A particular joy of crime writing conferences is the chance to meet new people, writers and non-writers alike. At Murder By The Book, a two-day event at the fabulous Jesup Library in Bar Harbor this fall, I noticed Con Sweeney’s smile right away.
It turns out he’s not a writer, but as a devoted reader of crime fiction, he was in his element at MBTB.
In fact, Con and his wife planned their October vacation around the conference, traveling from their home near Princeton, NJ to hang out for the weekend with keynote speaker Tess Gerritsen and many of the MCW gang.
But Con’s more than a fan, he’s also a social media guru who recently retired from a big corporate job to start his own social media advising business. He offered to drop by the blog today to give us some tips on how to take advantage of the many tools that help us connect with readers this holiday season. Talk about timely! Please give a warm, MCW welcome to Con P. Sweeney.
That New Year’s resolution you’d made to overhaul your social media to support your writing never happened. Now, like all those last minute holiday shoppers, you feel overwhelmed and wish you’d started sooner.
Here are a dozen social media tips to take advantage of the last minute sales rush to sell your mysteries:
(Also, don’t worry about the cost. How often do you hear that? I focus on free and near free solutions for my clients.)
Tip # 1: Engage with Your Readers: Talk about yourself and what you’re doing for the Holidays. Include pictures! Give your readers ideas for gifts but don’t just limit it to your books. Create a list of your favorite mysteries, your favorite Christmas mysteries or dead mystery writers. Or, simply what your favorite Christmas mystery is.
Do this throughout the Holiday season on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and your blog. Increase the frequency as Christmas approaches. Don’t forget while you’re at it to ask your readers to leave reviews for your books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.
Tip # 2: Create Exclusive Holiday Content for Your Readers: Write a Holiday short story based on your characters and share it via social media. For those who have food or craft themes on their mysteries, include recipes or DIY articles or videos. Promote these regularly on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and your blog. Share in relevant groups and forums that you participate in.
Tip # 3: Invite your readers to share their Holidays on your social media. They can include posts, pictures, recipes, and crafts. Ask readers to include pictures of their Christmas trees with a copy of their favorite book of yours. Remember as they post to engage with them and keep the conversation going!
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and your blog are where you should be doing this. You can set up a new Pinterest board for the Christmas trees.
Tip # 4: Use #Hashtags: Take advantage of existing hashtags such as #Christmas2017, #Christmas, #stockingstuffer, #stockingstuffers, #secretSanta, #Hanukkah, #Kawanza, #mysteries, and #cozymysteries.
Create your own hashtags. These can be based on your book titles, characters, or story location. Hashtags can also be used for book signings, conferences (many of these have their own), Holiday events (Do you go to your town’s Christmas tree lighting?) Hashtags are a great way to promote a charity that you support during the Holidays.
Use hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Use no more than two or three per post to avoid being accused of “stuffing”. Post regularly with increasing frequency as Christmas approaches.
Tip # 5: Host Online Events: Host events specific to your books and invite your readers and their friends to attend. Examples are Facebook parties, online contests, and Twitter chats. These require more preparation than most of the other tips but can give you an immediate, real time experience with your readers from all over. Promotion has to be scheduled and then the event has to be conducted.
Tip # 6: In Person Events: Let’s not forget reality! In-person events can be promoted on social media. Examples are book signings, conferences, charity events, and community Holiday activities. These can be promoted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. This can be done before, during, and after. Tell your readers where you’ll be and invite them to come see you, post while you’re there, and do a wrap-up piece afterwards. Post pictures and tag the people in them with you.
Tip # 7: Recommend Your Favorite Neighborhood Bookstores: You know the ones, the ones that stock your books! If they’re on Facebook then recommend, like, and follow them. (Doesn’t hurt to ask them to return the favor.) Don’t forget to comment on their pages. If they’re on Twitter then follow them, create a list for mystery bookstores, and retweet their posts and start a conversation with them. Likewise, if they have a blog and use Pinterest then engage with them. Don’t forget to use hashtags!
Tip # 8: Self-gifting: At the risk of sounding selfish during the Holiday season, don’t let your readers forget about themselves. Suggest they pick up some of your titles for themselves to read over the Holidays especially if they’re going to be either hanging around airports or lying awake in an uncomfortable bed while visiting friends or family. Facebook and Twitter are good choices posting with increasing frequency as Christmas draws closer.
