Home » Self-Publicity, Social Media » Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time

Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time

13 February 2013

From The Militant Writer:

After being told for several years by every guru in the business (most of them styled as “social media experts”) that as a writer I must focus my attention on self-promotion through social media, I now consider myself to have become a social media expert myself — at least when it comes to matters writerly.

And I am telling you that those other social-media experts (and the publishers that parrot them) are full of crap. When it comes to book promotion, your time is far better spent on other kinds of marketing activities, or even in writing your next novel, than it is being anywhere on social media.

. . . .

And here’s the bottom line, my fellow writers: nobody goes on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn (or Tumblr or Reddit or even an Amazon forum) to read about your book or mine. They are especially uninterested in our novels. They might possibly be interested in a non-fiction book if they think that what it contains is going to help them somehow (change a tire or make a million dollars or find inner peace), but the creative stuff . . . ? Forget it.

. . . .

Rarely if ever since Gutenberg has anyone ever wanted to read a book because the author said he or she should read it.  (Most of us have also never been interested in reading a book just because the publisher told us to read it.) Social media do not alter that reality at all. What readers want to read are books that other people – independent people, whom we respect – tell us we’ll enjoy, not what the books’ authors insist we will enjoy;

Link to the rest at The Militant Writer and thanks to Mary for the tip.

Self-Publicity, Social Media

61 Comments to “Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time”

  1. Spot on. I’m so tired of being followed on Twitter by fellow authors I know have zero interest in just about anything I tweet about (mostly sports). So why are they following? Hoping I’ll follow back and buy their book, is my guess, and it’s so unlikely to happen they might as well save their time.

  2. I’ve bought a few books due to Twitter—but that’s just because it’s where I got the news that an author I enjoy had a new release.

    I’ve gotten a few sales on Twitter, as well, but that’s likely because I use it for chitchat and announcements. And by “announcements”, I mean “I just released this; here’s what it is, how much it costs, and where you can get it.” Might mention it three or four times—for different time zones, and probably on different days—then ignore the “announcements” side until I have something new to announce.

    Though to be honest, there is one author who’s on my to-read list solely due to her Twitter feed…

  3. Yeah. FB and Twitter are good for chatting with people who’ve already read your books. For finding new readers, not so much.

    • Yes, but often your loyal readers will tell their friends to follow you/read your book, or a friend will see your chatting and get interested in your book.

      Connections sell books.

      • I can’t agree more.

        If a writer has 100 followers on their Facebook page and posts a new book announcement on that page then they allow for the possibility that 1 or more of their 100 followers will share that information on their own page to their 100 friends.

        It also helps if the user feels somewhat connected to the author so if all you do on the page is promote, promote, promote and you don’t engage your followers a little then they will feel less inclined to share.

        This past Christmas I wrote a short, simple Christmas song. I got brave and posted it for my friends on Facebook. Two of my friends liked it enough to share the post with their friends, essentially tripling the potential audience I could have reached otherwise. I made a point of saying thank you to both people who shared my post telling them how much I appreciated it.

  4. Amen! I created a twitter account when first starting out, but screwed up the name and just abandoned it. The one I do use is mostly idle, but I post the odd silly comment, and once I mentioned a free giveaway at Amazon.

    One day, out of curiosity, I checked out the first account that I had created and then ditched. There were more than forty writers following it, frantically tweeting about their books.

    I think we kind of see author tweets in the same way as that poor guy who got the local book store to let him set up a table and do a signing of his stack of small press books. Last week I was in a Chapters and I stood at the staff picks rack and watched as customers came in.

    They all acted like the poor guy was begging for change. They walked in, noticed the table and quickly looked over at either the Starbucks on the left or the coffee mugs and greeting cards on the right. Which ever way they looked, that was where they went. I didn’t bother to see if they continued on to the small section at the back where the books were, but they didn’t want to make eye contact with the writer.

    That’s how I see author tweets. Constant one liners about a book along with unreadable compressed links that could easliy lead to hackers are not making me want to engage.

    • Andrew, what you just described is the exact scene at EVERY author signing I have ever attended, whether sponsored by a big-name publishing company or a small one: 90% of the customers ignore the author doing the signing. The ONLY signings that are well-attended are those with big-name AUTHORS! Being self-published has NOTHING to do with attendance, only the reputation of the author him/herself matters. Stephen King could put out a self-published book and get a standing-room only crowd at his signing, and it would be because of his name.

