The first session I attended on Saturday was Marketing Yourself in the Digital Age-Guy LeCharles Gonzales (Digital Bookworld)
Gonzales first discussed "whose responsibility is marketing?" He says, "It's everybodies." Both the publisher and the author have a responsibility to get the word out. "Marketing is everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them."
For writers, that means having a platform. "A platform is the way you engage with your audience. You need to build communities that enable your audience to comment on news, create news, and share the news with others."
Community is voluntary. "People do not remain in communities that no longer meet their emotional or intellectual needs." Cluetrain Manifesto (book - read it).
Writers should not start something they can't maintain. Gonzales said that you "must be ready to deal with the responses you get." You don't need to be everywhere (Facebook, twitter, Blog, Dig, etc). Just pick those that are relevant.
And don't wait to get started. Gonzales said "the best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out."
Some Online places Gonzales recommended that authors participate:
Blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon Author Central and Linked In for nonfiction writers.
Someone in the audience asked about writing for others such as Huffington Post. His opinion is that "if you're going to give your writing away, why not do it on your own platform? You're only giving them emails and connections!"
What should you blog about? Gonzales says it depends on what you are about. Nonfiction - blog about your area of expertise. Think about TV extras. What adds to your book?
Fiction - Give writing advice based on your experience, but you need a really interesting angle (writing advice is everywhere); talk about yourself and things that interest you; a children's book author can blog about topics for kids (keep it kid-friendly), review like-topic books and books you care about.
Followers - don't get caught up in numbers - it's about relevance. Find the people who are relevant to you, your book, your expertise
He also says to blog on YOUR NAME blog. Get your name out there.
Gonzales had an interesting take on Facebook. According to him, statistics show that the biggest adopters of FB is those age 55 and above. He doesn't do Facebook because as he said, "most will be dead in 5 years!" I'm not sure how I like that statement as a 60+ person myself, but I suppose he has a point if you're trying to reach the younger audience and if his statistics are true. He said that Twitter was the biggest driver of traffic to his blog.
He discussed controversial posts and reminded us that they NEVER go away. "Don't hit 'pubish' unless your sure."
The last topic he discussed was how to get people to find your blog. His advice is to engage elsewhere online. Get on other social media and be out there. Have a signature line that always leads back to your blog. Comment on other blogs. When you post, post 30% about yourself, 60% nothing about you, and 10% other (he didn't really say what other was).