So you have written and published your first (or tenth) book…
Congratulations! (Insert virtual high five here) I truly mean that because writing a book is a huge accomplishment. You should be very proud of yourself. It can be a grueling, almost painful process which at times may make you question your sanity. But you did it!
Now, you need to market your book and introduce the world to the product of all your hard work. Actually, you should have started this much earlier but that isn’t the point of this blog entry.
Marketing of books is time consuming, frustrating and sometimes can suck you down into a rabbit hole of self-doubt and discouragement. There are a million different ways authors do it and new marketing strategies arise everyday. It’s difficult to keep up with trends and it’s easy to lose hours, days and even weeks of your time wondering or studying what other authors are doing to bring about their success. Yes, it’s true what works for one author may not work for another. But it doesn’t stop us from the wondering and watching and planning. At times it may seem that we are using all our creative energy — energy that could and should be put into our own writing — trying to figure out new ways to promote our work.
There is one thing that is a constant — that every author should be doing. Networking.
During the months leading up to the release of my debut novel, The Ilia Stone, and in an effort to build my social media platform I began networking. This was a stretch for me since I have a tendency to be reserved, introverted and would rather sit back to observe. So I had to step out of that comfort zone to put myself out there. To this day it is sometimes a struggle but I remind myself that I need to put as much time and energy into marking my book as I did into writing it.
As I’ve put myself out there, I’ve noticed some frustrating patterns or behaviors which can be very discouraging — either through my own experiences or through talking with other authors.
The views on your Facebook page is not near where you would like it to be.
I’m going to pause right here for a moment and toss in my two scents on the Facebook post views. I personally feel this little number as well as Insights in general, is a mind-fuck. Yes, I do believe Facebook is hiding posts. However, if it weren’t for this little number constantly reminding us that our posts aren’t being seen, would we worry about it as much? I think it is driving people crazy trying to find ‘interesting content’ to fill their pages with. It also, in my opinion, perpetuates Facebook’s own claims as to why they limit what is seen in the news feed to begin with — the flooded news feed. Would people post as often if they knew their posts would be seen?
Anyway, carrying on…
Few, if anyone are liking, favoriting or retweeting your posts.
Do you feel as if you are shouting all throughout social media and nobody is listening?
Do you feel as if you are talking to yourself when you post?
Are you having a hard time finding blogs willing to pick up your book to review?
Nobody is buying your books.
No, networking alone will not guarantee sales. But it will help you build a support system. It’s about developing connections with others with shared interests which may lead to increased exposure or sales. But if you can relate to the above very common complaints…it begs the question…
Is your networking, not working?
We can all rant and rave about cliques, bad reviews, mean girls or mob mentality street teams. We can call out blogs for playing favorites by reviewing only certain authors’ books. We can point fingers and say no fair to those who purchase good reviews or participate in what some consider questionable marketing tactics. But guess what?
We have NO control over others’ behavior or the decisions they make.
It’s easy to blame the lack of engagement on our social media on others. After all, you are keeping your pages active by posting links to your book, teasers or the occasional (or frequent) meme’s. So why is nobody reading what you have to say? Why are they skimming past your links in their feed? I mean, you post them often enough that surely you would get some to hit the like or favorite button, right?
So again, ask yourself…is your networking, not working?
Because I think we all can do better in this area, I want each of you to reading this to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you liking, commenting, sharing, retweeting or otherwise engaging on the posts by other authors’, bloggers or readers that you see in your feed? Are you reading their blog post or teasers?
Networking is building relationships. It is a two way street just like a friendship. Why should they show an interest in getting to know you if you are not showing an interest in getting to know them? When you hang out with your friends, do you only talk about what you’ve got going on? Do you wait for your friends to call you or do you reach out to them sometimes to see how they’ve been doing? Do you only hang out at your house with them? Take a moment to think about what genuine interest you are showing to others.
- Are you liking a fellow author or blogger’s page only to turn around and post on their wall or in their inbox a link to your page or a link to purchase your book?
Okay, this one may fall into the “in my personal opinion” category but I know of many who feel the same way. Sure, by participating in this practice you may get many to follow you or like your page. You may even stumble across a few who will engage in a conversation with you. But how many solid connections with others are you making? I know of many authors, including myself, who consider this as spam. Which means, it will more than likely have the opposite effect you are seeking.
- Are you only interacting with others with the hope they can do something for you?
That’s a bit self serving don’t you think? Something we all need to consider is each author is trying to develop their brand or reputation. What they post or share on their page is their choice. If an author who writes YA does not feel comfortable sharing posts from an author who writes erotica that is their right. That also goes for endorsing books they have not read.
Now yes, they could say “I have not read this book but if you read erotica, check this out”. But that is their choice.
So ask yourself, why have you contacted this author. Do you enjoy reading their posts? Their books? Do you seem to have a similar mindset or sense of humor?
If it is only the ‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ mentality driving that decision, pause and take a moment to think about how genuine that relationship is likely to be.
- Are you responding to those who do comment on your posts?
I admit, I am guilty of this one from time to time. I do like comments if for no other reason than to acknowledge I read them. However, many times I struggle to come up with a response. I draw a blank or the introvert in me takes over to convince me no response is necessary. The thing is, each time somebody does comment, it is an opportunity to open up a discussion. It’s something to consider.
- Are you only posting about your writing?
Nobody likes the guy (or girl) at the party who only talks about themselves. Or who is always pushing what they’ve got to sell. Or who only contacts you when they want to invite you to their Scentsy or Pampered Chef party so you will buy stuff or bring your other friends.
Talk about the weather. Talk about the news. Talk about what show you are currently watching or a book you’ve just read. There are literally millions of little moments in our lives that can open the door to discussions. Find them. Find that common ground or topic to bond over with others.
I won’t claim to be an expert on marketing or networking. I feel the same frustrations every author out there feels. I know how easy it is to get so wrapped up in spreading the word about our work that we sometimes forget the importance of continually fostering the connections we’ve made.
Which brings up another point. (Yes, my ADHD just kicked in. But bear with me.) I stressed the word ‘continually’ because — like any relationship — it is something that needs ongoing attention. You cannot expect a person you had a couple great conversations with a year ago, to have much of an interest in what you have going on today. They may, but it’s more likely it would be a vague curiosity rather than genuine interest…if they even remember you in the sea of authors and bloggers out there.
All of the points I listed above are in your control. Networking is time consuming. It can also be disheartening when you feel as if you are wasting your time being supportive of others who are not being supportive of you. To that I say, look to those authors and bloggers who have been supportive of you. Spend your time developing those relationships. Be supportive of them in return. Look to develop new relationships. I have met so many amazing people out there through writing, I know they exist.
When you feel as if you are wasting your time and energy, think about the points above to see if you need to make a change in what you are doing. If you don’t feel you need to make any changes, don’t feel bad if you need to cut back the time spent on any one-sided relationships. There is only so many hours in a day, Wouldn’t you rather be writing…or reading? Or directing that attention to others who show an interest in knowing you? Or to an author or blogger who you really enjoy reading even if they aren’t particularly social? I’m not saying anyone should do for others because they expect the same in return. In fact, I think that is a pretty unfair expectation to put on anyone. We are all busy with our own lives and our own writing. What I am saying is, in our search to meet new people or develop new friendships, we will make connections with others that may go nowhere. Don’t sever these connections but maybe take a look at how much time and attention you are devoting to those relationships.
While you allot time for your marketing, set aside some time to check in on what your friends are doing. Read their teasers or blog posts. Like, comment or share them. Send them a message just to say “hey”. Making a friend or a solid contact is well worth the time spent.