Thursday, April 13, 2017

Facebook not so much

 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!)


CynthiaMc said...

I want the bat leash hanger.

Hang in there, everyone - it's almost Friday! (And for you lucky already Friday people, wahoo!)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Louise Penny has excellent social media skills. She is on Facebook and posts a monthly newsletter also. She makes me feel like she is one of my best friends I just haven't met yet, which means her loyal fans all feel the same way. She had a giveaway for one of the last books where if you had a pre-pub copy reserved she would send you a map of Three Pines. I did of course, and had it mounted for Mom.

Louise's FB posts welcome her fans into her personal life and feelings. We're not all going to be comfortable doing that but I do go and buy her books as soon as they come out because she is such a nice person (and I love her books) and when if we meet up we'll sit down for a coffee like the old friends we are.

Mom just turned 86 and I gave her a gift certificate at the local independent Last year I sent flowers.
"Books last longer than flowers," says Mom.

Kitty said...

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.

I do like to read about the writer and anything they like to share with the public, which is why I prefer blogs to any other social media. (I don't do twitter or instagram.) However, there's no bigger turn-off for me than to check out a writer's blog and find the writer hasn't updated it, or even dropped by to say hello. Why blog at all? It's like being asked out on a date with a guy who only has one thing on his mind.

Since I primarily read murder mysteries, the first place I check is Stop, You’re Killing Me!. Beyond that, I don't care if you're blogging or tweeting or instagramming or whatever. But if you do, be active on them!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I was trying to find the linky-link with my browser about the Google ad book. That's why it's not there. The Shark hasn't set it free yet. But I'm hanging around that cage as her statement the answers and help this book will provide intrigued me.

I did worry that I might need to swop over to Twitter. I'm on facebook and check it daily but don't always initiate comments. Mostly it's to comment on friend's feeds.

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

I have a FB page, but I'm rarely on FB. I use my account more for FB Messenger, since my younger kids and church friends like to communicate with that. I have the FB Messenger app on my phone, so I can stay in touch without having to visit FB which is cool, because FB is a huge time suck.

But I am on Twitter, and I have my blog (see my Blogger profile for the link). I have thought about whether I will activate an author page on FB when I get an agent & sell a book. I'm not sure. Certainly I'll put a webpage together as a static location for people to get info and links. Beyond that... I guess I'll listen to my agent's advice. :)

DLM said...

Facebook doesn't interest me in the slightest, and I spent too many years in IT to trust it (ask me whether I'd have a "smart" phone if I had any choice). If I ever did use it for marketing, which is a fairly good-sized "if", I would maintain a page for my book/books - not for Diane Major.

I'm on Twitter, do the blog thing, am extremely proactive in reading/linking/networking with blogs (and more), belong to Historical Fiction Online, and James River Writers, which is a remarkable writing community. In terms of marketing, my mind turns more on "what churches/universities/JRW events could I get myself into" than "how many followers do I have" but I understand the importance of digital exposure, and the span of its reach as opposed to that of real-world interactions. But then too ... as Janet says, WORD OF MOUTH.

Sharyn, your mom is brilliant!!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I have a personal Facebook, with little intention of doing an author one. I've got an author blog and I have Twitter, and while my blog is sort of a once a month reportage at the moment, I'm on Twitter regularly (and my fiancé just joined too!)

I read something pretty recently about somebody using Facebook ads to promote his books, but he had very stringent rules set up for himself to capitalize on their effectiveness vs. how much money he was putting into them (I think it was in PW or Kirkus, I'm book ordering at the library this week).

I have a couple Tiny Letters I'm signed up for, from authors. I'm not sure what it is about them that appeals to me so, when I myself am so dreadful at actually maintaining correspondence, but there it is. There was actually discussion on Twitter the other day about Tiny Letter vs. Mail Chimp as an author newsletter.

Kitty said...

DLM… I don’t have a smart phone; I have a flip phone and use Tracfone service, which costs me $107/YEAR (which includes tax). We have not cancelled our landline phone service, either, although both of our grown children have. They both have smart phones, and their children have smart phones, which cost each family at least $350/MONTH. And still we rarely have any meaningful communication with any of them. Nothing more than snippets of info via txt. As someone who loves words, I find it depressing that with all of our reach-out-and-touch-y’all technology, we communicate less and less.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm on my way to babysit the Wee Weathers, but I shall return with some sort of pithy comment. However, I did have to say I am in lust with that elk horn hat rack.

Unknown said...

I have resisted Facebook for lo these many years, but I am considering getting on it. It's not that I am anti-Facebook per se, more that I feel I haven't needed it. To the issue Jennifer raises, do people have thoughts on whether a separate personal vs. author Facebook is the way to go, or does having one work just fine?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Mark, I read one article about a person who had only a personal facebook page and invited their book fans to like their personal page. Only to find that it became awkward when they wanted to share something personal to family and fans didn't want to hear about it. I'll try to find that article for you. Facebook does have different privacy settings so you could set or group your posts accordingly.

Found the post about facebook.

And perhaps Donnaeve might know some pros and cons about facebook.

