Current chatter on the blog about agents and their social media presence/platforms made me think about something a few published friends have said to me recently, "You have to be on Facebook when you are published so you should start now to get used to it". I am not currently on Facebook, nor had I any intention of joining when I was published. I do have a website (with blog), twitter, instagram and pinterest. While I am not an avid user of the last three I felt that would be sufficient. When I want to find an author I look for their website, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm a bit odd like that. I know this is a topic you've covered before (you don't need more than the basics before you are published), I wondered what an agent's expectations are for a published author? And what Reiders expect/want when looking for an author?
There's no industry standard on this. I wish there was; it would be a lot easier.
What I do know is that of all social media platforms right now** Facebook seems the best at driving book sales.
But that's not the answer to "do I have to be on Facebook" cause doing social media you hate is a bad bad bad idea.
Social media is SOCIAL. If you are a grumpfest, you're not going to make friends at the cocktail party. You're going to be sitting in the darkest corner you can find and snarling about having to put on your party shoes and attend this soiree.
Plus "Facebook best at driving book sales" is a VERY general statement. Facebook may not be the place to drive sales for YOUR book.
I recently sold a book that I think will be an ideal candidate for Google ads (ie if you type in certain search terms, this ad pops up.) We don't think the audience will be looking at their Facebook feed for the answers and help this book will provide (sorry to be cagey on details; the deal has not yet been announced.)
As for expectations, well, of course we love it when you roll in with a million twitter followers and a blurb from JK Rowling, but we're also a tad more realistic about what to actually expect.
If you have a social media presence, that's good.
If you don't, that's not a deal breaker.
We sold books for DECADES before the internet was a gleam in anyone's eye, and I'm old school enough to believe that hasn't gone away.
The key here is figuring out where the biggest groups of your readers are.
Are they on Facebook? Well, that's good to know.
Are they on Instagram? Are they already reading your blog?
And how do you figure that out?
Well, look at where people are talking about the books you think are comparable to yours.
If you wrote a book that readers of Felix Buttonweezer's Kale Recipes for Thin Thighs in Thirty Days will like, you might want to look at where his book was reviewed or discussed.
Figure out key words for your comp books and look for those.
As to what readers expect, I think the answer is "present" rather than absent. That means when they google you, something pops up that's not a stripper in Dallas with your name (Felix, oh Felix!) I myself prefer a website, cause I'm generally looking for the correct title to something; or for the order books were published.
Sometimes I'm looking for events in NYC (and if you have an Events page, keeping it updated is really REALLY smart.)
Finding a place to buy autographed copies of your book is something people want to know too.
And if they're looking to get to know you, a link to your social media sites, or your blog is good.
The very worst thing you can have is a blog that hasn't been updated in months, a Twitter stream that stopped in 2015, or a Facebook page that's only info I can get on Amazon.
If you're not going to be social, and provide content, get off the platform.
Mostly though, right now, you want to look for places to build relationships. The Number One way people hear about books is still by word of mouth. That means one reader talking to another. We see this happening right here on this blog every week. I frequently buy books that commenters mention. I see comments that people buy books I talk about too.
A community that supports its own is a good place for a writer to hang her hat.
**(if you're reading this in six months-ie October 2017 and beyond please note!)