Saturday, I posted about reaching the Kindle top 1000 within 8 weeks of self-releasing my first novel, Hush Money. This post is part of a series in which I’m talking about some things I think helped me get there.
I have pretty much decided that blogging is the thing on which I get the worst ROI (return on investment), as far as my time is concerned. Pretty much every post I write takes more than an hour, often more than two hours. When I look at my blog stats, I can see how many people clicked links from my site to the places where my book is available for purchase. Even on days where I get better-than-normal traffic on the blog, there’s not the kind of clicking of my buy links to my 99cent ebook, of which I get 35cents per download, that’s gonna pay for those hours of work.
But blogging, and all social media activities, are a little more complicated than that, and time spent building and maintaining a network, in whatever way you do it, is about more than a ratio of visits to clicks. For more about the importance of such networking to authors, and a detailed method by which authors can approach it, I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I talked a bit about what’s in the book…here.
I didn’t put the time in on my blog, prior to my book release, to build a good, ready network of readers who were impressed by my brains, curious about my work in progress, and waiting for its release. In fact, I’m still having trouble figuring out what to talk about, and content is inconsistent in both topic and availability. (Hint: if your book’s not out yet, this might be something for you to work on.)
But you know who did? Kait Nolan. When Kait released Forsaken By Shadow, not only did she have a number of readers who were interested in her and knew that it was coming, but she also had a many contacts in the online writing community to approach for a blog tour that exposed her to the networks of, what, thirty different bloggers? In addition to blogging about her writing life, the Shadow and Fang blog focuses on topics of interest to writers: informative articles giving Kait’s perspective on many aspects of craft, as well as on industry news items she reads, and the changes taking place in publishing. This is something she enjoys and has been working on building for the last three years or so.
And I totally benefited from that base when she recommended my book to her readers.
Who else is a good blogger? Book-Crazy Jenn is an example, and one of book bloggers who took the time to share Hush Money with her network. Jenn is an avid reader (I think she’s read over 170 books already this year), and so updates her readers regularly with new books for them to read. She’s full of enthusiasm and warmth, and is a pleasure to read and to work with. She works to develop relationships with authors, which bring them back to her so that she can provide more content of interest to her readers, as well as occasional giveaway items.
And I totally benefited from all her effort when she reviewed Hush Money on her blog, as well as when she published a Q&A we did together. And when she mentioned my name in a post titled: Fangirl, Me?
Do you see where this is going? So you’re not a great blogger…yet. So what? You’re a great fiction writer, right? So buck up, ’cause maybe that’s all you need to be. Do what you can, and then leave the blogging greatness to others and just help them find you.
And then, just take that idea and rubber-stamp it onto other social media. I think it’s important to have some kind of presence, and to try to keep it up to date. After all, the more places you are, the better chance people have to stumble upon you. I have a Facebook profile, but I’m not good at Facebook. I put a little more time into my Facebook (fan) Page because I think it makes more sense to maintain that for people who go out of their way to say they’re interested in that aspect of you. Just because I don’t like Facebook is no reason neglect getting my information to the people who do like it. I do this by having my FB information in Tweetdeck. I do NOT funnel all my tweets to FB. If I were a regular FB user with tweets coming through on my NewsFeed all the time, I think that would really get annoying. But I do use Tweetdeck to send status updates of breaking news to my FB Page when I’m thinking of it without having to actually go to FB. And I try to check the page regularly to respond to any comments. I know the people there can tell that I’m not a FB user, but as long as I don’t make them mad, I think that’s ok.
I treat MySpace the same way, except that my MySpace is a wasteland where I don’t think anyone is listening. I have no idea how it works or how to make friends there. So it’s most just there for informational purposes, should someone happen to stumble across it.
Twitter is the place that I think requires the most hands-on approach. And fortunately, it’s also the easiest and most engaging, once you get into it. I have days where I’m really “on” on Twitter, and others when I have absolutely nothing to say. And still others where I don’t manage to get there at all. One thing I have on Tweetdeck that I want to mention, is a column with a search for my name. You already know when someone’s talking to you with an @mention, but what about when people are talking about you? If you set up a column for your name, you’ll see all those auto-tweets from Goodreads where members have just given you 5 out of 5 stars. So you can RT those if you want, or just send an @reply and say, “Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.” Make friends with people who like your work. They might RT some of your news later on.
And again, with Twitter, it’s not always about the size of your network, but also about the size and quality of your friends’ networks. When @kaitnolan spontaneously decides to send out a great tweet about my book, sometimes people buy. When I ask @zoewinters to RT something important for me, she’s very gracious and always does it right away. People I don’t even know who are just out to support indie writers will RT my tweets and help me sell books. Author Belinda Kroll, aka @worderella is an example of someone who does a lot of spontaneously helpful RTs. So don’t get too down on yourself over your number of followers. Just make friends, be nice to people, and wait for the karma to work its way back to you. (To avoid being a spammy tweeter, maybe check out this recent article on Parajunkee’s View.)
We can’t be everywhere and do everything, but at the same time, isn’t it kind of audacious to decide that readers should work to find you, in the places you’re most comfortable with, because you refuse to maintain any kind of presence in the place they prefer to get their information? I mean, as an author, who’s paying your salary? Just sayin’.
So what are you supposed to take away from this post?
- You’re probably going to need to suck it up and do this stuff
- But it’s also not as difficult as it feels
- Concentrate at least as much on being a mensch as on adding people to your network
- Get Kristen’s book if you need guidance