Amy Johnson said...

OT: I'm partial toward the moose hat rack. But I couldn't have one in my home. It would remind me too much of the frustration, the awfulness I have experienced over the years trying to spot a moose in New England. Every time I travel there, I see those moose crossing signs, but I've never seen a moose. And believe me, I've looked. I don't just glance around either. I gaze. Gaze. I'm convinced there are no moose in New England, only in Alaska. It's all just a farce to get tourists there. Come to New England, where you'll find quaint inns and moose. It's a racket, I tell ya, a racket.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am a grumpfest. I do not have a FB. I do have a website. I have a Twitter full of furry pet pictures but that is a bad romance. It will have to do.

I dislike social media. I find it to be soul devouring, a nasty thing used for great evil more than the easy convenience it was intended for.

I love this blog. This is an exceptional virtual space. FB and all its kin can go choke on itself for all I care. As I said, I am a grumpfest.

Colin Smith said...

To answer Opie's question about Reider social media expectations from authors, as a Reader, I expect some kind of online presence. I like at least to be able to read about the author, and a get a list of books. In the event I enjoyed their book, I want to know what else they've written. It would also be cool if there's some means of contacting the author to let them know how much I enjoyed their work. A contact form is fine, but email or Twitter is preferable. It shouldn't be too hard for most people to set up an email for fan correspondence that is separate from personal or business email. And since I'm on Twitter, I would very likely follow them, and Tweet them to let them know I liked their book.

As a writer... I'm really not sure what changes I'll make to my social media presence, if any. I have noticed some writers give their blogs a facelift after they get a book deal (*ahem* Donna--but you're not the only one), I presume at the suggestion of their agent/editor. As I said before, I'll be open to suggestions on this front from my superstar agent. :)

Amy Johnson said...

Elise, I think you're going the right way with your website, then. I visited it recently, and you did not come across at all like a grump. That piece you wrote about your daughter's departure to NYC--I think I may have teared up. It was beautiful. :)

And agreed on the exceptionalness of this blog.

Donnaeve said...

The fence is an uncomfortable place to be, lemme tell ya.

I have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts. Frequency usage is as follows:

1 - FB
2 - Twitter
3 - Pinterest
4 - Instagram.

If I had to rank them on a scale of 1-10, for promoting books, etc, definitely a 10 for FB. I've used FB ads, they're cheap and effective.

The fence part.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media, mostly with FB. To some degree, like Elise said, it can be a soul sucker. It's hard sometimes to not have that "look at me!" perception. I often feel that way about my own postings - even when I try to be funny, self-deprecating, or witty.

Plus, I had to create a separate account apart from my personal one, and thus, double the work. This is because I want to share with my friends/family - since not ALL have "Liked" my author page. (FB only allows one invite per connection, and if they miss it, ignore it, or whatever, you can't repeat it - which I think is actually brilliant)

That said, I have met some wonderful book advocates and friends there.

Twitter - meh.
Pinterest - I love it, but am rarely out there - usually only to create a board for a new WIP. I love pictures and taking pictures, so it's very inspirational in that way.
Instagram - ugh. Hate it really. I don't find it very user friendly or intuitive. That could just be me.

Colin Smith said...

Amy: What makes this blog exceptional is, of course, its host and those that make up the community, which are some of the most exceptionalistingyful people on the interwebs. :D

Colin Smith said...

... of course, if everyone's exceptional, then no-one's exceptional. Except for the few who are not exceptional, but then they become exceptional because they are the unexceptional minority. OK... so as a subset of the internet, this blog is exceptional, and as a subgroup of "internet users" the commenters on this blog are exceptional. But within this community of commenters, y'all are pretty ordinary. Me too. ;D

Donnaeve said...

Oh, and as to the question on what social media presence is expected - I was provided with a cheat sheet on how to set up my Facebook Author page when Kensington started engaging with me after the book deal. They were happy I had a website with a blog. Bonus on Twitter, and the rest!

I.e., I had the sense they were happy these things had already been done.

The social media folks over there are wonderful. They're savvy and creative. All I'm expected to do is share out when they tag me, otherwise, I'll get a note from my editor that say, "Please promote via your social media as your schedule allows," when there's a book promo going on - i.e. currently this month, DIXIE DUPREE is $2.99 at all major ebook retailers, and I have to share that out - which I'm about to go do! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

This morning I am a "Grumpfest" because it's my first day back from vacation.

OT: Wow Donna and Colin, you guys got a lot of green and flowering-pollen producing plants down your way already. Back north in sweatshirt weather feels more normal for me. Okay, enough about me.

FB is wonderful, I love FB. That's about as social as I get.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Of all the available social media, I prefer facebook. I post once a day about the sanctuary, or my books, or an event I'm attending as an author. My posts are mostly uplifting and positive, with the occasional rant about the neglect of an animal/horse. And I don't allow it to become a rabbit hole. I post, check a few writing groups, see what close friends/family are up to, and that's it.

While my FB page is "personal" I treat it as a professional page. In other words... I don't talk about my second cousin's lack of hygiene or discuss the rare yet infuriating moments when my husband acts like an idiot.

