Reassessing a Social Media Platform for Book Promotion

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“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” (Leo Tolstoy)

I’ve been doing some thinking about the massive amount of time and effort book promotion through social media takes and weighing that against the so-called results. Hmmm . . . It is clearly time to reassess.

Considering the above quote, I have to admit – social media as a way to promote myself as an author seems like much ado about nothing. It often feels manic and not like me at all. I need to break the whole thing down into its components and see which ones work for me and which don’t, because the package deal is getting more than a bit overwhelming.

What do I like?

Blogging – definitely! When I have the time . . . lately, with going away and having company and the demands of summer, (eeekkk – I love the garden, but geez, I’d love it more if it would rain only at night and I didn’t have to water!) I feel as though I’m not putting my best foot forward. Blogging takes a lot of time if you’re going to do it well. I’m seriously thinking about the slow blog movement. Better to write one blog per week that is well thought out, than three slapped together pieces because I don’t want my stats to suffer. And I want the time to develop real relationships with those who interact with me on the blog. That means reading posts and commenting and taking the time to be present.

My author Facebook page – I love sharing tidbits on this page, and the opportunity it provides to interact with people in a different way. What I hate is anything to do with following that stupid little chart that says interest in me is plummeting and then feeling as if I need to boost myself. Fancy way of saying – pay for more exposure. I’m also finding that I want to be careful when it comes to getting involved with too many Facebook groups. A couple of well-chosen forums are more than enough. Unless I have the time to be present in a group, there is no point in being plugged in at all.

I have come to realize that Twitter is almost a complete waste of time. I’m now at the point of following around 500 people with 400 people following me. At any given moment, when I have a chance to check the Twitter feed, I’ll probably see tweets by a handful of people – the same thing over and over and over. If I look back through my own tweets, I’m just as guilty – only on a smaller scale. I tweet far less than most. It all boils down to the same thing in the end – my book is great, buy it! How boring is that?

To be honest, I don’t even check out the other platforms (LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads) on anything like a regular basis. I don’t have the time or inclination.

So – where does all of that leave me when it comes to promoting my book through social media?

I have read more than a couple of posts and articles over the last month (I’ve been too busy to jot down links – I think that’s a bit unforgiveable!) that stress the idea that indie authors need to think more about gaining readers (here is where the patience and time parts come in) than about sales figures. We win over readers one by one. And a reader won over to my book will attract other readers. (I have Linda Gillard to thank for that idea.)

More and more recently, I’m coming back to the idea that selling myself as an indie author is a marathon, not a sprint and anything that feels like sprinting is not for me. I just want to turtle may way through the social media whirl. I’ll do the things I know mean real connection and leave the rest by the wayside. And believe me, I know the difference. The loyalty many of you have shown to me in the blog world since Disappearing in Plain Sight was published has stunned and overwhelmed me! I don’t know how to thank all of you. It’s been like having my own cheering section 24/7.

I think the best thing to do is simply send out sincere thanks. Which I do! And a commitment – I will remain true to myself. What else really matters?

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30 comments on “Reassessing a Social Media Platform for Book Promotion

  1. smilecalm says:

    Wishing you ease in promoting your good works. Perhaps a skilled benefactor, someone with social media skills, will offer some assistance. I’m not so happy about self promoting tasks. And I relate to the blog per week; my mantra. Perhaps I should work on having it well thought out, though, rather than slapping it together at the last minute;-)

    • I’m all for that skilled benefactor popping out anytime now! But I won’t complain. I already have a very skilled promoter in the real world (husband Bruce). Social media was supposed to me my responsibility. I’m taking the comment painterwriter made about time limits seriously. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  2. It’s all trial and error. I think twitter is only useful in finding links to interesting things, like blog posts and finding other authors. For promotional purposes, I think it’s pretty useless.
    With Facebook, I don’t like that you put all that effort into getting likes and then you have to pay for ads to improve visibility. For that reason, I think it’s a bit risky investing too much time into it.
    I like blogging, too. I do it twice a week, that way it’s manageable.

    • After taking part in a few “boosts” of my posts on Facebook, I agree – it’s like throwing money out with no way of tracking results. The bizarre numbers they give under the title – seen by – make now sense to me at all. No the best investment of time or money. Thanks for taking part in my reassessment – the comments people are making really enrich this subject.

  3. Boy, do I agree whole-heartedly with your assessments. Not only are some of these outlets huge time sinks, but they also make you obsessive compulsive! I’m not convinced, in the end, that they are all that helpful either. I’ve met a lot of writers through blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking, but I don’t know that I’ve rubbed elbows with a lot of readers. That seems to be the real challenge…

    • Totally agree with you on the writers/readers thing. I’ve met a great bunch of writers – thank the powers that be that writers like to read! I have not discovered how to get myself in front of readers on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe someone out there has ideas?

  4. painterwrite says:

    I agree that social media can feel like a waste of time if you are using it to sell, sell, sell (which seems like what too many writers try to do). However, if you use it as a way to try to attract readers, it’s not bad. I don’t have a huge circle of friends and my family is horrible about promoting the super star writer in the fam (aka, “me”) so social media helps me reach out and get my name out there.

