Demystify the world of digital marketing and social media with Patrick Lenton.
Social Media for Writers with Patrick Lenton
Ever felt like social media was as impenetrable as the Forbidden Forest? Luckily for you (and us, too), Patrick Lenton is presenting on all things digital marketing and social media for writers as a part of our short courses series. Patrick has worked for major publishing houses as a Digital Marketing Executive and he runs the consultancy firm, Town Crier. He is also the author of A Man Made Entirely of Bats (Spineless Wonders) which is as weird and wonderful as you’d hope. He is also very nice to talk to on the phone, especially when it came to explaining how to cast a Patronus (or, in his words, 'promote your book').
The Writers Bloc team are so excited to have you deliver our first short course on digital marketing and social media for writers. Could you give us an overview of what you’ll be covering?
The course is an introduction to digital marketing and social media in general, for your book in particular. While the course is an hour in length and pretty broad, it’s covering information that is not readily available to writers. It’s fairly general but also not something that people are going to have access to normally.
What platforms should writers be on when they’re building a brand? Like, the bare essentials for someone who may not have a lot of time for social media but wants to get out there.
At the moment, I’d say have a website because it’s the business card for writers. You need to have a space where there is your basic information and it needs to look crisp and professional. In terms of social media, a Facebook author page is pretty much the minimum now. That could change, Facebook is always evolving but at the moment, a website and Facebook page.
What are some practical tips for emerging and established writers alike in creating their own website? Should we be DIYing it or finding a professional?
It depends on how much time you’re willing to put into it. With Wordpress or Squarespace, you can do a perfectly good job for a small amount of money. You only need to pay for the domain.
But in saying that, remember this is representing you professionally. I generally recommend that people go for web designers because I don’t think most authors have the time to educate themselves to a level that they would need. If people have those skills and feel comfortable with the time commitment, go for it. But usually, I’d say get a designer and don’t bother trying to spend the next four months of your life designing a website.
When is the ideal time for a writer to get social media savvy?
Definitely pre-book for website and Facebook page. Digital marketing and social media is the kind of thing where publishers and are starting to look to see if authors have a platform. It doesn’t have to be a super big platform – they’re not expecting authors have 10,000 followers when they don’t have a book out yet – but they do want to see that authors are savvy are ready to promote themselves.
Social media can be tough! How would you recommend writers cultivate a voice that cuts through?
It’s both really easy and strangely hard for some authors. It has to be genuine engagement from you. The voice has to be natural, in a way. Obviously, people aren’t always comfortable with that so they have to grow comfortable and build themselves a voice from the ground up. The first way of doing it is about giving yourself time to grow that voice. Don’t think that you’re going to be writing the sort of stuff on social media that you’re immediately comfortable with. Like everything else, you grow more familiarised, more comfortable and more adept the longer you have it. That’s why I always recommend clients start using it before they have a book to promote so you are comfortable and have a deft hand at it.
Also, do some research. Have a look at what other authors are doing, have a look at authors similar to you as well as people who are different. Get inspired. Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. So basically plagiarise them a little bit and find what works for you and your readers.
What’s the biggest mistake young writers are making in digital marketing?
I think a lot of new writers are very concerned about over promoting. I think that most new writers really lean too far in not wanting to annoy people by promoting their book. So they become shy or too humble.
Whereas in my experience, people have a fairly high threshold for hearing about people’s book. As long as you’re not yelling on Facebook ‘I’ve got a book I’ve got a book buy my book buy my book’. Post about being genuinely excited during the staging of the process. When you’ve got your first book cover and you put it up, people are excited about that. Find the right balance of how much to talk about your book online.
What does social media done right look like (who should we stalk)?
I always point towards the author Kylie Scott as someone who uses social media and digital marketing very very well. She’s a New York Times bestseller, USA Today bestselling author and Australian romance and erotic romance writer who started out with no real following and built it using social media.
She used a fantastic Facebook presence and if you go and have a look at what she’s doing, you’ll see someone who is really engaged online and also strategic about how she does things.
Social Media for Writers is on TONIGHT, Wednesday the 28th of June 8pm AEST. Register here (all we need is your email address and name) to watch it live. Registration is entirely free due to generous support from The Copyright Agency. If you can’t make it, sign up anyway and we’ll send you the link to enjoy.
Katerina Bryant is a writer based in Adelaide and Writers Bloc's Writing Development Manager. Her work has appeared in the Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, amongst others. She tweets at @katerina_bry.