With six novels (both trade-published and self-published) to her name, and an extensive following of loyal readers, Linda Gillard explains why she regards most social media activity as a waste of good writing time. Linda makes an exception for Facebook with which she happily engages on her author page.
The best way to promote your books is to keep writing and publishing new ones. New books stimulate interest in older books and keep your (hopefully insatiable) fans happy.
So the only social media I use is Facebook, via my author page. (I don't even use my personal page). I don't spend time on anything else. I have a website but I don’t Tweet and I don't have a personal blog. I guest blog when asked (which is quite often.) I’m happy to do that because it allows me to reach a wider market, and I always tailor my piece for the blog’s readership. My “cuckoo in the nest" approach means I can get to a lot of people who have never even heard of me. With a personal blog, I’d be largely preaching to the converted.
I restrict my interaction with social media because I don't believe anything else sells (in significant quantities) the kind of books I write: non-genre, literary-ish fiction, aimed mainly at women.
Why I Use Only Facebook
Maintaining my Facebook author page (851 followers) is the minimum social networking I can live with, without fretting that I ought to follow the herd and do more - and there’s a lot of pressure now on indies to blog, tweet, have mailing lists, do Pinterest, Goodreads groups etc. (I do wonder whether the popularity of all these displacement activities stems from the fact that they’re a lot easier than actually writing books.)
I’ve found that Facebook does sell books, though not in large quantities. From a commercial point of view, the time I spend on Facebook would probably be better spent writing, but a lot of my fans have become friends, so my FB activity is now recreational as well as promotional.
In addition to reminding followers that there are books they haven’t bought yet Facebook sells my books to people who don’t even follow my page. Here’s how. My followers share news about my books, alerting their friends: "X, you’d love this & it's only 99p", ie they are target-marketing for me. Then X posts to say, "Looks good. I just clicked". That happens a lot. X & co. have no relationship with me. They often remark that they’ve never heard of me, but they click anyway or add me to their to-read list. They buy my books because of a personal recommendation from someone they trust – and that’s the main thing that sells books - readers talking about them. (Not authors talking about them.)
My Facebook Objectives
My engagement on Facebook has two objectives:
- To reach more people who are actual or potential readers of my books
- To make it as easy as possible for my readers to tell other people to read them (because their reach is much bigger than mine)
The relationship I have with my FB followers is just as much about their relationship with the books as with me. I think getting readers to engage with your books is much more important than getting them to engage with your website. (No one ever mentions my website to me apart from journalists.) I don’t believe readers really want extra content on websites or blogs, they want more books.
I know many authors will disagree and extol the virtues of Twitter & that ultimate time-guzzler, Pinterest, but I’d just like to reassure authors who struggle to manage demands on their time that it's possible to have a simpler, pared-down approach to social media and still sell a lot of books.
Or to put it another way: enthusiastic engagement with social media will not sell (m)any more books, so you might as well write.
Editor's Note: This guest post came about because I asked Linda's permission to reproduce some comments she'd left on ALLi's private Facebook forum, expressing her strong views in a discussion about whether or not social media sells books. By chance, earlier that day I'd posted a link in a personal Facebook group that I run, recommending to my own friends Linda's first novel, Emotional Geology, currently on promotion on Amazon for 99c/p. A timely piece of evidence for Linda's case!