Ep 50 The most important skills you need to start a writing career; literary profiles on Instagram; crowdsourcing your cover; when bloggers are affiliates; and Writer in Residence Peg Fitzpatrick.

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In Episode 50 of So you want to be a writer: the gorgeous typeface that drove men mad, the most important skills you need to start a writing career, literary profiles on Instagram, Neil Strauss crowdsources his next book cover, the book “How not to write bad” by Ben Yagoda, when bloggers are affiliates, Writer in Residence Peg Fitzpatrick, story wars and more.

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes

Anatomy of a Crime course

Neil Strauss – the final cover choice

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery

The Most Important Skills You Need To Start A Writing Career

Miranda July And 15 Other Literary Instagrams You Should Follow

How to not write bad by Ben Yagoda

Bloggers being affiliates (discussion)

Writer in Residence

Peg Co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users with Guy Kawasaki. Social media is Peg’s passion. And her job. She’s sharing her professional experience working day to day in the trenches of social media, marketing, and blogging.

She works with global brands and leaders in the social media sphere every day. She’s spearheaded successful social-media campaigns for Motorola, Audi, Google, and Virgin as well as having been a brand ambassador for Kimpton Hotels. Peg works with the best brands and make them even better!

Website
Twitter
Facebook

Web Pick

Story Wars

The Mapmaker Chronicles site has been revamped!

http://themapmakerchronicles.com/

Check out Copywriting Essentials!

http://www.copywritingessentialscourse.com.au/

Your hosts

Allison Tait
Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait
@valeriekhoo

Email us
podcast at writerscentre.com.au

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Transcript

Allison

Peg Fitzpatrick is an author/speaker and social media marketing pro. She works as a social media strategist with Guy Kawasaki and is the director of digital marketing for Kreussler Inc covering online brand management and traditional marketing.

 

Her most recent book, written with Guy Kawasaki, is called The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users.

 

Hi, Peg. Welcome to the show.

 

Peg

Hey Alison! I love your accent, do you have mostly Australian listeners?

 

Allison

We have a surprising array. We do have a lot of Australian listeners, but we have around 18-20 percent from the US, hi to everyone in the US. We have quite a large proportion from the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, so hi to them as well. We’re international, Peg.

 

Peg

You’re very diversified. You are, you’re global.

 

Allison

We’re a force for good.

 

Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? You’re fully immersed in the social media world, how did that come about?

 

Peg

Basically, I was working in a different job and I was playing around with Facebook, this was like six years ago, and I was out to dinner with my husband, he runs Kreussler Inc in the US, it’s a German company, but he runs the US subsidiary. We were out to dinner with the bosses from Germany. I was explaining this awesome new platform and it would be so cool to do marketing on it. Brands weren’t on Facebook yet, it was really just people and fan pages, they were fan pages then. I thought it was this great fun idea and it wouldn’t be very expensive. I was throwing out all of these ideas and then six months later they were like, “Hey, we want to hire her to do all of that stuff.” I was like, “What? What did I say I could do?”

 

Everything that I do right now is things that I just came up with and said, “I could totally do that…” “This would be awesome to do…” I didn’t know this was a job. There was no job every listed for everything that I do, but I pretty much have the best job in the world.

 

Allison

That’s fantastic. So you’ve created your own job by being interested?

 

 

 

Peg

All of my jobs — my job with Guy, all of my stuff. I have to say it’s kind of like an interesting thing.

 

I think it’s great for entrepreneurs and authors because, as a writer, no one is going to knock on your door and say, “Hi, Allison. Would you like to write a book today?” They’re just not going to do that, you have to do it yourself.

 

What I like about my story is it tells people you don’t have to wait until someone says, “Here’s a little job that you might want to do,” you just figure out what it is and do it.

 

Allison

You don’t need to wait for permission?

 

Peg

Yeah.

 

Allison

Right. Excellent.
I guess having started six years ago and working it all out as you go along you’re very much on the frontier all of the time, aren’t you? Of working out how best to use these things and the best strategies and things like that. Is that exhausting or is that exciting? I know you’re very energetic. I can feel your personality comes through in all of the stuff that you do. Do you wake up each day and think, “Wow, what algorithm are they going to throw at me today?” Or do you not approach it like that?

 

Peg

Well, I’m expecting those changes. I mean I love it, it is fun. But, sometimes I just wish I could find something that I could learn more from, do you know what I mean? I don’t know what it is, but something about my personality, like, when I am on a social media platform I can immediately find something new and I’m like, “What?” And then I start testing it.