  5. When I post notices that I have a new book on Internet forums for people who like the kind of things that happen in my books, I get sales.

    When I tweet notices that I have a new book, I get a wave of spambot and marketing people following me on Twitter.

  6. This guy is 100% correct and totally wrong at the same time. Using social media the way he describes it is a total waste of time. But, he’s doin’ it wrong. If you are going to use social media, it has to be to make friends (and you don’t make very many friends if all you ever do is recommend your own books).

    There are a few authors I would follow even if I wasn’t in the business. I follow Barry Eisler because I’m interested in the other stuff he tweets about. I follow M. Louisa Locke because she tweets about other writers’ historical fiction books. I’ve “discovered” several authors and books that I have really enjoyed that I would never have known about without her tweets.

    I follow @FAKEGRIMLOCK because he tweets (IN ALL CAPS) about technology start ups, he’s hilarious, and he’s the only giant robot dinosaur on Twitter (AFAIK). He’s got a book coming out and I will buy it because he sold his book to me before he ever mentioned it. He had me wishing he would write a book.

    Provide value to your followers and when you do have a book to mention, they will be paying attention.

    Here’s the crazy idea of the day:

    Start a Twitter account for a character in your story. Whichever character would be the most engaging Twitterer. Doesn’t matter if your world isn’t this present one, the incongruity can make it better. Hey, it works for a fake robot dinosaur. ***If anybody does this, please let me know. I’ll follow any fictional character written by its original author.***

    • I would so love to do that but none of the characters in my books would HAVE a Twitter account. They are all, um, secretive.

      Well, wait a minute… Hiddendepths might… oh. Heh. Heh heh heh.

    • Agreed. I haven’t really bothered with Twitter since I stopped reviewing books, but the idea would be to find people with similar interest who’d like your books, rather than to spam about then every ten minutes.

    • You’re right, William. I’ve never bought a book just because some stranger said ‘buy my book!’ But I have encountered various writers and readers through Facebook chats and debates and recommendations from other people and because somebody seemed interesting in themselves I have often bought their books. (Including M Louisa Locke’s!) I’ve also had reviews from people I have met through social media, and that was often via mutual friends. But you have to like to talk about things other than your books.

    • William Ockham, I might just hold you to that! I’ve been thinking about doing something like that just haven’t taken the time. I’ve had a character, who was supposed to be a supporting one, become a secondary lead and become more popular than my male lead. LOL! I actually was liking him more as I write him too, so… there ya go. Sometimes characters take over no matter what you have planned.

    • Setting up a twitter account for a character is a really good idea. Thanks for the tip.

      • Probably THE best examples of this I have seen are Jeph Jacques, who has twitter accounts for the characters in his incredibly popular webcomic, “Questionable Content,” and T.A. Pratt’s Marla Mason, who has a Twitter account where she makes frequent references to “her stalker,” who is Pratt. (In the books, Mason is a real person, being unwillingly biographied by Pratt.)

        Jacques’ characters don’t tweet every day but when they do they tweet to each other and it’s just hysterical.

        • Another good example is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a Youtube series based on Pride and Prejudice. They just won the Streamy Award for Best Interactive Content, and their Twitter feeds are one reason. It is a good model for having characters post to Twitter.

    • Agreed. And I am seriously considering the character twitter/FB account idea. One of my heroes might have more interesting things to say than I do.

      • I have two character accounts at Twitter, and I know at least 5 other writers who also have character accounts. One’s character has more followers than she does, LOL.

        I’ve sold books thanks to Twitter, but not because I spam people with my book links.

    • Nailed it, William. Now you’ve got me thinking…

    • One of my mystery characters is a classic movie blogger, and I’ve considered creating her blog and twitter account, but that would be a heck of a lot of work. (Also, she basically would tweet what I would tweet, so it would be kind of like using a pseudonym rather than actually bringing a character to life.)

      I might do it, though.

      The other thing I might do is the opposite. I realized something the other day: I use and love Twitter as a reader. I don’t do follow-backs or use those services to unfollow people who don’t follow me. (I do unfollow people who clutter up my feed with things I’m not interested in.) I follow news and politics and writers and artists and comedians. I follow a LOT of squirrels, and a few cats and Chaucer. (My favorite Tweep is Chaucer, actually.) And I follow a lot of classic movie fans.