I have a twitter account, but I don't get the value of it. Unless you're a celebrity, there is absolutely no interaction. My FB posts normally garner several 100 "likes, comments, shares" and so on. I tweet the same content? Cyber crickets. Colin, I'm curious what you like about twitter.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Did you say

DIXIE DUPREE is $2.99 at all major ebook retailers?

You mean, places like AMAZON?

Yeah, you need to let people know about that...


Colin Smith said...

Oh, and while you're placing an order for DIXIE DUPREE, don't forget to pre-order DEATH ON DELOS by Gary Corby. Also available through other retailers. :)

Casey Karp said...

Amy, based on my extensive personal experience (i.e. one brief visit), I can tell you that there are no mooses in Alaska either.

I'd be happy with any (or all!) of those racks, but if I had to pick one, it'd be the bat.

As to the social media, my expectation is that an author has a website, so I can find it quickly and easily via the Big G. Social media don't seem to percolate to the top of the search results as well as a website.

In my own case, the blog is paramount. I post regularly (three times a week), with a mix of book-related and random non-book subjects (including, of course, regular updates on the local cats).

I'm on Facebook and Twitter, but 90% or more of the posts on both are blurbs about the stories on the blog. Getting actively engaged on Twitter is such a huge time sink--I tried it for a while, and then stopped when I realized I wasn't getting any writing done.

But, like several others have said, if my agent-to-be or publisher-to-be recommends I make a change, I'll be more than willing to give it a shot. Not gonna push myself to keep doing something that doesn't feel right for me, though.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Colin ... To clarify: I can see the value of following various people on twitter who hold your/our interest, but how is it valuable to you when you tweet about your blog? When there seems to be limited or no interaction? Same with me, when I tweet about the sanctuary. Nothing. So, I just don't get the point.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thank you Amy. I am not always a grump. For some time, I have worried that social media is more dehumanizing than an aid to communication.

My concern has grown because of a book (of all things) that has been adapted into a Netflix series. The book, 13 Reasons Why came out about ten years ago. I remember my daughter reading it and asking me to do the same. I remember it caused a great many uncomfortable but necessary conversations at the time. It also caused me to forbid her social media and limit her phone usage. What else could I do to protect her? My daughter was in 8th grade at the time.

By the time she was a freshman in college, three of her high school classmates fell to suicide (the subject of the book). All three sudden and apparently with no warning to friends, family, or classmates.

The book follows the suicide of a young girl, Hannah, who has been bullied (this bullying made exponential because of the existence of social media, something I did not have to worry about at her age). She leaves 13 cassette tapes (an obsolete media chosen by design), one each for the worst of her tormentors. Each of them are given all thirteen tapes and they listen to them.

Right before Hannah slits her wrist, she delivers these tapes to a neutral party, a young man with his own demons to battle, to decide whether or not to deliver the tapes. He wants to do something for the now dead girl so he makes a copy of the tapes and then delivers them to each of them people in the order dictated.

The story (I believe both book and series) begins when the 12th boy gets the tapes and most of the other 11 are trying to cover up what is in the tapes, to cover up their guilt. By this time, Hannah's parents are filing suit against the school as they have some evidence that she has been tormented.

This past weekend, I was exhausted after a day of packing for my upcoming move. I fell onto my couch, and turned on Netflix and simply switched on the first thing suggested. It was the series, 13 Reasons Why adapted from the book.

The series is so well-done that it made the subject it covered even more devastating. Unlike when I was a teenager, there is no escape from the barbs and bullying that comes part and parcel with the poor impulse control and disconnected wires of the still-forming adolescent brain when armed with social media.

Now when a peer group attacks a young person, the whole world is invited to pile on. This is especially hard for a girl still forming her identity. When Hannah finds herself objectified (pictures passed around with sexually explicit comments to describe her all over social media), there is nowhere for her to hide. There is no privacy anymore. None. And so Hannah believed that death was the only place left to hide. It has been much on my mind this week. Sorry, off topic rant. Yes, social media is great for marketing your book. It's not great for humanity.

Colin Smith said...

Melanie: I asked myself the same question during this past election cycle. Ducking around all the flames and mud seemed like more effort than it was worth.

But then there are those who avoid getting political; they remind me Twitter can be a place for information, a smile, and maybe some fun interaction. Where else would I get the opportunity for a quick (and usually witty) dialog with Jeff Somers or Sean Ferrell? Or read Alex Guernachelli's and Alton Brown's responses to questions on cooking? (I'm not a good cook, but I live with some amazing cooks and have much respect for the art of creating good food. FirstBorn made bread rolls to go with supper last night from scratch that were easily as good, if not better than, store-bought or restaurant... and wifey's broccoli casserole is to DIE FOR...! But I digress...) Or get quick book tips? Or get the latest news before it hits the major news sources (I found out about a number of celebrity deaths on Twitter before they hit CNN et al.)?

