Monday, June 8, 2015

Social media: a blessing and a curse

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?

by Meredith Cole

Talk to any writer these days, and they'll tell you they're stretched pretty thin. Deadlines for books are bad enough, but nowadays publishers expect us to be everywhere at once. Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Pinterest, Instagram... Every time you turn around, there's a new social media platform. And every single one of them takes away valuable time from your writing. But are any of them worthwhile?

I've heard mixed reviews from them all. Facebook is great for letting people you know that your book is coming out. Have I sold any books to anyone I don't know through Facebook? Not sure. But I've certainly been able to get people out to my book events. And that's something.

Twitter is a little harder to pin down. I know I sold one book to a follower on Twitter because she sent her son to my book event to buy it (and he told me that she saw my book event info on Twitter). But I don't have any proof that I've sold anything else since. I know some people love Twitter and some people hate it, but it's only worth doing if you're going to participate (retweeting other people and responding, rather than just posting marketing messages for your books over and over again).

I'd love to hear if anyone has had a good experience on Instagram or Pinterest, because so far I haven't tried either. I tried out Good Reads but never spent the time to figure it out.

My advice though is to pick a few things and do them well. Find a place where you feel comfortable and supported. Social media gives you a chance to communicate with readers, other writers, and people in publishing, and it's important to put your best foot forward. And if a social media platform isn't working for you, drop it. Go write your book instead.  That, in the end, should be your focus.


Paul D. Marks said...

Meredith, I think your advice about picking a few things and doing them well is great advice. We don’t want to be spread too thin. But in general, I think any of these social medias that we utilize are more about getting known, getting our “brand” out there and making friends then in making immediate book sales. But maybe eventually down the road that does happen at least to some extent. The problem is there’s no way to really know and that can be frustrating. But I do think social media is overall a good thing, as long as we don’t only go around saying “buy my book” and here’s the link. We need to build our brand, whatever that is, and then hope that will get some people to look further into us (our books) at some point, I think.

Catriona McPherson said...

I enjoy Twitter, and I like Facebook a bit too much - I limit my time there to three visits a day and one scroll when I get there - but Pinterest? Instagram? LinkedIn? The problem is to write a book you need such focus and every social media visit scatters your focus in a thousand directions.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks for your comments Paul and Catriona! I wish we could "measure" the impact of social media on our sales. But you're right, we just have to hope for the best and make sure it doesn't take away time from our writing.

Robin Spano said...

I agree. Especially the advice to go write your book instead!

Gerald So said...

Hi, Meredith.

Twitter is the only social network I'm on because I find it easy to update and less intrusive than the others. It seems to me, though, authors can't always pick their preferred networks. They have to be everywhere buyers might be, they're told, the root of most social media gaffes.

I don't know which network is best for sales, but I know what leads me to buy a book most often: reading an excerpt of the book itself. That is the best way to tell whether I'd like to spend more time with the characters and story.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Robin and Gerald for stopping by! Yes, probably writers have to be everywhere. But in the end it is the writing in their books that tempts people to read them--so we have to make sure we give enough attention to that!