    I like Twitter for quick interactions and have “met” some fun people on it. LinkedIn writer’s groups discussions can be entertaining and have driven many readers to my blog. I think I would do Goodreads even if I wasn’t promoting myself as an author simply because I love books. Pinterest is a take it or leave it thing. I made boards for each of my books, but that’s it. I refuse to get involved in Facebook and simply don’t like how cumbersome Google+ is.

    As you said, blogs are the best way to get your words and voice out there. But social media does help spread that voice around. The trick is to set a defined amount of time and stick to it. An hour on LinkedIn per month is enough for me, 30 minutes a month on Goodreads and about 15 minutes a day on Twitter is plenty.

    Oh, and great post, by the way!

    • Thanks for the well-thought out answer Painterwrite. Can’t understand why your family fails to recognize your genius – alas, such is the case with most families – LOL. I think you have identified the key – set a limit for time spent and stick to it. I go back and forth with all or nothing thinking – get buried in it or scrap all of it. No need for that. Glad to hear someone else say Google+ is cumbersome – I find it confusing. I’m off to set myself some time limits. Thank you.

  5. I’m glad to see this. For awhile there, I thought you were doing way too much promoting, and I stopped opening your submissions, just kept a small little eye out. Too much blogging for my life, anyway. When you give us your whole attention, your blogs are totally worth it. But to blog simply to adjust a chart…. probably not a good idea, some readers may just fall aside. You seem to be such a big hearted person, and so generous with what you are learning, I deeply appreciate it!

    • Well, you nailed my biggest fear smack on the head and I thank you for that, Sue. I followed a couple of authors through their later stages of self-publishing and into what they had to say post-publication. Naturally, I was interested in the journey. One bloggers never wrote another interesting post after publishing. All I saw was promotion. It was as if the whole personality of the blog changed. The blogger had us (followers) and she drove home the nail of promotion and nothing else. Finally, I stopped following. Thanks for keeping that small little eye out. I appreciate it.

  6. Thanks so much for your honest reflection of your journey. It comes down to what is important, I suppose. I am still a rookie in the blogging world ( 1year August 29th) and find that I have much to learn about the forum itself. It certainly is helping me discover my writer’s voice. The support of the community has been fantastic. If I ever do become an indie author, I will certainly use your experience to inform me. For now, I just want to keep on writing!

  7. Gwen says:

    Fran, every time I read your blog I learn something. I love the honesty of each post, and the connection I feel, that a real person is writing here. I have nothing to promote or sell yet, but I’m learning about the process through your blog and a handful of others whom I truly admire and respect, and I appreciate the honesty more than anything.

    I read an article recently (wish I could remember the publication so I could include a link) that said indie authors tend to find their stride around the third published book. It’s the “slow burn” that you allude to here in your post – connecting with readers one at a time, building a loyal following and a solid relationship.

    I love knowing what you value and what you don’t in terms of social media, and I’m relieved to find that my opinion is spot on with yours. I get the most out of blogging – the accountability a blog demands, connecting with readers and other writers, not to mention the regular writing practice, and producing quality posts. I’ve created my twitter account like a good little soldier; for some mysterious reason the powers-that-be deem this extremely important, but like you, I have yet to find the point. The whole platform seems incredibly manic. I check my feed now and then and rarely find anything of value. Maybe I’m not using it right, but I feel no connection to anyone through this outlet.

    You have a loyal reader here, Fran. Just keep doing what you do, staying true to yourself, as you said in your closing, and your readers will follow. xo

    • Gwen – thank you so much for sharing the idea that indie authors don’t really hit their stride until the third book and the imagery of a slow burn – I love it. I find myself thinking a similar thing about Twitter – I must not be doing this right. I’m definitely going to reassess (with the help of many helpful commenters) my approach. Thank you for the loyalty, Gwen. Makes me realize just exactly what this social media is all about.

  8. Jane Fritz says:

    You’ve done a great job of articulating the inherent frustrations and limitations in using social media to connect. It seems to go with the territory, but it seems like we become slaves to it and then have to step back and remind ourselves why we started in the first place. I enjoy your blog posts enormously, but then I’ve already bought and read your – terrific – book, so I’m not longer your target, just a fan! Once a week is a good compromise; I think when my self-imposed hiatus is up that will be my target. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Fran.

    • I totally identify with your comment that we become slaves to something we ourselves initiated. I think I need to pull apart the whole concept of social media – as a fellow commenter pointed out (Peter) – these platforms aren’t meant for promotion. They’re meant to be social. Promotion may end up being a by-product. So – get on social media to be social and connect, doing what I enjoy doing (thanks Patrick for emphasizing that point). Benefits – great connections like you, Jane! And once a week blogging is starting to sound soooo attractive. It gives me time to respond to comments and really think. Thanks for being along for this ride.

