When you come right down to it, a frequent presence on social media is probably the most effective way to promote your work. The only problem is that countless other authors are doing the exact same thing. How many are there? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? I have no idea. But, I will believe whatever large number that anyone throws out.
As many authors know, social media promotion efforts are exhausting and they have a rather small payoff. In my case, I sell a handful of books (150ish) when they’re released and then my ranking goes into freefall on Amazon. I tried one of those twitter services where they blast the world with tweets about your book for $59 or $199 or whatever package you buy. The result: Nothing at all. No impact. Finally, I read a blog where the writer advised not to waste your money on these things. Many tweets land in fake accounts or the accounts of other authors who are trying to sell - not buy - a book. The blogger made a good point when she said, “If you think about it, do you pay attention to these kinds of tweets?” The answer, of course, is “no”. Well, neither does anyone else.
I signed up for another service where you tweet about the works of other authors. In response, you earn points for your efforts. The more you tweet (or advertise) someone else’s work, the higher your own book climbs the site’s ranking – where it is more easily seen by other members who are doing the same thing as you. These other authors are more likely to see the higher ranked items and therefore are more likely to tweet those books in their attempts to earn points. Not a bad idea, really. I felt awkward, however, tweeting about how great another book was when I didn’t even read it. You’re just going through the motions to get a number of tweets out each day to improve your score. In the meantime, you are inundating your twitter follows with tweets about recommended books that you haven’t read and aren’t likely to read. It felt disingenuous. Why mislead your own followers? So, I ended up canceling my membership to that service.
I mentioned before in this blog that I do enjoy, and endorse, Bublish. I’ve had mixed results in terms of sales, but I enjoy my participation. I am able to take excerpts of my books and highlight them in a book bubble. At the same time, I give insights behind that section of the book. It’s a fun activity and the data indicate people do check the site.
I’ve reached a conclusion that the only way become “known” is to build a community. Your social media endeavors should focus on developing a following - one person at a time. You can’t advertise your books constantly. Who wants to follow that? But you offer something to your followers. For instance, in my blog, I review other horror novels of my choosing. I have met some great authors this way. I tweet issues related to science, psychology, and horror (a strange mix, I know). From what I can tell, others seem to enjoy the tweets and reviews. So, you accumulate followers. Ninety-five percent of the time, your followers won’t be purchasing a book. But every now and again, someone does. And then, by God, the labor is worth it.