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Content Marketing

Using Facebook in Marketing Your Book: Five Tips for Authors

Posted on: September 24th, 2012 | No comments 

It’s easy to lump all social networking sites together and devise a one-size-fits-all book marketing strategy. This is not advisable because when promoting your book, it’s more effective to identify tactics that lend themselves to specific social media sites. Sure they’ll be some overlap but each site is unique and has its strengths and weaknesses. So, in this post, we’ll focus on ways you can build momentum on your Facebook fan page. These tactics will require your time and energy but the pay off will be worth it.

  1. Write content that reflects your personality and expertise. Unlike Linkedin, which has a professional focus or Twitter where you’re restricted by a word-count, your personality can really shine through on your Facebook page. Newsfeeds contain a lot of information so try to inject humor, passion, and insight in your content. However, Facebook is all about pacing yourself—post once a day or several times a week. Also try to mix up different update types—a status update, a link, a note, a photo, or a video update. Finally, don’t forget to update your profile picture or cover photo every six months; both images are a reflection of your personality and interests.
  2. Connect with authors and other groups. There are more than 800 million users on Facebook so spend some time and research other authors you admire and book or writing-related groups. By becoming a fan of other groups, you’ll gain access to a potentially marketable community of readers and writers. Make sure you join discussions and observe what others are saying. You may be able to incorporate some insights into your marketing efforts. Also “like” other groups/authors’ pages because when you do, Facebook notifies the administrators of these pages. In return, some people may decide to like your page, which will expose your name

Ways to Invigorate Your Blog: Guest Posts, Interviews, and Reader Questions

Posted on: September 13th, 2012 | No comments 

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how guest posts can boost your content marketing,
offering tips and links to five websites you can target. But what about the other side
of the guest blogging discussion? In addition to soliciting other blogs, why not invite
bloggers to post on your website? After all, in the age of social media, aren’t we all
content producers?

In a past life, I managed a company blog in Washington, DC. The blog was successful
because of its simple yet effective policy: 70 percent of the posts were written by
guest bloggers; 30 percent by the firm’s employees. The blog, Re: Philanthropy, was a
platform for those in the nonprofit sector who want to share new ideas and thoughts. It
was a win-win situation: guest bloggers promoted their work to a wider audience and the
company used the blog to engage their clients. Important tip: Don’t forget to ask your
guest blogger to share the post with their personal and professional networks.

I know you’re thinking—“How do I manage a blog (corporate or personal) so my tone
and voice aren’t diluted or worse, lost?” The answer: by maintaining a clear policy and
guidelines on who you’ll invite to guest post, how you’ll determine a topic, and how much
editorial control you’ll have over the content. The key is to be ruthless when posting
content that’s relevant and augments your brand. So, if you write about social media
marketing, only invite experts in this field to contribute. If your expertise is early child
development, ask people knowledgeable about the topic to offer their insights.

Realistically, a 70/30 split will not work if you have a personal blog. However, explore the
idea of inviting a guest blogger to write for you once a month. Or,

Managing Your Social Media Expectations

Posted on: September 7th, 2012 | 5 comments 

Recently, Businessweek published an article on writing successful business books. What’s an up and coming publishing and communications consultant supposed to do? I lunged for it, curious about how an outsider sees this sub-industry and whether readers would need any guidance on what the piece said.

The article, “How to Write a Bestselling Business Book,” written by Eric Spitznagel, is to be commended for its clear prose, good interviews, and focus on how publishing has changed in the wake of the economic crisis. Certainly read it for the insights of major brand authors such as Jim Cramer and Seth Godin. I liked some of the tips Spitznagel proffers authors:

  • know the importance of brevity
  • realize that the days of big advances are mostly gone
  • grasp the reality that many bestselling business book authors arrange for astroturf book purchases to make the bestseller lists
  • pay attention to titling your book because your publisher will
  • write a book you’d like to read yourself (Cramer’s advice)

In the tip ‘Jack Up Your Klout score’, I thought Spitznagel overstated the value of social media visibility and equated it with the celebrity and visibility of a Jim Cramer. (A Klout score is the measurement of a person’s overall online influence.) Many successful authors aren’t television personalities or household names—consider bestsellers such as Lean Startup by Eric Reis or When Markets Collide by Mohamed El-Erian, published when I was at McGraw-Hill.  El-Erian was a respected fund manager who was well-known in the finance pages but only really became a star after his book was published.

To become a bestselling author, Spitznagel wrote, “you need name recognition or an impressive Klout ranking…”.

This reminded me of a point I’ve wanted to make for some time. Yes, social media traffic and influence are important—but with limitations. With

What the NYT Missed: Marketing Reality Check for the Self Published Author

Posted on: August 24th, 2012 | No comments 

Finding fault with New York Times’ coverage of the book business is a beloved topic among editors and publishers. I’m sure many smirked at the Times’ August 15th piece, The Joys and Hazards of Self-Publishing on the Web—the options profiled have been well-known to book pros and aspiring authors for years. That said, newcomers will benefit from good advice on and links to digital and ebook publishers and their services.

I strongly agree with several of the article’s main findings: digital platforms have reduced the cost of self-publishing; these newer services give the author genuine control over their books; and the vast majority of self-published books barely sell at all. This last point, however, is always the skunk at the party in any self-publishing article.

