Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Google + A Fun Way For Authors To Hangout With Readers And Peers


Google + isn’t as big as Facebook (yet), but they have something better going for them. They’re a part of the Google family, and posts placed their rank instantly in search.

For this reason, alone, it’s hard not to be on Google +.

They also have some nifty features the other guys don’t. Among these are Hangouts, and Businesses Pages that integrate into Google search.

If you’re still unconvinced why you should be on Google + consider this—if you’re a starving artist unable to pony up the big bucks needed to advertise your books, and unable to compete with the big guys in your genre, Google + and Google Local Business can propel you to the top of search.

Google Hangouts gives you the opportunity to conference one-on-one with readers and other authors from your neck-of-the-woods, or from around the world.

What that means is even though you’re writing about the Zombie Apocalypse from your home office or kitchen table in Clinton, Iowa, you can connect with readers in Cucamonga in real time. How cool is that? You can conduct a one-on-one conversation with them, or chat with a small group of potential readers. If you’re researching a new book there’s no need to travel—you can sit down face-to-face and chat on Google Hangouts.

If you’re an author with a consulting practice on the side Google + changes everything.

A Google +Business Page can help move your business to the top of search. It puts all of your info out there for everyone to see. And more importantly, it helps potential readers connect with you by filling in the missing gaps. Normally potential customers see the services you’re selling, but they don’t get to meet the person behind the products.

Google + changes the rules by sharing more information about you. When you set up a Business Page, you get to tell your story—what you do, why you do it, and how you can add value to your customer’s experience. You can also include links to your author pages, social media pages, blogs, websites, etc.

Hangouts give authors the opportunity to brand themselves and build authority in their field.

Let’s say you write about how to collect and grade vintage baseball cards. Maybe your books are selling well, but you want to take them to the next level. With Hangouts, you could invite a select group of collectors to hop online with you for a short video conference where you discuss how to grade the 1955 Topps Baseball Set, or maybe you could talk about the importance of the 1954 and 1955 baseball inserts in Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Each talk gives you the opportunity to up your value and expertise level in the eyes of your readers.

Lots of authors write about collecting vintage baseball cards. Imagine how potential readers will react if you take the time to communicate one-on-one with them to provide them with the information they want and need to enhance their collections and expand their personal knowledge base.

I know what you’re thinking. Yeah! It’s a great way to connect with my readers, but who’s got the time! I have a full-time job. In my spare time, I have to write, edit and market my books.

It’s a battle. It really is. Everything is competing for your valuable time, and here I am suggesting you spend time doing face-to-face videos with readers and potential readers.

I must be some kind of nutcase, right?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Let’s talk a little more about Google +, and we can come back to this later when the time is right.

Getting Started with Google +

Google + (or Google Plus) is the new kid on the block in social media. Because they’re backed by the power of Google, they have quickly become the number two player in the game second only to Facebook with 400 million registered users.

In essence, Google + is Facebook on steroids because Google integrates information from Plus into search.  If searchers insert a (+) before their search term, it pulls up a list of Google + Business Pages.

The easiest way to get started with Google + is to sign up with your Gmail address.

Keep in mind, you can’t just start a Business Page on Google +. You need to set up a personal page first. One other thing you need to know, Google requires you to open your Plus account with your real name. Anonymity is not allowed.

Every Google + profile consists of three separate pieces of information.

1.                 Picture
2.                 Bio
3.                 Contact Info

Make sure your profile photo reflects your author brand.

Next, you’re asked to provide your bio or story.

Your story starts with a tagline. My tagline on Google + reads, “short easy to read solutions to your e-commerce problems.” It’s a perfect introduction and tells everyone exactly what I do.

Under this, you will find a spot for your introduction. This is where you make your pitch; tell people what you do; and why you’re the guy to solve their problem. You’ve got as much space as you like to tell your story, but shorter is probably better. People have a short attention span, especially on the internet.

To give you an idea of what to say, I posted my Amazon author bio in my introduction.

My books offer short easy to read solutions to your ecommerce problems.  
Most of them can be read in under an hour. The information can be used to help you sell more products on eBay and Amazon, services on Fiverr, or eBooks on Amazon and Kindle. 
Selling on line isn't a mystery. It doesn't even have to be difficult. 
It's really all about getting started. Many people I've talked with have this crazy fear about putting things up for sale on eBay and Amazon. They think they have to do this and do that; they worry they don't know enough about what they're doing to do it right; they wonder what they should sell; and they worry about whether they can even do it or not.
That's where my books come in. 
They take you hand-in-hand and walk you through getting started selling on eBay, Amazon, and Fiverr. They show you how to market your Kindle book. 
My goal is to help you over the speed bumps, so you can be more successful from the get-go. 
What are you waiting for? 
Most of my books are available as audio books, so if you prefer to listen rather than read, be sure to check them out.

Just below this, there’s a section called bragging rights. You can talk about your kids, your prize American Eskimo puppy, awards or honors you’ve received, or volunteer work. Choose something that will make you stand out with your audience.