 

I almost always see new things before other people. It’s just because I’m really hyperaware, I’m on them all of the time. I’m checking them to make sure all of the stuff is right. When something is new I’m like, “Ah…”

 

Sometimes it would be great if I could research and say, “How do you do this?” But, instead I figure it out and then I write about it later. It’s a bonus. I mean it is a bonus to be a trendsetter, you know?

 

Allison

How long do you spend online everyday? This is something else that blows my mind a little bit.

 

Peg

I don’t actually even know, Allison. It is my job, it’s not like I’m a writer who does social media just to support my books, I’m actively managing other people’s social media and my own, so I’m online all of the time. I do big chunks when I just will turn stuff off because you can’t write and you can’t do creative things and have stuff running. I don’t have any notifications —

 

Allison

Not at all?

 

Peg

No, I don’t have anything on my phone that pings or anything, because you just can’t, it’s too distracting.

 

Allison

It would be constantly pinging at you wouldn’t it?

 

Peg

Yeah, I would sound very popular. Maybe not true, but…

 

Allison

Over the time, is there a clear favorite platform for you? Has anything emerged as something you like more than the others?

 

Peg

You know it’s really hard to pick a favorite. I really love Pinterest, I love Pinterest so much. I started out doing stuff for authors on there before I knew anybody else was even doing it. I was like, “I wonder if you could sell books on Pinterest?” I started Guy’s stuff on there like two and a half years ago, I think, for APE, Author Publisher, Entrepreneur I started doing things, and I’m still getting repins on that stuff. It’s so awesome for writers.

 

The thing I like about Pinterest is you can spend the least amount of time there and get the most bang for your buck, which I think for writers is especially important, because you do have a lot of other things… being a writer is hard. Writing a book is hard, but all of the other parts of it are so time-consuming, like email and talking to people about different parts of your books, doing interviews and doing your social media and answering your email. There’s so many different parts that you don’t realize are going to be a part of what you do.

 

I like Pinterest because it takes less time.

 

Allison

How do you suggest that authors use Pinterest? How can they get the most bang for their buck with it?

 

Peg

One thing that is great with Pinterest now is they have Promoted Pins. If you’re a blogger and a writer you can get a business account and see your analytics and you can create a board for your books, or create a board that’s about your characters, about your location, or about you as a writer so people can get to know who you are. People love to get to know the person behind the books.

 

I’m fascinated with meeting writers online and following what they do. Elizabeth Gilbert is amazing on Facebook. I totally love what she posts. That’s one of the things that I have always loved about social media is you can connect with writers.

 

As a writer it’s a great way to show people what you like, who you are. I write about business stuff, so most of my boards are about social media, but I have a lot of other boards on just things that I truly like, like travel or cupcakes. It’s a place for people to get to know who you are and then in that present your book. So you could do quotes from your books, you could do boards with all of your reviews.

 

We did a board that’s all of the great reviews that people wrote for the Art of Social Media. Then on our website we have a Pinterest board embedded so you can see them all in there, which is a great way to say ‘thank you’ to people who took the time to read your book and then write a review.

 

Allison

That’s a great idea. Yeah, I haven’t actually seen that done before. That’s a great tip.

 

Speaking of great tips, let’s talk about your book, which I’m halfway through reading and very much enjoying. What made you decide to write the book
The Art of Social Media? I have to say I really like the fact that you look at it as an art and not a science, because it is actually often approached as a science, but to me the conversational engagement side of things is more creative than that.

 

Peg

Yeah.

 

Allison

What made you decide to write it?

 

Peg

It’s interesting because the working title was ‘The Art and Science of Social Media’.

 

Allison

There you go.

 

Peg

Because you could have both parts, but Guy and I are not big analytics people and we don’t chart everything and decide how many times to tweet. We’re more of like the art of the moment, so that’s why we cut the science out. We decided to write it — it was my idea. I wanted to write it, because a lot of people ask me what I do, how do I do what I do? Especially writers.

 

I worked on the book launch for APE. I saw in the APE community on Google+ there’s still a lot of people who had a lot of questions. Even though a third of the book was how to do what comes after you write the book, people still needed more. Writers needed more. I said to Guy, “Let’s write a book and kind of explain what we do and how we do things.” And he was like, “That’s a great idea.” We were working on it and he said, “You know what? I don’t want to write a social media book.” I was like, “Fine, I am totally managing this idea and I continued to write it.

