Can Social Networking Giants Facebook and Twitter Help Authors?
November 20, 2014
I’ve written at length about how Facebook and Twitter, and other social media sites can hurt your bottom line or create a challenge for an author to continue to have book sales. Use the technology wisely and it’s good for you, use it wrong and you’ll multiply your problems. I’ve also written about how they can lose you your hard earned money if things go wrong. I’m not saying in anyway buying into ‘ads’ but I am saying done wrong, and you can lose your audience very quickly. Authors, and readers are smart, and a bit too much of anything will hurt you long term.
I’ve not dug deep into the idea of how these social media giants- more specifically if you use them right- can help you. After all both boast they have millions, if not a couple of billion followers, and I suspect it is because I am by nature a cynical person, or it is the fact that what I have done in the past hasn’t worked out as well as I wanted it to. The question isn’t how things work, but how can it help an author build an audience?
Notice, I didn’t ask how it can help sell a book. I don’t think social media is there to constantly promote a book of yours, but it’s there to promote you as an author, or you as a blog writer- if you are willing to update and upgrade your writing on your future books or blog posts. It’s there to get people to come and read a blog post of yours and find some meaning in what you say. It’s sharing a bit of who you are to others who are interested in you- as an author. Also it’s sharing your personality to the world without being a jerk about it.
Since I’ve been doing more author book signings, I’ve noticed an important fact about the power of helping authors using social media. My Facebook page is growing, as is my Twitter following, but I try to keep it balanced- in fact with my YouTube channel it can be a challenge. I don’t promote my book beyond having a link pinned to the top of my Twitter tweets, and I try to comment on other authors I follow. Though these days, it’s important to be active on the social media end of things to help your sells, or your income or whatever your goal may be. It doesn’t seem to be a big thing, and I limit my social media efforts to about 20 minutes a day.
If I’m not putting as much effort (by limiting my book) into ‘promoting my own book,’ why, you might wonder would I suggest these sites will help an author?
It’s the fact that they offer a large area for communication, in some way or form they allow us to share our views. When I posted where I was going to do an author signing, it allowed more people to ask questions, and gave me a lot more confidence in knowing there would be a few people there who would be coming to buy a book or have a book signed by me. This confidence in turn, made me more open to saying “hello” to anyone who would pass by and nod in my direction. I haven’t given up on my dream to have a long lineup of people wanting my book signed in a huge bookstore, but that will happen in its own time.
Social media helped a lot with direct book sales, as I often wouldn’t know when to expect a person coming in for a signing, and I also wouldn’t be able to recognize them on the spot if they weren’t someone who would comment as much on either site. All it is is using the technology we have correctly. In this case, I’ve heard from many of the people who work at these bookstores that I’ve done well in terms of selling my book given I am not a big name author.
It boils down to the fact I am simply telling people in my social network there is something happening. I mention it, and then I go on to the next bit of news that comes across my feeds based on whom I follow. I try to be a good citizen on Twitter and Facebook, and tell others of some pages or people they can follow, if they are following me. It’s a bit of a service, but it works wonders for me, and it means a lot to the people who I mention.
It helps me long term since more people find me, and can also be assured I am not going to bombard them with tweets and posts of “buy my book.” I’d love to have people buy and review my book, but that’s not the point of social media – the point is being seen as a person and as an author, but not as a person who constantly plugs their book. It shouldn’t matter where you publish, but how you present yourself. Having something to say is the most important thing.
Use the power of social media wisely, and use the technology as a tool and a guide. Each has their own power and each gives you the use of something new and wonderful. It’s a good moment to learn and grow as a writer and blogger, and by learning and making changes and sometimes mistakes you can grow your readership using the powerful Facebook and Twitter and other social media tech to help book sales.