And let's not forget the opportunity to connect with you guys "on the fly"--to send links I think you might find interesting, or ask questions via Direct Message that might not be appropriate for a larger audience (not inappropriate questions, I hasten to add... just things that might not be of interest to a lot of people).

Of course, there are days when I don't post anything to Twitter, and there are times when Twitter devolves into a roiling hate-fest. And I have to be careful I don't get sucked in. Time management, you know. But right now, I much prefer Twitter to FB.

Julie Weathers said...

I am returned.

I have a website. I just need to go through all the past posts and clean it up. When it got hacked all the pictures got deleted from the gallery so the links are broken.

The theory now is to make posts about odd things that people will wonder about in Rain Crow. "A gentleman would never discuss politics in front of a lady." Wrong. Horace Greeley had a female political reporter until she decided to publish an article about a politician's extra-marital affair in another paper.

I despise Facebook more every time Zuckerberg opens his mouth. Yes, yes, California needs to determine globalization of the world. Let me hop right on this agenda because California gets so many things right.

I have/had an author facebook page that got taken over by a Chinese spammer. I finally got it back and got rid of all the ads. My personal page is private and I rarely post on it these days.

I have twitter and don't use it that much because most of the publishing people I used to enjoy following have gone so political I have muted everyone. Does anyone in publishing actually talk about, you know, publishing anymore?

I guess if I ever get published I'll have a long, difficult discussion with an agent about social media and the joy of newsletters with artfully placed tussy mussies.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: I hear ya. There's a lot of potential good with social media, but unfortunately there are too many people who don't know how to be responsible with such tools. Probably the biggest fault with social media is the fact that you can be anonymous, and therefore tweet/post without accountability (at least, without perceived accountability). This leads to a lot of the kind of activity you describe. Another drawback--and this is especially true of Twitter--is that the nature of the format leads to unrealistic expectations. For example, most well-thought out positions on any subject, whether political, philosophical, theological, literary, etc., require more than 140 characters to express. Indeed, often they need paragraphs, pages, even books, to develop and express. This doesn't make them bad arguments--quite the contrary. Reducing such arguments to 140 characters, and posting them in that format, puts you on the record for things you would elsewhere say better, or things that can easily be misconstrued. This leads to wrong impressions, offense, misunderstanding, and so on. And yet it seems a lot of people would sooner accept a bad argument from Twitter than actually read a fuller expression of that argument elsewhere. And for some it seems if you can't express your thoughts in 140 characters, then you have nothing to say.

But I don't think Twitter was ever intended for that kind of communication. And I try not to use it that way. If I need to say something that could be misunderstood, or cause offense, if I try to say it in 140 characters, I don't say it--at least not on Twitter. Even using multiple Tweets. I'm not so full of myself I feel I need to pontificate on every subject to all my Twitter followers.

Clearly I save the pontificating for these comments... ;)

(Which leads to the whole issue of social media making everyone an instant publisher, leading to a lot of people having an over-inflated sense of their own importance... but I've gone on too long as it is.)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin You are exactly right. Complex ideas are ill-suited for 140 character tweets or easily remembered and repeated talking points. Again, more dehumanizing than an aid to communication. And too easily misinterpreted.

If used responsibly, twitter, FB, etc can be great tools. But it has become tough to sift through the sewage. Anyhow, as more often than not, I do agree with Colin.

Julie Weathers said...


I have formed some acquaintances on twitter, some surprising. Several movie stars well known authors that I visit with regularly and actually discuss world events with. I know, would have guessed I have a brain? A champion lady race car driver I did a blog post on a few years ago. She's pretty fascinating. I met an artist who used to do a lot of covers for romance novels and a multiple award winning model for romance novels through social media. I did blog posts on them also.

I asked @chefnathonlyon if it was true chefs have throngs of adoring women. I said it was for research. He said alas not for him, but now all of our correspondence comes with #throngsofadoringwomen, which makes him laugh. I actually was curious as I had seen three murder mysteries in a row where women were lusting after chefs and thought, "Really? Chefs?"

Diana Gabaldon is one of the savviest people I have seen when it comes to social media and fans. They adore her. So, I will probably, if I ever get published, try to adopt her stance,. She seldom discusses politics or religion. She tries to be very gracious to her fans, even the rabid ones. She tries to be helpful. She shares herself and her work and promotes the hound out of it.

Sherry Howard said...

I feel like the kid who might not fit in at the party because I LOVE social media. I think the good far outweighs the bad. I've found such support and camaraderie from the writing community that it energizes my writing in a way nothing else does.

I have a small victory to share. It's not uncommon for picture book authors to have a direct relationship with publishers. So, while I'm still searching for an agent for my YA (several fulls out and a publisher-direct offer turned down on this one-because JR's blogs helped me decide to run) I've signed a contract with a small publisher for a picture book. I'm happy because this book was written with children with autism in mind, and I'm happy it found a home.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Yes--that's why I'm still on Twitter. It's a great place for that kind of contact/interaction with people you might not otherwise find.

