In December 2014, I wrote a guest post for a wonderful website called Writers Helping Writers. I pitched my idea cold to the owners of the site, as part of a campaign I was doing to try to spread the word about Author Accelerator, which had just gotten off the ground. I wrote the piece for free, in the middle of the holiday season, along with a bunch of other posts. The piece had 94 likes on Facebook and attracted 28 comments, but not much happened as a result. We had some giveaways attached to the post that didn’t attract much attention. That often happens with marketing initiatives, but that is no reason not to do them. I want to write about what happened as a result of that post over time, so that you can see exactly what it looks like to be an engaged literary citizen on social media.
So a bit of background: Writers Helping Writers is run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, a popular writing reference book that has 1,089 customer review on amazon, and a near-perfect rating.
And while we’re breaking it down, you can see that The Emotion Thesaurus also owns the #1 amazon best seller rank in thesauruses and is #10 in writing reference books for fiction and #16 in writing skills.
When I wrote my post back in 2014, Angela and I exchanged a few happy emails, saying nice things about each other’s work, and that was pretty much it. Sometime in 2015, I began to follow her on Twitter, and I noticed how active she was on Twitter, how engaged, how nice. Everyone has their favorite social media outlets and I happen to love Twitter. I have made some very good friendships through Twitter and learn so much about the writing world when checking out tweets.
A few months ago, I noticed that Angela and Becca were dropping hints on Twitter about two new books forthcoming in their thesaurus series – these two on setting. (Angela went out and got herself arrested so she could accurately write about what the back seat of a police car looks like when handcuffed. You have to admire a writer with that kind of dedication!) I signed up for insider info on the book launch – mostly because I wanted to see what they were doing and how they were doing it. I sign up for things all the time to learn how people do what they do – it’s a tactic I highly suggest to learn whatever you need to learn.
At a certain point, Angela began directly emailing the list of people who signed up with suggestions of things we could do to help the launch if we were so inclined – we being bloggers, fellow writers, fans. There were many options, including doing book reviews, mentioning the books on a blog, posting Instagram photos of thesauri in the wild. There was something for everyone, and the invitation was a fun, inclusive, happy email. It was NOT an invitation to buy the book. Just an invitation to be a part of their fun.
I noticed that Angela and Becca were going to have a giveaway as part of their launch and even though they did not request prizes from people, I wrote to Angela and offered a prize for the prize vault.
She graciously accepted my offer and made ours the grand prize!
I then had my team write up words to describe the prize, develop a web page for it, make some graphics, and we sent all that to Angela for her approval.
Note that all of this is work I did for free, in order to support someone else’s book launch – a person I don’t even know that well – and it was only the start.
Why did I do all this? To get some elusive something in return? Not at all. It was to be a good literary citizen, to be engaged, to be present, to be giving – which is exactly the way that Angela and Becca are in the world, and around their book launches. They make it easy to step up and do the same.
In the midst of the email exchange we had around the prize, Angela apologized for taking too long to get back to me about something (which wasn’t too long at all), and I said that I KNEW how much effort a book launch/blog tour/giveaway takes and mentioned that someday when it was all over, I’d love to interview her about that. I know that the people who read my newsletter are sometimes baffled about book marketing and social media and how it all works and what exactly to DO. I thought it would be a great behind-the-scenes lesson.
She wrote back, thrilled with the offer and said, “Let’s do it!” We set a time to do a live webinar, and I had my team set up the links, and set up a time to do a tech check with Angela. (Notice how even my team got involved making sure she was taken care of).
I began to re-tweet all the mentions Angela was making about her book launch (which included mentions of the prize I am giving away, so now it was getting the word out about what I do, too – a nice win-win), and quite unexpectedly, Angela began to dig up old guest posts of mine from the vast archives of the Internet and send them out to her 24,000 + followers. This was such a lovely surprise! And it probably resulted in perhaps dozens or hundreds of people learning about who I am and what I do.
For our June 24 live event, I asked Angela’s permission to make a giveaway of all the behind-the-scenes emails she sent about the launch, because how great that would be for people to see the progression? Angela agreed – and was so grateful for all that I was doing that she blasted out news about the webinar to all her followers. This is from an email that she sent out:
Also, another way I wanted to help was to talk about the marketing side of book launches but unfortunately I am leaving in two weeks for a month and am pretty swamped right now. Putting a webinar together just isn't something I can accomplish in that time, along with everything else.
So, as has happened several times now, in swoops the magnificent Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator, offering to run an author interview-style webinar to discuss just this--our Setting Thesaurus book launch, from the inside, looking at the strategy, challenges, and offer marketing insights that all authors can benefit from. Not only is Jennie a writing coach and savvy businesswoman, she's been right here with us in The Thesaurus Club, so she's is the perfect insider to pepper me with questions. :)
I know marketing is difficult. Understanding how to find and connect with our exact audience is no easy feat. Building a following can be daunting, leading many to seek out (and waste time and money) on shortcuts. Any questions I can answer to help with this I will, because one thing that isn't a waste is learning from people who are doing the very things we need to learn how to do.
If attending this marketing interview sounds like pure coolness to you, the sign up is HERE. The time is set for June 24th at 12 PM EST and there will be an open Q & A as I understand it. Plus, Jennie's offering a recording available to anyone who signs up, in case the timing doesn't quite work out.
Feel free to cut and paste this link:
>>> registration link went here <<<
and give it to other authors who may wish to also attend.
Do you see how Angela mentioned that several times throughout her launch, someone magnificent has swooped in? You think that is accidental? Or sheer luck?
Hardly. It’s because Angela is engaged with writers and readers. She is giving of herself all over social media. And writers want to help each other. They do.
I can’t tell you how great it felt to be aligned with someone like this, and for the spontaneous giving to flow both ways.
This is what marketing looks like and what it feels like. When done well, it’s a blessing to everyone involved.
Even if you only just started writing, or are three chapters in, or ten or twenty-seven, I urge you to go find someone online who you think might align with what you are trying to do in your book and your writing life. Follow them on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or Periscope or wherever. Engage with them. Help them. And watch the good things that will happen.