Many of you know that I started a Twitter account (and yes I know there are sparse updates…this post will explain why, kind of). We have this blog; the paranormal authors have their blog. Many of you have Facebook and/or MySpace accounts, websites, your own personal blogs, etc. More and more book sections of newspapers are moving to the web. The book reviewing blog community grows by the day.
More and more, marketing and publicity efforts (and not just for books!) are turning to the internet. As I’ve explained time and time again, this is the cheapest and best way to have direct contact with readers is through the web. A bunch of the sites I send your books receive thousands of hits a month (some, in a week). We do a lot of outreach and work to find those readers who don’t know they like your work yet!
It sounds like a lot to have to keep up with right? I actually had a conversation a couple of weekends ago with a friend who has a job that lends itself very easily to always being connected to his computer or iPhone—so updating his blog, his twitter account, his Facebook page, etc. is easy. But he doesn’t do it for his job—he does it for fun… something to pass the time, to post funny links, to tell his friends what he’s doing, to share his random thoughts on life, etc.
So, I’m sure you can understand why he would be peeved at me for advocating the new movement of marketing and PR to the web. He said that within the last month or so Twitter has been bombarded with similar publicists who use their 140 characters to tweet about events, reviews, etc. Every few days he sees new “pages” added to Facebook for various products, people, books, etc. Many of his friends are receiving free Advanced Reader Copies of books that they agree to review on their blogs. He wonders, “What’s happening? Suddenly, all of these things I used to do aren’t fun anymore because I feel like I’m constantly being sold something.” He jokingly (I hope) added that I’m supporting this by blogging, tweeting, encouraging you guys to have Facebook and MySpace pages, etc.
He compared it to the expansion of Facebook over the past few years—a while back, Facebook was only for college students—your college had to be part of the Facebook network—then suddenly high schools were added—now, if she wanted to, Mama Jackson could start an account, as can my 13 year old cousin, as can a cosmetic company, as you can! It felt like something was taken away from me when that happened! I don’t think my friend meant it to be offensive in any way when he was talking about what I do for my job, because, guess what? When I thought about how I felt about Facebook, I could see where he was coming from! Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter did start off as fun things that were mainly between friends, and are now lumped in the new category of “social networking.”
BUT I also think that as traditional review/publicity outlets evolve, we should,too. I think there are particular outlets that lend themselves well to this new age of the literary community (blogging, specific pages for authors on Facebook and MySpace), but there are those that don’t (Twitter is
continually a challenge for me—do I update it enough, do I do it too much, should I post a link to a review or should I just say my random thoughts at work, and how can I keep track of someone tweeting at me?!?!?!).
I know one thing many of you have struggled with is how to balance these new ways of communicating with your writing, and which ones are worth your while. I always tell you to make that decision yourselves, and as you can see, I’m wondering if worrying about my Twitter updates is really worth it—because the people “following” me on Twitter generally already know about the reviews posted, or will sometime soon. So do I need to do it? It’s something I’m going to continue to feel out, but who knows! I saw this same “outlash” when guest blogging really took off—some bloggers flat out refuse to host authors, even when they review a book, because they don’t want their blogs to become a platform for an author to sing their own high praises (which you guys don’t do… most of the time ;-). Some blame the economy, the lack of funds to the humanities, the lack of interest in reading as there used to be, to the recent marketing/PR move to the web, but when ad prices increase, but then available space and proven effect decrease, what other choice do we have but to bank on the place where we can not only do things on the cheap, but it has a limitless outreach?
The reason for this blog post is to get you all to think about the direction of your personal promo efforts (yes, you all should be doing stuff on your own, and if you aren’t—start. Seriously, NOW): what more can you do? Does it make sense? Can you devote the necessary time it takes (setting stuff up seems to take a while, but once it’s up, it’s easy, right?!) and make sure your fans like it enough to really pay attention? And if you do have all this fun stuff going on, is it really making an impact on your sales? While it is fun to post things that are funny, sexy, witty but TOTALLY irrelevant to your books, when you do it continually, what does that say about your commitment to your books? You should have these questions rolling around in your head—I know these are things I am constantly wondering as I continue to make the internet our main priority. Reviews are great, interviews/guest blogs are great—but what else? And what can I advise you guys to do?
I know it’s exhausting to always post about your books, your inspiration, your characters, your craft, writing, the call, etc., but it all boils down to one thing—getting the word out… And sometimes you have to wonder if things are right for you (hence my questioning of Twitter). The web is endless, and lot’s of fun when you set out exploring it, but remember, we do have an agenda at hand for publicizing your wonderful books! Something I don’t think a lot of other publishers do (and I’m not saying all, I just saying “a lot of”) is the focus and attention I give to each author and his or her books. Each of you has something unique to offer through your writing, and I look at my job as a way to show that to everyone.