Sherry: CONGRATULATIONS!!! :D That's no small victory! Celebrate!! Ultimately, I think each person needs to evaluate why they're using social media, and to choose the media type that makes sense to them, their personality, and the amount of time they have. Some people find it enriching, others don't, and there's a lot of people in between. I don't think it's the answer to everything, but it's not the great evil either. My bottom line advice: try it before you dismiss it, but be responsible.

Sam Mills said...

I think the advice about knowing your audience is key. I'm 32--my generation was the first to hop on the Facebook bandwagon (back when you needed a college email address to sign up!), and everyone I know starting petering out on FB when their extended families joined. The generation behind me DEFINITELY prefers anything but Facebook, so depending on your target audience you're going to see the Internet winds a-changing over the next few years. Which is kind of the one rule of any social media platform: it's the biggest thing until the next big thing.

Donnaeve said...

Congrats Sherry!!!

Why, yes, Colin, I did say that - all major e-book retailers meaning DIXIE is $2.99 for the Kindle whatever, Kobo, Nook, etc...


While I'm out here self-promoting. (I beg mercy from QOTKU) THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET is also available for pre-order. Release date is Dec 26, 2017. (shhh, and it's a Publisher's Lunch Buzz Book for Fall/Winter 2017-2018 AND a SIBA Trio pick for 2018 - !!!!)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: So much for being the struggling, unappreciated writer who lives for her art, and whose work waits 50 years to be "discovered" by some obscure literary scholar looking to build his academic reputation with a breakthrough paper that will set the literary world on its head...

... I guess you'll have to go with Plan B and continue to write awesome books to critical acclaim. Congrats! :D

Barbara Etlin said...

I use social media as a way to connect with people who have similar interests. While most of them are other children's writers or illustrators, I try to meet others who are not, but may be interested in humour, poetry, or kids' books.

I know that I've sold some books through my blog, SCBWI-Verla Kay children's writers' forum, and Twitter connections. I've also bought books because I know people from these places (and this blog).

One medium I've avoided so far is Facebook.

Lennon Faris said...

Hmm... I always thought I wasn't a blog person. Then I started a blog, had a few inspiring moments, and realized for sure that I am definitely not a blog person. (At least not at the moment.)

I wonder if I should just take it down? I do get annoyed when I look someone up and find only outdated stuff.

Sherry and Donna - congratulations to you both!!

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: Entirely your call, but I think often people over-think blogging. Every post doesn't have to be Pulitzer-worthy. You can post pictures, or just share a few lines about the book you're reading (or have just read), or something that strikes you as funny... or even post some links to interesting things you found online. All these things give visitors a little insight into your personality.

If you want to take a break for a while, post an article stating the fact. At least that way it doesn't look as if you've just abandoned the blog. Appearing intentional gives you credibility. It's the same if you're lost, or you're wandering around someplace you perhaps shouldn't be--if you walk with purpose and look like you know what you're doing, people won't think anything of it. They'll assume you know where you're going or what you're doing. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you all. This conversation is very helpful to me. I started a writing-related blog, but believed it took too much time away from other writing. I got on twitter, just to follow writerly people. I've learned a lot and am having fun, but it's definitely a time-sucker, probably more than blogging. And blogging is at least actual writing. I have a website for my "real work," and the connections I have are through LinkedIn. I had a FB page for my antique business hobby, but didn't like it at all, (and I've given up the store; I have to steal writing time from somewhere!)

I kind of wanted to give up social media, but an agent asked whether I had a blog or website. Others will ask that too. So, I'm going to 1) stay on twitter, but not try to build a following, 2) make a small static website that links to my publications and blog, and 3) blog with real writing (i.e., not for a following or comments, but just to post thoughtful writing on various topics) twice a week. This should give me the social media presence I need along with writing examples to reference. I thought I just had to write a book, but successful writers really do need to build a business!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I live in NH and do have moose. Had one in my frog pond once and you do see them along the roads.
If you see a lot of cars stopped along the Kanc and people carrying cameras. We call it a Moosejam.
In my audio tour we remind people that moose are not friendly, they are just not afraid of you. And they are quite large.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Hey! I just got Dixie Dupree for 2.99 for my kindle. Thanks for letting us know Donna!
My book budget is minimal these days so I am well known at both libraries here.

Amy Johnson said...

Sharyn, Doing a little work for the tourism bureau? How much do they pay people to keep up the charade? ;)

John Davis Frain said...

"**(if you're reading this in six months-ie October 2017 and beyond please note!)"

Thought I'd help out a little and work on my time-travel skills at the same time. OMG, my dials are loose and I hit six years instead of six months.

I'm EXHAUSTED! And I better be careful lest I bump the dials again.

Anyway, nobody uses Facebook anymore. Everyone was just looking at


Susan said...

Twitter has changed so much since I started using it in 2007/2008 (holy guacamole, has it really been ten years?). Back then it was really about forming connections and having conversations. I loved it, and I met a slew of writers in my area that way. Sadly, now everyone seems to be screaming and no one is listening--at the very least, no one is interested in conversation. Because of that, it's lost a lot of the appeal for me, but I still think of it as a water cooler of sorts and I like to micro-blog when I'm feeling particularly moved to share philosophies.

