Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Social Media For Writers

One of the hot topics in the writing world is how to use social media to promote our writing, and I thought I'd weigh in with my own personal experiences. I'm not going to discuss the types of social media and what days of the week or times of the day to use them - that's a discussion in its own right. Instead, I'm talking about social media and how I believe buy-my-book promotions don't work.

On Facebook and Twitter, I've tried varying strategies from paid Facebook promotions to tweeting links and sharing picture teasers. I've spent time re-tweeting others or sharing links for other books. What I found was that promotion volume did not increase or guarantee sales. A tweet being re-tweeted two-dozen times made no impact on sales. Even if I paid to promote a Facebook post, I'd be lucky to see one sale. Buy-my-book promotion on social media doesn't always equal sales.

Why? I'll answer that question using Twitter. I follow several thousand people. So many, I don't even bother to check my feed. It's impossible to keep up. On top of that, all those people are also re-tweeting others. So, my feed has twenty to thirty tweets added every few seconds. I do have a few lists, which contain members of my writing group, writers I know, and a few people I want to follow. They are usually the only tweets I check.

It's not just about time. When you constantly bombard me with buy-my-book promotions, I switch off. If you're constantly re-tweeting, I don't have the time to scroll through your feed to learn about your books. In all the time I've been on Twitter, I've bought no more than a handful of books that I noticed via a promotion tweet. Even then, it was usually because the book was free that day.

If direct promotion doesn't work, what does? The answer is in the name - it's called social media for a reason. When I follow someone on Twitter or Facebook, I'm following a person not their books. I want to interact with them. I want to know why they write and what draws them to their genre. Here's the thing - I'm more likely to buy your book if a connection is established. I'm not saying you have to interact at depth and with every person, and posting a few book-related posts each day is okay - you do need to have something there for an interested reader to find. What I am saying is be a person first.

I'd like to share a personal example of how social interaction can be the key to finding new readers. A couple of weeks ago, one of my local Facebook friends sent me a link to a lady selling handmade Star Wars and Star Trek jewellery on Etsy. Being a huge fan, I immediately liked the sellers page and commented on the necklace I loved. What I wasn't expecting was a message from the seller via Facebook a few days ago, telling me she'd read both my books and had left a review on Kobo. Dawn's review starts with, 'I stumbled across Ellie when she 'liked' a piece of jewellery I had made and placed in my shop. Looked her up, saw she wrote books and I bought this collection...'

Social interaction was the key. I'm 99.9 per cent sure Dawn would never have come across or read my books without the connection made via social media, and I never seen her jewellery. It was also rewarding talking to Dawn via Facebook messenger; I hope I've not just found another reader, but also made a new friend. Though I know Dawn is not expecting it, I'd like to give her and her beautiful creations a shout-out. Below are my favourite designs.

I know that using social media is not always as simple as I've discussed. I'm constantly learning, adapting, and trying new methods to see what works and what doesn't. But I'm also reminding myself on a daily basis to be a person first. 

What are your experiences with social media? Do you agree or disagree with anything I've said? 


  1. I agree! I follow so many people on Twitter that I rarely see what anyone posts. The books I've bought are from people I've made connections with--so I've only heard about their books through their blogs and not through Facebook or Twitter.

  2. Ellie, that is exactly it - it's called social media for a reason. We're there to network and build relationships, not hawk our books.

  3. I completely agree. Twitter, for me, is just a bunch of noise. I only pop on occasionally, although I do love our SpecFicChats on 3rd Fridays. It's all about the social connection than "Buy my book!" Dawn's jewelry looks awesome!

  4. Awesome jewelry! I agree with you too. I don't look at my feed. I have several lists. I read a few more than others. I rarely use Facebook for anything. My blog is my best tool.

  5. For sure, a friendly exchange is the most fun way to interest folks to your work. I love making friends online. But I have gotten sales other ways. It's a catch as catch can.

  6. I find it thrilling when a fan contacts me on social media. I've seen no difference in sales no matter what I do on social media either but I keep on working on it.

  7. I've found that just by showing interest in others and being a friend gets you a lot further than asking the world to buy your book.

  8. I love the little silver jewellery pieces. R2D2 looks really cool. Its really all about providing a fun reader experience. Word of mouth helps sure but fun works too.

  9. That jewellery's amazing! I love that sort of stuff! :-)

  10. Whilst the Internet holds the promise of vast contacts and lots of sales, it is not easy to make a big impact. The sheer numbers of posts on social media actually work against you. The kind of numbers you are facing are bound to swallow up your small presence. You are competing with billions of posts, tweets or whatever.
    Billions is used so often it is easy to forget exactly how big it really is. To get that into perspective, without resorting to football pitches, one billion is one thousand times a million. OK, so you knew that but, one million is big, try counting, one, two, three etc. It would take you over eleven days if you counted every second without pausing to eat or sleep and after one hundred thousand, it will take you more than a second to say each new number. It is less than three quarters of a million days since the start of the Christian calendar! A million is a lot, but a billion is huge and there are around three billion users on the internet.
    To sell, you need impact and you will not easily get that via social media. You Tube is a better place, but that still needs impact, because you need something that will go viral to sell. Remember how many people wanted to read the next Harry Potter book before it was written, that is the kind of impact you need. So you have to think of something really catchy to hook a large enough following to make money from your writing. Mind you, here the numbers do work for you, you only need under a half of one percent of the readers out there to buy your book to become moderately rich, because one percent of the Internet is around three million users as of last year. So your presence on social media is like a postage stamp sized bit of graffiti on the wall of a multi-story building the size of a football pitch, not too easy to spot. Damn! I said I would not use football pitches.


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