Monday, May 23, 2016

Please Friend Me

Q: Do you use social media to market your books, and if so, do you think it’s made a difference?

- from Susan

This is a hard question and (spoiler alert) one I can’t really answer. But let me break it down and take it in parts:

Do I use social media?

Yes, I cop to that. More than I should. Facebook is addictive and I have an addictive personality. I have soooo many friends on FB and would have so many more if I accepted the friend requests from the hundred or so manly looking guys dressed in army fatigues who apparently are tabula rasa when it comes to any details in their lives except having dogs or young children they can be photographed with.

Do I use it to market my books?

Yes, in that I mention new books, very occasionally share a particularly good professional review, and invite  - no, beg – people to come to book readings. Using Twitter is like getting swept away in a riptide. You just dive in somewhere and then kick your way to safety as soon as you can. For me, five minutes a day is it, but I do try to let it be known I am an author and do have allegedly witty novels on the market about art and crime. Pinterest? Yes, Hilary Davidson gave a room full of authors a challenge a few years ago: A Pinterest page for every book. So, I do it. It’s fun and a complete distraction from writing. No one has ever said, “I loved your photos of Santa Fe so much I had to run out and find a coy of Murder in the abstract.” No one. Instagram is beyond me so far. Blogs (here and occasionally on my own site and often as a guest on other writers’) all the time. Some delightful back and forth. No rush on Book Passage’s stock.

Do I think it makes a different in marketing efforts?

I observe that a good number of people (to whom I am forever grateful) show up at most book events if I’ve put out the word on social media. When people show up, they mostly buy a book. But does the social media I initiate and control influence anyone to search out and buy the book on their own? I have no idea, none at all. No bookstore tells me here’s been a flurry of interest about any of my books after a brilliant Tweet or a few new of photos on a Pinterest board. I don’t get nominated for awards because everyone knows my name and the title of my newest book by the time the ballots come out. And, in truth, I think the honest answer is no one knows where in all the non-writing activity authors have to do is the magic key to success.

I look at some of the most successful crime writers in my circle and what I see is they work hard at everything – from research to writing, to cleanly edited published books, to book tours, to Facebook posts, and contests, and charming book events – everything.


So my answer to the unanswerable question is: Who knows, but who’s ready to go silent and see what happens?

10 comments:

Catriona McPherson said...

Ha! I can't think of any writer who is a complete recluse actually. And I'm not auditioning to be the first.

Meredith Cole said...

There are definitely a few best selling authors who have given social media a pass (since they started selling oodles of books before it was invented). But for the rest of us...

Art Taylor said...

Good survey of various social media outlets--and why we do it! Like you, no idea how it actually pays off, so to speak, as marketing, but at the same time, I try to enjoy the conversation and the connections and let the rest of it play out as it might. Thanks for posting here!

Alan Orloff said...

Good post. I especially like the part where--sorry, can't finish this comment, I need to hop over to Facebook to see what's--wait a sec, first to Twitter to find out... on.

Ritter Ames said...

Terrific post. I agree it would be nice if we received a communique that said "This tweet did it--it helped sell X-number of books." That, of course, doesn't happen. But I know the weeks I stay offline the most and hit social media the least are also the times my sales drop. So while it's still a delicate balance between giving up writing time to do social media or just writing more books, at least there are some signs there. Just wish they were clearer :) Thanks for bringing this up for all of us.

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, Ritter, for an interesting piece of data about your sales in relation to social media activity. You must have some great posts!

Susan C Shea said...

Catriona, Art, Alan and Meredith - my fellow Minds - you're all so good at this, and manage to write wonderful books and short stories at a great pace. I understand Catriona's comment so well. It might sound heavenly to just write, write, write, but in this era, being invisible on social media is a big gamble. Even my writing heroes, including SinC "mother" Sara Paretsky, who you would think could be a recluse and a best-seller, has a FB account. and, yes, I do follow her!

Ellen kirschman said...

I ask this question all the time. Never get an answer. Best advice I've received is to do what you like and leave the rest alone.

RJ Harlick said...

Good post, Susan. How I wish we could just write and write and write without having to do all the other stuff. But I will admit I have grown to like Facebook primarily because my readers become real people who I can chat with.

endy smith said...

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