Blogging is similar. I've always been a fiction writer, but as for public writing, I started out with blogging--mostly personal development stuff, sharing stories about my life. It's freeing to me to have this outlet and be able to share my thoughts with the world--whether or not anyone cares to hear them is up to them, but they're there. I met some of my closest friends through blogging--online friendships taken offline. In fact, one of my very best friends is someone I met online when I was a teenager. It's been twenty years, and we still haven't met in person. Connections are made where you look for them.

These days my blog is mostly about my advocacy efforts and and writing, but I'm still grateful for the outlet and the friendships I've made through it.

Facebook is the biggie for me. I prefer it now simply because of how I'm able to connect with people. I'm also allowed to be as verbose as I want to be (I can still hear my sister-in-law calling to my brother after reading one of my posts: "Brian! Your sister wrote another book on Facebook!") Ah, but I have much to say and I like words.

My philosophy when it comes to social media is to do what moves you. If it feels authentic and genuine, keep doing it. If it feels forced, why expend that energy? There are many options for building your platform--choose the one that feels the most natural to you. That's when you'll start to see the return.

Susan said...

OT: Hi everyone! The past weeks have been a roller coaster, but I've been popping in and out of here to see what's happening. A blanket congratulations for all the happy news and sending lots of good writing vibes to all.

Jill Warner said...

As one of those on the younger end of the spectrum (for now anyway), I really don't like Facebook all that much. It feels too pushy. Now, coming from my work as a UX (user experience) designer, as you're figuring out what works for you, something to consider is WHAT the audience's purpose is when they're looking up an author on social media. Typically they're a) trying to find out more about the books because they're already interested and/or b) they want to know more about the author themselves.

Craig F said...

Discussing social media makes me tired. Of course it harvest time and I'm tired anyway.

I opened a Facebook page to stuff an invention of mine into Nissan's face. After that I was thinking of doing something with it but then Frito-Lays wanted me to follow them on it. I declined and it grew incredibly commercial without me.

My thought process doesn't work in 140 characters so I passed on Twitter.

I think a blog should show your personal face. I am not there at this time. I do have to admit that I have a problem, at times, with blogs just being about selling your books. I check blogs to discover the hidden thought processes of some writers whose work I find enticing. I check Donna's because she is Donna but I can respond better in personal situations. Dead blogs are a definite turn off.

I guess I am going to have to write something other people will talk about.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I do work for tourism here in NH. But believe me we have moose and you can see them. Right place, right time. One road north of me is called Moose Alley for that reason.
I've seen them when we're out driving and I have seen their hoof prints in the driveway.
We also have bears, fox, otters, and raccoons and that's just in the back yard. Plus bobcats but I haven't seen one.
I'm on the edge of the National Forest which is about 800,000 acres. I see Mount Washington from my house. It is still snow covered but melting fast.

gypsyharper said...

If I'm trying to find information about an author or their books, I look for a website. I follow a few authors on Facebook, but I wouldn't say it's driven me to purchase their books as they're primarily people whose books I buy anyway (though it does serve as a nice reminder when they have a new book coming out). Jacqueline Carey and Maggie Stiefvater both have great Facebook presences - they're really fun to follow because they post a lot of things besides just about their books. I feel like Facebook is a nice way to connect with your fans, but as Janet said, if it's not something you enjoy, it probably doesn't help much.

Beth Carpenter said...

Casey, there are plenty of moose in Alaska, but they always hide when you're trying to find them. Last week one was blocking traffic on Tudor (a main street), when my son was already late for work. They also have habit of lounging in the middle of cross-country ski trails at the bottom of hills where it's hard to stop. I did once see one eating the flowers in front of the Welcome to Anchorage sign near the airport. I always wondered how the tourist bureau arranged that.

Amy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Johnson said...

Your surroundings must be beautiful, Sharyn. I had just thought to come back and delete my last comment, on the off chance anyone didn't realize I was just joking around. I don't really think there's a racket. :) The thought of offending anyone makes me shrink inside.

I've seen so many moose crossing signs in New England, usually when traveling through Vermont. It's a joke in my family that for years I've looked and looked and looked, and have yet to see a moose. I have, however, had Moose Tracks ice cream while in New England. And it was yummy.

BJ Muntain said...

I'm sorry. I haven't read all the comments yet. I just had to speak to the Janet's response.

A writer friend of mine has been following the marketing efforts of another writer very closely. A traditionally published author in YA steampunk, he'd had some success self-publishing his back list. He decided to try an experiment and self-publish a new YA paranormal. By all accounts, it's a good book. But after putting $2000 into making it as professional as he could (cover, editing), after putting in all the marketing he was learning from a marketing 'professional', he wound up losing $1300. Now my friend is wondering if all the marketing advice she's hearing ("you should do this" and "you must do that") is worthwhile. She was pushing, today, for 'numbers' - as in, what numbers are there out there to support various types of marketing. She's been finding specific authors who are posting their own results. She insists that the numbers have to be 'out there somewhere'. But those numbers don't mean anything, either, except to the authors involved. There are too many variables involved, including the human mind. And there is nothing so frustrating as trying to figure out the human mind.

