Social Media News for Writers

By Alma Katsu

This is the new column, designed to bring you news about developments in social media that might be of interest to writers. In my other life, the one where I’m not a novelist, I’m an expert in emerging trends and technology for a major think tank. In my job, it’s important to stay up on technology news, particularly about emerging media. On a typical week, I see a handful of stories of interest to the novelist, stories about a new or interesting twist to what’s going on in publishing. I decided to start putting a link wrap-up post on my blog on Fridays, and WRW is going to post an abbreviated version once a month on its website.

These columns for WRW won’t contain all the links from the Friday wrap-ups, just the highlights. If you want to see the whole thing, you can mosey over to my blog on Fridays.

1. Et tu, Google Alerts? It looks as though Google Reader isn’t the only tool about to bite the dust. Rumors have been circulating that Google won’t be supporting Google Alerts for much longer, and if you use it (as I do) you’ve probably noticed that the service isn’t what it used to be. If you’re in the market for a new tool to replace it, one I’ve tried recently in Mention. It’s too soon to tell if it will be a good substitute and the two systems aren’t exactly alike: Google Alerts were better for indexed web pages (naturally) while Mention does better with social media, most notably Twitter.

There are many social media monitoring tools out there, most of them are by subscription. If there’s enough interest, I’ll post a list of them in the future. For most authors–if you’re not JK Rowling or EL James, for instance–the volume of traffic generated about you is such that you’re not going to need a service. You can do it yourself, and in the future I’ll tell you how.

And if you’re still stuck on the fact that Google Reader is going away this summer, here’s a list of other RSS readers you might want to try.

2. New Site for Singles (Amazon Singles, That Is): Thin Reads is a new “consumer-facing” site for e-singles. It is the brainchild of Howard Polskin, media guy, most notably on the side of magazines. It carries reviews of e-singles, interviews with authors and a database of short stories and articles on Amazon, iBookstore and BN.com. Here’s what Mashable had to say about the site. And here’s an article on Joseph Bottum, the most profilic author of e-singles. If you’ve got stories on any of those three platforms, you might want to contact Thin Reads and get your content listed.

3. Looking for good book blogs? Not just to follow and read, but as potential sites to pitch to feature your book, let you write a guest post or plain ole get-the-word-out-about-you? I’m always on the lookout for good lists of blogs in the hopes of finding new popular ones that I don’t already know about. When I got a link for this list of “100 Essential Book Blogs for Voracious Readers” I was skeptical, especially considering that it came from one of those pop-up content sites (in this case, Mastersinenglish.com, which–if you’re going to content-farm for advertising dollars, better for a Master’s degree in English than for, I don’t know, time-share rentals.) The list is pretty good, it turns out: it has all the stand-bys like The Millions and Bookslut, but some I’d never heard and some that were good for certain niches, including some book clubs for various genres. Worth casting your eye over.

4. A picture tells a thousand words: Instagram is another mega-hot app, especially with the young crowd. Here’s an article on how the most-followed brands on Instagram use the site to market themselves. If your book lends itself to visuals or your target demographic is young, you might want to think about upping your presence on Instagram.

Of course, these days when you think pictures you also think of Pinterest, the social pinboard for people who like to collect images. Here are some articles to get you thinking of how a presence on Pinterest might help your book sales: This article from Fast Company talks about what Pinterest’s recent redesign means for companies and provides some visual stimulation, too (see how entities as diverse as the US Army, Sony, and Penguin Books use Pinterest.) This article from Read Write Web compares Facebook’s engagement stats to Pinterest’s and finds Facebook’s lacking (no surprise).

5. Mini-videos for promotion: Remember the link last week on how bands are using Amazon Vine to promote themselves? Looks like some authors are already using Vine in the same way. (Via Galley Cat)