This week I’ve been getting quite philosophical. The beginning of a year is as good a time as the end to reflect. I had been thinking about twenty years ago at a time when I had been submitting a children’s novel I had written during my second year of university. Back then, it wasn’t a requirement for authors to have social media platforms to promote their work; in fact, most of the usual platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, didn’t yet exist back then. Nowadays it’s quite a different story. If an author approaches a small press publisher, more often than not, they’ll be asked for the URLs for their social media accounts and a brief run-down of how they intend to promote their work. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to provide links to all my social media accounts when submitting a novel manuscript to a potential publisher.
Personally I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Goodreads to share updates on my writing; but by no means do I expect this to result in guaranteed sales. Social media is what it is – social. I enjoy mingling with the writing community on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve found some of my ARC readers through those platforms, which has been very helpful for an Indie author. As an introvert, I enjoy the social connection with book bloggers, readers and writers who I don’t otherwise know in the real world. I’m happy that my Instagram and Twitter accounts have organically grown over the past three years since I’ve set up both accounts. Check out my first introduction post on Instagram yesterday for my new followers.
I still do feel however, that if an author wants any real sales, investing in advertising is the best way forward, rather than relying on social media. I’ve made some awesome bookish friends through Twitter and Instagram, but ultimately I channel my energy into KDP ads, Bargain Booksy promotions, Ingram Advance advertising and more recently an upcoming print ad listing in Myslexia (which will be appearing in the March 2022 issue), to sell books. Is social media necessary for an author though, in this day and age? It’s hard to say, since I don’t personally know any authors who haven’t at least got a website. The fact of the matter is, if a reader wants to know more about a book or an author, the first place they’ll look is on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I know I do, so having a digital footprint does matter; at least, to a certain extent. It’s hard nowadays to be truly reclusive anyway, isn’t it?
I think a digital presence is definitely important in this day and age. Having said that, I also know many authors who don’t spend a lot of time on social media, yet they get tons of buzz every time they write a new book (Allie Brosh, for example). Anyway, thanks for this post!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I guess we’re definitely well into a digital world now so going forward, authors of the future probably won’t have the option not to have social media anyway. It really is important. ☺️
After decades of doing just that, Leilanie, I remain unsure. What I do know is that while one can sell a few books at a reading – to fellow poets – for novels remote selling is where most sales are. A bookshop signing can help, but if not well promoted can leave one very embarrassed and sitting alone behind a stack of unsigned books. There are so many glass ceilings for a new non-celebrity author to rise through…But you seem to have already smashed through a few.
Isn’t it so strange how poetry and fiction are so different? I honestly can’t pinpoint why, but it is a fact that readers seem willing to take a chance on an unknown author selling a novel through online retailers, but not as much with poetry. I have also sold most of my poetry collections through live events, but very few online and I can say the opposite for my latest novel. I may have to attempt to deconstruct the differences further in a future blog post at some point.
It is a strange world out there for us who call themselves “poets”. I published my first book 15 years ago at age 21, and the best option for me seems to be word of mouth, along with a publisher who garners a lot of traffic and has a history of putting out quality art. It’s even stranger that “word of mouth” sometimes gets defeaned by ALL of the voices out there on social media, in an age when you can connect with anyone and everyone from somewhere and nowhere. I guess that conundrum I’ve encountered is what ultimately led to the words in my last book, “DOOMER”…
That’s great you have a publisher who is able to get your books selling. I really think that’s a huge part of the battle in getting our books out there as authors. There are so many new authors and books out there that making the right connections really does help – or in my case, trial and error. Congratulations on your new book too!
[…] conversations recently with fellow poet and novelist connections, after I wrote my recent post on Author promotion and social media, and it got me thinking about the differences between selling poetry books versus selling novels, […]