Monday, July 8, 2013

Pimping on Social Media

My big day finally arrived last week!  Autumn Fire is out and on sale!

I have to confess that it really hasn't hit me yet.  I think it's because it's only out in e-form at the moment, so I don't have something tangible to hold in my hands.  And since there's no physical product, that brings up the challenge of marketing something that essentially consists of lines of computer code and text.

What adds to the complication is that I think one of my target demographics is the young gay male.  We all know younger people don't read as much, especially men, so how do I go about selling this product to them?

There are numerous forums and blogs around the internet that I can utilize to promote Autumn Fire -- and I've got plans for it!  I'll be stopping by Kool Queer Lit in a couple weeks, and I'm soon embarking on a month-long blog tour full of reviews and guest posts.  While that's all good, it still doesn't reach the young gay male very effectively.  These blogs quite often reach female readers, who comprise a big percentage of M/M erotic romance readership.  It's important and vital to reach out to these readers and it's tempting to feel that's enough -- but I've got to go further.

I'm trying a social media strategy.  Lots of young people, especially young gay men, are into Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  My current strategy does not include Facebook because I'm not personally convinced of its effectiveness -- and stats seem to show that younger people are leaving Facebook since their parents and grandparents are all on it now.

The main thrust of my strategy is Tumblr.  For those who aren't familiar, Tumblr is a blog-based social media network.  It tends to be picture-heavy, rather than text heavy.  Fandoms of all kind gather here to share photos and moving GIFs from their shows and movies.  Artists post their visual work.  And the place abounds with photos of scenery, models, food, and everything else you can think of.  There are also many dark and dirty corners of the Tumblr world.

So if I'm trying to reach out to the young gay male demographic, what would make the most sense?  If your answer was smut, you're right!  I run a semi-smutty Tumblr account, where I retumble (which is the Tumblr term for re-blogging, or sharing what others have posted) pictures that are steamy and erotic, but not pornographic.  Everything on my Tumblr page is also tweeted on my Twitter account.

Thus, I've managed to gain a following on Tumblr and Twitter of, largely, people who like the steamy pics I retumble.  (Some follow me because I'm a writer, and others follow me because I also post travel pics on another Tumblr blog, but I think most followers are because of the smut.) The huge challenge is how to effectively take advantage of this.

If you follow writers on Twitter, I'm sure you've seen some who tweet about fifty times a day -- and all the tweets are a variation on "Buy my book!"  I unfollow those people pretty quickly; that style of marketing is not effective and downright annoying.

I've posted an X-rated excerpt on Tumblr with an appropriate steamy pic I found, but I'm not convinced that's doing the job yet.  My Google Analytics stats show that not many people are checking it out.  My latest strategy is to post a pic a day of a hot guy reading a book (and believe me, those are very hard to find), with the caption "Reading is sexy."  The caption is hyperlinked to a page on my Tumblr that has all the info and buy links for Autumn Fire.

I think "Reading is sexy" is working a little bit.  It'll take some time to really know.

And, with all things writing and selling, it can take quite a while to build up momentum.  In this age of immediacy, it's tempting to want instant results and quickly abandon things that aren't working.  But what I've found from Twitter and Tumblr is that since your old stuff is never deleted, it still gets found regularly.  People who visit my Tumblr often check out pics from months ago, and not necessarily the stuff from yesterday.

I think the biggest part of this social media marketing strategy is to be unafraid of trying something new.  I may have figured out something that will work in the long run, or I may not have.  The trick is not get discouraged and to also not get stuck in one mode of doing things.  I need to adapt to new ideas and the ever-changing social media landscape, and be responsive to strategies that are or aren't working.

Building a social media marketing platform takes some time and a lot of careful planning.  And that's part of the beauty of having an ebook -- it never goes out of print and it's never off-the-shelf.  A print book is usually on the shelf of a bookstore for maybe a few months, unless it's a consistent seller.  (I used to work in a bookstore, so I know that for a fact).  An ebook allows continual promotion and momentum-building.  My blog tour that starts weeks after release would be bad timing for a print book, because by the time its over, a print book would be off the shelves of some stores.  But for an ebook, the timing is a little less crucial.

This is all a learning process for me and I like sharing what I've learned.  I'll post more about this over the next few months as I'll soon be starting a certificate program in social media marketing -- it'll focus on blogging, Facebook, Twitter, search engine optimization, and other things.  I'll share what I learn and let you know how it works for me!

Cameron D. James is a writer of new adult gay erotic romance (yes, it is a genre), but his smutty stuff can be enjoyed by not-so-new-adults too!  For more information on Autumn Fire, his first publication, click here.


scavola said...

I think the best strategy would be to post semi-smutty pictures of yourself ;)

Cameron D James said...

People keep suggesting that! I'm going to have to give that some serious consideration...

Big Mike said...

Not here (g).