Just how valuable is social media to an author?

I’m thinking … not a whole lot.

Hear me out first before you blow a raspberry at me.

As an author, one of the axioms of marketing our books is social media. Or so we’re told. But seriously, how much does it help outside of our friends and family?

beans-1109546-mThe number one way books are sold — and take off — is through word of mouth. I can sit here and tweet all kinds of interesting things, blog about all kinds of happenings, and Facebook until the cows come home. But you know what? I don’t think any of it adds up to a hill of beans.

Because it’s the readers who determine our sales.

So here’s the irony of social media. I feel guilty if I don’t engage in social media, because there’s this “connection” (so I’m told) between my visibility and my sales. But, uh, when I tweet and upload content to Facebook, and not necessarily about my books, guess what? It doesn’t make a damned difference.

book-1191434-mHowever, if I run into someone who’s read my books, or get an email from a fan who loves my latest release and wants to know when the next one comes out — all of whom also say they’ve told their friends to buy my books, I often see a spike in sales. In those cases, my social media becomes about the warm and fuzzies I have with fans. And that, to me, is where the real connection lies.

Know what this tells me? I should be thanking my fans and readers as often as I can. Because readers rock. They’re what make it all happen for an author.

swiss-kiss-943920-m

blowin’ the raspberry

So. It’s time to cut some of the social media ties and focus more on my writing. And I’m not going to feel a lick of guilt over doing that either.

:)

What about you? Do you as a reader or writer think social media makes a difference for an author?

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About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense
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22 Responses to Just how valuable is social media to an author?

  1. Chris says:

    A great opening post and some great replies. Knowing what to do within social social media is a tough one because, at the end of the day, we’re like children just having started school… What is the right way? I’ve written my first novel, to publish on Amazon very soon, but I tell you, a 2nd novel? Will I ever have time again?
    What I can say, though, about the whole ‘real connection’ thing, and not book, book, book, is that I write a fairly long blogpost weekly. And in each blogpost, there may be connections with my novel sometimes, maybe not. And if there is, I’ll make a bit of a joke about it. I’m also trying to help other indie writers on the site – as well as artists of any kind – and am getting there bit by bit. What I’m trying to say is there’s much more on my site about me, and where i’m at right now, than there is about ‘the book’.
    And I think that may partly be the secret: I’m a big believer in the blogpost as interaction – ‘What do you think?’ and all that.
    It may have already been stated above, but it’s good to be genuinely interested in other people and their work… and what goes round then comes round.
    Given my novel hasn’t been published yet, I tend to tweet about my blogs – when I’m not doing ‘shoutouts’ – with a fair bit of humour in them. That’s the bit I enjoy. And I can’t see it changing much once the book is published…
    Once again, great thread!

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    • terriponce says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Chris. I agree that it’s better to personalize, as appropriate, than to plug your books — except for when it makes sense. Like a new release or a sale or something similar. But social media is a huge time suck and, honestly, other than making connections, which take time, I’m finding I have less and less time. In the end, if I’m not writing, then I’m not publishing. And that, to me, is the worst!

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      • chrisrose2005 says:

        I agree 100%, Terri.
        The day I told myself I was going to have to embrace social media – it’s not me by nature, I’d rather be strumming on my guitar, reading a book, anything else – I feel my life’s been taken over by it. Crazy, but having my phone in the bedroom… America’s on the go when I should be asleep, over on this side of the pond…
        And whenever I read blogposts on how I should capitalise on Twitter etc.. well, there isn’t much more I can do that I’m not already doing, I think. And another thing, I’m sure most re-tweeters hardly ever read what you’ve tweeted… And people give their stats, followers, unfollowers, what is all that about? The world’s gone mad! While facebook’s nothing more than tiresome platitudes and…
        I’ll stop there – I’m smiling now.
        I don’t know. Moderation is key, I guess.
        Thanks again for a good thought-provoker!

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      • terriponce says:

        Moderation, indeed! We’ve gone crazy, and been inundated with marketing from businesses who are out to make money and take advantage of our time. I want peace in my life, and to use social media smartly. I think without it, a writer can’t completely survive, but there has to be balance.

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      • chrisrose2005 says:

        Amen to that!

