Social Networking - does it really work?

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and promoting your book on the Internet
Sommer Leigh
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 16th, 2010, 8:48 am

Like book trailers, I don't think most social networking does much for book sales. I could be wrong, but most people don't like being "sold at" and any blog/twitter/facebook that spends most of its time selling at its readers and followers isn't going to have many to begin with.

That being said, I think the writers who succeed at social networking for promotional purposes are those that don't do it for promotional purposes. Kiersten White was mentioned above as being excellent at social networking and she really is. But I don't think it has anything to do with her trying to promote her book. I started reading her a long time ago, back when her blog was just the blog of a hopeful writer trying to get published. She's honest, sincere, and excited about her own life. Getting people to want to read her book is a symptom of that genuine excitement, not the goal.

If you like to blog, then blog. If you like to facebook, then facebook. If you like to twitter, then twitter. Don't do these things if your goal is self promotion. Do them because you already like doing them. Readers can tell the difference. I love to blog and have since 1999-2000. (My first blog was when LiveJournal was still Invite Only !!!!! I'm so old.) I don't like twitter at all and I have a private facebook for keeping up with friends and family but is separate from my writing life. I blog five days a week and I'll continue to do that for as long as I have something to say and/or the time. I won't pick up facebook and twitter just to promote anything.

Honestly? The only author blogs/facebooks I read are of writers who are interesting people and I enjoy reading about their lives. I'm probably already going to buy their book, but their blog doesn't make me want to buy it any more or less than I already do.
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by JuiceinLA » August 20th, 2010, 4:07 pm

Love this topic- as a yet-to-be published author- I am fascinated with all you published folks do, but have little advice or experience to contribute- UNTIL NOW!

Ok ok, its not my personal experience, its a friend's story. No really I mean it. Seriously.

First, I think using Facebook or another social networking site well can work tremendously to open the door to an audience you could not otherwise find, and will send traffic to your book or author blog/website. Here is why.

A good friend self published her book in January of this year. (In my opinion she didn't query enough agents, or the right ones for her genre, but I suspect she was loathe to recognize what her true genre was. For the genre I would have picked for her, she wrote a book any one would have bought. But as a literary novel, not so much.)

Since that time she has cautiously explored many marketing tools and been very creative. In May or June she built Facebook and MySpace pages for the book. Myspace seems not to have done much for her, but Facebook did. Her novel tells stories of groupie experiences with 1980's hairbands. so she began to do things like join 80 hair band FB groups, and then on the book's facebook page she posted "Hot Hair of the day" photos of your favorite 1980's rockers. She also started a "blogtalkradio" show on the 1980's hairband topics. Eventually she was noticed by a notable former Hair band singer that you all know (not Bret Michaels) and Famous Hair band guy plugged her book on his radio show.

To date, she has sold several thousand books. and not just in the US. She has a international fan base. The trick is not to treat the FB page, or seek "friend" requests, as blatant "buy my book" propaganda. You have to seek your core readership and sincerely interact with them. My friend has given her book life and that is why it works.

Once I build my website, I will promptly tie into facebook and work that network.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Mira » August 21st, 2010, 2:44 pm

Sommer - I agree with you!

JuiceinLA - alot of us are unpublished, too. And that's a great story!

I like the idea of targeting readership. That's a good idea. I think I like it better than just randomly trying to make friends with tons of people in order to get them to buy your book. I just continue to cringe at the manipulative underpinnings of that - and I think most people see through it, which is a turn-off.

But being right out front about it - I wrote this book on this topic, and it might interest you -that sounds great.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Regan Leigh » August 27th, 2010, 9:08 pm

In my opinion, does social networking pay off? Um, yes. Did I say YES? Yes. :D But...I agree that it depends on your intentions and your definition.

I started back to writing in the Fall of '08 -- wrote two books in the Spring of '09 -- and then began reading online about publishing and the CORRECT way to write a book. :D Many, many books and websites later, I think I have a decent grasp of it all. ;) (As much as I can at this point in my journey.) I began to blog more often and I joined a writing forum. Then I tried Twitter -- something I'd loathed from afar, not understanding it.

I can't tell you how happy I am that I tried all those things. My definition of social networking is more related to the connections you can make with fellow writers and people in the industry. I've made a long list of writer friends and learned ten times what I could have from books alone. I've found writing partners, beta readers and connected with industry people.

Will any of those connections make a difference for me related to selling a book? I have no idea. It isn't even time for me to query yet, so I definitely don't have a book to sell at this point.

However, I would like to point out something. This thread has 549 views right now. That's 549 people who now know about Kiersten White and her book Paranormalcy, which comes out in less than a month. (And I'm looking forward to buying it because of what I've seen via Twitter and writing forums. She seems very down to earth and her book sounds intriguing.)

Hello, social networking. ;)
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by KierstenWhite » August 27th, 2010, 9:47 pm

Umm, hi! Thought I'd pop on since someone pointed out that I was being mentioned as an example.

The thing I emphasize over and over again to people who ask me about social networking is this: I blog because I genuinely enjoy it. I like writing blog posts, I like interacting with people who read and comment. I am an idiot on twitter because I think it's fun. If I didn't like doing it, I wouldn't. If it took time away from my actual writing, I wouldn't do it. If it meant my apartment was always messy and I made horrible dinners, I...no, I'm okay with that, actually.

