Writers and the Use of Social Media for Marketing
Let’s Begin with a Referral
I’m going to start by giving a shout out to a writer friend of mine….Iris Draak. She really is the inspiration for this article. She recently posted a wonderful article in her blog that discusses the basics of different social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I strongly suggest you read her blog post and follow her. She really is that good. You can find that blog post by following this link.
I think it’s safe to state that social media is here to stay. As much as I miss receiving letters in the mail…as much as I long for the days of rotary phones and party lines….I think we can categorically state that the way we communicate has changed forever, and any writer who does not recognize that fact will quickly join the Dodo Bird on the extinction list.
On her blog post, Iris gives an excellent tutorial about those social media sites. She is correct in everything she says, so I’m going to use her blog post as a foundation and build upon it. I don’t think she will mind. In fact, I’m betting she will approve of what I’m about to say.
Come with Me to the Old Days
Back in the Dark Ages (when I was a kid), writers would toil away for years in obscurity. Some would make it. Some would find a publisher, and that publishing house would take on their work, and most of the marketing was done by that publishing firm. The writer would be called upon to show up for book signings, and occasionally, if they really made it big, they would be interviewed by journalists and might even appear on public broadcasting. Point of sale displays of their book could be found in major bookstores, and the money would roll in and everyone was happy.
Those who didn’t find a publisher just kept writing. Book after book they created. Article after article they crafted. There was no self-publishing. The word “ebook” meant nothing back then. Without an agent or publisher you were going nowhere in the publishing world, and that’s just the way it was. Writers of considerable fame like Steinbeck, Hemingway, MacDonald, these writers literally lived in poverty for years while they honed their talents and waited for their big break.
Fast Forward to Today
Well, it’s a different world, isn’t it? Today anyone can write a book and anyone can self-publish. Oh sure, there are still traditional publishing houses, but even those have changed. Today there are very few publishing houses that have the resources to really promote their writers. They will publish a book, and make sure it is placed in the major bookstores, but other than that, the bulk of promotion has to be done by the writer.
And of course, if you self-publish, all of the marketing is done by the writer.
So that brings us to social media and other methods of self-promotion.
Let me see the hands of writers reading this who enjoy self-promotion and marketing.
Chances are few of you raised your hand. For most writers, marketing is akin to being boiled alive….it’s just not too enjoyable. That’s why social media is so attractive to writers, because it requires very little personal interaction with real people. You set up a website, you post your stuff on Facebook, you tweet, you pin and then you go back to your writing where you feel safe. You pat yourself on the back for a job well-done and then you eat another Twinkie while you crank out another book.
Life is good!
I have grown weary of Facebook. Let me tell you why. I can’t go on Facebook without being inundated by the latest article, the latest band gig, the latest painting, the latest sculpture, the latest…..and just when I think I can’t take it any longer, someone will tag me with some self-promotion, and by that time I absolutely refuse to look at any of it.
I had a friend who self-published a book last year. I don’t know if it’s any good because I refused to buy it. Would you like to know why? Because for a solid month all I heard about was that damned book. It went something like this….”good morning, buy my new book….good afternoon, you’ll love my new book….good evening, did I mention I have a new book….good morning, my new book and breakfast are the perfect way to start the day.”
Gag me with a spoon and call me fed up.
There’s got to be a better way.
The Better Way
I’ve mentioned this before so for those of you who have heard it, I apologize. Bear with me while I enlighten the unenlightened. I read somewhere awhile back (how’s that for vague?) that a writer needs to have one-hundred followers who will follow that writer into hell. Why? Because those one-hundred followers are so dedicated that they will not only purchase the writer’s book, but they will also tell everyone they know what a great writer that person is….and that kind of word-of-mouth advertising is priceless.
So, how do you find those one-hundred followers who are fanatical about your work?
You certainly won’t find them by beating them senseless with social media garbage.
You will find them, however, by becoming a real person to them.
What is a writer? This isn’t a trick question….what is a writer? The first thing a writer is…and probably the most important thing a writer is…is a human being. Writers communicate, as human beings, with other human beings. We establish a relationship with our readers. That’s what we do in the proverbial nutshell. Whether we are writing recipes or thousand-page epics, we are relating to others. Am I right or am I right?
If you want one-hundred fanatical, rabid followers, the very first thing you need to do is become real to your readers. And you do that by actually communicating with them…sharing a part of you with them…being real to them.
Do that and your job of marketing will be much easier.
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- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
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So Consider This Approach Instead
I have nothing against social media. I think it can be a very useful tool in a writer’s marketing campaign, but it is not the only tool, and if overused, it will become a tool that can hurt you.
By all means, follow Iris’s suggestions from her blog, but in addition begin working on other aspects of self-promotion, and the most important aspect of self-promotion is self. Who are you? Let others know who you are. Get out and meet people. Give readings. Hold book signings. Teach and attend workshops. Join writing groups. Become an active member of a writing community.
I honestly don’t know how many followers I have who would follow me into hell. I suspect the number is around fifty. Fifty die-hard followers who believe strongly in my work and will help me with promotion through word-of-mouth….I still have another fifty to find, and I’ll find them the same way I found the first fifty….by being human and allowing people to meet me and know me as a real live person.
How about you?
Show me who you are. Give me a reason to like you and then, and only then, will I follow you into hell.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”