So far in this series, I've introduced the following 'rules' for book marketing etiquette:
Rule #1: Don't spam your friends and family to buy your book
Rule #2: Don't ask your friends and family to review your book
Rule #3: Don't turn your social media stream into one long 'buy my book' frenzy
Rule #4: Don't friend people just so you can sell them your book
In this week's post, I'll be looking at
Rule #5 - Automating your responses to readers
There are some social media experts out there who recommend you automate your interaction with readers and followers to save yourself time. While some automation is useful (and really, who has time to be on every site at every moment?) think twice before automating.
Why? Because, as I've said in previous posts, readers don't want to be sold to. They want to be connected with. And as savvy as most readers are, they can sniff out when they're being sold to better than a bloodhound can sniff out its prey.
I love this quote from Maya Angelou:
A bland and impersonal response, automated to kick in when readers do X or Y, will make them feel you're too busy to connect with them. They will feel as if you don't care about them, and they will remember how you made them feel.
But if you make readers feel special and appreciated, they'll remember that too, and next time you have a book to sell, they'll be ready and willing not just to buy but to support you through reviews and social media shares - the kind of book marketing that no amount of money can buy.
Sure, I know you probably don't have time to reply personally to every person who contacts you, and you might not have the kind of day job that enables you to be connected to the rest of the world all day, every day, but here are a few tips to help you make the most of the time you DO have:
Don't set up your pre-scheduled tweets to automatically post to your Facebook page, or your Instagram to automatically feed through to FB. Yes, it's time consuming to come up with different content, but plastering the same post across all your feeds makes it obvious that you're not really present on any of them. Try to share slightly different content on each site so that someone who follows you on two or more platforms doesn't just see the same thing over and over again.
Don't pre-schedule your posts and tweets. As time-saving as it seems to use a scheduling program to post out tweets etc on your behalf for the next month, this can backfire badly. What if a major world event happens during that month (like a devastating tsunami or earthquake, or a tragic shooting) and your readers see your tweet stream filled with 'Check out this lovely 5* review I received' rather than a thoughtful 'My heart goes out to the victims' tweet? They'll think you're heartless and self-absorbed, and boom! You've lost their support.
Don't set an automatic Call To Action as a response to every friend request. CTAs are when you ask someone to do something for you, such as sign up to a newsletter, or buy your book. An impersonal automated response acts like an 'out of office' message. It tells your new friend "I'm not really here, and I might never read or respond to you, but I still want you to do something for me." As Stephanie Tanner would say in Full House: "How rude!"
DO reply timeously and personally to all emails and direct messages. If someone comments on your FB page saying "I loved your book" at the very least like the comment, or reply with a 'thanks'. Engage with people who reach out to you.
DO check your email Inbox regularly. This might seem like a very basic suggestion, but it amazes me how many authors set up an email address in their author name, then forget to check it, or only check it once a month. You don't want to annoy readers, or lose amazing opportunities, because you only saw a reader or reviewer's email three weeks after they contacted you.
You don't need to be on every social media site. Pick one that you enjoy and make yourself accessible there. Respond to readers when they contact you. An unattended social media page, where you never respond to readers, can do more damage to your reputation than not being on that site at all.
Can you think of any other tips for making readers feel as if they're connecting with a real, live person, rather than being automatically responded to by a machine?
Next week I'll post the last 'rule' in this series. In the meantime, please let me know if there are any book marketing areas you'd like to see covered in future posts.