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  2. I just wrote a blog post about this: Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites? http://wp.me/p2IvJd-yL. If a writer is engaging in social media, not just asking other writers to “Buy my book,” the interactions become the connection you wrote about, and word of mouth does happen. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen just because someone tweets a certain number of times every day, or puts up a Facebook page–IUBballfan is absolutely right about that. As for finding balance between writing and marketing yourself, that can be a problem, but like finding balance between your family time and your writing time, it’s a matter of prioritizing your time.

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    • terriponce says:

      Good points, and I’m with you. I hate it when I see all the buy my book posts, too. I’ll do it when there’s a sale, or a new release announcement, but other than that? I try to talk about other things. But still, the more I read about it, the more inundated readers are getting with all our ‘talk’. Really makes you wonder where and when to draw the line.

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  3. I think the reason I’m hooked on social media because it is hard to sit and feel like you are doing nothing to increase your sales. I think you are absolutely right, though. I may see a spike here and there, but nothing worth the time and energy I put into it. I’m going to cut back…soon. And I tend to forget about putting personal stuff on there. I use my personal page for most of that. I put information about my book and authors I’m having on my blog. I can see where that gets boring and I don’t end up sharing much of the real me.

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    • terriponce says:

      Yeah, I see the value of making social media more personal. I do like reading up on an author’s doings, but I have to admit that even the time I spend online is diminished these days. 24 hours only goes so far!

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  4. Pingback: Just how valuable is social media to an author? | Becky Flade Author

  5. As a reader I follow authors I’m already a fan of looking for info about new releases, appearances, etc., which means I’ve already read something they’ve written. Bloggers, reviewers & other readers making noise on social media has brought new authors to my attention but how am I supposed to be swayed by the tweets of someone I’ve never read and/or heard of before?

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  6. I follow a few authors on facebook and twitter. The ones I pay attention to are the ones who post about their lives, though. Sure, when they have a new book coming out, they post about that, too, but I love learning a little about what’s happening in their world, outside of writing. If your whole social media presence is, “Buy my book,” I’m not likely to do it, because that’s not really a compelling reason why I might like your book. I may or may not look at the Amazon page for the book–but for me, the book really has to sell itself. I do miss that about real bookstores. I’m not sure I ever would have bought my first J.A. Konrath from Amazon, but once I sat down and read through the first three chapters in no time at Borders, I knew I had to buy it.

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  7. R.T. Wolfe says:

    Finding the balance is impossible. We try, don’t we?
    -R.T. Wolfe

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  8. You did it again, Terri: put exactly what I feel as an author into words. I want to spend less time on social media and more time writing. I agree that engaging in social media doesn’t make much difference in terms of book promotions or sales–but it does keep us writers connected. For instance, what if you didn’t blog? Then I’d never read and enjoy your articles or identify with you. It’s lonely out in “indie land,” and I’m grateful to find company. So, yes, let’s drop sail on social media; but let’s not forget that we authors are all in the same boat!

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  9. Polly Iyer says:

    The biggest problem with social media is that we’re preaching to the choir–other writers. Yes, I know, writers read, but there’s such a plethora of books these days, so many writers–many self-published, that as readers we’ve become inured to the tweets and Facebook posts, and blogs. I agree with you, Terri, that word of mouth is the best. When a reader tells me s/he’s told friends, I really feel the connection.

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  10. IUBballfan says:

    I think social media is where you go to be a person. Show the world who YOU are, not necessarily how you wrote the last book or how many words you struggled with today, or that your book is available. It’s the branding of you, as I refer to it.

    People connect to people, not things so much. I follow folks like Diana Gabaldon and Dianna Love not so much because I care about their workday, but because I want to know that they enjoyed painting their house or had to pay a speeding ticket. I get to know them as people, and that makes me want to spread the word about their books.

    But a constant litany that someone has a book for sale, facts about that book, blog post links about that book … it’s no different than coming on to see a friend always selling candles or weight loss wraps, IMO. It gets old quick and suddenly the last thing people want to talk about is your book.

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    • terriponce says:

      So agree with you in that. I think the but me concept works if you’ve got a sale going, and works best when your tribe does it for you. But still–social media takes a writer away from their writing. It can be hard to find a balance!

      Like

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