 

I broke it up into chapters and I did an outline and did chapters on my blog and put them in. I kept working on it. I had a ton. I’ve like, “I’ve gone really far in this book… I know you didn’t want to work on it with me, but maybe you could just read it and see how it is,” which I have to tell you, as a writer, scariest thing ever to send your book to Guy Kawasaki.

 

Allison

Oh, I can imagine.

 

Peg

Number one, he’s an amazing writer. Number two, if it sucks he will tell you.

 

Allison

 

Peg

Which is good, right? That’s what you want. But, it’s also, like, scary. I sent it in and he was like, “This is really, really, good. I love this. Let’s work on it.” I was like, “Yay!” Then he went back onboard and we just kind of went through it all. We moved the order of stuff around, put different things in, so it was a really fun process, it was great to work on. We were going to self-publish it and then the publisher picked it up, so that was awesome.

 

Allison

It’s obviously going well, because I’m seeing it everywhere.

 

Peg

Yeah. Yeah, that’s awesome. The main reason was to help other people learn to do what I do.

 

Allison

Right.

 

Peg

Because it is complicated, everybody doesn’t have as much time as I do to figure out all of the pieces out. Especially at end of it. You didn’t get to it yet, but there’s an end part putting it all together.

 

Allison

I have to say I really like how practical it is. You go through the platforms, there’s links all through the eBook to further explain things. It’s not, “You should do this because I did this…” it’s a very practical approach, which I think is fantastic that I think people will get a lot out of.

 

Peg

Everything in there — there are some things that people might know, like how to set up your profile. But, there’s a lot of people that you see everyday that get it totally wrong. They don’t have good pictures and they haven’t built stuff out and they have the default header.

 

Writers get so tied into their other creative modes sometimes when they’re on social media — I just see so many people just tweeting stuff about their books all of the time. Writers can be the worst. They can be the best. I, personally, feel like writers can have the absolute best social media because they are creative and they work with words, so a tweet is not a challenge for a writer with a huge vocabulary, right?

 

Allison

Yeah, that’s right.

 

Peg

But, in practice a lot of times you see people just tweeting their books over and over again. It’s like, “No, you need to share other things too…”

 

Allison

Would you say that’s probably the number one mistake that writers and authors make? I kind of understand it to an extent, because I had a book come out last October and all that you’re thinking about at the time is the fact that it’s out there. You just have this overwhelming urge, you just want to tell the whole world and you have to tell them over and over. If you don’t tell them over and over no one is going to hear.

 

As someone who has been tweeting for quite a long time you understand that is so boring and people are just going to turn away, because I’ve seen it with other writers. Is that the number one mistake that writers and authors make, just to tweet constantly?

 

Peg

I think it is. That is what I see that they do a lot. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t do really good Amazon profiles or Goodreads profiles — they’re so important. It’s so time-consuming to set them up, but, oh my gosh, you get so much value from it. People do click around and look at everything. I get web traffic from my Amazon profile.

 

Allison

That’s interesting.

 

Peg

Do you get any from yours?

 

Allison

I don’t know if I have even looked. I’m really not good at analytics at all.

 

Peg

Yeah? Well, the only thing that I look at is where the web referrals come, and they have them from Amazon from my bio.

 

Allison

Wow, OK. That’s great.

 

Peg

It’s good to know, you want people to click your name and see more about you, make sure that you have something there.

 

Straight up on social media I think that is the number one thing that I see that writers do is just only talk about themselves and their books. I mean it’s too much. It’s usually new people that haven’t really figured out Twitter yet and they’re not looking around either to see what other people do.

 

Allison

What should they be doing instead? What is the best way to use social media for writers and authors to connect with readers?

 

Peg

You definitely do want to share your book stuff every once in awhile, but you have to mix in other things. Sometimes you can be tweeting people back who tweet about your book. It’s different because there’s fiction and non-fiction writers, so depending on where you fall you can tweet stuff about other books that are in your genre, you can talk about your genre. I love #FridayReads, do you ever do that hashtag?

 

Allison

No, I haven’t.

 

Peg

Oh my gosh, it’s so good for writers on Fridays. All day long on Twitter people tweet their favorite books to read. Don’t tweet your own book, because that wouldn’t be cool.

 

Allison

No.

 

Peg

But, tweet another book that you’re reading that you liked. It’s just like people giving shout outs for people’s books.

 

Allison

Oh, great.

 

Peg

That’s a great place where authors could check that hashtag out on Friday and you could follow people in that hashtag that obviously liked your read and they’re recommending books. It would be a great way to connect with new people.

 

Allison

That’s terrific.

 

Peg

See what they’re doing and talk to them. I like to do those kinds of things. You want to follow people who are going to be interested in what you do, so that’s one way that I do it.

