Chris Brogan talks, in his article yesterday, about Paul Coelho and Scott Westerfeld using the social web to engage their communities in a way that enables readers to congregate, and to participate in the creative energy surrounding a book like never before. While doing this, these guys create real relationships which always amount to the classic Win-Win Situation we all shoot for.
When authors take the time to be present – to engage in a dialogue instead of a monologue – amazing things can indeed happen, but an author has got to know how to listen, who to listen to, and when to speak up.
And while readers represent a critically vital facet of every author’s community, it’s important to consider the other essential pillars of your Author Presence in the book world.
So now who’s your community?
When helping an author frame the answer to this question, I ask them to categorize their connections on the social web into three broad categories:
When you begin to consider the way people fall into these broad, and then more sharply defined categories, you’ve taken the first step toward “listening” and engaging more effectively.
Let’s start with Twitter. You cannot “listen” to your Twitter community effectively if you don’t employ some form of a Twitter management application. Period. I’m tired of hearing people tell me over and over that they can’t make sense of Twitter, only to thank me with a bottle of Jameson as soon as they spend a few days using TweetDeck.
Please don’t make me beg, just trust me on this one.
Once you’ve installed your TweetDeck you can start creating Groups into which you’ll slot the people you follow on Twitter. You can always delete and add groups, so don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Try starting off with these groups:
Consider for a moment what’ll result from this more focused level of listening.
None of this will make you a better writer, but it’ll make you a stronger, smarter author.
When you’ve listened enough and begin to engage, what’ll happen then?
Oh yeah, you’ll grow your readership too.
Wanna take it to the next level?
Have a monthly Twitter chat where you talk about something specific to your work, and answer a few FAQs. Use these chats as an opportunity to point people to websites – not always your own – where more detailed background info awaits them.
As usual, this is just the tip of the social iceberg. There are so many creative ways to provide value through social channels, yet every one of these activities is nothing more than a single step toward a deeper, more mutually beneficial level of engagement with your market, your colleagues, and your readers.