Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who Are We Really Talking To?

For some time now I’ve been considering this question about social media. As someone who got into Twitter and Facebook because I’m a writer with a need to promote my books, and as a person who has been in various aspects of business all my life, it became important to me to assess my ROI (return on investment) of time, energy and money.
While our goal should be to reach readers, I’ve realized for some time that writers who tweet and share on Facebook are, in general, talking to other writers. Have you checked out your followers list on Twitter lately? I have and somewhere around 90% are other writers. Sure we sometimes buy each other’s books, but we are definitely not our target audience. They are out there, but we aren’t reaching them. Or if we are, the sheer numbers of Indie books are overwhelming them.
Additionally, I tried an experiment. I belong to a Facebook group of writers who try to support each other in a number of ways, one of which is to tweet book promos for each other. I listed a tweet for my novella, The Great Twitter Adventure, on September 27 of 2012. Many kind people have tweeted and re-tweeted that promo over the months, literally thousands of times. Six months later, I had my first sale – I gifted a friend the book.  I believe that this is a pretty good indication that simply tweeting our book promos out there will never accomplish what we really want – for people to buy and read our books.
So, what to do about this problem? I don’t have an answer to the problem, but as they say recognizing there is a problem is the first step to solving it.
There are only two avenues to reaching readers that I know of – Goodreads and advertising on sites like Kindle Nation Daily, which presumably Kindle readers will access to pick their next book. Thank goodness the competition with free ebooks is dying out. Perhaps soon there will be room for paid books on the world’s overburdened e-readers.
For those who find themselves trying to reach the reading masses, just know that you are not alone in this quest. No matter how an author attempts to present a sunny face, very few are making much at this endeavor.  If you’ve managed to receive a 1099 from Amazon, frame a copy. It will remind you that you ARE getting paid. But, in the meantime, strive to find a unique place among readers while maintaining your friendships with authors.  We do need to talk to each other, for support and companionship, but not to rely on each other to promote our books.
Be creative in your search for readers.  That’s what I intend to do over the rest of 2013. I’ll happily share whatever new things I find.
Don’t be shy. Please share your thoughts on this subject!


  1. I follow a lot of writers on Twitter and Facebook. I am personally more active on Facebook at this time so I am going to address this subject from the POV of a Facebook user. I am Facebook "friends" with many writers. Some of them do eBook freebies but many of them do not. Most of them who do eBook freebies already have several books in a series and they offer one of the early books free when they have a new book coming out. Some of the writers I follow do very, very well with their sales because they have built up a backlist. They have many followers and they promote but do not over promote their books.

    The writers I follow on Facebook have other writers who follow them but they also pick up lots of readers who follow these other writers. That is how I have found most of the writers whose books I purchase by following writers/readers to new writers. The most successful of these writers not only "work" an author page on Facebook but also engage readers via their personal pages on Facebook. Also the most successful writers tend to specialize in a particular genre but not all of them do this. I have one writer friend who has books going at all times in three different genres under three different names (two are pseudonyms and one is her real name). She is very, very prolific and she does this while working a full-time job, managing a marriage and spoiling two dogs. Her daily activities boggle my mind.

    Most of the same writers are very active with their blogs...some have more than one blog that they have going at least once a week. So they are blogging, writing, engaging readers on Facebook and managing at least one "author" page. Most but not all of these writers are active on Twitter too. Again, I almost exclusively follow authors on Facebook and subscribe to all blogs that I can subscribe to via email.

    I don't know how these writers keep up with everything. I am constantly astounded by their levels of productivity.

    In closing, I think that if you are active on a personal account on Facebook and can pull new readers in that your reader base will grow exponentially while increasing your book sales. I also think that the more you write, the more you will write and consequently the more you will sell. This is all from observation but I see the sales mount up. It seems to be working for the people that I follow.



    1. Ardee-ann - this is such a thoughtful comment. Thank you for this.

      I recently had a great conversation with someone - not a writer - who is extremely successful on Facebook, using very interesting techniques. I plan to re-invent myself as an author using some of his ideas. I must agree that Facebook has more potential than I ever recognized.

      It's great to hear that you have found your writers in this way, and I have to admit it surprises me.

      Being active as a writer, both on the social media sites, and in producing more blog posts and actual books is very key to the whole thing - something I have not been for at least six months - so point well taken.

      Again, Ardee-ann - I really thank you for taking the time to express yourself on this one.

  2. I thank you both for "drilling down" into the subject of the elusive book sales. I'm not ready to sell yet, but when I am (and when my writing students are), I'll confidently send us all to this discussion.