As an author, your work and educational background may or may not be relevant to your profile. If you’re an art historian a mention of your BFA or MFA, or residency in a distinguished art program could be a huge plus. If you write literary fiction and you have an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, by all means, brag about it. I always work in that I studied American Literature with David Morrell (the author of Rambo). How cool is that?

Do what you think is best. Tip: There is a check box to the right of each question where you can choose who sees your information. That way you can make your work and educational background available on a need-to-know basis.

Contact information lets viewers know how they can get in touch with you. I’d suggest erring on the cautious side here. An email address is probably safe. If you have a separate business phone line for your author business feel free to share it here. I wouldn’t provide an address outside of city, state, or region. There are a lot of disturbed individuals on the internet, no sense in putting yourself on their radar unnecessarily.

Basic information collects your gender (male / female), information on the type of connections you’re looking for (networking / personal / clients), birthdate, relationship (are you married / dating / a little too personal here), and any other names you go by (keep it appropriate for your audience).

Links is a way to help viewers connect with you. Be sure to include links to your website, blog, Amazon Author Page, and any other social media sites you are active on.

……………

Setting up a separate Business Page is similar to setting up your Google + personal page, only this time you’re going to slant the information towards your business.

When you set up your business page, you want to make sure you link your Amazon Author Page to your Google + Business Page. When you do this, it will always bring your website to the front of search.

Earlier I mentioned Hangouts, a spot where you can hold real-time video chats with up to nine of your contacts. Google + has several other unique features you need to know about.

Your contacts are separated into groups labeled Circles. When you first get started on Google + they suggest four circles—friends, family, acquaintances, and following.

You can add as many circles as you like. Just be aware you are limited to 5,000 persons total in all of your circles.

You are in charge of who is in your circles, and people can be in more than one circle. It all depends on how you classify them.

The idea is to group similar contacts together. When you do this, it makes it easier to share information, because you can limit who receives which message. If you write in more than one genre, you could setup a number of different circles that target each of your pen names, or one for each series you write. This way you can send targeted messages to each group, or if you’re really ambitious, you could create several different newsletters targeted at each group of readers.

There are two different ways to add people to circles: add a person, and type a name. Add a person is only available on personal pages.

Add a person lets you search for someone by name or email address. If the person you want to add isn’t on Google +, Google will email them an invitation so they can join and connect with you. Tip: You don’t have to know the person you invite to connect with you. So go ahead. Fire off an invitation to Barrack Obama or Taylor Swift; just don’t be offended if they don’t take time out to add you back. Type a name is how you search for people to add to your Circles on a Business Page.

Similar to Facebook you can like or unlike people (Circle and un-Circle). To un-Circle someone highlight them, and click on the remove link. If one of your contacts gets out of line and you don’t want to un-Circle them, you can block them. It’s sort of like clapping a set of earplugs on them; they can no longer follow your conversation.

You can call people out or mention them by putting an * @ * or * + *in front of their user name. For example, @BarrackObama or +BarrackObama. The difference is when you use +BarrackObama the person is notified that you mentioned them. Using +username is a good way to grab someone’s attention and make sure you get noticed.

Google+ also has a messaging service for members that is much faster than texting. Instant upload saves all of your pictures from your phone to a private area on Google+. The only drawback is the feature is only available to Android users. Take that Apple.

A quick way to search out users on Google + is to use the search bar. It’s located under the menu bar at the top of the page to the right of the Google+ logo. You can search for people or businesses the same way. When you click on a displayed name it takes you to their Google+ page.

Google+ also has a feature called communities. A community is a group of like-minded people who hang out and share their knowledge. Feel free to join a community, or if you don’t see one that fits your tastes you can start your own community.

Going back to Hangouts—up to nine people can hold an online video conference. If you have people in your hangout who speak a different language, you can engage Google translate to make communication easier. Another great thing about Hangouts is you can post and share documents or doodle on a shared sketch board.

Hangouts give authors an opportunity to enhance their authority, develop their email list, and build interest in new books.

Let’s say you write about vintage sports collectibles. You could host a series of Hangouts that focus on how to grade different sets, common forgeries, and investment grade collectibles. When you’re ready to launch a new book you can build interest in the weeks leading up to the launch by hosting a series of Hangouts that discuss different topics vintage sports collectors would be interested in.

The sky is the limit with Google +.

You can brand yourself as an expert, share facts about your books, or use video – pictures – and chat to strengthen the connection with your readers.


What are you waiting for?

......................................................
Excerpt from my new book

Authors are divided on the need for social media, its uses, and its outcomes. Some writers will tell you they couldn’t have gotten where they are without it, others will say “Why bother!” or “Hey! I tried it, and it didn’t make any diff. My sales stayed the same.” 

I’m going to try not to take sides here. My goal is to give you the information you need to implement social media in your writing business should you choose to do so. 

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