How one writer works the Web to build her brand
ONLINE COLUMN: Web Savvy
Published: November 17, 2009
Once Jackie Dishner's new book Backroads and Byways of Arizona hit the shelves, she was already a seasoned traveler in cyberspace, working the Web to build her brand. It's a simple fact of the writing life almost all authors confront—how to get the message about your book into the hands of people who will buy it and maybe pass it along to others. For Dishner, social media was one of several tools for getting that much-coveted buzz going. Kay B. Day
Dishner posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. She also maintains a blog but she points out it isn't directly related to her book. She uses each Web site to post updates. "As the book got closer and closer to its release date," she said, "I was posting about my plans and my excitement of what was to come—basically sharing the love." For the Phoenix-based veteran freelancer, it was fun as her family, friends and fans got excited.
She sensed the power of visuals. "I began posting a lot of photographs on Facebook," she said. Dishner has a wry, good natured humor about her when you meet her in person, and what she said next is typical of her outlook on life. She hammed it up with those photos and her descriptions reflect the fun she was able to have with her efforts. There were photos, she said, "[o]f me holding the book, of the book on my vehicle's dashboard, me pointing at the book at the Barnes & Noble where it first appeared, my daughter holding my book at the bookstore, my hairdresser 'reading' it at her shop, and on and on." Those are the types of photos people on a social network like to see—real people doing real things. Jackie Dishner
|Dishner has also discovered the power of Twitter. The social network limits your message to 140 characters or less. That may sound confining, but it's actually liberating. The limit forces a poster to cull the excess and go with the pith. Dishner also used graphics. "I am in love with Twitter and just figured our how to add my book cover as the background on my homepage," she said. A number of followers have subscribed to her blog.|
Visiting and commenting on other blogs can also be beneficial. So are message boards and newsgroups. "I participate in forums," she said. "I have joined nearly 50 groups on LinkedIn and try to participate in as many of those as possible." She answers questions posted by others, and sometimes provides a link to an article that might be useful. "Share resources," Dishner said. "If you do that, you're helping to build your brand and people are going to remember your name."
Social media like Twitter can produce unexpected benefits. "I recently applied to be the Good Mood blogger for a vitamin company. It was a contest and you had to get votes in order to move up to the next round. I solicited online, posting in as many places as possible, asking for votes." She said she was amazed at the number of people who went to vote for her after reading her profile on LinkedIn. They even posted flattering comments. "It was very humbling, actually, and illustrates the power of these networks. You can reach out to so many people, and if you're genuine, they will respond."
|Backroads and Byways of Arizona was published by Countryman Press, a subsidiary of W. W. Norton. Prior to the book publication, Disher had built a long line of publishing credits in respected outlets like Arizona Highways, HGTV.com, The Writer and U.S. Airways. She actually met the acquisitions editor who helped connect her with a publisher at the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference three years ago. "We developed a relationship and things spun off from there," she said. |
The ASJA Web site provides free information to writers even if they're not members.
Dishner also joined Freelance Success, a Web site many veteran freelancers belong to. While ASJA membership has set requirements and a vetting process for publication standards, Freelance Success is open to all who pay a fee.
Both organizations bring writers together to pool resources and network. "Whenever I have a question," Dishner said, "I visit the forums on these sites, and I'm sure to have the answer I need within minutes—even if I'm just looking for the e-mail address of an editor."
Like many successful writers, Dishner has learned to use the numerous resources the Web provides, pulling them together to connect her work with editors and readers. She said social media networks "make it really easy" to get creative with marketing and it's free. "There's no reason NOT to get involved," she said. "It makes sense in so many ways."
• Jackie Dishner's book Backroads and Byways of Arizona
• Dishner's blog:
• Find Dishner on Twitter:
• Previous column at Web Savvy:
Social networking with other writers
--Published Nov. 17, 2009
In our next Web Savvy, we bring you a feature about Internet legend and poet C. E. Chaffin, founder of the Melic Review. Chaffin's new book of poems Unexpected Light has just been released.
|Kay B. Day|
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.