Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 28, 2012

5 Ways to Build Your Book Audience

At the Free Craft Day this month, I gave a workshop on Marketing Yourself.  Author Katia Raina attended.  Last week she wrote an article on editor Sara Sargents workshop to share with you.  This week, she wrote an article about my workshop, so the rest of you might benefit from some of the things I shared.

Here’s Katia’s article:

Never Too Early To Start Building Your Online Presence: Kathy’s 5 Ways To Do It Right

No matter what stage of the writing process you find yourself braving at the moment, it’s always a good time to think about marketing, promotion and social media.

Not published yet? Use that to your advantage. Take the time to write, that comes first, for sure. But also take the time now to think about the marketing strategies for your future or current book and start building your online presence. That’s the advice of many these days, including the former Regional Advisor, author, illustrator and a local kidlit force in her own right Kathy Temean.

During the New Jersey SCBWI craft weekend on November 10, Kathy gave the attendees lots of advice on how to make social media work for authors, be they established, or those trying to break in.

Here is her list of 5 ways to get the right start: (she actually offered the participants a handout with 25 of those, but I have condensed them in the interest of online brevity)

1. Identify your strategy

Kathy calls this step the most important one of all. Before you get too involved in online marketing, take a moment to think: what are you trying to achieve? Formulate your own vision, Kathy advises, something to measure your success by as you go along. “Your social media strategy should become an interesting and relevant voice in the conversation,” she says. Make that your focus and your goal, and you can’t go wrong.

2. Start a blog

A blog used to be an optional thing for writers. Over the last few years, however, it seems to have become a “must,” Kathy says. Think of your blog as “a hub” for your online marketing activity – a place where all your marketing efforts ultimately go back to. Kathy recommends WordPress as a great, easy, free place to start a blog. Don’t wait for when you are published to do this. If you make friends along your journey, then your success will mean all that much more to them when at last you have some good news to announce on your blog.

Many people ask, “what should my blog be about?” Think about your site’s reader: why would she want to visit your blog? What would she get from it? A blog doesn’t always have to be about writing, either, Kathy says. Everyone reads and buys books. You can build your networking list no matter what you choose to blog about. Think about your hobbies. What are you good at doing? Do you knit? How about a blog on knitting? Are you someone who loves to find a good shopping deal? Is your child on the swim team? Everyone has knowledge they can share, other than what they do each day. No one cares, unless you end up being a big star.

The bottom line: don’t just try to promote yourself. Don’t be a diva. Or, as Kathy puts it, “add value to your community.”

3. Give more than you receive, build quality relationships, respect the community and stop pushing.

“You can’t burst onto a social media scene with a sense of entitlement,” Kathy says. “You have to earn respect from others.” In social networking terms, “giving” means visiting other sites, commenting there, participating in other virtual conversations. Think about what you truly have to give to others online, and they will appreciate you for it.

As your online relationships build and deepen, people you interact with will be more willing to help. Just make sure you don’t pepper them with requests for favors. Keep your relationships strong, but keep your expectations low. Don’t keep reminding people that your book is available, don’t keep “shouting” about your content. Begging for comments or tweets is a sure way to alienate the very visitors and potential readers you’re trying to attract. Just let things evolve naturally. Don’t react too vehemently to someone disagreeing with you online. “Instead of constantly fighting back, take the time to listen to what they’re really saying,” Kathy says. “You don’t know everything, and you can learn from others if you take the time to listen.”

In the end, Kathy asks everyone to “just be nice.” Whatever you do, “do not hard sell!” Kathy warns. “If you want to act like a used car salesman… go work for one.”

4. Focus

Between MySpace, Pinrest, Goodreads and Tumblr, social sites are multiplying like mushrooms under the rain these days. Kathy recommends not trying to be everywhere, or you will become overwhelmed and “anti-social.” She recommends choosing four sites to focus your energies on. Facebook is good for sharing details of family life, which can lead to deeper, more personal connections. Twitter can be a great tool to drive traffic to your blog, especially if you post on it daily. Posting on twitter doesn’t – and probably shouldn’t – be all about your blog, however. Re-tweet other people’s tweets. Tweet about other people’s blog posts. And, Kathy advises, though it might be a little overwhelming, if you choose twitter, try to drop in every day.  And if you are blogging set it up to automatically Tweet when you add a new post.  You can also have you post go driectly to facebook, too.

5. Engage your readers and remember the quality vs. quantity balance.

Don’t just talk at your readers on your site, Kathy recommends, but engage them. Weave in your personal experiences, or share how you have solved a problem. “Tell stories on your blog,” Kathy says. “People engage in stories. They connect with stories.” Try to keep your posts short enough to maintain the readers’ attention – Kathy recommends to keep it to 450 words or less. Ask a question at the end of your post. When someone new comments on your blog, email them a thank you. Place a poll on your blog. Or add a video. Also, sharing other people’s videos might be a great idea.

Also, think about how often you’d like to post. Posting daily as Kathy does, or even three times or week would attract more visitors, Kathy said, but it takes a huge time investment and commitment to produce quality content with such frequency.

Finally, if you just can’t see yourself committing to a blog, then Kathy says offer to write a guest post, or invite someone to post on your blog. Kathy’s own blog, with over 1200 daily visitors is not a bad site to write for once in a while. At the end of her presentation Kathy said she welcomed guest posts from other bloggers, that would be relevant to her site. After the workshop, I came up to her and took her up on it!

Good luck with your marketing efforts, everyone!

Katia Raina is the author of “Castle of Concrete,” a young adult novel about a timid half-Russian, half-Jewish teen in search of a braver “self” reuniting with her dissident mother in the last year of the collapsing Soviet Union, to be published by Namelos. On her blog, The Magic Mirror, Katia talks about writing and history, features interviews, book lists and all sorts of literary randomness.

Thank you Katia for another well-written article.  We look forward to reading the next one you send.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Katia, this was an EXcellent summary of what Kathy said in her workshop. I attended, too, so I know you got it right. For sure, Kathy knows her stuff 🙂 Thanks!


  2. This article comes at a a great time – I was just scratching my head about how much social media is enough or too much. I like that you mention picking four outlets – because lately I have been overwhelmed trying to manage more. Thank you for posting this!


  3. Wonderful article! I’m sorry I missed the workshop. Very sound and helpful advice.


  4. Barbara, yes, I too, thought four sounded like a great number. Am currently trying to get a hold of three… but eyeing the fourth one (pinrest). We shall see 🙂 And Donna Marie, thanks so much! Maybe next time I’ll find you at one of those workshops so we can say hey.


  5. I really liked this post. Lots of great ideas. Thanks Katia and Kathy!


  6. I enjoyed the session Kathy!


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