Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Tweet Conundrum

Do you use social media to market your books, and if so, do you think it makes a difference? ...by RM
As my first book only came out in March, I have no data to offer, so I will talk about whether social media convinces ME to buy books.

The answer is no. But maybe only because my To-Read list is so long that I don't go looking for more to add to it.
Wait, though. My reading list is long, yet I do keep buying books. So what's the draw? Never (so far at least) is it because a writer on Facebook or Twitter has given me a powerful hook-line, flashed a beautiful cover, and told me I should read their book. Never works!

I'm tempted to try a new author because I've met them, more often in person, such as at a writer's festival, or heard of them through book reviews or word of mouth. Or if I hear a good radio interview, ninety percent of the time that makes me at least want to read the book. If I don't follow through it's only because of limited time and money.
Bottom line is: interviews, reviews, and meeting the writer in person is what sells me.

So what do I get out of social media if not marketing?
I agree with Susan that posting on Twitter is like throwing a pooh-stick into a stream (she called it a riptide actually). Away it goes and vanishes. Facebook is a lot the same. Will anybody buy my book if my posts are wise or witty? Probably not. My gut feeling is that the time I spend on social media really isn't cost effective, if all I'm after is to sell books.

But I've discovered that's not the main reason at all.
In the beginning, last year sometime, I seriously disliked this feeling of being trussed and prodded onto this thing my publisher called my social media platform, or what I considered a gang-plank to hell. For a while it caused me such grief I even considered mutiny. But I stuck with it. I learned to not take it too seriously, and then actually to enjoy it. The turning point was when I was told it's like a ... party. You walk into a room full of people, strike up a conversation here and there, don't worry too much about what you're missing. Have fun, be nice. Get to know people. Then say too-da-loo and duck out. Probably nobody will notice, but that's okay too.

It's an art, and I've got much to learn. How do you use links and hashtags to best advantage, for starters? What are the critical SEO algorithms to ride? What is an algorithm? What is SEO?
To me, social media can be a time waster one day, invaluable the next. I've learned a lot. I've discovered many interesting articles and am following some great newsletters. It can be an excellent resource pool. I cheer for friends' books launched and goal posts reached. Cockatiel videos can be very funny, and there's no end to household tips (use bulldog clips to manage your USB cables!) or inspirational writerly quotes. I've made connections, and maintained them, and I'm sure that going forward I'll learn how to use the media more effectively.

These days I've fallen off my platform a little, due to the need to get back to the real world of making cold hard cash, not fairy stickers.
Also I've learned that been introverted applies to online parties as well, and I need some time out.

That's about all I can say about it right now. But I've remembered there is actually one book I bought entirely due to Twitter promotion, and that is a guide on how to use Pinterest, because I haven't got a clue. Still haven't, but I haven't got around to reading it yet either. It's at the bottom of my list!



Paul D. Marks said...

I was like you, RM. I went kicking and screaming -- prodded by someone to do so -- into social media. But eventually I learned to like it, maybe too much... Because I certainly spend more time on it than I should!

Meredith Cole said...

So true, Paul! The writing should always come first, but it's fun to hang out with fellow writers and keep up with their news on social media...

Susan C Shea said...

RM, you're ahead of me, I notice, with all those hashtag labels on your post! Social media has made it harder to define someone as introvert or extrovert, hasn't it? I ran into someone at Malice who is a constant presence on Facebook, and introduced myself. She mumbled into her shoes and melted into a corner, where she apparently stayed, solo, most of the weekend. Guess what she was doing while the party swirled around her? Gazing into her cell phone's screen and thumbing away!

Kristopher said...

As a book blogger, I will throw my 2cent in here. In any given year, there are probably 5-10 books that I would never have reviewed had I not seen the author tweet out the cover, talk about their launch, or generally just mention the book in passing.

I do pretty much have my finger on the pulse of the genre, but it is impossible for one person to catch word of every book. And not every book appeals to every reviewers, so the more you can reach the better. I know other bloggers who solely discover reads on social media - those that don't attend conventions or don't have publicity contacts. So while a tweet or post may not directly sell a book, it might encourage a blogger to read (and hopefully review) the book - which in turn hopefully leads to sales.

RJ Harlick said...

I'm like you, Meredith, and enjoy hanging out on Facebook with my fellow writers and with readers. RM it seems you already have this social media monster mastered. Great post.

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