      But I also noticed that I do follow brands and businesses. I want to know when Zingerman’s is running a special promotion, or what the latest books on Daily Cheap Reads are.

      These accounts are purely promotional, but they don’t annoy me at all. What’s the difference between them and annoying indie authors? They don’t pretend to be anything else. They are a one way news feed of information, and they do NOT tweet too often. Some of them do engage in discussions, but it’s all initiated by the consumer, not by them.

      So I am thinking of starting a separate Twitter account for my publishing house name. That account will follow the rules of always following back, making scheduled regular tweets, etc. etc. I think it would be an interesting experiment in one account that is natural and the other following the Rules of Internet Marketing. (But not the blackhat abusive rules — the legit rules.)

    • That is one great idea. My book is about a social website like Facebook forming a nation (iNation) so it’s a shoe-in for letting the characters speak.

      But i think a blog would be better??

    • I used to have a character LiveJournal. Actually, I had many of them for several of my roleplaying characters, to the point where I created a “group” journal for several of the less “talkative” characters. It’s great fun and great practice. One of the characters with a LJ would have had a Twitter and it’s certainly something I would consider doing. But the version that would tweet is very different from the version of the character I’ll eventually write about.

    • This idea is brilliant! I may have to try this, simply to get into my character’s head!

  7. I’m currently promoting my first chapbook, and while I’ve gotten a few sales via social media (just Google+; I don’t have facebook), my best sales weeks have come from the times when I’ve sat down and emailed people directly. That type of outreach, while more time-intensive and a little more nerve-wracking, definitely generates more interest.

  8. This is one of those things almost everyone discovers, but is scared to say out loud, out of fear of offending the Church of Social Media, which says that: You have to “social” to sell anything.

    We are told we have to act friendly and all mushy, so people will like us and check out our websites and books. No one says how manipulative this is- acting friendly with people you otherwise wouldn’t hang out with, just with the off chance that one of them may buy your book.

    Anytime someone writes a blog like this, the usual excuse brought out it: “You are doing it wrong.”
    This is the classical excuse by consultants, and anyone else trying to sell you something. It is a way of blaming the victim – “We have this perfect system that guarantees you sales. Oh, it’s not working? Well, you must be doing it wrong.”

    It is always you who are wrong, for the Church of Social Media can never do wrong! Well let me say something – if something fails for the majority of people that try it, it is the system that is wrong, and not the users.

    Susan Lewis has also written about how the whole social media thing is a giant scam:
    http://susankiernanlewis.com/2012/01/28/the-great-social-media-flim-flam/

    I also wrote about how social media encourages shallow and selfish behaviour:
    http://shantnutiwari.com/the-social-media-emperor-is-naked/

    • You are so right about this.

    • Absolutely. I think this comment deserves a little more attention.

      Sure, marketing and promotion can work, but it is WAY more individual than people let on. Part of it is luck, part of it has to do with your personality and what you are good at.

      The thing to remember is that everything these days is driven by algorithms, and selfish motivations — even when you try to behave according to ethical rules — shine like a supernova in algorithms. They cause unnatural clumps of behavior.

      Do what comes naturally, what you’re good at, and the search algorithms will like you, and you will eventually gain a good solid ranking with them.

    • Anybody who says any technique works every time is a fool or a liar. The fact is that using social media works for some writers some of the time. If you want to know whether it will work for you, you have to study why and how it works.

      Being false and manipulative is wrong, no matter what the medium. If your view is that using social media requires you to be that, then don’t do it. I completely agree with most of what you say. You are essentially correct about “the Church of Social Media” says and what is wrong with it.

      All the experts looked at what worked for a few “social gurus” in selling their books and figured that would work for all authors. The problem with that is that the expectations of the audience following those folks are quite peculiar and unlike any other group’s.

      The bottom line for any writer (or any other professional) is that anything you do outside your main focus to advance your career needs to be done first and foremost because doing it is its own reward. If it doesn’t bring you pleasure, help other people, or make you a better writer, it probably isn’t worth doing. Otherwise, whatever you get out of it will never be worth the cost.

  9. Elizabeth Ann West

    No. Of course IT does work, many of us use it everyday to sell things, including ebooks.

    The problem is most authors start using social media in a professional capacity for the first time when they publish and guess what? It takes a large amount of time the first few months to figure it out and test it out and make social connections. And just when they’ve done a few months and are approaching that critical moment where their effort can diminish, they just quit altogether because “it didn’t work.” They justify this by saying “It took too much time.”