 

I make little Twitter lists, if I’m actively looking for things to tweet. I like to make a Twitter list of like ten people that will have awesome stuff for me to retweet or to talk to them. I keep my little list open and tweet back. Those ten people… I can either retweet their things, talk to them, or share something. It’s hard at first if you’re not getting a lot of mentions and no one is really interacting with you to figure out how to connect. That’s one of the hard things with Twitter. But, when you create a twitter list of relevant people, and it really can be very small, if you interact with ten accounts on a regular basis you would be surprised at how much good interaction you could get. That’s people, not like celebrities and Time Magazine. I think everybody does that when you’re new, you follow people with ten million followers and then you realize later, “They’re never going to tweet with me.”

 

Allison

They’re never going to talk back.

 

Peg

Right, “OK, got it.” Then you have to move onto Plan B, connect with real people.

 

Allison

I like Plan B. Do you think that some platforms are better for writers and authors than others to concentrate on? If you were starting out, if you were kind of setting up yourself with sort of an author platform or a profile, if you were going to choose, say, two to focus on at the start with, which two would you choose?

 

Peg

It’s so hard. I wish I could always just narrow this down. I would have to say Facebook for me is come into a big resurgence. When have a Facebook page they’re giving a lot more tools with promoting posts and sponsoring posts and they are so inexpensive.

 

I was afraid to try any promotions for any platforms because I thought it was going to be like hundreds or thousands of dollars, it was really like five dollars. You can do five dollars over three days, so it’s like $1.67 a day. If you have a book promotion, if you have a $0.99 special you could throw $50, which would be a pretty big budget for somebody who is not making money on their book yet, let’s just say, because it’s hard to make money on your books at first. You put $50 on there, so your one day sell goes really well and then that carries over, your book climbs up in the rankings on Amazon and then the next day the price goes up, but it still has a higher ranking so more people will see it. So it all pays off. You just have to look at it as a little investment.

 

I think Facebook is a great place to do a page and build it up, because there are so many targeting things that you can use to get your ideal audience.

 

I’ve actually been playing around with some Twitter ads and those have been doing pretty well too. I think I might say Facebook and Twitter, but I do love Pinterest too, just because, like I said, it’s like a sleeper network. You can just go there every once in a while, there’s not the pressure like there is with Twitter or Facebook, like do they post something? Didn’t I post something? If you’re writing for a week and forget to go to Pinterest, like, it’s fine. The world does not stop.

 

Allison

I think that writers and authors that I’ve spoken to about social media always say to me that it just seems like such an enormous amount of time to put in and you don’t actually sell books, necessarily through it. Like, they can’t necessarily see a direct relationship between the time you put in and actual sales. There’s not really an equation for that. Do you think they need to be looking at it in a different way?

 

 

 

Peg

Here’s the thing, even if you’re traditionally published publishers these days are looking to see if you have a big social platform. So, it can affect your book deal. It can affect how much your book deal is, you can make more money if you have a social profile, because they’re looking at that for people to see — like Guy and I wrote a book about social media, if we did not have a social media following we would not have gotten a fantastic advance. It’s related.

 

In the same way like movie stars and TV stars now are starting to make more money because they have social media followings, to tweet the shows and things like that — I don’t know if that’s happening in Australia yet, but that’s starting to happen here a little bit. That’s what is happening, like traditional publishers are looking to see if you have a social media platform to share your book with. If you’re going to self-publish they only thing you have is your social media platform. Either way you really need to build it.

 

Can you always see a direct correlation between — it’s not like you’re going to see books on the shelf and the books coming off the shelf when you’re tweeting, it doesn’t happen that way, but people can see your tweets, they could decide later to buy your book, they could go to your website, they could share a blog post that you wrote, and that blog post could have an ad in the sidebar for your book and somebody that they tweeted to could click on the link and buy it.

 

They’re not always direct sales, but social media is the only way you can get your name out there as a self-publishing author, unless you were paying really big bucks for some kind of advertising. In today’s world people really want to connect with people. If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere I think people are confused by it at this point, you know? Like, why can’t they connect with you?

 

I have people email me and tweet me questions from the book. If I wasn’t responding they would be like, “Wow,” you know? It’s not that you have to respond to every single thing, because you get to a point where you can’t. Hopefully you get so busy doing awesome stuff that you can’t respond to every single thing, but you try to. Social media for everyone, whether it’s a big brand, a small business, or a writer, there’s not always a direct immediate result, but there is buzz that builds. Like you said, you see our book everywhere. That makes you think that you want to buy it, and you see it everywhere because we’ve built a lot of social media conversation around our book.

