Thursday, September 11, 2014

On the Social Side

An actual sculpture by
artist Alicia Martin
mounted at Casa de America,
Depending on who you talk to between 600,000 and one million books are published in the US each year. I won't quote a source, you can look it up or take my word for it. In the mean time, US book sales are declining. This makes for a very competitive market as you can imagine. This is one of the reasons that the face of book marketing has changed significantly over the years. No longer can an author write, hand the book over to the publisher and bury his or her nose again, focusing on the second book. Instead, the author has to get out there and engage with the audience, market herself, generate a group of people (outside of family members who are required to buy the book) who care about you and your book.

This was the topic of discussion on a recent radio program in which I participated with fellow novelnaut, Velda Brotherton. As we talked about the need for authors to use Social Media to sell books another irony came to light. I have no statistics on this one but it's not hard to imagine that the people who chose a career that involves spending long periods of time on their own pouring their essence on to a (figurative) piece of paper might not belong to the most social group on the planet. I know I'm not. Promoting myself on social media means putting myself out there without the shield of a fictional character. I hesitate before each post. Does anyone really care about the things that are important to me or the things that happen in my day?

We can have an informal poll here. Are you an introverted or extroverted author? Do you use social media as a means of promoting yourself and books? What challenges do you face in doing so?


Charles Gramlich said...

Very introverted, and not very good with social skills. Promoting is oftentimes quite a bit of agony for me.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Very introverted too. I cringe every time I have to post something to facebook but it is a necessary part of the literary universe.

But one of the things I made a commitment to a few years ago is to get myself out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. Easier said than done, but I am trying really hard. At least I post more frequently now (a few times a month rather than once a year), than I did in the past. I still don't tweet or pin or any other social media besides facebook.

I guess I should remedy that.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly active. I blog regularly, I'm on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day, and I'm branching ever so slowly into Instagram. The trick (the way I see it, anyway) is to keep things personable and, of course, social, rather than trying to look at all of that as just marketing/PR platforms. I see too many writers/other creatives making that mistake all the time. I've had to eliminate writers from my Twitter feed, because every Tweet was an ad for their new book. One guy was posting five or six updates a minute, to the point that he was all I saw in my feed.

The technical term for that is "Damned Annoying." :)

I still promote new releases, appearances, announcements, other writers' stuff and other marketing/"business" type posts, but I slide them in there with everything else, so I don't feel like I'm hitting people over the head with them.

Liane Spicer said...

Another introvert here. I enjoy blogging, but I'm not a great fan of Facebook. While I appreciate the interaction with people of like mind, I cringe every time I have to post something related to my own work. So I narrow the self-promo to successful submissions, new releases, special promo initiatives like a Montlake sale, and acknowledgement of shout-outs of my books from other people.

My Twitter account is set up to tweet my posts, which I often forget. So the twitterverse hears a whole lot more about birds that visit my yard than about my books.

Sunny Frazier said...

Does anyone remember how difficult promotion was BEFORE social media? Now the Internet has somewhat leveled the playing field. The writer who makes a decent income from writing is the one who promotes the best. Listen, the world is packed with writers as we all have computers and self-publishing no longer has a stigma. That's your competition.

I love promotion. I don't necessarily promote my books, but I do promote myself. Online, I'm an extrovert. Well, in person I'm also an extrovert. At home, just leave me be with my cats and my books.

I do three things well: I take an interest in my FB friends/fans and post something every day to make them smile. I promote my blogs, which I try to make insightful and educational (and not boring). Finally, I have a well-circulated column announcing new titles from mystery authors. Everyone loves free publicity and they are supportive of me in return. None of this sucks up time.

It really is about time management--and the desire to know others in the writing world. You're missing out on a lot if you hide away.