Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adventures in Social Networking

I am a shy person. I don’t like to be outside of my comfort zone and I don’t do well in big crowds. So when it was suggested to me that the only way I could promote a self-published book was to get my name “out there,” I could feel myself breaking out in a cold sweat.

I use Facebook a lot, but I had always felt a little uncomfortable talking about my book. Instead, I set up this blog last year, with the intention of spreading the word, yet somehow I always seem to find other topics to fill up my page. I then set up a Twitter account but did not know the first thing about what I was supposed to do with it - I had twenty followers, half of them spam. A friend suggested I set up a Facebook “fan” page. I thought it was ridiculous – why would anybody “like” me? I am nobody. "Everyone starts as nobody," she reminded me. I set up my page, but did not do anything with it. I also set up a website, which is sort of functioning, but mostly ‘under-construction.' There – I had done some social networking. Time to work on publishing my book.

Just about two weeks ago, a “tweet” of someone I followed, caught my eye. I had made the decision to self-publish and this tweet had a link talking about pricing your e-book. I clicked on it to discover an amazing blog called “Self Publishing Central.” I hit the jackpot! I spent the next hour or two reading every post, taking pages of notes and absorbing a wealth of tips and information. I then did something I do not think I have ever done before. I emailed the writer of the blog, John Betcher, a complete stranger, (who, by the way, has a new book coming out next month called THE COVERT ELEMENT) to thank him for writing this blog. He replied right away, asking if he could post my note on his Facebook page and offering to answer any of my questions. He also suggested I join his LinkedIn Group – Definitive Serious Writers Group. In addition, he tweeted that he was following me and suggested that others do the same. Within minutes, I had doubled my followers.

I took John’s advice and joined LinkedIn. I also joined the writer’s group he recommended. I instantly learned something: Authors like helping other authors! In fact, they insist on it. We traded contacts, websites, blogs, Twitter IDs and Facebook pages. They told their friends, who told their friends, and so on. I then joined several other LinkedIn groups. Some of the groups are geared toward writers, some are geared more toward my target audience (or in my case, their parents.)

Two weeks later, the traffic to my blog has tripled. I have steady traffic to my website and have even had people I do not know, use the form on my site to contact me. Also – my Facebook fan page which I only actively started talking about a few days ago is only 4 people away from 100 likes (again, mostly from people I do not know.) As for Twitter, I now have over 120 spam-free followers. Maybe not astonishing to those of you who have thousands of followers – I know I have a long way to go. But I am proud of my efforts none the less. I am proof that there is something to this social networking thing - even for us shy people!

I have learned three things:

(1) Branding oneself is hard work and often uncomfortable,
(2) Social networking is very time-consuming, and
(3) Regardless of whether my marketing efforts work, I have met some incredibly nice and talented writers who I hope to be able to showcase or invite as guest bloggers in the near future.

Okay, since we are talking about social networking, I suppose I should pass along all my info:

Twitter: @karentoz
LinkedIn: Karen Pokras Toz

Pass it on!


  1. Thanks, Karen.

    Best of luck in your writing endeavors!


  2. Hi Karen
    I think many of us have been brought up not to ‘boast,' so promoting ourselves is very difficult. Maybe my generation did not develop the same amount of self-esteem that today's kids have- we were raised to be team players rather than stars. It's appears to be second nature to those just starting out, though, and I've begun to look at it in terms of promoting what I can contribute to others, rather than blowing my own horn. What do you think? (Haven't jumped on twitter yet- this takes a LOT of time and I'd still like to keep my business going!)

  3. Following up on -mc's comment above, Twitter does take an enormous investment of time and effort. I actively run and write for a fantasy baseball blog (shameless self-promotion: As part of our marketing efforts, we have an active internet presence with an "under construction" website, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

    I find the trick to Twitter to be this: do not get bogged down in followers. At some point, the sheer volume of Tweets is too much to bear; too much information and not nearly enough time to process it. As a general rule, I do not follow everyone that follows me, though I make sure I follow the people in my industry. I also tend to post my Tweets, then sign off for awhile, doubling back to check my direct messages and my "@Mentions" via the appropriate tab. This certainly cuts down on the mountain of information out there.

    I think Twitter, however, is becoming an essential social networking and business networking tool. Of course, I never Tweet about my "real job" since I do not know who out there in John Q. Public is reading.

    That is actually one other good suggestion - if you decide Twitter is the route for you, separate business and pleasure. It is easy to run two Twitter accounts, two Facebook accounts (via Fan Pages), etc. Keep your hobbies, your personal life and your business life separate if possible.

    Have a great day!


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