    I was on Twitter for 6 months before I published a book as an aspiring writer. I made contacts that when my book went live, those people, gasp, SHARED it. I had 39 sales my first week of release back in 2011 and those are 39 sales I wouldn’t have had if I was just starting Twitter then. And Facebook? I started my Facebook profile OVER once I published to give my friends and family privacy since I was entering the public realm as myself. I don’t use a pen name. I only have 259 friends (on purpose) but when I need something to get OUT, I know the 10 people I need to PM and say “Can you please help me” and off the link goes. I don’t ask these people to do this everyday, just when I have something that is mass broadcast worthy.

    It’s aggravating sometimes how many authors love to blog post that XYZ never works when all they mean is it didn’t work for them. I’m all for sharing information, but this blog post author could have done a better service to the other authors she wants to educate by saying “Hey, I don’t get it, why isn’t this working?” and opening the door for those who have made it work to share what they did.

    • I’m not so sure about that. I also had around 39 sales the first week or two after I released my first book, and I didn’t take the Twitter approach. I had an account, of course, but it maybe had 100 followers at the time, and I didn’t post too frequently. I did post about it on Facebook, but I doubt most of those sales were from family or friends.

      The hard truth is that no one knows anything.

  10. After I finished writing my first novel I attended Digital Book World in NYC. The consensus opinion was that it’s foolish to release a book without a robust social media platform. As a result I spent more than a year building a Twitter and Facebook presence. When I released my novel I used this platform and several kind reviews by book bloggers to get the word-out. It has been slow going but after six months my book has been downloaded almost 15K times. It has been available on KDP and many of the downloads have been on free days but my book is far from the obscurity I feared. Promoting books via social media is time consuming and sometimes frustrating but it does help some writers. I find I can only write for a few hours each day and the rest of my work time is spent promoting my books – a portion of this time is spent on social media. I love John Wannamakers saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” When we promote our books we don’t know what will work so we try to spread our bets around the table. Personally I try to do whatever I can to help my books sell – interviews, book signings, social media, give aways and publishing consistently. To be completely honest I don’t have the metrics to tell which initiative is yielding the best results.

  11. Wrong. I am sorry to say this, but in my opinion you could not be more wrong about this subject. If you keep the social in social media and use it properly; it can be a very valuable source for new readers and yes, sales. This is especially true if you target correctly and using passive advertising strategies to full effect. (Loss leaders are highly effective with social media outlets) But people make the common mistake of trying to use Twitter as “professional sales” platform. People don’t want to hear (or read) “buy my book buy my book” all day every day. But developing a following, connecting with new and old readers, interacting with the Tweeter authors and acting in the community, will help you to sale books. I’ve done it and I know many other authors who do it.

    • I agree with you on this one. Another thing that I don’t think people consider is a lot of times social media is a way to stay in front of your current readers. I can’t count how many times I’ve forgotten about an author and as a result never read any of their new books. If you are active on social media you are able to stay in front of those readers and they are more likely to see and buy your next book.

  12. I think you have to enjoy the social media thing to get anything out of it. If it becomes a chore then you will soon lose interest in it and drop it.

    • I agree completely Vera. I find Twitter exhausting so do very little there. With my blog I haven’t found a passionate reason to maintain it regularly.

  13. I agree completely with Militant Writer’s post. Unless you’re a celebrity or just born lucky, running on the social media treadmill is useless. It sucks the life out of you. You need thousands or even tens of thousands of followers to hope to sell a decent number of books, based on the direct marketing ration of 100 mailers generating 1 response.

  14. As William Ockham says up above, this is both right and wrong. If you go on FB or Twitter trying to sell, you’re likely to fail. If you build relationships instead, however, you can find all sorts of pathways to success, like when friends hook you up with, say, reporters who do stories on your book or editors who buy your manuscripts or or or or or.

    If you’ve got a plan and measurable goals, you’re not likely going to waste your time online. If you fall prey to the “you HAVE to do this!” idea without figuring out WHY, you’ll probably end up ruing the day you started…..

  15. And the elephant in the room is: What about Goodreads?

    I had two giveaways of my novel, gaining about 2,000 requests for it.

    Sales after the giveways? Absolutely flat.