  9. Hi Francis!
    I ALMOST didn’t tweet this post lol. Wondered why you haven’t been around much.. and sorry that things have been so hectic. You know what I say about all of it already probably… do what you want to, do what makes you happy. I say that because time is our only real commodity. there’s no point wasting any of it!!! Have a great week————The Dragon.

  10. I’ve learned much from reading others people’s honest experiences, including yours.

    Jon Morrow, a great blogger, agrees with you he said one great post a week is better.

    You do have to be careful about planning your time. I’ve had a different experience regarding twitter. But it took me a long time to jump in. I read much about how to use it properly first. I’ve done this as I’ve added anything to my to do list, rather than try to do everthing all at once.

    I have less than 300 followers, but I’ve seen increase in traffic. Be selective about who you follow. Look for readers, and bloggers in various subjects and other creative people rather than just other writers. Twitter is very social. You won’t see value if, like the people you saw, only tweet buy my book, or service. Instead do those kinds of things rarely. Do have your link to your site in your profile but then try to be useful.

    Do you find helpful websites? Is there a quote that inspires you? Pass it on. Retweet other people. Private message people and let them know what you like about their tweets. If you love blogging tweet your most interesting posts rather than just your book, or service (Catchy titles help). People will find the rest. Only make every 5th to 10th tweet about your product. I now have a file where I drop quotes, websites, programs etc. This is what I do in real life, when I find something useful I want to tell someone. In this way I don’t have to take a lot of time to post a useful thought.

    Having said that I’ve gotten the most increase from groups in LinkedIn, but again you can’t just drop in and post your links. You have to ask and answer questions and participate and then post a link once in a while. As someone else pointed out whether your talking about blog posts or social media, It does come down to being social, they aren’t ad platforms primarily, so if you’re social first you’ll find people being more interested in what you do. It’s harder, but it’s what works.

    It’s like speaking first (providing a service) and then having a book table at the back. Good thoughts, I’ve avoided this up until now, but I may be doing a post on my thoughts about this subject too.

    • Thanks so much, Peter, for this well thought-out reply. You give me much to ponder, especially when it comes to Twitter. I like the 1 to 5 ratio for Tweets about the book. The more I read people’s comments and think about the social media platform, the more I realize the answer is careful planning, being prepared, and proper allocation of time resources. I’m also hearing loud and clear – don’t just dump a platform, make it work for you. People have said great things about Goodreads and LinkedIn. And thank you for emphasizing that social media is just that – social. These sites are not meant to be ad platforms – no matter how many people use them that way! Thanks. I look forward to anything you write on this subject.

  11. Hi Francis! I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been feeling a bit run down by all the social media networking. My book releases Aug. 20th, so I’ll soon find out if all my efforts and hard work, as far as promoting myself and my book have paid off. 😀

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Nice post Francis. Personally I’d like to be selling shedloads of books but I’m absolutely not going to do the whole promotion thing. Facebook I keep for my real-life friends, no author page. Twitter I find I use mainly for news and sports updates 🙂 My blog updates get thrown up there automatically but I have little or no interest in engaging with others. Blogging I love, and following others whose work I admire. Linkedin I use professionally but only glance at the writing/author groups whose members are shamefully into self-promotion. So no, not a fan of new media.

    • More and more, I’m finding that we just have to stick to what we like – then we’ll have our hearts in it and others will pick up on that. I love the imagery of a shedload of books. Think that will be my new benchmark.

  13. codecalla says:

    I too have spent time on Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, wondering of the merit of posting and trying to “sell, sell, sell.” I’ve only recently gotten more interactive with Twitter, but I find that I’ve learned a lot by reading some of the shared links, so it’s useful to share information with others in that way. Facebook I generally put announcements, but other than “yes, I’m working on another one,” I don’t have anything to add, so it languishes. I enjoy blogging as an exercise of thought and discipline. If I entertain or inform, or gain more readers, joy. If not, well, I’m having fun=D Truly it is a matter of deciding what goal writing in this particular medium accomplishes. I’m still learning. I enjoy reading your blog posts because they are thoughtful.

    • Thanks, Codecalla. I’m totally loving the engagement on this post. You’re right about Twitter on the shared links – I have found some good stuff through that route. Not totally a waste of time. I realize I have to go back to the drawing board and weed out a few of the people I’m following to make the newsfeed a bit more engaging. The key to all of this seems to be the point you’re making at the end of your comment – figure out what you want to accomplish! I’m starting to think this particular learning curve will never end! Here’s to keeping on learning.

  14. Francina says:

    Interesting post, Francis. Social media can maybe be a good tool to promote a book as long we keep in mind that there is a kinda tidal wave of people promoting their books on social media.. I can imagine it must be hard to surface in that pool. Sometimes I will promote a book from my crowd of wp’rs on my blog, but I have no idea if that adds to their sale though 🙂 Some of them sell through Amazon or Barnes too. Just adding my two pence for what it’s worth 🙂
    groetjes, Francina

  15. […] on again, off again relationship with Twitter is back on! A few posts ago, I wrote about reassessing my social media platform for book promotion. The discussion that followed this post was engaging and […]

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