Social networking and marketing – is there a happy medium?

Today, two writers whom I admire have updated their blogs with very similar subjects. As both have resonated with me, I thought I’d share them here.

* What I won’t do to sell more books – Nicola Morgan

I’m at least moderately at ease with how things are for me as a writer, even though I earn far less than I believe I deserve, mainly because I am not selling many books. (In fact, I plan to reveal everything about my modest self-publishing sales quite soon…)

I know there are things I could do which would make me sell more books.

  1. Stop writing so many different sorts; focus on one genre and write lots within it. (There’d be nothing wrong with that but I happen to want to write lots of different things.)
  2. Or cut back on being a writer and bust a gut to do more marketing. (Because as far as I know there are only 24 hours in a day and I can’t stay awake for all of them.)
  3. Be strictly market-focused, deliberately tailoring the books I write to have a far greater mass appeal, even though those are not the books I really want to write. (Nothing wrong with them but they don’t beat my heart.)
  4. Ask all my friends, family, blog-readers and Twitter followers to write fantastic reviews on Amazon, even if they haven’t read my books. (Ugh.)
  5. Do many more events, and really push my books at them, instead of my usual pathetic, “I’ve *cough* got some cards here with info about my books, if *cough* *mumble mumble*”. (Sigh.)
  6. Spatter Twitter with BUY MY BOOK messages instead of spending 99% of my time there talking about other things and making friends. (Ugh.)
  7. Care much less about what people think of me. (Impossible.)

Nicola goes on to explain why she won’t do any of these things, and from the many comments her article has received, it looks as if she’s not alone. I’m certainly in full agreement with her sentiments. Read the full article here

* Putting the “Social” Back in Social Media – Jody Hedlund

Lately, I’ve observed a disturbing trend among the writing community on social media sites—the lack of interaction. Hordes of writers are populating Twitter and Facebook. But over the past year, there’s been a steady decline in person-to-person socializing among all those writers.

Instead of having real-time communication, nowadays social media—particularly Twitter—has become one big infomercial.

As I watched the live stream of tweets one morning, almost every tweet was a plug for something. Here are just a few of the tweets I saw in about one minute of looking:

“I’d love more ‘likes’ on my FB Author Page. Help me out, but only if you want to [insert link].”

“Some of the best fantasy in the world comes from right here [insert blog]. Stop by and follow to keep up with the best.”

“Don’t forget your favorite vampire antho is now in the #kindle store! [insert link]”

For every one tweet from someone attempting to have a real conversation, there were about 10 tweets from people promoting books, blogs, businesses, or some other social media site.

The twitter stream that morning was mostly SPAM. And watching it disheartened me.

Jody suggests a number of reasons for the decline of socialising on social media sites; her observations, and the comments that contribute to the discussion, are very interesting and informative. Aware of my own recent decline in social networking, this article has given me a lot to think about! Read the full article here.

These articles struck a chord within me because I’ve always felt that writing is something my soul needs to do, regardless of what happens to the finished product. I’m not sales-oriented (as a former manager will testify) and I find self-promotion very difficult as it makes me feel uncomfortable, even when it’s done on-line. I suppose I also begrudge giving up writing time to focus on marketing and self-promotion, even though I recognise that both are essential if I’m to sell any books.

I’ve recently grown increasingly shy about promoting my books on Twitter and Facebook, purely because I’m so irritated by authors who seem to do nothing else all day. I honestly believe that people who use social networking sites solely for marketing purposes are missing the point, but then I’ll never be a marketing expert 😉 Yes, they’re probably selling more copies of their books than I can hope to achieve, but I’m okay with that for now.

At the moment, I use Facebook primarily for links to my blog updates. On Twitter, I try to engage directly with others on my time-line, even if it’s infrequently, and I retweet items of personal interest. A once-a-day tweet links to my ‘Authors on Twitter’ virtual newspaper, but hopefully that brings enough variety to readers that it’s not seen as spam (feedback is welcome!)

What are your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites being used for marketing purposes?
If you follow any writers, artists, musicians, or other creative individuals, do you prefer them to engage on a personal level or do you expect them to maintain a purely professional/marketing presence and write only about their current or forthcoming projects?
Can there be a happy medium, with a good balance of sales-related information and more personal updates?
How do your favourite authors/artists etc manage their social networking?


* Note: I have not sought permission to re-post the above extracts, but I mean no harm in doing so and will remove them if the author(s) so request.

About johannanield

Welsh author of a contemporary British romance trilogy
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