    And I did go to various threads and join the conversation, didn’t just go to promote my book. I’ve gotten a few nibbles from there, but not many.

    I’m utterly stymied on Goodreads. I don’t spend a lot of time there anymore. Too bad. I think it’s got great potential for friendships, not just for readers.

    • Goodreads has a lot of authors on it now, particularly in YA, promoting their own books.

      • And here we have a good example of the Porn/Spam Law of Social Networking Evaluation:

        If there’s no porn on a social networking system, it doesn’t work very well.

        If there’s no spam on it, it doesn’t work at all.

        :)

  16. Has anyone hit the Social Media Wall? You know, like when runners hit the wall at 18 or 21 miles into a marathon? I find after years of FB and Twitter, I would like to do anything BUT be on social media.

    • And that illustrates exactly the problem: Social media works if it’s your natural habitat. If you just love to hang out there and interact and do that thing that the folks in each community do. If you don’t need to sell a thing to keep it up.

      If you’re trying to sell, and treating it like a job, it’s a waste of your energy. Put that energy into something you love, and you’ll get more result out of it.

      • I hang out. I was doing Social Media before the whole book thing. But, lately, maybe due to the election, and how crazy people have become over the years with their seperate cuases, I just am not into as much as I was. I will go on, check a few things, and just leave now. It is almost like CNN, or Yahoo news to me.

        • Bit late to the party on this post, but I wanted to “+1″ both your replies ^ there, David.

          I have hit that Wall too, but that happened way before “Social Media” emerged. Been online for just shy of 2 decades now and was heavily into the Usenet, bulletin board, mIRC and ICQ scene. Yahoo IM wasn’t around then either.

          It was all cool and new back then, but now with all this Web 2.0 and the Social Media stuff … I just feel I’ve been there, done that already and even though I’m sure it would boost my author profile and pubbed books joining those places, I just can’t make myself do it. Like, physically cannot do it! So, yeah. There’s the Wall!

          ‘Spose it doesn’t help that I read every single word of the EULAs and the joining contracts before signing up to those sites and decide not to in the end because of their abysmal privacy issues and TOS (“we’ll own all your words and we can do whatever we want with them, nyah nyah”). That’s another reason there. *

          I have a website because I love tinkering with html code and it’s a good place to compile a complete listing of books for readers, but I’ve stated in my FAQ that I won’t be doing the blogging thing because I’ve done that already (paid Internet columnist back in 2000-01).

          And I’ve started posting here recently after lurking for almost the whole time this website has been around (thanks for it PG, it’s your 2 year anniversary this month btw *g*), but that’s only because I find the participants intelligent and the topics interesting. But that is the extent of my social stuff now.

          So yeah David, I know exactly what you are talking about.

          .

          * I also have issues with seeing businesses online on places like Facebook and being “liked” and stuff. But I presume that’s just my hangup :)

  17. William had a good point, but I haven’t seen anyone address the *real* reason for a writer to use social media. Fan connection. When someone reads and loves your book, they want to be in the know about any new releases. They’ll look for some type of blog, twitter, facebook, google+, etc., where you will announce that kind of stuff. And they might like the conversation too.

    Then when a new book comes out, the announcement goes out, and people buy, not because you told them to, but because they are following you in order to buy your next book. But as a marketing tool to gain new readers, the article is probably right. Many of them are limited. They can work at times, but you have to do it the right way and it does take a good bit of work.

    But you have a presence primarily not to get new readers, but to give new readers an avenue to connect with an author. If you use a hammer to screw a nut onto a bolt, and it doesn’t work, how silly is it to say, “Hammers don’t work!”

  18. Anyone who says Twitter or Facebook is a waste of time isn’t doing it right. Yes, the best promotion you can ever do is writing a buzz-worthy book and cranking out the next and the next but for me, Facebook has been an amazing opportunity.

    True, people have better things to do than read about your novel on Facebook but if you use Twitter or Facebook as a means to build relationships or beta test ideas or better yet to crowd source ideas or collaborate creatively, it will be more effective.

    Here are a few ways that I used Facebook to help me, maybe it will help you.

    1) When I first came up with my kids book idea, UM … MOMMY I FLUSHED MY BROTHER DOWN THE TOILET, I announced it on Facebook as an update. It was literally like 2 o’clock in the morning when I came up with the idea. I did another post when I finished writing the book an hour or so later. I took note of everyone who “Liked” it or made a comment. Those were the first people who I approached as beta readers because they had shown interest in it.

