Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Keep it simple

By R.J. Harlick

"Which of the many different types of social media platforms have you found works best for you in the promotion of your books and why?”

There are a lot, aren’t there? Too many for me.  It’s hard to keep on top of all the latest and greatest ways to tell the online world you exist. But to tell you the truth, I don’t care. I can barely manage the few I do use.

When having a blog was a must-have, I figured I’d better get with it and set one up. I started out in a great flurry of daily postings, then they petered out to weekly, eventually to monthly until I reached a point where I now only post when I have something major to say about a new book release or a book tour. Not only was it a challenge to come up with original and exciting posts, but it was also intruding on my precious writing time. After all I had a book to write. Besides I felt like I was throwing my words into a big black void. With few people commenting, I didn't know how they were being received or whether they were even being read. I learned it takes a lot of time to build up a following to a blog and it needs to be updated daily to maintain interest. I wasn’t prepared to put in the time or effort. 

Yah, but you’re blogging on Criminal Minds, you say. To answer simply, this blog is my kind of blog. Being bi-weekly, it doesn’t intrude on my writing time. I create most of my postings the night before, while watching TV, except today, when I find myself scrambling to get this up this morning. Sorry. It also gives me the topic for my posting. Plus I get a chance to meet and be a part of a terrific group of writers. I find most of my fellow writers now blog mostly through group blogs such as Criminal Minds. Like me, they found maintaining their own consumed too much time.

I decided not to get involved with twitter, too worried that it might take over my life. I know I should get more involved with Goodreads, but thus far haven’t found the time to figured out how to make the best use of it. Pinterest fails me. I have no idea how to use it nor do I have the desire to learn. 

Nope, I basically rely on two platforms to keep my readers informed on what’s happening with Meg Harris mysteries: my website and Facebook.

I find my website is key in introducing new readers to my books. I don’t know about you, but when I get interested in a writer I immediately go to their website to find out more about them. Although I don’t have statistics on its usage, I know people are accessing the site because they often get back to me through the listed contact information. I tell you it is a great thrill to receive an email out of nowhere from a reader who just had to tell me how much they enjoyed my book. People wanting me to participate in a reading or literary festival will also use my website to reach me.

Facebook has proven its worth in time and effort many times over. I use it to communicate all that is happening in my writing world. I know it helps to sell books, because I’ve seen the Amazon numbers jump after I’ve made some book announcement. I have occasionally paid for additional boosting of a posting, though the jury is still out on whether it is worth the cost.  But the aspect I like most about Facebook is I get to interact with my readers, carry on conversations with them, set up times to meet them at the next conference or book signing. I was at a book fair this past weekend and was delighted to find several new likes to my page from people I’d met during the course of the day.

So you can see, I am a great believer in using social media, but I think it is key to hone in on a couple of platforms and use them as effectively as you can, otherwise the amount of time you spend on your real writing will dwindle to almost nothing. By the way if you want to check them out, here are the links to my website, rjharlick.ca and my Facebook page, R. J. Harlick's Meg Harris Mysteries. 

And I mustn't forget to mention that the next Meg Harris mystery is now available for pre-order at your favourite online site.


Robin Spano said...

Hey congratulations on your new (pre) release.

I think you're dead right to keep it simple. When I first started, everyone told me I "had to" get savvy about social media. Now I think the real savvy is learning to use it as little as possible to maximum effect. Seems like you've nailed that balance.

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, Robin. I will admit occasionally I feel as if Facebook has taken over my life, so I do have to limit myself, which is hard to do.

Sue Cox said...

This is helpful to know from an experienced writer. I'm new to the game and trying to figure things out and pleased that you find FB (where I spend what little social media time I have) is a worthwhile expenditure of time and effort. My first novel comes out in December from Minotaur. Next up--a website! (P.S. I have a white standard poodle now--Picasso-- and used to share my life with a silver standard named Roxanne and a black standard called Fred. All have been rescues and all have been absolutely perfect!)

RJ Harlick said...

Sue, as you can see I have two silvers. Love standards. And good luck with your new book.

Patricia Filteau said...

Yes, my visual artists friends advise blogging has gone the same path as you describe. What are your thoughts on Twitter? I rather like having to make short sweet and salient (I hope) remarks to accompany a photo or article. FB appears to be a necessary evil for writers. We will see if it stands the test of time.

RJ Harlick said...

I've been avoiding twitter, Patricia, but if your experience has been good, maybe I will change my mind. I know other authors who find it very useful.