Breakout self-published authors get a ton of media attention and make for good stories, but they represent the tiniest sliver of the self-published universe. What’s missing from this article and others similar to it is a common sense question: If global publishers with a century of business success struggle to sell more than a few thousand copies of a book, how does a self-published author market his/her book for the first time? What marketing strategies are particularly effective and actually work for “citizen authors”—as coined by my friend David Sterry?

I have a few principles I urge you to consider if you take the self-publishing path:

  • Establish your book-selling goals: Roughly, how many books do you want to sell? This is a key question because your number will determine how much energy and effort you’ll have to expend when marketing your book.
  • Research your target audience: Marketing your book through your personal network won’t be enough, you’ll need to engage communities who have an existing passion or professional interest in your fiction

How Guest Posts Boost Your Content Marketing (With Links to Five Top Sites)

Posted on: August 15th, 2012 | 2 comments 

 I attended a 2012 BookExpo panel where the moderator said the iconic statement content is king is no longer true: content marketing is king. This comes down to creating and writing posts and Tweets and marketing them to larger and larger numbers of followers. What most marketing folks forget is how hard it is to consistently write well and have the research and knowledge to offer fresh insights. But if you want to get followers to share, click, and connect, you need better content marketing.

One of the most effective strategies for writers and thought leaders is to sign up for major blog platforms and post on topics relevant to that platform. In other words, to reach folks interested in a field, go to the biggest blogs in those fields and guest post. However, you’ll need to be serious about your post. Read what your target blog is posting on a daily basis, and peg your post to breaking, high-interest news. I remember when I wrote a post on business books and publishing for CBS BNet, a business news site. After the bin Laden operation, my editor asked me to write a column the next day about the books publishers should be pursuing about bin Laden in the wake of the successful May 2011 mission.

A related strategy is to tap into online influencers. Write about and interview the connectors, authors, and bloggers with major audiences in the social media and online space. For example, if you are in marketing, expert and author Guy Kawasaki has more than one million followers on Twitter. Write about Kawasaki’s big ideas, comments, books, or social media and link back to his website. You never know, some of Kawasaki’s followers and fans might find your post and ideas.

Many big blogs

Fish Where the Fish Are: BookExpo Take Home Number 1

Posted on: July 9th, 2012 | No comments 

BookExpo America (BEA) is the big annual publishing tradeshow held in early June where publishers lay out their wares for the coming season. As a publisher at McGraw-Hill during the mid-2000s, I talked up our big titles and took more pitches than a catcher working both ends of a doubleheader. Now, as a publishing and communications consultant, I take a different strategy. This year, I decided to concentrate on seminars and panels so that I can bring the latest intel and trends to our clients.

I especially enjoyed “Reader-Centric Publishing.” Skillfully moderated by Carol Fitzgerald of, the panel all-stars were Random House president Gina Centrello, Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp, Bronwen Hruska, publisher at Soho Press, and Megan Tingly, publisher of Little-Brown Books for Younger Readers.

The upshot: publishers are transforming their companies to focus on the reader. This may sound obvious, but publishers historically have talked to booksellers about their books, and booksellers marketed to readers. Now publishers need to bypass accounts to discover where readers are, discover what they’re talking about, and engage them in conversations. Discoverability is the key word.

I loved Gina Centrello’s mantra, “fish where the fish are.” She said Random House does this by developing partnerships on platforms where large numbers of reader communities can be found. For example, they have a partnership with, where they publish original content and have an online bookstore. Jonathan Karp said Simon & Schuster has devoted lots of content marketing and attention to C-Span’s Book TV where truly passionate nonfiction readers can be found.

How can authors fish where the fish are? First, focus on data and research:

  • Explore online brands in your subject area by searching primary concepts in your book to see if they’ve published similar content;
  • Take a bestselling comparison book and

Social Media Calendar—The Playbook for Your Online Content

Posted on: July 8th, 2012 | No comments 

Randomly shot social media, whether auto-fed Tweeted quotes, day-in-the life-of blog posts, or needlessly controversial Facebook updates, gets you nowhere. Your goal is developing a certain niche of followers or community, and you need to be strategic and targeted in the type of content marketing you do. One tip that really helps is to use a social media calendar. I hear over and over that authors feel overwhelmed starting up a social media platform. The social media calendar breaks down the process; it is a spreadsheet or playbook organized on a Monday to Sunday grid where you schedule your tweets, posts, and updates with guidance on tone, types, and targeting. It’s a stress-relieving, strategic tool that forces you to clarify your ideas and plan for your content (see these examples on Wheeler Blogs or on

As you see, social media calendars ask you to develop your content with the end user in mind. In this way, you create content strategically. Some posts keep existing followers engaged, others will win new followers; on some days you will post on news folks can use; other posts will provoke thought and ask questions. According to the wonderful GigaOm site, “an effective social media calendar should include clear designations of each task, clear assignments to specific people, clear deadlines to set expectations, and a place to show a task is complete and demonstrate expectations have been met.”

As with any planning tool, you have to use it or it won’t help you. Ensure you keep the digital file on your dashboard or print out a hard copy version and tack it up near your desk. As with all marketing, test your efforts. Follow your blueprint for a couple months, and see what kinds of posts get response and engagement—and do more of