In the past year I have been running into an interesting “type” of writer. The writer who loathes social networking so much (s)he avoids it like the plague because (s)he feels it hampers productivity too much. Many of these folks also tend to be the types who are against any type of self-marketing because they’ve read so many articles warning against doing the kind of spam marketing often done by inexperienced first-time authors.
I find this new attitude perplexing for several reasons. The first reason is that just because a book is available, doesn’t mean people are going to buy it and read it — especially if they don’t know it exists! I don’t care how big, or small your publisher is, or if you self-publish — you still have to self-market. Even if you hate it.
What seems to be happening here is all of these articles are coming out about how authors shouldn’t SPAM reader forums and other social networking sites with advertisements for their books and this is true. Nothing is more annoying than the author who has a single book that they pimp four times a weekday and twelve times on weekend days and they do NOTHING ELSE. That’s not what turns readers on. The problem is some writers are taking it TOO literally. They’re taking it to mean they shouldn’t self-market their book(s) AT ALL because it’s annoying. Others are shunning social media altogether as if it’s the big-bad-wolf.
You’ve heard moderation in everything, right?
The second problem is this — what they’re not realizing is that by using social media and interacting with their audience on various levels (i.e. talking about the weather and non-writing topics), they’re actually doing A LOT to market their books. Basically – having active social media IS marketing, even though you’re not constantly pushing your books.
See what I’m saying? Basically – show your readers you’re a real person with real interests and a real life, and their interest in you grows. Especially if they share some of your interests or life roles. “Oh, she likes bike riding, too?” or “He’s into archery? How cool is that?” or even, “She has three kids, just like me!”
I think these days readers enjoy interacting with the authors, artists, and musicians whose work they enjoy. I have built a steady readership over the years just by talking to people and being sociable. It’s amazing how many folks will give your books a try if they meet you online and have a nice conversation with you. I’ve gained a lot of fans of my work that way – many who now read everything I pen whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.
Of course being sociable does have its drawbacks. Like if you are having a bad day and you snap at someone (we’re only human), or a reader discovers your politics and theirs don’t mesh – you can sometimes lose readers. But that’s the nature of the beast. Que Sera Sera.
And yes – social networking can be a huge time suck, unless you can learn how to limit your time online. This is a willpower and scheduling issue on your part. It is not the fault of the social networking site itself. I suggest either scheduling your online time in one hour increments at the same time every day (or every other day) or keep your internet connection turned off for so many hours a day. Write in a place without WiFi. There are a lot of ways you can use social networking and social media as a tool. Remember that you control it to serve you. You are not a slave to it unless you allow it. It’s all about willpower folks. If you truly desire to write and be a writer — you’ll write whether you have FB or not. You’ll finish writing books even if you keep FB open in another window. One can’t blame the Internet or social networking for lack of willpower and desire. That’s the cold, hard truth.
The other cold, hard truth is that in order to keep your books in front of a reading audience, you need to be visible to them and therefore it’s almost a requirement to maintain an online author presence somewhere, and update it on a regular basis. The modern reader likes to connect. You also have to regularly pimp your books. Not fifty times a day. But once a week between many conversational posts isn’t a bad idea.
Yes, I know I’m rather inconsistent with this myself, however — I do try to update my social networking sites regularly. I have quite a few regular readers as a result. Time spent online networking with readers is never time wasted unless you never write, and if you’re genuinely meant to be a writer (those genuinely meant to be writers are prolific) you’ll write. That’s just how the writing thing works. Writers write.
So quit making excuses, occasionally pimp your book on Twitter, get a damn blog already, and post something to your damn author page on FB. Do you want to know what they call writers who are too afraid to piss people off by posting their book links on occasion, and who have so little discipline that maintaining a social networking presence keeps them from actually writing? They call them Unknown.
This swift kick-in-the-ass brought to you by the letters G and B as in Get Busy!