Facebook, Twitter, blog, website, promotion, marketing, reader interaction, editing, networking, proofing. Oh – nearly forgot! – writing. Just some of the balls an author has to keep up in the air on a regular basis. Thankfully there are free tools available to make life much easier.
1) Tweetdeck – Tweetdeck is a great piece of software that allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts straight from your desktop. You can schedule tweets so you don’t need to be at your computer 24/7 (even though we both know you probably will be), set up searches to pick up mentions of your books and other useful topics and you can even throw in other accounts such as Foursquare, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace so everything is within easy reach.
2) bit.ly - bit.ly is primarily best known for being a link shortening and sharing service but there’s so much more to it and registering is a must do for any author. Tweeting a review link? Use a bit.ly link. Sharing an interview on Facebook? Use a bit.ly link. Why? Every time you shorten a bit.ly link a record is saved and you can then visit an information page for further information. This includes: number of clicks, shares and likes, other aggregate links that have been created to the same content (meaning you can see not only who is clicking your links but who is clicking other people’s links) and even a QR code for your link. You can also go back and check your link history, most clicked links, where your ‘clickers’ are based – can you see the potential yet? If not, get to the back of the class!
3) Amazon Associates – the chances are that you’re already using Amazon Associates (and if you’re not you could be losing money on every book you sell through your blog, website, email and so on). However, Amazon Associates offers you the opportunity to set up ‘tagging IDs’ allowing you to track clicks much more effectively. For example, Goodreads, Google Ads and Facebook will all allow you to use Amazon Associate links in your advertising. This means that you can set up unique tags for each of them and therefore see with ease how many clicks on your adverts are converting to actual sales. This is amazingly useful information.
As an example, if 100 clicks leads to 12 sales and you’re only using one tag, how do you know which ad is working for you? You could be throwing money away on adverts that aren’t actually generating anything but clicks. Using tags you can see that 20 clicks costing $10.00 came from from Facebook and resulted in one sale at $2.99. 70 clicks costing $7.o0 came from Goodreads and resulted in ten sales at $29.90 in total. 10 clicks costing $2.00 in total came from Google Ads and resulted in one sale at $2.99. Using these figures it’s a lot easier to work out how much profit you’re making once Amazon takes their cut and the ads are paid for (and once you’ve added your Amazon Associates cut back on) and then make more informed decisions.
4) MailChimp - Mailchimp is a great option for managing a mailing list – or multiple lists. It offers you the opportunity to send great looking emails, manage your signups and track opens, clicks and bounced addresses. You can create signup forms to use on a website or blog and there are a range of add-ons that let you use MailChimp with other services such as Tumblr, ContactMe and Google Docs. MailChimp also has an impressive range of resources to help you get the most out of their service.
5) Google Reader/Play – Technically this is two but to get the full benefit out of the Google Reader service I strongly recommend using it with Google Reader/Play. As an author I’d be amazed if you’re not following a fair few blogs: writing advice, book bloggers, other writers, that random one you subscribed to six months ago and then promptly forgot about. A bulging inbox isn’t always conducive to blog following and Google Reader alone can be a bit… well… dull, although subscribing to blogs via Google Friend Connect or Blogger is very handy. Google Reader/Play allows you to scroll through your posts at leisure or – and this is the bit I love – set them to play as a slideshow. This is fantastic as it means you can work through them quickly, stopping on the posts that interest you most for a closer look. Click through and you can visit the post in full in a new window and then, once you’re done, return to your browsing. You can also ‘like’, ‘star’ and ‘share’, meaning you can reward great content, save even greater content and share content that the world must see!
Now, I hope this will have freed you up a little to write a few hundred words on your latest masterpiece. However, I rather suspect that instead you’re just going to find random things to share on Facebook and Twitter. Just make sure you use a bit.ly link!