 

Allison

If I’m starting out, and I’m an emerging writer and I don’t even have a book as of yet, but I’m working on something, should I focus initially on a website and maybe a blog and start to build my profile that way? Is that where you start? Do you get your website and a blog right first?

 

Peg

I’m a big fan of having your home base, because that’s the one thing that you really own on the internet. Twitter could close or Facebook — any of those things can come and go, but you own your real estate on your blog, so I do feel that’s really important.

 

It is hard when you’re writing to maintain blogging too, but I think it has a huge value, then that gives you a platform later to have your books listed and if you’re going to be a speaker or all of those kinds of things. It’s a great place to start. It’s a great place also it makes you a better writer. Blogging and writing are different, but they’re so related that I think they work together too, don’t you?

 

Allison

Oh, totally. I’m a great advocate for blogging. I think it very much has helped with my fiction voice as well, because there’s such an intimacy to the kind — I keep I a sort of parenting/writing/life sort of blog. I find when I’m writing those kind of posts that you can’t broadcast to people like you do when you write for magazines or newspaper, you have to actually leave space in the posts for them to come back at you, I found that to be very, very helpful in developing the writing muscle, myself.

 

Peg

It’s great to just connect with people. There’s a lot of writers that have great blogs. I always use Hugh Howey as an example, he’s just so good.

 

Allison

Yeah, definitely.

 

Peg

He’s got his little sidebar listed with how much he’s writing on each book. People are dying for his next book. They’re like, “Write — go write more!” Is that the dream, or what? You have people that are dying for your next book, and he keeps them interested with his little sidebars. He has the title — I don’t how he writes on multiple books at the same time, but he does.

 

Yeah, I mean he doesn’t always blog a lot, but sometimes he’ll write a big, long post, sometimes it will be something short, but he’s connecting with people who are interested in what he does. He shares fan things a lot. He’ll show artwork that people are inspired to create from his books. Use the user generated content, So, that’s really cool.

 

That’s just a great way to connect with people, social listening, like if they’re talking about you. I find stuff all the time that people didn’t tag me or use the #ArtOfSocial and I’ll find things where they shared the book or they’re talking about it. So, it’s pretty cool to connect.

 

I think we’re at a neat age right now where you can connect with an author — who would have ever thought when you were growing up and reading books in the library that one day Judy Bloom would have a Facebook page. You know?

 

Allison

Who would have thought?

 

Peg

I know! You can be like, “Hi, Judy Bloom…”

 

Allison

“I read your book.”

 

Peg

“Thank you for being apart of my preteen years.”

 

Allison

That’s great.

 

Just to finish up let’s distill ourselves down here, because we do like a little bit of an ending distillation. Have you got top three tips for social media for writers and authors? What’s your top three, Peg? Come on.

 

Peg

Top three tips, OK. I will say create beautiful pins on Pinterest that link to your Amazon books, that link directly to Amazon so people can click and buy right from there. I think a lot of times people miss that kind of direct sales, like, “I can’t promote myself.” You’re not doing a big sales pitch, you can just make something great from your book, make a great graphic, link it back to Amazon.

 

If you are on Instagram, it is actually a great place for a business, and connect with people using hashtags. Find hashtags that fit with your genre and connect with people on Instagram and Twitter with those hashtags. If you’re not really super social savvy you can go to Fiver and spend $5 and have somebody do hashtag research for your genre and they’ll give you a big huge list, and it’s $5. Five dollars is pretty affordable for hashtag research.

 

Allison

That’s amazing. I have never even considered that. That’s a great tip.

 

Peg

I figured if I asked somebody else they might find different ones than I would have looked at or found.

 

Allison

Yeah, that’s great.

 

Peg

I did get a big, huge list. It was a good $5.

 

Allison

Five dollars well spent.

 

Peg

I’m willing to try things for $5. I do almost everything for free. All the stuff that I do is free, so I’m like, “I will experiment for five dollars.”

 

Allison

Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

 

All right, Peg. Thank you so much for your time today. I’m sure that there’s a lot of exciting tips and things — I’ve certainly picked up two or three things to take away myself.

 

We really appreciate your time. Best of luck with The Art of Social Media. I hope it sells about 80 billion copies, at least. We will all look forward to seeing you online. I will share Peg’s Facebook, Twitter, et cetera, links in the show notes so that you too can learn from her.

 

Terrific, thank you so much.

 

Peg

Thank you. Good luck writing, everybody.


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