROMOTE!

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Podcasting: Lend Me Your Ears

July 18, 2008 at 7:20 am | Posted in Audio/Video/Media | Leave a comment
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I know I missed the technology boat quite a while back, but I’ve recently discovered PODCASTS! (Yeah, and that round thing called a *wheel*.)

Now, I’m hooked! I’ve enjoyed listening to interviews with authors, experts speaking on every conceivable topic of interest, authors reading excerpts of their books, and even took a slight detour to listen to the Average Joe American talk about his day.

And that’s when it dawned on me: “Hey, what am I waiting for? I need to try podcasting!”

Well, being the resident technotard, I’m always giddy when I find information about some *new* cool way to help me market online–especially when the information is tied up in a neat package and explained so I can understand it.

And I figured there might be a few of you out there who, like me, are doggie paddling like crazy in the deep end of the Web 2.0 pool. So, I thought I’d share a little podcasting life raft…

*Life raft provided by Penny Sansevieri (I know, not surprised at all, huh?)

Powerful Podcasting
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If you’re looking for a shortcut to get your consumers to buy, it might be through their ears. Auditory response is one of the strongest senses we possess. Have you ever wondered why you can remember the tune of a song (“It’s a small world”) but can’t remember an article you read in the paper just this morning? That’s the power of audio. Sound is invasive, intrusive and irresistible. That’s one reason why I’m always telling authors about the power of speaking engagements: sound sells. Many of us incorporate sound into our marketing plans through radio, but there’s something even more powerful for you to consider and it’s called podcasting.

If you’ve always dreamed of having your own radio show, your dream is about to become a reality. It seems only yesterday we were telling you about the power of blogging, but today we’re looking at something equally, if not more, powerful. In its simplest term, podcasting is an audio blog and it’s another exceptionally powerful way to spread the word about your book and message. Several years ago when Internet Radio came on the scene authors were vying for airwaves on the ‘Net. But while Internet radio is still going strong, it’s also very expensive. Most shows cost upwards of $800 a month, plus show hosts need to obtain their own program sponsors. Podcasting, on the other hand, is a fraction of the cost. Here’s how it works.

Podcasting, just like blogs, sits on the Internet but instead of sitting in a written file, it’s saved in an MP3 format that can be transferred to any mobile music device like an iPod. A podcast can also be subscribed to through RSS or syndication feeds. If this seems complicated, it’s not, the entire process will take you about an hour to set up, if that, and once you do, you’re off and running.

Most podcasts require an external mic on your computer, but I’ve started using a system through Audio Acrobat http://bookmkr.audioacrobat.com/ that will allow you to call into a pre-assigned number and record your podcast from anywhere: your office, your car or while on a trip! Then the audio file is saved into the system and sent via their publication tools out to a variety of “feeds,” which in essence sends the audio blog out onto the Internet. Now you might wonder how someone will find you and your podcast. Well, you might be surprised. While your first recording might go unnoticed, your second and third will not. Here are some tips for getting the right podcast for you and then getting the world to beat a path to your audio blog door!

Topic: First, you want to find a niche and ideally one that ties into your book or message. While topics on religion and gambling are two of the hottest podcasts right now, if your topic doesn’t tie into these it’s best to stay away from them. Go online to iTunes or Podcast.net and see who’s talking about your topic and what they’re saying, then plan to be different!

Structure: So how will your podcast be structured and how much time should you plan to spend on a podcast? Truthfully, I’d recommend only 10 to 15 minutes. Unless your podcast is truly compelling or in an interview type format, listeners don’t usually have the attention span to listen longer. Don’t force people to listen to long-winded audios, cut right to the chase, share your information in tip-like, informative nuggets and you’ll find listeners subscribing to your podcast like crazy!

Make a plan: If you decide to do this, try mapping out a few podcasts in advance and plan to offer your information on a daily or, at the very least, a weekly basis.

Setting up your podcast page: When you utilize Audio Acrobat for your podcast, you’ll be able to include a link to your website. Remember the idea behind the podcast is promotion, so the URL you send them to should reflect this. Ideally you won’t want to send them to your home page but rather a page just for your podcasts. You can include a listing of prior “shows” as well as a way for them to sign up for future updates, your newsletter or perhaps a link to your book or store.

Chicklets and other geek terms: So what’s a “chicklet?” Well, it’s that little orange square that has the letters XML on it. You will click on that to subscribe to a feed. If you obtained your podcast through Audio Acrobat, these chicklets are created for you and you can just cut and paste the HTML into your website or have your web designer do it for you. I copied the HTML language into my blog and let visitors subscribe that way. If you use another podcasting service, they should supply you with the language to create this on your own.

Syndicating your podcast: So if you’re going to do a radio show you’ll want listeners, right? Now I mentioned that if you use a service like Audio Acrobat the system will send the feeds for you to about 16 services, which is great, but there’s still more work you can do. First, you should consider getting a syndication link on Feedburner.com. This way people can copy your link into their feed reader (we’ll cover this in a bit) and get updated every time you add a new podcast. You can access this feed service at: Feedblitz www.feedblitz.com

Feed readers: If you’ve spent *any* time on the ‘Net you’ve no doubt seen those little XML chicklets we mentioned earlier. When you click on them it takes you to a page of confusing text, but it’s the link that you want to copy and paste into your feedreader. When we talk about syndicating a blog, this is what we mean. The reader you have really doesn’t matter and there are quite a few to choose from. If you Google “Feed Readers,” you’ll pull a bunch of them up for you to try. I use SharpReader www.sharpreader.com and love it.

Podcasting, besides being a great promotional tool, is a terrific way for you to verbalize the passion you have for your topic. Go an inch wide and a mile deep with your message, offer helpful advice or spout your opinion. Be creative or controversial or a little of both. The bottom line is this: podcasting is not only fun but it’s a great way to spread the message about you and your book. Use it correctly and you’ll see even more readers beating a path to your door.

Need a podcast recommendation?

Powerful Book Promotion Made Easy: You can either subscribe to it on our website (see below) or check us out on iTunes: Powerful Book Promotion Made Easy.

Wishing you Podcasting and Publishing success!

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Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com


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