Recently I wrote a blog entitled “The myth that social media sells books” (you can scroll down and read it if you like). I summarized my experience of the previous month where a couple of sites re-posted my blog and others re-tweeted it, blah, blah, blah and so on.
The bottom line was despite exposure to about 20,000 new people who “follow” or “like” these sites on social media the result was zero book sales.
I know you’ve read this before and probably really wish I’d get over it and mostly I have, though occasionally I have a slip, like last month. But wait, this time someone actually responded to my rant and it wasn’t some generic “like”, the equivalent to if you show me yours than I’ll show you mine.”
The comment appeared on BookLikes, one of the sites where I post my blog. It was articulate and put forth a different point of view, even asked for my opinion.
I responded, others chimed in, and then the fun began.
I don’t want to prejudice any reader(s) so rather then give you my interpretation of this online conversation (that’s up next), I thought I’d post it in it’s entirety. If you’re an author there’s actually some ideas about how to promote your book you might find useful. If you’re not you might find it interesting how an innocuous online conversation can spiral out of control.
This may be commonplace for all I know, not being one to engage in online chats, but I found this exchange fascinating in an unproductive sort of way.
I’d be interested in hearing comments though it’s not likely I’ll respond, follow, friend or even like you.
So here begins the thread (or is it the stream) with the first comment about my blog:
Carpe Librum: On the other hand, you have to have a platform or nobody will know your books exist. I agree that we can’t get too caught up in followers and likes, but I don’t think my recent book release would have gone nearly so well if it were not for my presence on Goodreads and Twitter especially. My blogs on historical topics related to my book topic also tend to increase sales on the days that I promote them on Twitter. Where do you think book promotion is most effective?
Rod Raglin (that’s me): Thanks for reading my rant and your question.
Where do I think book promotion is most effective? I have no idea, though I’m glad you’ve had positive response using social media. It could very well be the problem isn’t social media, but my writing. The solution in that case is to try to write better books and believe me I’m trying.
(This is the end of the short answer. You might want to quit here.)
Among my artistic friends, most (all) more talented the me, when the topic of our moribund careers come up, and we really don’t obsess about it, well, maybe we do, the consensus now is you need to build a critical mass of followers. How to do that and keep your integrity intact seems to be a challenge.
Other suggestions are to have someone famous endorse your work, like a Kardashian?
Hmmm. Do those young ladies actually read? Does it matter?
When I get frustrated I go back and consider why I write:
– I love it. I mean, I actually can’t think of many things I’d rather do than sit in a room by myself and create a fantasy world. Really.
– I love the research. I always go where I’ve never been before. It might be the career of a character, it might by a plot line, it might be a setting, it might even be a new approach to writing.
– I enjoy the connection, like this with you, Carpe. The interaction and discourse with other writers and readers.
Success would be icing on the cake.
I’m open to suggestions, yours or anyone else out there. How do you promote your books? If you’re a reader, what attracts you to a new book?
I’m listening – and grateful.
Carpe Librum: I wasn’t successful sales-wise until I published a book that appealed to the kind of readers that I am already connected with through Goodreads. Previously, I wrote two children’s books that received positive reviews, but the word just never really got out about them. My adult historical fiction novel has been selling better than I would have hoped for, so I’ve looked at what I’ve done differently. Besides the audience that I already have a relationship with, I’ve joined a historical fiction Tweet group. We retweet each other on Twitter once each day, sharing each others posts with our own followers and greatly increasing the number of people that see each individual post. I have also done some guest blogging besides my own blog. I don’t know exactly what the magic formula was, but I have sold more copies of this book on some single days than I have my first novel since it was released.
Rod Raglin: Some good ideas here, but I think you may have just written an excellent book. Still, I’m going to start looking for a Commercial/Literary/Eco-Fi/Contemporary Romance Tweet group so we can re-tweet each other’s tweet tweets …or something like that.
Carpe Librum: Ha! You may need to create that group, though I think there’s a ASMSG group that does general fiction. My problem with that is then you end up having to tweet a bunch of romance.
RedThaws Reads Randomly: Rod, just a suggestion, but Carpe Librum and several other authors on BookLikes follow at least some of their Followers, and interact with them. Not saying that that helps them, but my perception as a reader is that it does. Just saying.
I wish you luck. I’ve read your reviews with pleasure, not your books yet, but one of them is on my TBR. Based on what I’ve seen you write on here, I’m expecting it to be a pleasure to read.
Carpe Librum: I do try to interact here mostly as a reader. If I have ever annoyed anyone with too much talk about my books, they haven’t made me aware of it.
RedThaws Reads Randomly: Carpe, if you stopped interacting here, you would be missed.
Troy’s Blog: Hi. I got redirected here by RedTHaws, thought I’d take a look. Hope my two cents are worth something. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter, and I barely even look at Goodreads anymore. The reason I read Samantha’s (Carpe Librum’s) book is because it was in my wheelhouse. The reason I pre-ordered it and read it immediately is because we interacted about it and had a common interest. She’s friendly and awesome, so that helps too. Turns out, it was worth the immediate shift in gears too. But what led to that? She made the choice to follow me, which led me to discover her through our interactions on blog posts we both write.
