Shower thoughts, they can be so random sometimes. Today I was thinking about what makes the difference between posts I share widely and those that get the minimal effort. That’s basically my thesis statement. Let me back up and give you a little more context.
Sadie’s Spotlight is purely book promotions. That’s basically 100% all it posts (minus occasional musingly, like this). And each book post gets associated social media shares. If I host a book, I will provide a book post here on the blog, a tweet, a picture of the book on Instagram, a Facebook post, and I’ll share it to Pinterest (though I fully admit I tend to pin in spurts, rather than when a post goes live, like I do the other socials). That’s no small amount of exposure, even if I don’t have mega followings.
I’m a bit of a neophyte when it comes to understanding how SEOs and other back-end internet magic works. But that’s five chances for Google to find you, if nothing else.
Some posts get only what I’ve listed above. But others get extra. They might get additional tweets (this is the most common). They might get read and reviewed on my book review blog See Sadie Read and shared on See Sadie Read‘s social media pages.
I might tell my friends about the book or post. I might share the post on a writer’s lift, whatever. The questions I’m seeking to answer today are why do I do this for some books/posts and not others and what can you, the author, do to encourage me to do so for your book or book post. Honestly, this post is written for and directed towards authors who have books on the promotion circuit. While I’m talking specifically about myself and my blog, a lot of it can be generalized.
Some of it is always going to be subjective. I’m more likely to read and review a book on See Sadie Read if it looks interesting to me (and if I have it). I’m not likely to widely share a book in visual mediums if I think it has an ugly cover, etc. Sorry, I’m human and I have human biases.
But outside of the subjective, there are some really concrete things that affect my behavior. And most of them are really simple and common sense. The first is interaction
As of right now, I have 1,470 live posts on Sadie’s Spotlight. There is some overlap, with authors or books being featured more than once, but that gives you an idea of the numbers I’m working with. On those posts I’d say about 1/3 of the authors stopped by to comment, interact with me or my readers, or just to say thank you for featuring them and their book. That’s an appalling average!
Jo Linsdell recently put out a video on good guest blogging etiquette and I can’t reinforce what she says enough.
I encourage you to watch the video, but she talks about commenting on a blog when they feature you and she makes solid points beyond “It’s just polite,” which it is.
Surely if you are paying for a blog tour or have sought out book bloggers on your own, your goal is to have your book seen as widely as possible. Thus, the reach of the blog in question matters. You are seeking to tap into that blogger’s audience and put your book before them. But the blogger is also hoping to bring some of your audience to the blog as new readers, some of them will stick around and become the bloggers audience too. Your comments and interaction encourage that. Spreading the post more widely.
But comments are also trawled by search engines for key words and such and more interaction increases the chances of moving up the rankings. Comments matter, and quality comments (those a little longer with actual contextual meat to them) matter most. Thus, authors that interact on the posts about their books are appreciated because they are helping both themselves and the blogger on the wider internet stage.
Another function of comments is simple acknowledgement. If I have agreed to post a book promotion, I have made a commitment to you directly or to you through and intermediary (tour organizer). A comment, even a brief one, lets me know that you have seen that I upheld that commitment and did as I said I would. If you never say anything, I never know if you’ve even seen the post (or care).
But they do even more than that. I’m a fairly emotional person and sometimes what I choose to give my attention to is based on that. If an author shows up and comments, initiates conversation, says thank you, etc I appreciate it and then feel more inclined to go out of my way to give them extra effort.
On the blog today, for example, Robert Gainey‘s first book, Dragon(e) Baby Gone, is featured.
Robert has stopped by both Instagram and the blog to thank me for featuring his book. Here he said:
Thanks so much for having me today! This is my first time doing a blog tour, and it’s really exciting to see what it’s like on this side of the curtain. Happy to answer any questions, or at least be heckled creatively.
A comment doesn’t have to be so enthusiastic, but I used his as an example because it’s tone is so genuine, it’s so clear that I made him happy, that I decided that I’ll put his book on my TBR and read/review it in the future. Comments aren’t all about the audience. Your interaction with me makes a world of difference in how willing I am to go the extra mile for you. And no interaction gives you no chance to give me such warm fuzzy feelings about you and your book that I want to help you out more.
You’re always going to get the minim listed above, and that’s gonna be enough for some of you. But this post is about how you get more. Make me feel like you’ll appreciate (or even notice it) and you’re already well on your way.
Is anyone surprised by this? Or that professional disinterest (real or feigned) has the opposite effect? If I feel dismissed, I’m likely to dismiss you. And a full 2/3 of the authors that I have posted book promos for couldn’t be bothered to type even a two-word (thank you) comment. That is noticed too.
Maybe saying “couldn’t be bothered” was too harsh. I do realize that some authors are hesitant to step into readers’ spaces. You’ve been told for years to stay out. But a promotional post on a book blog, especially one you’ve arranged yourself, is a far cry from commenting on a reader’s review on Goodreads, for example. This is a shared book space. You are as welcome here as the reader is. In fact, it’s a lonely place without you.
So, to reiterate, commenting is one of the easiest ways to get my attention and increase the chances that I give your book post extra attention. (And probably also to get random readers to do the same.) The next is just as simple and equally as common sense, share the post.
