Bob Baker's Full-Time Author Blog

Q&A: How Can I Use LinkedIn to Promote My Books?

An author friend recently emailed me the following question:

"Bob, I just created a profile at LinkedIn. I know what it is, but I'm not sure how to effectively use it. Any tips?"


My Answer:

I recently joined LinkedIn myself and, while I have a respectable 166 people in my network, I haven't done as much with it as I have with MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and others.

But all of these social networking sites have one thing in common: it's another way for people to connect with other like-minded people. Facebook, Myspace, etc., each have their own unique qualities you can use. But the main thing is building a "friends" network of people who are already involved with the subject of your book or have some reason to be interested in what you're doing.

With any of these sites, there's a lot of work early on setting up your profile, building your network, and sending friend requests. After that, send people personal notes here and there to stay in touch and build relationships. Once you've built up a network, more people will seek you out as they see that you're friends with one of their friends. Then it multiplies.

On LinkedIn in particular, one good thing to do is post "Recommendations" for more established experts in your field. These recommendations will be featured on that person's public profile, where others will find your name and words of praise.

Another smart thing you can do is create "link bait" to lure potential customers. Let's say you're a photographer and you've published a book of photos taken at U.S. National Parks. You could post a photo and commentary about your experience shooting scenic views of Glacier Point at Yosemite.

Make sure and use "Glacier Point" and "Yosemite" within the titles of any blog or photo you post about it. That way, people searching for these specific topics are more likely to find you.

That's the idea: It's a two-way interaction. You can be proactive and seek out like-minded people on LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etc. But you can also set yourself up to be "discovered by" like-minded people there as well.

MarketingProfs has a great "Social Media Starter Kit" article with a lot more info that I encourage you to read. (Free registration required to access it.) And for music promotion on MySpace, consider my own book, MySpace Music Marketing.

-Bob

Create a Major Book Buzz Online. Discover how to use the Internet to attract book buyers like a magnet. Learn more ...

Just getting started? Want to jump-start your career as an independent author? Check out Bob's Self-Publishing Success Secrets 101.

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Cellphone Novels: Bestsellers in Japan

Want to see an example of the rapidly changing world we live in? Here's the lead paragraph from an article in the New York Times called "Thumbs Race as Japan's Best Sellers Go Cellular":

TOKYO -- Until recently, cellphone novels -- composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens -- had been dismissed in Japan as a subgenre unworthy of the country that gave the world its first novel, "The Tale of Genji," a millennium ago. Then last month, the year-end best-seller tally showed that cellphone novels, republished in book form, have not only infiltrated the mainstream but have come to dominate it.

Who knew you could even write a book on a cellphone, much less become a celebrity doing it? From the article:

One such star, a 21-year-old woman named Rin, wrote "If You" over a six-month stretch during her senior year in high school. While commuting to her part-time job or whenever she found a free moment, she tapped out passages on her cellphone and uploaded them on a popular [Japanese] Web site for would-be authors.

Crazy. Here's another passage worth noting:

The writers are not paid for their work online, no matter how many millions of times it is viewed. The payoff, if any, comes when the novels are reproduced and sold as traditional books.

Lesson: Whether we're talking cellphones, typewriters, or spray paint as the writing instrument, the principle remains the same: widespread exposure and awareness can lead to cash flow and opportunities.

Think twice the next time you get out your Blackberry.

Read the entire article here. (Free NY Times registration required.)

-Bob

Create a Major Book Buzz Online. Discover how to use the Internet to attract book buyers like a magnet. Learn more ...

Just getting started? Want to jump-start your career as an independent author? Check out Bob's Self-Publishing Success Secrets 101.

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Book Publishing Goals: 5 Steps to Setting Ones You Will Reach

It's the middle of January, and that means you either:

A) Are moving full-steam ahead with the 2008 book publishing goals you set,

B) Have already given up on the New Year's resolutions you made, or ...

C) Never set goals and vowed to make this a great year to begin with.

Even if you're getting a slow start this year, it's never too late to dream big, set goals for yourself as an author, and start making progress right now. To help you toward that end, here are five quick tips on goal setting, productivity and motivation:

1) What's your big WHY? You want to sell tons of books, get major media exposure, and have throngs of fans. That's great. But why do you want those things? What's the bigger reason? What's your grand vision? What's your life's mission and purpose ... and how does being a successful author fulfill that? Yes, these are deep questions. But having a clear answer will make all the difference in the world.