I didn't get my book deal because of my blog. HarperTeen didn't even look at my blog until they were already in competition to buy my book. Does my publisher like my online presence? Sure. They love it. And yeah, it probably means a few thousand people know about my book who otherwise wouldn't. (I love you people, by the way. I'm constantly amazed and grateful for the fact that people actually care.) Would HarperTeen not like me or my book if I didn't have my blog? I doubt it'd matter much. One of HarperTeen's big books for the spring is written by a woman who has zero online presence whatsoever--not even a basic website. The book is what sells. Your writing is what matters to publishers and eventually readers.

In the end I kind of think online presence debates are silly. If it's something you want to do, figure out how to do it well and have fun with it. If it's not something you want to do, don't worry about it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go not clean my apartment. It's one of my greatest talents.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by steve » August 27th, 2010, 10:42 pm

KierstenWhite wrote:
In the end I kind of think online presence debates are silly.
You posted this...

in an online debate...

about online presence!

Welcome to the forum!

I'm Steve, and I'll be your host this evening!
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by KierstenWhite » August 27th, 2010, 11:20 pm

Too true, Steve. TOO TRUE.

I also didn't notice that this discussion was four pages long, and that several others had already said essentially the same thing I did, and in all likelihood said it better. See? Clearly my online presence savvy does not extend to forums. I'll leave that to you and your fabulous goggles.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by steve » August 27th, 2010, 11:28 pm

Haha!

You are savvier than you know!

Get down with some of the topics in these here forums, and get your feet wet.

I hope you are a Dolly Parton fan!
Read one of the best stories by Borges.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by maybegenius » August 28th, 2010, 5:20 pm

Haha. Hi Kiersten :)
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Tycoon » August 29th, 2010, 12:04 am

I would say so far the answer is "yes"

And here is why.

I have sold 207 copies of my self published book in 6 weeks. I asked anyone who has purchased a copy if they would take 2 minutes out of there life and post a short blurb of what they thought about the story (Good or Bad) on my facebook group page.

As a indepndent author these positive reviews by normal, everyday people like you and I was a determining factor which helped me secure a booksigning with Barnes and Noble in Nov.

These reviews also helped me sell a few extra copies to people I don't know.

Also, my church (the largest in the state of Minnesota) has elected to stock it in their campus bookstores (3 of them) starting this weekend.

I think a facebook page or blog actually benefits independent authors more than agented authors.

I agree though with a previous poster, you must be sincere... If your looking to spam people and sell books then you should probably skip social networking altogether.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Mira » August 31st, 2010, 4:57 pm

Keirsten - thanks for your 'take!' You are someone who appears to be wildly successful at social networking, so it's definitely interesting to hear your thoughts.

And I believe it comes naturally to you. That you really enjoy it comes through, and I think it's part of what makes your on-line presence so personable. I think people can't manufacture that, so if it doesn't come naturally, I say, 'don't push it.' There are other ways.

For example, write a really, really, really, really, really, really good book. That shoud do it.

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by maybegenius » September 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm

It's official... Kiersten debuted on the NYT Bestsellers list :D Whether or not that had anything to do with her social media presence is still debatable, but there it is.

Congrats, Kiersten!
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Margo » September 9th, 2010, 12:37 am

maybegenius wrote:It's official... Kiersten debuted on the NYT Bestsellers list :D Whether or not that had anything to do with her social media presence is still debatable, but there it is.

Congrats, Kiersten!

That is cool. I decided to check out Kiersten's blog and was absurdly tickled to find out we've had short pieces appear in the same magazine. I'm not sure why I'm so entertained by that, but I am. Go Kiersten.

[Edit: I just figured it out. Brilliance by extremely vague association. LOL.)
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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by Mira » September 9th, 2010, 1:02 pm

maybegenius wrote:It's official... Kiersten debuted on the NYT Bestsellers list :D Whether or not that had anything to do with her social media presence is still debatable, but there it is.

Congrats, Kiersten!
That's wonderful! :)

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Re: Social Networking - does it really work?

Post by amyashley » September 14th, 2010, 7:08 pm

I think blogging can quickly take writing time away, and I don't plan to partake. However, I believe that having a website is essential. Being able to list your books, some personal pertinent information, appearances, and maybe some commentary is always helpful to any fans or readers. I cannot count the number of times since I have had internet in my home that I have stumbled upon a new author, devoured a book, and rushed to my computer to find a website and see what else they have out that I can get my greedy fingers on.

I personally have used my own facebook contacts shamelessly to get my book written, edited, and get a website up. They're friends and family already! I probably won't start a page for my author presence because the upkeep is a little too labor intensive. I'd rather spend the time and effort getting copies of my book out to websites and magazines that might do reviews.

I don't twitter-no time.

I think to each their own. I think marketing is important, but word of mouth is the ONLY advertising that is really going to get you anywhere. In the end, if you have a good product, and you work hard to get it out there in the first place, it will get read. I think that takes effort, but I don't know that social networking is the answer.

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