Since my debut novel hit shelves this spring, I’ve learned a few lessons about how to use social media for promotion. I’ve seen some great posts from other authors about how to keep your focus on others when using Twitter, and I completely agree. No one likes to see social media used as a billboard: dialogue and relationships are key.
But I’ve also learned that no one else is going to dig through your reviews and publicize the snippets that spark the interest of potential readers. Like it or not, authors do have to snip their reviews on social media to tell others what is unique about their novels. For each author, the question of how much to use reviews must be an individual decision. I would like to offer a few suggestions:
• Don’t do it too often. Seriously. In my very subjective opinion, the maximum frequency at which an author should post a review snippet or link is once a week. I might be OK with twice a week in the first two weeks of the debut, but the easiest way to alienate readers is to ‘snip’ too often.
• Format correctly. My publisher’s PR director showed me how to do this last week. Snip a short quotation, capitalize your title, and always include a shortened link. It helps if the review is on a bookselling site, as the reader can see it and purchase the book in one fell swoop.
• Select your snippets with great care. Below are examples of some of my reviews and why I would or wouldn’t use them as social media snippets. I’ve also included how I would snip them for Twitter, since most are far too long for a tweet.
One last caveat before I go through some samples. I am deeply grateful for every single one of these comments: they all touched me and made writing the book worthwhile. If I say I wouldn’t use one in promotion, it’s strictly because certain types of comments that are moving and gracious from a reader may sound vain when repeated by the author herself.
“Fairer than Morning is historical romance at its best, seamlessly integrating an engaging, non-formulaic love story with meticulous historical research and character-driven expressions of faith.”
Wow! This reader writes really well. If I used this one on Twitter, I would probably select “an engaging, non-formulaic love story with meticulous historical research” because it’s so specific. Of course, if you’re posting on Facebook, you can use the whole thing.
“There were some parts that made me want to hit certain characters over the head, but that just means I was involved in the story.”
Yes. This is a casual, funny comment that still shows the power of the novel to draw in readers.
“Ms. Elliott's research is apparent, and she more than aptly demonstrates she has the writing ability to stand up to the greats in Christian fiction.”
No. Though it brought tears to my eyes when I read it, it would not be gracious for me to repeat a comparison to other authors. Other people can say this about your work if they are so kind, but you can’t repeat it! (and yes, I realize I just repeated it, but I hope you’ll forgive it for the case study.)
“Truly, the imagery is SO vivid, I don't believe I've ever read a book that pulled at my heart so immediately, so strongly.”
Yes. This is a great one for a snippet. It’s OK to tweet a superlative about your book, such as “the best book I’ve read this year.” Just stay away from comparisons to other authors.
“It's one of the best books I've read in a while, of any genre.”
Yes. Another superlative, but as long as it's about the book and not the author, you're OK.
“a new author who understands that the best Christian fiction is that which not only gives us great pleasure through deep characters and beautiful prose, but challenges us and leaves us spiritually richer and stronger long after the last word is read.”
Yes. A reference to the book’s emotional or spiritual power is a good choice. For Twitter, I would probably snip “leaves us spiritually richer and stronger long after the last word is read” or perhaps “deep characters and beautiful prose.”
“I have never screamed out loud when reading a book but I did in Fairer Than Morning. I thought I had it figured out and when the twist came, I shouted!”
Yes. Love this comment. Unusual reader reactions are funny and appealing. I could use either one of the sentences for Twitter.
“This book will be a bestseller and win awards”
No. This comment left me so grateful for the reader’s faith in the novel but it is not seemly for an author to repeat predictions of her book’s glory.
“I can't WAIT for the next novel in the series! Why did I think that? Because I was absolutely floored by how much I loved this novel.”
Yes. References to anticipating the next novel are a good indication that readers really did like your book.
So tell me, do you agree with my opinions? All answers welcome--as I said, this is a question of taste and thus quite subjective. How often do you think is too often to tweet review snippets? Have you ever seen review snippet overkill from an author, and if so, how do you react?
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This post is part of the WORDSERVE Literary Agency blog tour on Marketing!