The point of what I’m trying to say is this. youI don’t know what your schedule is like or how much you want to put into this, but sometimes the least likely can be the most effective. Odds are good Samantha would never have found me otherwise. Turns out, I’ve made a friend, and she got a loyal reader.
Carpe Librum: Thank you! That is very sweet of you to say.
Troy’s Blog: You earned it honestly.
Carpe Librum: *blushes* I hadn’t even seen Troy’s post yet! You guys are giving me an ego boost and warm fuzzies today!
Troy’s Blog: Behold, the power of reaching out and making friends. And I say that as a bona fide hermit.
Carpe Librum: Yes, it’s a good thing we’ve all met online rather than in person or we would never speak to each other. Weird species, introverts.
Troy’s Blog: Weirdest of the weird, absolutely. lol
Rod Raglin: Sounds like we’ve got a budding online romance going here – blushing, honesty, warm fuzzies, sweet, reaching out. OMG! I’m happy for you both and to think it was initiated by something I wrote – actually something negative. As Troy says, that’s “weirdest of the weird”.
Let me inject a little bit of reality into this conversation, that would be my reality, not necessarily anyone else’s.
I use to recruit friends, followers, tribe members, whatever. One day I was bragging to my wife about how virtually popular I was and she said, “Do you know any of these people?” No. “Do you read their Facebook posts or Tweets?” No, of course not. I mean, if I did there would be no time to do anything else – like write. “Then what makes you think they’re reading anything you post?”
Don’t you hate it when someone does that? Actually makes sense. Isn’t it always worse when it’s your partner?
So, here’s the question – is it fair to let people assume you’re interested in them, in what they’re doing, when really you’re only interested in promoting your own agenda?
Before you answer remember integrity is what you do when nobody’s watching.
This could all change if Red actually reads that book of mine on her TBR list and posts a review – well, maybe not, but I’d think about it.
I’m glad Samantha (may I call you that or is it still too early?) has found Troy, or is it the other way around. I’m really glad Troy bought her book, since that’s what it’s all about, or have I got that wrong.
Could I be like Carpe, friendly and awesome as Troy says? Could I seize the day or at least a follower as apparently she has?
Would it really make a difference – where it counts?
Troy’s Blog: Yeah, you got that wrong. I made friends with Samantha before I knew she was a writer (or what that little icon saying she was meant). And yes, it would make all the difference with the introverted. Most people who read are introverts. Most people who dedicate this much time and energy on a blogging site are introverts who need an outlet to talk and make friends and share ideas.
In the words of Princess Leia, “If money is all you love, then that is all you’ll receive.” Except you won’t, because on a social media site, nobody will care if you don’t. But your honesty is appreciated. Saves me time, effort, and, well, money. The old business adage… you lose customers one at a time, and negative word of mouth travels faster than the news.
As to integrity… nobody questions mine.
Good luck to you. You’ll need it.
Troy’s Blog: Oh, did I mention? BL is a very tight-knit community. Word travels very fast here. Looks like that negative word of mouth is already traveling at warp speed, and I didn’t even have to point it out. Congratulations on being clueless.
Rod Raglin: Sorry you took offense, Troy. I did say this is my reality and not necessarily anyone else’s – obviously not yours.
I try not to be delusional and believe me it’s a struggle. The only way I’ve found I can gauge my success as a writer is through sales. Please tell Princess Leia it’s not about the money (what money?) it’s about improving as a writer.
Most people who read are introverts? Interesting.
Please continue to spread the word that I’m a nasty piece of work. Being big on adages you probably know this one, “even bad publicity is better than no publicity.”
Carpe Librum: I think that we were just disappointed that we had reached out to you, offered advice, and attempted to involve you in the Booklikes community, and it felt like we were, well, brushed off, to say the least.
I will say that if your attitude toward social media is that you have no intention of being social in terms of reading and commenting on other posts, then it is pretty much doomed to fail. My efforts in the social media department do take time, but it has been rewarding in more than sales. I do indeed have many online connections that I consider friends.
Troy’s Blog: Again you misunderstand. I have no reason to spread any word against you. You were offered a golden opportunity to make the most of the Booklikes community. You slapped down the offering hands. It’s a shame, but… so be it. If you don’t care, there’s no reason any of us should either. It’s like anything else. The opposite of caring about something isn’t hatred. It’s apathy. I merely state that the word is out, and I have done nothing to spread it. That’s just the nature of the beast in a tight-knit community. The difference here is that this community will keep talking about the things that matter. You’ve had your 15 minutes of infamy. Nobody cares after that.
For someone who’s stock in trade is words, you seem to have little grasp of deeper meaning.
Whew! So there you have it.
You can read the blog that started all this, The myth social media sells books,on
BookLikes with the original comments at
You can visit Carpe Librum on BookLikes site at
or at her blog at
You can find RedThaws Reads Randomly at
Troy blogs on BookLikes at
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.