by JT Sather
Greetings, my fellow indies. I’m one of the new kids on the chopping block. I’ve been a fan of IU for some time now, and I finally have something to contribute. There’s a social site on the web that is an amazing resource for exposure. I’ve been messing around with it for a little over a year, and trying to figure out how to use it to my advantage. (Yeah, I’m slow. I get it.)
These are my “tips and hints” on how to use experienceproject.com as a tool for authors and bloggers alike. I haven’t told many of you about this place yet for a reason. It can make you, or break your little heart rather quickly. Follow my guidelines, and you’ll go far. If you try to rush into selling your books or blogs, you’ll be shunned like a leper, and it’ll be over as quickly as it started. I’ve been working it for a long time now, and I’m finally, after careful planning and cunning, starting to gain book sales, and even reviews. This is a site on the web that has one of the largest gatherings of people I have ever seen. There is an endless amount of groups, and within each group you can find anywhere between a few hundred or a few hundred thousand people. I have been toying with this place since October of last year. I’m not the most online savvy guy you ever met, so yeah, it took me almost a year to finally start to make use of it. I’ll give you a step by step instruction on how to get started, but be warned, this is a place where if you’re not careful, you’ll be eaten alive and left for the crows. DO NOT start off spamming, or you’ll be cyber-killed in a minute. There is a low tolerance here for such. Read this before you start;
1. Join up and build your profile. This might sound obvious, but there are a few things to consider. This is a site filled with the anonymous. The names and avatars are fictitious. As an author, you do NOT want to be unknown. I recommend that you set your profile name to whatever name you write under. Once you’ve become recognizable on the site, they will know who you are when they see your books elsewhere. There’s no point to gaining recognition on this site if it doesn’t get you seen in the outside world. In your profile you can add pics, a bio, links to your work and whatever else you want. Set it up like an author page.
2. Join groups that pertain to whatever it is that you write. You want to connect to people with like interests. There are a bunch that are “I love to read” and the like. Peruse the groups, and take the time to go through the many, many different ones that there are. Also, keep an eye on the population of each one. If one only has a couple of hundred in it, then you’re probably better off skipping it and finding one with thousands in it. Don’t get caught up into joining groups that you are personally interested in unless they have a connection to what you write about, or you’ll be wasting your time. Stay focused. This site will have a ton of things that interest you, but if you get hooked, you’ll lose days. It’s like crack.
3. Drift around, and read some stories from others that are in the groups you’ve joined. These are shorts, and generally very personal stories that people have written to relieve a burden. I would say that most of them are true. The majority of these people are anonymous, so they have no repercussions from airing out their dirty laundry. You’ll also find a place called “Confessions.” Here you will see some very scary stuff. You can make comments on either of these, but I recommend not doing that until you’ve gotten a better feel for the place. The more you see, the more you’ll understand what I mean.
4. Start answering questions. The people of the world ask questions, about one every two seconds. Twenty four hours a day. It’s endless. They are searching for answers to problems, looking for someone to talk to, or just being goofy. Be honest, witty, and helpful, and soon you’ll be recognized as a trustworthy member of this society. I have a trophy (Yeah, that’s right, a trophy for 250 best answers. I’m working on the 500 one.) for best answers. The questioner can select the best answer at any time, but after three days, if no selection has been make, then the best answer is chosen by vote. Whichever one gets the most amount of likes from others gets the “Best answer.” It’s a good test of how witty you can be under pressure. There is a lot of comedy, drama, and pain on this site. Beware not to get to caught up in the drama. I’ve helped people with such a wide variety of things, it scares the crap out of me. I’ve even talked a few teenagers into not killing themselves. You’re not here for the drama, you’re here to build a platform to offer your book, so tread lightly, or you’ll be swept into a shit-storm that will make you lose sleep at night.
5. DO NOT get into an argument. It’s easier than you think. There are trolls around every key-stroke, and they are goooood. They can shun you in a second, and suddenly no one cares what you have to say. I’ve avoided this, but I’ve also witnessed a few troll feeding frenzies, and it’s not pretty. WHEN (not if) someone pisses you off, just hit your bookmarks and go back to facebook for the night, and let it roll off your back.
6. Once you’ve become comfortable with the site, tell a story. You can choose which group you want to place it in to get the most exposure. If you think blogging gets you hits, think again. If you put a good story on here, hundreds, even thousands of people will read it, and some will comment on it. This is really a bloggers paradise. It shows you at the bottom of the story how many people have read it, so you can determine what it is that people are interested in. It’s amazing. You get trophies for telling stories too. It’s a good way to keep track of what you’re doing. If it’s fiction, say so. If it’s non-fiction, then say that. They can smell bullshit a mile away. If you’re a writer, say so.
7. After you’ve been there for a while, and I mean a WHILE, start to do some passive promo. There is a thing called “Your whiteboard” where you can say whatever is on your mind, and others can make comments to you as well, and it’s public. For a few months now, I’ve been posting my reviews on my whiteboard. When I get the occasional comment, I reply passively, with a thank you, and “Do you like to read?” Only when they ask what my book is about do I send them a link. It’s like fishing for walleye. They’re skittish, and easily scared away, but if you work the rod just right, they’ll strike, and BAM, another sale on the stringer. I’ve also given a few copies away to those interested in exchange for a review.
Well, that’s where I’m at so far. Very soon, I’m gonna start to do some aggressive promo. I’m recognizable as an author at this point, and I think it’s almost time to take it to the next level. Remember to take your time, and don’t try to rush it. Good luck.
JT Sather worked construction his entire life. When the boom dropped in ’09, he had nothing but time on his hands, so he began to write. It was not something that he did intentionally, and had no delusions of ever publishing it, but by the power of Greyskull, he received a contract from Inknbeans Press, and now sits at his desk in his man cave and continues to write. Two books are published, and there are more on the way. Learn more about JT on his blog and his Amazon Author Central page.