I told my friend, it's important to have a website. When she wanted the proof, she understood it was necessary as a means for people to contact her and see who she is - not a means for selling. Which is true. I told her a newsletter is the most useful of the social marketing tools, but she insisted on proof. Reasoning (as in, the people who subscribe to your newsletter are more likely to buy your book because they're already invested in you) didn't fly, because this author who 'lost' money has a great newsletter, but he still lost money, and she never buys from newsletters, anyway. I never said, "Have a good newsletter and you'll be a bestseller." I'd just said that it was one of the best such tools in marketing books. But she insisted on 'proof'. I don't have that proof, beyond common sense, things I've heard from other authors (including this one who 'lost' money, by the way), and Janet's blog.

Folks, marketing is not a science. Marketing is the art of guessing what will make people buy something. If marketing were a science, there would be no marketing failures. Everyone would know exactly what to do to become a bestselling author, and no one really does (no matter how many marketing pros there are out there who claim to do this. Many of them become 'bestsellers' by writing books on how to become a bestseller.)

There is no one way to become a bestseller. There is no one way to market a book successfully. And there are no numbers to back any of this up. I tried to explain to my friend that the number one reason people buy books is 'word of mouth', but there's no way of measuring that. She insists there must be some way of measuring it.

Honestly, it all depends on the product and the way it is sold. And that will be different for each product (each book, each series, each author) and for each method of sales (online, bookstore, library, book signing, newsletter, word of mouth).

And it depends on the buyers - humans whose minds we can't comprehend. Who would have thought a fan-fiction erotica would become a run-away bestseller? Who could have known that a story for children about wizards in a wizard school (this wasn't the first such story written, by the way) would break all the records?

The best you can do is be you. The best you can do is talk to people, be social on social media or in real life, get your name and your book out there. And once it's out there - no matter how it's published - it's completely up to the very human buyers how well it will do.

Theresa said...

I have two FB accounts. The author one is linked to my Twitter account, so I use that for posting about books and writing.

I also like FB for its various reading and writing groups. It's possible to carry on more sustained conversations there. (And I just helped launch a nonfiction group called Illuminate.)

Twitter helps me keep current with all kinds of news, though I try to confine my tweets to topics about reading and writing.

My blog hasn't been too active lately since I'm at the working-on-a-proposal stage. But I try to post something new there are least once a month.

It feels like kind of basic social media activity. Still, I enjoy it and think it's a good way to connect with people who will likely be interested in what I write about.

Lennon Faris said...

"I think often people over-think blogging."

Colin, in the fourth grade, my Girl Scout group was focusing on earning badges. You could pick which badge you wanted to work on, so I chose the one on 'good deeds.'

I was commissioned to do three good deeds. I thought it was the greatest badge ever and imagined all kinds of adventures I would go through.

But by the next meeting, my leader asked me what I'd done and I said, "Nothing yet!" I couldn't believe she thought I'd already accomplished it because I assumed it meant I had to save a baby or rescue a princess or something equally dramatic. She of course, couldn't believe I hadn't accomplished one single good deed in a week.

So yeah, I over-think about everything :) Good thoughts though. Thanks!

MA Hudson said...

I use Instagram the most but that's because I've always loved taking photos of curious things. To build a big following on it you need to 'like' strangers' posts and leave comments on their posts. I only do that on posts I genuinely like. Lots of times I get a lot a new follower and they turn out to be a just a commercial brand - a real estate business or 'lifestyle consultancy' etc.
On twitter I follow people who make me laugh (shallow, I know) and so far have only retweeted rather than posted anything original. Facebook I've just put my little toe in, to see that it feels like.
I've got a website up and running and from what I've gleaned here, that's the most important thing.

John Davis Frain said...


That was a fun-tabulous story. I smiled the whole way through as I found it so cheerful to sneak a look in on your girl scout meeting. (Please, don't take that out of context!)

You must be a writer.

MA Hudson said...

Oh, and as I write Middle Grade fiction, I'm not sure how I can reach that audience, other than using snap chat but that would embarrass my kids no end, as well as being a whole new skill set/language to conquer!

BJ Muntain said...

Regarding my use of social media - I'm afraid I haven't been as authorly lately as I should, though I know better. I have a Twitter account I love, though I don't tweet or read nearly as much as I used to. I have a Facebook author page, but I rarely use it and I don't link to it. I'll do better when I have something to sell, but Facebook pages are not the best way to get your information out there, anyway. Facebook's algorithms work against pages, not for them. My website is available, but I haven't been keeping the blogs up.

I resisted Facebook for as long as possible - until a) my entire family went onto Facebook, and it was how they decided they wanted to keep in touch, and b) I needed to join it so I could manage our non-profit's Facebook page. I now use it for mostly family and friends, and I am quite knowledgeable about the privacy settings, and keep them in mind every time I post.

Pinterest: I use it mostly to keep groups of links together, like certain recipes, or events I want to attend when I visit NYC, or friends' books.