    2) Then I sent a private message to each of them, thanking them for their support and asked them if they wouldn’t mind reading it. 9 out of 10 said yes and had their kids read it too. I LISTENED to their feedback, put my ego away, and if they were consistently saying they didn’t like a certain part, then I changed it. Using Facebook as a way to bounce ideas off your particular audience and test cover ideas and descriptions and chapters is such an untapped gold mine for writers who love to collaborate and people LOVE to participate creatively. Yes, it takes time to do so but not as much time as you might think (You can do it in 30-60 minutes a day if that’s all you have)

    3) These beta testers then became my first reviewers on Amazon because they felt emotionally invested in it. I asked them to leave an honest review and even those that hated the book, I asked them to leave a review too. I thanked each of them for leaving a review through Facebook private message. And I kept track of who said they were going to read it and who didn’t so that I could follow up with a reminder.

    4) The ones that were the most helpful to me, I thanked them in the acknowledgments as a surprise gift to them. They in turn tweeted and Facebooked about it everywhere.

    5) That helped get the attention of Stan Lee and Jackie Collins who also endorsed the book. Even Jeff Kinney (Diary of Wimpy Kid) read the book and a bunch of celebs but more importantly tons of parents, teachers and students.

    6) The other thing that helped was using Facebook and asking people point blank, “Will you share this on your page?”

    7) Also, every time something cool happened, I announced it on my Facebook page whether it was the face that I got a sketch from the artist or I finally finished writing the book or I got a 4 or 5-star review or I sneezed, whatever it was about the book I thought was exciting I announced it and I logged every single person that liked or commented on the page so that I could ask them if they could read the book as well.

    From there, it’s been selling well daily and the reviews are growing. So far, I have 160 something reviews and more every week.

    I could go on and on about how you can use Facebook, the right way to increase awareness and your sales but if you want any other tips, just email me.

  19. I tweeted last week that using Twitter is like standing behind a horse that has hosepipe diarrhoea. (it was heavlly reblogged – Oh, the irony!)

    So I do agree with you BUT for a Kindle author – what else is there?

    I can’t get my own family to buy my book via Facebook. I have something like 350 people follow my blog which gives lots of information on what the book is about.

    I think in many cases we’re preaching to the wrong audience.

    Since the book has lots of cyber warfare, social media-becomes-a-nation, politics, religion and geeks in it – i’m now looking to get space in geek magazines, gaming mags and sites and so on.

    It’s main character is a 19 year old girl – so again, where can I reach that audience? Not via Facebook or Twitter for sure.

    To wrap up this ramble of a reply
    1. I think the answer lies in establishing who the target audience is then getting exposure in the media they use – and that probably means buying space
    2. another important part is to have physical copies of the book to give away and to sell (I live in Dubai and that is a massive challenge – producing hard copy books is a nightmare)
    3. Yes build a web-presence but you’re a year away when you first start – you need to connect with people
    4. Goodreads seems OK but again you’re going to have to pay for clicks or for straight adverts, but you can target your audience.

    No-one said it would be easy

    Great blog by the way

    Jim

  20. Social media isn’t advertising. It’s about being social, making friends.

    It can suck the life out of you if you view it as a means to an end.

    I suggest Kristen Lamb’s book on social media for writers. “We are Not Alone”. Or one of her courses.

  21. I think success at social media depends on the person. It doesn’t work particularly well for me, because I suck at it, so I tend to agree with Militant Writer.

    However, I think it’s all very much up to the individual and that you’ll only be successful at it if you enjoy it. I tweet and post to my Facebook account sporadically, and frankly, it always feels a bit forced and obligatory.

    On the other hand, I invite readers to contact me in the back matter of my books, and I get several emails a week. Those I answer personally and in detail, and I’ve become a regular correspondent with many of those folks. I enjoy that (and probably spend way too much time at it), but it’s not at all forced. It also produces friends and very loyal readers.

    The take away to me is that you should do what you enjoy doing, because you’ll probably excel at it. Forcing yourself to be someone you’re not is just self-inflicted misery. My opinion FWIW.

  22. I think the link to Susan Lewis’ blog post hits it about square.

    We want to think we have some control.

    We want to think we can make our book sell better by working harder.

    We are idiots.