I am fully aware that if you’ve hired a tour company to organize 35 stops, it’s not real feasible to share every single one of them on the day they go live without overloading your own social media feed. But you absolutely should be sharing some of them. And personally I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t be the tour organizer’s post you share, but some of those from the smaller bloggers. You paid the organizer, the smaller blogs don’t get a cut of that. What you can give them in return for featuring you is attention.
This is not just common sense, it’s also practical. Goddessfish Promotions, for example, is very good about tweeting links to the blog hosts of tours they organize.
The Frostborn—the one destined to end the war, the one blessed by the magic of Aether—was supposedly nothing more than a fairytale, a myth lost to time. Then things change in FROSTBORN by Michael Haddad. #Win a $15 Amazon/BN GC. @SadiesSpotlight https://t.co/wSML8DNeXK pic.twitter.com/2smqTlYRkB
— Goddess Fish Promos (@GoddessFish) June 17, 2021
(Credit where credit is due, they are also good about thanking their hosts and the authors who hire them are good about doing so as well, which I take to mean they actively encourage the behavior.) I will retweet their tweet every-time I see it. It’s easy. It’s pre-written and sitting in my notifications. Why wouldn’t I? You could be doing the same.
Again, I understand this can’t happen for every blog or on the day each post goes live. But there’s no reason you can’t share one a day over a longer period, spreading them out and still sharing them. Not everything has to happen the same day something goes live. The point is help get the word out. When I see authors making an effort to share my posts, I am encouraged to do the same (especially if they’ve shared it in a manner I can easily then re-share).
But twitter isn’t the only way to promote a book post. I saw a mysterious jump in traffic one day and later discovered it was because Sophie Barnes shared my post about her book in her news letter.
You better believe I appreciated the heck out of that share and was inspired to return the favor. Do you have your own news letter, Facebook group, Instagram Harem, etc? Use it to share the bloggers’ posts about your book.
I touched on simplicity and ease of sharing as something that makes me re-share a post over and over. Let me expand on this to include giveaways (which isn’t as odd a pairing as it might seem). I love giveaways. I love entering them and I love sharing them so others can enter and maybe win them too. (It makes me super happy to see the winners’ names posted and note that the winner is from my own blog. It gives me more warm-fuzzies.)
The most common giveaway platform I see on the posts I share is rafflecopter. And often “share this tweet” is one of the entry options. This often refreshes everyday, such that the tweet can be shared once a day. It’s so easy to do that. It’s significantly easier than putting together my own tweet each day. So, an easy rafflecopter (or other giveaway platform) tweet link is something I will use again and again if available, giving your book post several additional shares. And call me petty, but the better the giveaway the better chances I’ll share it. (I want to tempt people in, after all). And since most giveaways seem to feature gift cards, that leads me to Monetary incentives.
This is a hard one but it would be dishonest not to mention it. I don’t get paid to host the books I host, but I do hope to make a little money (basically enough to cover the costs of the blog). There are several ways you could assist with this and different blogs will have different avenues. I don’t have an Etsy shop, for example, but some do and keeping them in mind when Great Aunt Greta needs a birthday present would be an awesome thing to do.
I do have a tip jar (Buy Me a Coffee). Pending it’s not done anonymously, I see when you’ve dropped me a couple bucks and I definitely then feel appreciated and want to return the favor and feeling. A tip, no matter how little makes me happy in the moment. Share that.
[As an aside, I’ve had an anonymous donor that I’ve never been able to thank. So, if you’re that person and are reading this, know that you absolutely made my day.]
Understandably, especially if you’ve already paid for a tour, you likely can’t do this for everyone. But you could maybe pick your favorite of all the tour stops (or a random one) and tip them. Or some authors run a gift card giveaway just for the hosts. $5 may not be much, but it’s enough to make someone feel a little less like they’ve shouted into the void on behalf of an unappreciative stranger.
If even a small tip is out of your budget (which is understandable) clicking on a ad, if the blog has them, is a great way to help. Advertisers want legitimate organic clicks, not just random ones. But since ads tend to be at least moderately curated to the subject of the blog, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one of interest.
We are all massively ad-blind. I’m as bad about this as anyone else. But making an effort to peruse the ads to see if anything interests you enough to click and explore is a small but important thing you could do to help. Please do this.
I can’t tell who has or hasn’t clicked on a ad. So, I won’t pretend it makes me more likely to share your post specifically. But the weeks where I’ve made a few dollars of ad revenue (real talk, I mean like $3) are the weeks I feel like the time and effort I put into the blog are worth it, and the weeks and weeks and weeks that I make $0 leave me wondering why I bother at all. So, thinking to help support your bloggers keeps them blogging. This may be a general assistance, rather than a you-specific action, but if no one does it bloggers will give up and you (the general you) will have no one left.
I’m going to wrap it up here. Though I may think of another point later or something interesting and worth adding might crop in the comments, these are my current thoughts on the subject.
To recap: interact, share, and support is my big advice. None of it is difficult or particularly time consuming, but it seems to be overlooks too often. Again,
interact, share, and support
interact, share, and support
interact, share, and support
interact, share, and support
Have I missed or misrepresented anything? Do you have a differing opinion? Is it tacky to talk money? Let me know in the comments.