The Twin Cities Sisters in Crime put together an Internet marketing workshop for crime writers, which I attended last Saturday. We were able to list ahead of time the various topics we were interested in, ie., websites, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads.
We discussed the value of an effective website, and whether or not to have a blog feature on it. Some authors have a blogsite, but don’t have an official website. I had read some time ago that the important thing about a blog is to be regular with it–whether it is once a day, or week, or month–something I have failed to do on my own website.
One of the participants said having a particular theme, or subject matter, is a way to bring readers in. Another way is to read others’ blogs and to leave comments. I mentioned the importance of attaching tags to your blog, containing keywords that will be appear on a search of a variety of topics. If you are quoting Charles Dickens, add him as a tag, and someone doing a search on him may visit your blog.
All of us were familiar with Facebook. Of course. Some of us were more active than others. One woman said it was important to change your privacy settings about every six weeks because Facebook is constantly upgrading. The question was, how do we connect with readers? I suggested joining groups of people with common interests. Another way is holding a give-away contest for your books. And share the link to your blog when you have a new post.
I had been at a training session two weeks before and the facilitator said you can post something on Facebook once or twice a day before people start ignoring you, but you can post on Twitter every fifteen minutes because it is so dynamic. People tweet for different reasons, business and personal. As authors, we want to build a readership for our books. So tweet and retweet others’ tweets that you like.
WordPress is a wonderful place to read and post blogs, and Goodreads is a great site to connect with writers and readers alike. Many authors are active on Gather and/or Crimespace. Pinterest is being used by libraries more and more.
Somewhere in the middle of the workshop, as my head was spinning with information, I searched for a word to describe how authors could connect with readers. It turned out to be two words joined to make one: Cross-pollination. Be active on as many sites, and with as many people, as your schedule allows.
One man (yes, we have brothers in our group, too) came to the workshop later in the day, after he finished teaching a morning class. We summarized the topics we had discussed and he said, “Cross-pollination.” Maybe there was a spirit in that library meeting room who had whispered the word in both our ears that day.
When I got home, I looked up cross-pollination. The basic definition, according to the on-line Free Dictionary is, “Cross-pollination is the fertilization by transfer of pollen from the anthers of one flower to the stigma of another.” The antonym is self-pollination. Hmm. That got me thinking. As authors and readers, it’s a win-win situation to promote the works of other authors along with our own–we want people to continue to read books. We do this when we write reviews, add books and ratings to our bookshelves, or interview others on our blogs. This is certainly not a new concept in marketing, but one that bears repeating. Let’s all practice some cross-pollination.
Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Thriller Series, Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River.