BAIPA July 2011: Mastering Social Media for Authors with Cynthia Sue Larson

POSTED ON Jul 12, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > The Joel Friedlander Archives > BAIPA July 2011: Mastering Social Media for Authors with Cynthia Sue Larson

At this month’s meeting of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) we had the pleasure of hearing from author Cynthia Sue Larson ( Her announced subject was Mastering Social Media for Authors.

You might be a bit skeptical that you could learn how to master social media in a 40 minute presentation, and you would be right.

However, Cynthia is a veteran of social media book marketing campaigns, and brought a lot of useful information to the packed crowd of more than 60 authors and self-publishers who came to hear the talk.

First Things First—Q&A and Introductions

Throughout 2010 I reported on all the meetings at BAIPA since the subjects discussed are exactly the same ones people have questions about here on my blog and, indeed, throughout the indie publishing world.

I left off a couple of months ago after a string of pretty disappointing presentations and then a big shift in the leadership of BAIPA.

Ever the optimist, with a new regime in place I thought it would be a good time to return to reporting these events.

The first part of the BAIPA meetings is open to questions from anyone on anything in publishing. I’m not going to try to answer all these, but the questions that come up are pretty interesting in themselves. Here are the questions that were asked at this meeting:

  • Does anyone know about what’s happening with Amazon and the State of California?
  • Why did a barcode for a book that’s unpublished scan to a Barnes & Noble record at a discounted price?
  • What’s the difference between Baker & Taylor and Ingram?
  • What to do when your biography is stolen online?
  • What discounts are available at Lightning Source?
  • Should you buy 1 or 10 ISBNs?
  • Has anyone compared the different publishing services?
  • Do you need a license to collect taxes? What about when you sell in other states?
  • How do bookstores deal with self-publishers?

The next part of the meeting involves each attendee introducing themselves within 45 seconds, so it’s one “elevator pitch” after another, and it’s always interesting to see who gets through this the best.

Social Media for Authors Random Tips

This title might have been a more accurate one for Cynthia’s talk. In any event, she had many tips for authors getting started with social media, and many ways to profit from promoting books online. I’ve listed her tips as I took them down at the presentation:

  • Wherever you are, you can make a difference with social media. Don’t get discouraged, it takes time.
  • Why Master Social Media? We can publish books but getting the word out is hard. Social media makes itfast easy and cheap to use
  • How to be smart with social media
  • 1/9 of the world is on Facebook
  • Facebook is a good place to market books for college age students
  • People in their twenties are into micro-blogging sites like Tumbler right now
  • Keep your business account separate from your personal account on social media sites like Facebook
  • Twitter is a real time direct news source and way to drive traffic
  • Youtube is underutilized by authors and can increase web traffic to your blog or website
  • LinkedIn is primarily for business connections
  • For novelists, post articles about how your characters might see news events
  • Use your network to help support your book launch
  • Don’t launch your book around an unrelated holiday
  • Pick a date for your launch that leaves at least a few months for preparing your promotion plans
  • People respond really well to giveaways, for instance a free audio recording of one chapter
  • Schedule radio interviews in advance of your publication date to give them time to respond. The more popular the show, the more time they need.
  • Use tags, keywords, hashtags to make your book discoverable
  • Follow people in your niche and Follow people who follow you
  • Re-tweet people who post good content on Twitter
  • Put links to your book page on your personal Facebook page
  • Post events like your book launch to your Facebook page
  • On Amazon if you pick a small category it’s easier to rank higher in the category
  • Set up your Amazon Author Central page and link your blog posts
  • Fill out your biography to help with your author branding
  • Search on Amazon for reviewers who are interested in books like yours
  • Use your network to vote up reviews on Amazon
  • Get people to vote on tags, too
  • Use Amazon listmania lists to show your book. Use your network to create lists that include your book.
  • Amazon discussions can help boost your books’ search results. Join 10-20 discussions and put links to your book in your comments.
  • Amazon guides can be used to promote your book also.
  • Direct all traffic to your blog where you have an opt in box to gather contacts.
  • Preschedule your Tweets and Facebook posts with software like
  • Time your posts and tweets to hit high-response times mostly on the east coast.
  • Send previews to the people on your opt in list.
  • On Amazon, if you want to support your own book, ask people to buy 1 copy at a time.

In the end, it was inspiring to hear from someone who has participated in launching an Amazon bestseller, and whose books continue to sell well online. For the complete 6-page meeting notes, see the article on BAIPA’s site: Recap of the July 9, 2011 Meeting

In self-publishing, each author finds her own path, a way that makes sense for her and her aims. That’s one of the things I like best about indie publishing, and I’m sure people who came to the meeting went away excited about their own books, and what they can do to take their own marketing to the next level.

Photo by Howard Lake

Joel Friedlander

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Joel Friedlander

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