    Yes, there are people who sell well after doing a social media blitz. But there is NO WAY TO KNOW if they would have sold ANYWAY. And there is absolutely NO guarantee that another person doing the same thing will get the same results.

    You want to sell more books? Write more and better books. Publish them. Categorize them as well as you can, give them covers that don’t hurt people’s eyes and write good cover blurbs for them. Rinse and repeat.

    It is mathematically guaranteed that this will cause you to sell more books. It is not guaranteed to increase it by any certain amount but it WILL increase your sales*. The rest – if you have time, great. It probably won’t hurt. But anyone who tells you it WILL help is selling something.

    *Publishing a .99 Reader Reward story causes a small boost in sales for my other books. Publishing a free Reader Reward story has about the same result, sometimes a little less. Nobody knows nothin’.

    • “You want to sell more books? Write more and better books. Publish them. Categorize them as well as you can, give them covers that don’t hurt people’s eyes and write good cover blurbs for them. Rinse and repeat.”

      This is largely what Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have been saying for a while and I think there’s a ton of truth in it. Rather than waste time and money marketing the stuff you’ve written, focus on writing more and better stories, and spend some time learning your craft and the business. Make yourself smarter, and keep writing. Build your inventory as you go.

    • My input to all of this is a simple one. If you participate in an online forum (they exist beyond Facebook), & it allows you to add footers to your messages, create a footer that looks something like this:

      “I also write books; click (here) to learn more about them.”

      or

      “I just published a new book; click (here) to learn more about it.”

      It’s simple, it’s unobtrusive, & you’re advertising to the folks who will most likely buy your writings. The response rate is not going to be spectacular — the latest figure I’ve seen for direct marketing is a 4-4.5% response rate, & that’s done by experts who filter & profile their target audience — but it is growing your market.

      And at the least, doing this might discourage a troublesome tendency I’ve seen at Absolute Write: writers using thumbnails of all their books in their message footers. I can understand having one or two thumbnails, but some have as many as half a dozen; I don’t know if having so many looks amateurish or desperate.

  23. I must disagree. I’ve had three bestsellers (yes, nonfiction but not How-To books in any way) and having an interactive, ACTIVE platform is definitely the reason for my success.

    however…I’m not ONLY doing social. I have a fully optimized website, a blog with fresh content, ads, guest posts, interviews, blog tours…etc. There is no one easy answer when it comes to creating a bestseller in my opinion, except to start with the BEST possible book you can have (professionally edited, proofed, formatted, designed) and build from there.

    My betareaders come exclusively from Facebook and Twitter. I’ve connected with amazing people on social. To not have it as part of your marketing is a huge mistake. (p.s. spamming links constantly is a no-no anywhere. it is infuriating that it happens so regularly on Twitter).

    Thanks for writing your piece and allowing us space to discuss!

    Rachel

  24. Well, yes, if you create a Twitter profile just to tweet about your book, nobody will follow it. If you have a fun Twitter feed with great links, though, someone might buy your book. I know a few Indie Authors who have done quite well with social media. I’ve bought five or six books because I met their authors on social media.

    Further, Twitter and Facebook aren’t just about blasting adverts for your book. It’s about PR, too. If fans can follow you and interact with you, you’ll stay on their mind and make repeat customers.

  25. I know for a fact FB helps me sell books and reach out to new readers. Bummer for those who aren’t able to use it to their advantage, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for everyone.

  26. Yes and no. The first few sales of my books were boosted by social media and making connections there helped. The trouble with twitter is that it is is impossible for your followers to keep track of what you get up to unless they live only for your tweets. That said this past week I tweeted about the free ebook promotion of one of my books and immediately 100 were downloaded. Tweeting about free ebooks works but the reverse for sales is not that true. Old fashioned marketing probably works best.

  27. To paraphrase the head of Martini in the ’60s, who said 50% of my advertising budget is wasted but nobody can tell me which 50%.

    95% of my promotional efforts is wasted but nobody can tell me what 5% is working.

    I still don’t even see the point of Twitter and I have something like 700 followers – which is nuts.

  28. You probably have saved me lots of time. I have a new book HEMINGWAY LIVES! out in April and just gearing up for promotion & publicity. I signed up with Twitter and came back onto Facebook, but would vastly prefer to focus my time & energy on where potential readers are. I’d welcome suggestions, since writing is the easy part and promo is like having root canal. But I’m willing and eager to hear advice. Clancy

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