Instagram: I'm very new to Instagram. I haven't posted anything yet, as I'm not sure I really like my tablet's camera and I need to find the cord from my digital camera to hook up to my computer. The biggest problem with Instagram is that you HAVE to have a mobile device (preferably a cell phone) to set up and post to an account. I don't have a cell phone at this time, just my landline and a tablet that requires WiFi to use. And not all tablets can be used for this.

One thing I've done, though, is I've joined a few Facebook groups. One of them is very active, and very good, with a sister group for writers. The group is called 'Space Opera', and the sister group is 'Space Opera: Writers'. They're both active, well-maintained, and I may have developed a bit of a following there.

If you can find a group or groups like that on Facebook for your genre, join it/them. SO:W is supportive, informative, and full of interesting people. I understand there are other such groups that are not as supportive or useful, but if you look around, you may find others.

Why Twitter? Well, there are a lot of great people with a lot of good information there. And it's great to get into conversations with some of these great people. I met James Scott Bell and Chuck Wendig and many others on Twitter, and then I met them in person at conferences. I also follow hashtags I'm interested in at a certain time. There are ways to limit the things you see.

Are there problem people? Yes, but you can report them and block them. And I do. If someone is insulting someone else (individuals or a group), I'll let Twitter know. They may or may not do something about it, but I'll then block them so I never have to see them again. I'm also careful about who I follow. I don't follow back just anyone who follows me, because that way lies madness. I'll follow back anyone from this blog, by the way - but you may have to let me know where I know you from. If I haven't followed you back, I don't remember who you are or I can't tell from your Twitter information.

AmyJ: Come to Saskatchewan. We have moose. I once saw a family of three moose right by the highway on the way from Regina to Saskatoon. Heck, we've had moose come right into the city.

Annndd.... that's a lot of posting for today. Sorry. It's a topic I'm passionate about, obviously.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Don't worry, I'm sure all of us living in moose country knew you were joking.But you're going to hear all our moose stories now.
I know someone here who made earrings out of moose droppings. I'm not joking!
Yes it is a beautiful place. Winter is getting tougher or I'm getting tired of it. At least we have a new tractor to help with the long hilly driveway. It has been a record snow year and is still up to my knees in the back forty (feet). Ramona is thrilled to see spring is here and made it up to the garden today with just a little wet foot.
You come here, we'll find you a moose. Best time is spring or fall, dawn or twilight and by moosey water. They like mucky ponds.
I was once on a hike with a friend and came face to face with two young ones. We just all looked at each other. The people stepped aside and the moose continued down the path.
Life in the woods.

Lennon Faris said...

John (mss) Frain - glad you found it amusing. Your comments ALWAYS crack me up!

Sam Hawke said...

I have a FB account in my writing name (this one) and a separate personal one. The writing one is public and so are all my posts. They don't contain any information or photos of my family (though my dogs are fair game). I'm happy to be friends with anyone on there (though equally happy to drop them off if aggressive or hateful crap starts coming up in my timeline). I talk about writing related things on there, plus anything else I think is funny or interesting and not too personal. Hopefully once my book comes out and, heaven forbid, I might actually have people who read it and who are interested, this can be a way of connecting with readers.

The personal one is reserved for actual friends in real life, and I use it for staying in touch and connected with friends and family across the country and the world. I never post publicly from there.

I find this split works nicely for me.

I also use twitter (am not a HUGE poster, though I am addicted to reading it) and starting a bit with instagram.

Brittany said...

I hate Facebook. Haaaate. Don't trust the company, don't like the kinds of conversations that happen there. I deleted my account a few years ago and it felt so damn good. But after my last workshop it became clear that I couldn't avoid it any longer.

Luckily at that same workshop, a writer friend had the brilliant suggestion of getting a cheap Kindle just for Facebook. Got one for $30 off Woot and it's done the trick. I also set up Hootsuite so I can easily cross-post. I don't post anything super personal on it (I have Twitter and Tumblr for that) but it's there.

AJ Blythe said...

Coming in late after a totally delightful day. We have a four-day public holiday for Easter (it's now Good Friday evening) and today had picture-perfect autumn weather. The Barbarians, The Hub and I saw the new Lego Batman movie and then a friend and I went for a long walk in the local hills with our dogs. Still smiling.

When I hunt for an author I always look for their website. Usually they have an 'about me' page which I always read, but the most imporant page is the 'books' page. I have a rather OCD need to read books in order, plus if I like an author I want to know when their next book comes out. So for me, the website is really all that I need.

BJ Muntain said...

Sam: FB frowns on having two personal accounts and has been known to delete accounts that aren't in someone's 'real' name. Just saying - tread carefully there, and you may not want to be too vocal about it. (I wouldn't have said anything, but if anyone else is considering doing this, they may want to know the risk.)

Twitter, on the other hand, doesn't give a whit. I currently have four accounts on Twitter - one personal account (which I never use), my writing account @BJMuntain, an account for my now-deceased pooch @KokoMuntain, and an account I set up for a Twitter experiment where I posted a short story, one 5-tweet chapter per day for 21 days. I may try something like that again someday.)

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