As a newbie indie author I published my book, and sat back and waited for someone, anyone, to notice it. It got some downloads. Then when I made it free, it got more. Lots more. Which was only to be expected, ’cause we all love something for nothing, right?
I published another, and another, and gradually got to know the ins and outs of the publishing and marketing side of things. Common advice is that authors need a social platform. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, author pages on Goodreads, Amazon, and so on, until all an author ends up doing is posting tweets and blogs and trying to think of something witty and funny and constructive to say, something that doesn’t just say ‘buy my book’.
So how many tweets are enough? How many followers? How many blog posts need to be written before an author can concentrate on the real reason for the social media presence - writing. You might as well add the old cliché, ‘how long is a piece of string’… I don’t think anyone knows the answer to this, though most people agree there is a correlation between media presence and book sales. The problem is that all this takes time; time away from what an author should be doing - writing. It all comes back to writing, doesn’t it?
I fluctuate from spending an inordinate amount of time on social media, to hardly ever, and I can see when I am doing which by the word count on my current work in progress. It seems like I have to sacrifice one for the other. But I’m not sure social media works. Do I think I’ve sold more books as a result of a few tweets? I don’t know. Analysis of downloads doesn’t give me a definitive answer.
So I looked at it from the point of view of a reader. Am I influenced by tweets or posts where authors are promoting their novel? Not really. I tend to discover the books I read by accident – browsing the book store at the airport, going to the library, clicking on one book then finding my way to another. Maybe even clicking on an advertising link on Amazon…
Perhaps that’s the answer. Maybe I should convert the woman-hours I spend on social media and raising my rather low author profile into advertising. The downside is that it costs. The upside is that I’ll have far more time to write, I’ll publish two books a year, instead of the one and a half I’m currently running at. More books mean more sales, therefore the advertising may pay for itself.
And I can stop beating myself over the head trying to think of something to say on Twitter!