I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, if you are a writer, that is, but you need a social media (SM) presence.
Yes, yes, years ago people went to bookstores and bought books because they had nothing to read, and there was a clerk who knew the books and could recommend the books, and there were a (relatively) small number of books that came out each year, and so choices were limited.
It ain’t like that no more.
Have you any grasp on how many people self-publish each year?
And yet most readers still choose established writers. And I’ll be frank with you, I want to read Tom Robbins, Douglas Adams, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Kinky Friedman, Walter Mosley, Rex Stout, and not much else. And, you’ll notice, most of them are dead. So, how am I going to find someone else to read?
Well, one good way is for writers to tell me about themselves, and help me find their books.
And that is what you should be doing.
You should be telling people about yourself. You should be posting little snippets of who you are, what you write, and why you write.
And it can be a PITA. (pain in the…)
For example… I recently posted to my SM accounts and various SM groups that Devil’s Part Press (DPP), my company, was looking for submissions. WELL, the judgement was swift and fierce! How dare DPP ask for submissions from older people?! How dare we make payments to authors in the forms of author copies and royalties! (which, by the way, is all I have ever heard of. Is someone out there paying in vacation houses, or bottles of Cristal? If so, I, too, want to be published by them!) And on it went… the vitriol, people making assumptions about everything from my morals to my hair, and none of them kind assumptions. WTH is wrong with people? Quite a lot probably. But….
Here is what you do when that happens to you.
- Ignore them. Any fire goes out without wood. Do not supply wood. Don’t feed the bears. Don’t try (even once) to explain, to reason, to be nice, or kind, or informative. ANY of those things feeds a hungry (and during this pandemic) very lonely and bored bear who is being super non-productive as a writer by trolling FB anyway. FB, and other SM sites, are good places to get information out, but not good places to make friends or win people over to your cause. No. Those people don’t know you, and some of them hate you because they are looking for someone to hate, or because you are being successful and they are not, or because you showered this week, and they can’t bring themselves to do so. Maybe they’re nice folks when they’re not on SM. It doesn’t matter. It’s not your job. Do not respond.
- IF it gets truly awful, delete your post. BUT, this is news about you, and you don’t want to do that because a (often silent) majority will be interested in your post. You have to be strong. Sometimes you can turn off comments (how the sweaty, mucous coated little trollies hate that!), and that can really help, but if you can’t, just remember, any fire without fuel goes out. IGNORE if at all possible. Stay away for a few days, turn off notifications. In general, do not hang-about on SM. Get in, do what you need to do, and get out before you catch something, just like you do in a public toilet. While you are in there, be polite, non-political, and neat. USE social media; do not let it use you.
- Start a list. Make a list of anyone who is truly awful to you. If you hit it big, that person will want to be friends. You need to remember the assholes so you can ban them.
- Remember this phrase…. storm in a teacup. It ain’t you; it’s them, and it’s such a small world (any given SM platform) that it can’t stay keyed up for too long. Breathe deep and move on to an actual cup of tea.
So, YES, if you want to sell a book, you need a social media presence. You need a lot of buzz and posts, and YOU need to create them. Your publisher (which may be me) can help, but it is YOU who will ultimately make someone WANT to buy your book. And I think, from the vitriol hurled at me from time-to-time on FB where wanna-be-writers tell me how, as a publisher, I am stealing from them, and I have all this money, and I should just force people to buy their books (which they haven’t even written yet), that many many writers think that somehow publishers are magically able to force people to buy books. That ain’t how it works. That’s not how E.L. James did it. She was posting bits and pieces of her writing for ages; she made herself something that readers needed. Of course her book had sex in it, and they say sex sells, but had she not put herself out there, over and over, no one would have known about the sex! And, for me, mystery sells, and quirky sells, and an interesting human behind the writing sells. And if you’re just hiding in your attic, and your work is too, how is anyone going to get the taste for you? Ultimately, a publisher chooses you, based 100% on things like their personal likes and dislikes and if they think you’re marketable, and then you have to sell you, not them. They are putting your book into print, and they can help you, but they cannot create you, the author, the curated persona who makes me want to read about a sad love affair that ends badly (a type of book I would normally avoid!).
If you’re not sure how to start remember that we’re all amateurs at this, and do the best you can. Make 1-2 hours/week for your post time. Schedule posts in advance. Use this lovely little tool I am using (WordPress) which is anywhere from nicely inexpensive to free, to post a blog, and WordPress will repost in a heck of a lot of places for you, and you can schedule MONTHS in advance.
And if you need help getting more followers, here are some helpful links from vetted sources:
Go forth and schedule a post! And I shall do the same!