Tip # 9: Do Podcasts: A very good way to create exclusive Holiday content and have your readers hear you, literally! I’d recommend reading from either your books, a soon-to-be-published work, or from the classics (e.g., Poe, Doyle, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.) Podcasts are suitable for posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blog. Post regularly during the Holiday season. Podcasts also make very good evergreen content for reuse in later years.
Tip # 10: Last Comment of the Year Contest: A good way to keep your readers engaged with you throughout the Holiday season is to have a contest where the winner is the last person to post a comment on a social media channel by a certain date and time. For example, midnight on New Year’s Eve is a good choice. (Make sure you specify which time zone or you may have to award twenty-four prizes!)
Facebook is ideal for this but the contest could be run on your blog too. The prize could be anything but an autographed copy of one of your books would work well. Also, engage with your readers as they post. Keep the conversation and the momentum going!
Tip # 11: What’s Your New Year’s Resolution to Your Readers Going to Be?: This is a hook for 2018. Start laying the groundwork for the New Year by telling your readers what you’ll be doing for them. Ideas could be your next book, more blog posts, more engagement on social media, or attending book signings and conferences. Just remember you’re going to have to do it in 2018!
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blog are suitable for this. Post frequently and roll over into early January.
Tip # 12: Autographed Copies: This tip may require more work than the others depending on how you promote and market your books. If this is doable then point out to your readers that while a book makes a great gift, an autographed copy tells the recipient that someone really went the extra mile to get one from a favorite author.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blog are suitable for this. Just start early to allow for timely delivery during the Holidays.
Hope you find these tips helpful!
Don’t try to put a full blown social media program in place by Christmas. It won’t happen. Select a few that will work for you and that you’re comfortable with and go for it!
Remember too, that you have an ulterior motive here, you’re laying the groundwork for your next book launch and your future social media activity!
Should you have any questions or wish to discuss any of these tips with me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Con P. Sweeney is currently the Managing Director of Someddi LLC, a social media services company serving small and midsized businesses. He has extensive financial and information systems experience from the financial services, information services, and healthcare sectors.
Con has lived and worked all over the world. After over thirty years of corporate employment, he recently retired from Johnson & Johnson to start his own business, a lifelong goal of his. He is an avid mystery reader and is an affiliate member of the Mystery Writers of America. He resides with his wife in the Princeton, New Jersey area.
Con will be watching the comments today, so if you have questions, let’s hear ’em!
Many thanks for your very kind words and warm welcome!
Also, my thanks to you and your colleagues for all the wonderful stories that you write!
(I’m almost through reading all the autographed copies that I picked up at MBTB.)
If anyone has any questions about what I’ve written please leave a comment here and I’ll reply.
Thanks again for allowing me to guest blog!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thank you, Con, for writing such a comprehensive and helpful post! Happy holidays to you, too!
Thank you, Con! I do most of the things you mention … but will try several others! Happy Holidays, and thanks for sharing!
My pleasure and great to hear that you’re on top of things!
Would love to hear what works best for you!
Con and Brenda! This post all by itself was an amazing gift. What shines through are the importance of relationships. Thank you, Thank you both! With only a few days to go I am having trouble as a debut author just starting my PR and fan relationships work. How to triage from this list? Feel free, Con, to suggest best route from someone with a small fan base. Again, this post is great. Is already stuck up on my wall!
Glad you found it helpful!
And, yes, you’re correct!
Social media is all about relationships!
A quick triage from my list would be:
Tip # 1
Tip #3 in conjunction with Tip # 1
Tip # 4
Tips # 6 & 7 together
And, don’t forget Tip # 11 to get the New Year off to a good start!
I selected these because they would require the least amount of prework and I did assume you already have some social media presence.
Don’t forget to ask folks for their email addresses. Ideally, you have a website/blog where you can direct them. (Constant Contact is a good choice.)
Since you’re just starting out now is a great time to start working on a comprehensive social media program!
Check out your Klout score!
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions about either this article or any other topics that I’ve mentioned.
Welcome to Maine Crime Writers, Con. I’m sorry to have missed Murder by the Book this year, but I’m glad to have “met” you via this post.
Hope to meet you at next year’s MBTB!
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions about my article.
Thank you, Con, for this thoughtful, helpful collection of tips. We at MCW are always looking for new ways to connect with our readers, and we wish you all the best in the new year!
My pleasure and thanks again for having me!
If anyone ever has any questions always feel free to reach out!
Happy Holidays to all!