Will It Sell Your Books For You?
Ann Livi Andrews
When my husband and I decided that we were going to self publish my writing, he immediately signed me up for several online "courses" that claimed to have all the answers. And you know what each and every single one of them said?
PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE
But more than that, they claimed that I needed to be spending hours a day getting my name out there via forums, author groups, book groups, literary newsletters, and (you guessed it) social media platforms. My husband forced me (I'm not joking here, dragging and kicking I was) to join Twitter. For the first several months, I hated it. Absolutely despised it. And I was quick to realize that a) no one wanted to see me promoting my own work 5+ times a day. And I'm just not that witty to come up with a bunch of 140 or fewer tweets to draw in attention, retweets, and to *gasp* reach the ultimate "trending" goal.
So what did I do instead? I made friends. Sure, I made a few reader friends, a few marketing "friends," a few blogging friends, but mostly, I made Author friends. And to me, that has been the best thing to come from social media. Plus, let's be honest, as long as you maintain a PC and Professional Attitude on those platforms, being well-rounded on social media makes you seem a little more legit.
Have I made sales due to my social media presence? I don't think so. If anything Goodreads has aided me far more than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest ever have. But that's just my opinion.
Riley Amos Westbrook
As an author, I love social media for all the wrong reasons. I believe these are great tools, but they are nothing more than that.
I love twitter. I can’t just jot down whatever I want and hit the submit button, I have to take the time to craft my message. 140 characters or less in order to convey my meaning to you. Twitter is great for talking to friends and fans, but horrible for selling. I use twitter cards, and I use them a lot. I tweet about my books everyday in one form or another. However, I don’t really think this has translated into sales, at least not directly. But that’s only half the battle of social media. Getting your name in front of other people’s eyes is the other battle, and that’s one I find twitter is excellent for. With just a few hashtags, you can spread your words across hundreds of thousands of people.
I am a HHHUUUUUGGGGGEEEE fan for Facebook. Not for sales or marketing, but for interacting. I look at Facebook, and I see a giant bulletin board, one full of your friends, family, and acquaintances. I don’t try to sell books on Facebook, because I know it’s not going to have a very good return on investment. Think about the things you like and share on Facebook, and think to yourself how many of those are books. That’s not to say that people don’t buy books from Facebook ads, just that not all results are typical. They’ve changed quite a few of their algorithms, but Facebook is still my go to place to waste time online.
Another great social media site. I love Pinterest, because it’s nothing but pictures. I love looking at pictures, and troll the site for inspiration on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Great to find images related to your books, and save them into folders. You can make casting lists, show images that help give shape to your world, and post covers to your books. That being said, I really use the site more to connect with other people. While I’m not going to deny the power of pictures in marketing, I can’t say directly whether or not it leads to sales, but it is another great way to waste time.
Finally, a social media site all about books! This is a great place to meet others who love the craft of writing. I’ve met so many authors and readers through Goodreads, and it is easily my best resource for procuring reviews. It even has a place for you to create an author profile, and list your books with links to buy. I still don’t know if this has translated into sales yet, because I don’t try to market my author page (Might be something to consider!). I do know I’ve made a lot of friends and met a ton of amazing people from the communities offered on their boards.
While not technically a social media site, blogging is yet another way to connect to people. A chance to write down your thoughts and connect with people who may not know you. I actually have mine connected to all my social media accounts, so I get to double-triple-quadruple dip with a blog. If I post a blog, it also posts to my Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads' profiles. Not to mention, with the proper tagging of your posts, you can quickly find yourself rising up the ranks of Google searches. If anything has generated sales for me, it has been my blog. However, it takes a lot of time and energy to be constantly posting and keep things fresh. Still, a great way to get your daily ideas out, and give you more eyes on your work.
If there’s one thing you can see, I view social media as a time sink that could pay off in the end. As with all things in life, you should be careful to put all your eggs in one basket and moderation is key.
Authors need to have a social media presence.
We hear that a lot, don't we? For the sake of this conversation, let's just skip over the fact that I tend to hiss and spit like a vampire caught in a sunbeam any time I hear anyone say that authors need to do anything. Social media is no different. I know a couple of very successful authors with no social media presence. It's not a requirement, but I can't deny that for those of us without luck and magic on our side, it's a simple and cost free way to get our names out there.
And by getting our names out there, I do not mean just dropping a bunch of LOOK AT ME! BUY MY BOOK! posts into Hootsuite and spamming the hell out of your followers. As Riley points out, social media isn't a direct market for selling your books. It's called social media for a reason. You need to be social. And for some of us, that's terrifying.
You see, being social online is no different than face to face and when you're a naturally introverted author with a network of thousands, well, panic attacks can happen. Understandably. So where is the balance between social interaction and careless spambot? The answer is wherever you set it to be.
Give yourself limits. Try one or two outlets at a time. If that doesn't work, do not feel bad for abandoning the failed attempt, but keep in mind that it may take a while to ease yourself into it. Heck, it took me a solid year to start joining discussions on Goodreads and probably closer to two to make anything happen with Twitter.
And just like in real life, taking a timeout from time to time is good medicine. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Your media empire will not crumble if you decide you don't have something clever to say today. Besides, you can always come back later and say you were too busy penning your next bit of brilliance. (Quit giving away trade secrets, Christina!-Riley) ;)