2) Write them down to make them happen. And write them in ink. Don't keep your goals in your head. Commit them to paper (or at least type them into a computer program and print them out, which is still producing them on paper). The idea is to make your goals tangible, and getting them on paper is the first step.

3) Make your goals specific and measurable. Saying "I want to be a wildly successful author" is admirable, but what is that exactly and how do you know when you've arrived? Instead, make your goals concrete: "I want to do five public speaking events and build my mailing list to 1,000 people by the end of May." That kind of goal is also measurable. By the end of May, you'll know how close you came to reaching (or exceeding or falling short of) it.

4) Focus on the little chunk at hand. Don't get overwhelmed by the entire scope of a daunting project. For each of your big book publishing goals, ask yourself, "What's the very first thing I should do on this project?" or "What's the very next thing that needs to be done?" The answer may be as simple as "Call Sue to get the name of the web designer she used for her site." Put that -- and only that -- on your list of next action steps. Don't expend mental energy on the many steps that will follow. Just focus on that one phone call until it's completed. After it is completed, ask, "What next?"

Effective goal setting, then, is simply a matter of taking micro action steps, one at a time.

5) Just do it for 5 minutes. Wanna know the best way to overcome procrastination, hands down? Tell yourself that you'll spend just five minutes working on the thing you know you should be doing ... but don't really feel like doing now. What stops you is the thought of working for hours on end. But anyone, no matter how lethargic, can muster the strength to play around with something for five measly minutes.

What you'll find, though, is that once you get started, you'll get into a flow that will carry you well beyond the first five minutes. I've done this for years with my writing projects. It works. And it works for marketing and sales too. The trick is just starting.

-Bob

Create a Major Book Buzz Online. Discover how to use the Internet to attract book buyers like a magnet. Learn more ...

Just getting started? Want to jump-start your career as an independent author? Check out Bob's Self-Publishing Success Secrets 101.

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Use This to Make a Living With Your Books

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to the blog entry Seth Godin posted Monday: Music lessons. He lists 15 "things you can learn from the music business (as it falls apart)."

You're not part of the music business? It doesn't matter. There are lessons for entrepreneurs of all kinds here, so read it for a fresh perspective on doing business in the digital age.

Here's one of my favorite parts, #4 (see my comments below):

Permission is the asset of the future

For generations, businesses had no idea who their end users were. No ability to reach through the record store and figure out who was buying that Rolling Stones album, no way to know who bought this book or that vase.

Today, of course, permission is an asset to be earned. The ability (not the right, but the privilege) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. For 10 years, the music business has been steadfastly avoiding this opportunity.

It's interesting though, because many musicians have NOT been avoiding it. Many musicians have understood that all they need to make a (very good) living is to have 10,000 fans. 10,000 people who look forward to the next record, who are willing to trek out to the next concert. Add 7 fans a day and you're done in 5 years. Set for life. A life making music for your fans, not finding fans for your music.

The opportunity of digital distribution is this:

When you can distribute something digitally, for free, it will spread (if it's good). If it spreads, you can use it as a vehicle to allow people to come back to you and register, to sign up, to give you permission to interact and to keep them in the loop.

Many authors (I'm on that list) have managed to build an entire career around this idea. So have management consultants and yes, insurance salespeople. Not by viewing the spread of digital artifacts as an inconvenient tactic, but as the core of their new businesses.

Count me in this camp too. From my earliest days on the Internet (1995), my business model has been to give away free tips in order to spread my ideas and inspire people to get on my email list.

Over the years, I've heard a few references to this 10,000-person threshold. I quit my full-time job (the last one I ever plan on having working for someone else) four years ago when my email list was around 8,000.

Of course, it's not the number of people on your list that allows you to make a living. It's how you use it and deliver benefits and experiences that people are willing to pay for. But building the list is the crucial first step.

These days I offer free subscriptions to my blog, podcast and video clips ... in addition to an email newsletter. But the concept is the same for all of them: inspiring people who are interested in what you do to "sign up" to hear from you directly on a regular basis.

Building your list = building your career and prosperity.

-Bob

Create a Major Book Buzz Online. Discover how to use the Internet to attract book buyers like a magnet. Learn more ...

Just getting started? Want to jump-start your career as an independent author? Check out Bob's Self-Publishing Success Secrets 101.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Subscribe now and get all of my newest ideas delivered by email or RSS feed. Learn how here.