If you are an author who has decided to take your stories from your journal or computer to people’s e-readers or the printed book, you must start using social media to promote yourself and your work. Google+ is a place where you will find a great deal of other writers … and readers. This blog will give you some pointers on how to start using Google+, after your profile has been set up.
Some tips about your profile
Treat the cover photo like it is the top banner on your blog or website. Make up a banner to fit 940×180, but keep in mind that anything on the third on the right can’t been seen because it sits behind your square profile photo.
Be entertaining in your description of yourself and your work, or informative and professional, depending on your genre and the type of audience you are wanting to attract.
Firstly, understand what Circles are and what they are not. The best way to think about Circles is that they are categories for people in your head like Family, Random people, Writers, Horse fans, etc. When you add someone from Google+ to a circle, only you know what Circle you put them in. Naming Circles and adding people to the most relevant circle will help you make contact with the right people about the right things. You can add as many Circles as you need to and give them whatever name makes sense to you and your purpose.
When you Share something on Google+ you decide what Circles will see that information. It’s a bit like being able to let your mates know you had a great night out at the pub last night by sharing that information with the Friends Circle, whilst choosing to not share it with the Family Circle (note: you’d also have to not make it Public). When it comes to book marketing, however, it’s more about Sharing something with people who might be interested.
To Share something you can login to Gmail and over near the top right corner click on Share. This (above) is what will pop up. Type directly into the box to share a thought or message. Click on the camera icon to choose an image from your computer to share. Click on the play icon to share a video. The third icon along is Events and that will have the wait for another blog post! The fourth icon (a link) is the most commonly used one. Click on this to paste in a URL of what you want to share, which may often be a new blog post by you, but could also be something you read and want to share.
In this example, I want to share this blog post by Peter Rake, about a frog he found in his back yard http://campfireyarns.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/odd-spot.html
Having pasted in the URL you next get to choose the image that accompanies the first few lines from the URL. You’ll notice in the screenshot above that the site’s banner image is suggested as the image to use. That doesn’t look too good and I wanted the picture of the frog to Share. Hold your mouse cursor over the image and little arrows will display, which you can use to scroll through previews of other images from the URL. Keep scrolling until you find the image you want, or hit the X instead if you decide to not include any image with this Share.
In this screenshot you can see that I used the arrow keys to choose the image of the frog from the blog post. I also typed in a little message ‘A bumpy looking frog.’
Choosing Circles to Share with
After your have got the Share ready, all that’s left is to choose what Circles to share it with. Hit ‘+ Add more people’. A list will pop down. Click on the name of any Circle you think might be interested. If you think everyone could be interested just click on ‘Your Circles’ which will include them all. To get even greater reach, click on ‘Extended Circles’ as well, which shares your Share with the Circles of the people in your Circles. But if you know there’s a Circle that just wouldn’t be interested, choose all the Circles but not that one. And why should you be concerned about sharing things with people if they are not interested? They ignore you or remove you from their Circles if you are annoying, basically. Having said that, the Internet is a noisy and busy place. Unless you are Sharing something many, many times a day, you’re unlikely to annoy people on Google+.
More on Circles
As you find people on Google+, and as you receive emails notifying you that someone has added you to one of their Circles, decide what Circle to add them to. If it’s someone you know, maybe add them to a Friends Circle. If it’s someone who obviously loves horses (because they have 50 pictures of them on their profile!) add them to a Horse fans Circle. If they are also a writer, add them to a Writers Circle. If you have no idea why they added you, add them to a Random People circle. And start new Circles as new ways to categorise people come into your head. For example, you might realise that you often blog a poem. You share it on Google+ and a few people add you to their Circle having read your poem. It’s a fair bet they like poems, so start a Poems Circle. For an author using Google+ for promotion, the idea is to set your Circles up so that you can target sharing links and other information with people who you know to be interested in your work for a particular reason.
The fastest way to build up your Circles is to check your Inbox. Once you start adding people, they will add back and a snowball effect comes along. So login to Gmail and look for emails from ‘Google +’. Look at peoples’ profiles and add them to a relevant category. In the email look at the ‘People you might know’ section along the bottom. Check them out, add them to Circles. Before you know it you’ll have heaps of people you can share with.