Back in April, our First Friday Club guest was Patrick Lenton, an author and digital marketing professional. Patrick has worked as a Digital Marketing Executive with Momentum Books, and recently launched Town Crier, his own social media and digital marketing consultancy for authors.
As you can guess, Patrick’s no stranger to the concept of the online author platform. He’s written articles about everything from juggling multiple priorities as a writer to the perks of marketing your own book and finding success in self-publishing. At FFC, our Program Officer Ashley Kalagian Blunt sat down with Patrick to talk about all of the above and more.
To summarise the chat, here are a few of Patrick’s thoughts on…
…whether writers can actually learn social media and digital marketing skills.
‘Of course,’ he says. ‘It’s about being accessible to readers. That feeling when you love a book and try to force your friends to borrow it when they leave your home? That’s what marketers try to do, but secretly.’
Marketing isn’t just about tweeting at people to ‘Buy my book’, though. As Patrick emphasised, that sort of strategy won’t get you very far. ‘Marketing is about tapping into communities,’ he explains. ‘Rather than being a sneaky marketer trying to manipulate buyers, be more like – “You like books? We have books!” Aim to help passionate readers find their new favourite book.’
Marketing works better when it’s genuine and coming directly from the author – as opposed to, say, a Twitter account for the book itself. ‘People want to talk to a writer; they won’t talk to a book,’ says Patrick. ‘Readers absolutely crave genuine interaction with authors. Genuine engagement is better than publishers’ marketing.’
Perhaps this is why some publishers now give training in social media. As Patrick points out, ‘It’s a learned skill; you need to put time into it.’ And those authors who do will definitely give themselves an advantage – something Patrick’s seen firsthand: ‘If Momentum has submissions for two equally good books, they will often go for people with an online presence first.’
…whether the theory of 1000 true fans holds any weight.
‘It’s about reaching the right people on social media, not the most numbers,’ explains Patrick. Here are a few of his rules for connecting with your social media followers:
- Treat them well – like VIPs. Offer them special giveaways, samples before public release, access to short stories/backstories, free copies in exchange for reviews, advance copies, and so on.
- Maintain the relationship so that they buy more than one book.
- Share those fans. Readers don’t just choose one author to read for the rest of their lives. If there’s a similar author to you, offer a shared book deal; double your fans and help everyone! Every author that you share with, you create a wider community. A good example is romance writers. They have an incredibly organised community, and it works well for everyone to create and maintain that community.
…his consultancy, Town Crier.
Town Crier is about teaching authors the skills they need to be competent in social media and marketing. With each client, Patrick starts with a social media audit. He identifies holes in their strategy, then gives pages and pages of recommendations on how to improve their digital presence, connect with their audience and sell more books.
…the best advice for writers in the digital age.
‘There’s a lot of bad advice and superstition going around – write for 10% of your time, market for 90%, and so on,’ says Patrick. His response to this bad advice? Simple: ‘You are writers. Write. AT LEAST 60% of your day should be writing.’
You can see Patrick’s social media skills in action over at his Twitter account. Ashley has also reviewed Patrick’s short story collection, A Man Made Entirely of Bats, over at the Newtown Review of Books.
Don’t forget to RSVP and join us at the next First Friday Club event!