Friday, September 17, 2010

Promoting our published work . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

I've talked about Facebook before, but this is a sort of different take on it. If you are a reader and not a writer, and you are on Facebook, do you connect to writers there? If so, to any and every writer? Or only to your faves?

IF you connect to writers, what do you want to hear from them? Writing ONLY? What they are working on, promoting, just had published, etc? Or do you want to connect on whatever personal level they are willing to share? We could use some input here.

When I first joined Facebook, I joined because other authors mentioned it as THE place to promote our work. I was quickly friended by other authors, quite a few other authors, over three hundred to be exact. Nearly all of them were touting their own work, and not much interested in mine or what I had to say. It just struck me as, ME, ME, ME! I soon lost interest in Facebook. Authors DO buy other authors' books, but promoting primarily to other authors isn't a good way to sell books. We need to reach dedicated readers, not just other authors.

A few months later my best friend (she's an avid reader, but not a writer) joined Facebook and connected to me. I was able to touch base with her daily (she lives a couple of hours away) and keep up with her and her family. I found other friends and connected to them, and I'm also enjoying meeting up with people I haven't seen or heard from in ages, getting to know them again.

I'm still friends with several authors, but those who only talked about writing and publishing and nothing else, I pretty much disconnected from. Yes, there is an album with pictures of my book covers on MY page that interested readers can click on, and my profile states that I have several published books, but probably 90% of my pages are about other things in my life besides my writing. I want to promote my work but I don't want to turn people off by sticking to that one subject.

I've not tried Twitter, so have no opinions on it. I have had pages on MySpace and CrimeSpace and CrimeSpace seems to be a place where promoting our work is very acceptable and actually expected. Facebook doesn't seem (to me) to be that sort of place. I dunno. Maybe the other authors there have had great success selling their books via promoting on Facebook. Maybe it's just me.

If you are a reader, we'd love to have your views on authors promoting their work on Facebook. Does such promotion by authors bother you or does it help you decide what to buy/read next? Do you actively seek that knowledge, or avoid it?

Love to hear from you authors as well. Do you actively promote your work on Facebook, discussing little else? Or only mention it in passing, discussing many subjects? Does Facebook help your sales at all, so far as you are able to tell?

I do know that on some book discussion lists, members prefer self-promotion of an author's work to be kept to a minimum and discussions kept focused on what each person has recently read and wishes to express an opinion about. Same for the Amazon Kindle discussion lists. Authors CAN mention/promote their work, but it has to be done VERY carefully. That set me to wondering about sites like Facebook and/or Twitter. And about the readers' reactions to authors promoting on those sites. Our listening ears are open! Care to share?


Sheila Connolly said...

Lonnie, I will look forward to seeing the comments here.

On many loops and other social networking media, we find a lot of authors talking to (or at?) each other. There's nothing wrong with that--it's a great support system, and we need that. But as you say, too much is "me, me, me"--buy my book, buy my Kindle upload, etc.

I look on Facebook as a way to let readers (at least, I hope they're readers, not just writer-groupies) get to know me, the person, a little better. If that makes them want to read my books, that's great. But no purchase required!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Excellent post, Lonnie. I'm totally in agreement with Sheila on this. While I do promote my books on Facebook, I also love connecting with my readers and giving them glimpses into my life as a writer, and they seem to enjoy it a great deal. And I believe Facebook has increased my sales or at least my exposure to the reading public. I've had FB friends show up at signings, promote my books after they've read them, and be a really nice support system. And, like you, I've also disconnected from many writers who shove only their books or writing advice down FB throats.

Anonymous said...

I am a reader only. I have really enjoyed connecting to authors, not only those whose books I have read but also authors who are new to me. I do love the self promotion but also love reading about what is happenning in their lives. It is so nice to see that many authors have lifes that are really not that much different from mine.

I may not comment much on posts about their everyday life but then I do the same with old freinds that I have found on Facebook so nothing different there. Because of the authors I have become freinded with I have found more authors whose books I want to read.

My TBR list just keeps growing and growing.

NoraA said...

I'm a FB friend with both Sheila, and Sue Ann. I love reading about not only their books but what is going on around them as they try to get the next book to press and still meet the commitments of their daily lives. Of my almost 400 FB friends at least 90% are authors that I read and enjoy.

L.J. Sellers said...

Facebook has been terrific for me in many ways. I've connected with a lot of people on a personal level, some who read my work and some who don't. I do a little promoting, but most of my interaction is personal and fun.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I like both things, the promoting and the personal stuff from authors--and as an author myself do both.

I have seen a couple of authors do overkill--constant and long, long posts about a book or how well they are doing and I just skip over.


Aubrey Hamilton said...

I like seeing what various authors are doing, new book covers, tour dates, etc. It's easier for me to see it all in one place on Facebook than go to each author's website and check, which frankly takes too much time.

So promoting on FB is fine with me, although I agree if that's all an author does on FB, the message to that author's FB friends is that they are only seen as potential commercial venues.

Camille Minichino said...

I try to make my posts interesting and/or fun, sometimes book related, sometimes a quote, a movie, a cartoon. And I love reading that kind of post from "real" friends or FB friends.

What I don't get is anyone, author or not, posting what he had for breakfast.

Holli Castillo said...

I am an avid Facebooker, and agree that those who use social networking solely as one big ad for the merchandise they are selling are a bog turn off. I don't mind reading promotional information in small doses, and if the writer also includes other posts that don't pertain to selling his or her book.

One particular peeve of mine is when a writer continuously posts to either vote for them for something before a deadline, or buy their book on Kindle within a certain amount of time so they can rank in the top ten. Other people don't care about a writer's Kindle ranking, and don't want to read about the goal to achieve it for two weeks. If I want a book, I'll buy it when I want to read it, not when it's going to make the author top ten for two hours.

I also tweet, but have a problem with those people who can't have an un-tweeted thought. I don't care how famous someone is, I am so not interested in how many times they changed their clothes today or if they bought milk. It makes me think the person is either extremely full of himself, or is incredibly boring.

Holli Castillo

chelsea said...

I am strictly a reader & I quickly delete any author who does promotion only on a regular FB page. I expect it & am excited to read a post about a new book from a favorite author, but unless it's a fan page, that's not what FB is for. I look getting to know the author personally, what they like to read, who or what inspires them, quotes, etc. Any author that doesn't understand that I "Friended" them and their personal page vs. "Liked" their fan (business)page is deleted.

caryn said...

I am strickly a reader, and because of the huge number of author "friends" I accumulated on FB when I first joined, I have gone to a tier system for checking status updates. I grouped people as FAMILY, U.CITY PEOPLE, FRIENDS AND BOOK PEOPLE. Now some people are on more than one list, and some authors are in the FRIEND group instead of the BOOK PEOPLE group but the book people list are authors that I do not know personally, only promote their work, never respond to comments I make or any combination of the above. Because FB has become a big time drain, I don't check BOOK PEOPLE very often where as I check in on FAMILY AND U.CITY a couple of times a day and FRIENDS everyday.
I have even unfriended a couple of authors because my FB home page was just being covered with their posts-about themselves.
Caryn in St.Louis

Sandra Parshall said...

I enjoy Facebook, although I don't have a huge amount of time for it and would drive myself crazy if I tried to comment on a lot of people's posts. I know of some book sales that have happened entirely due to my presence on FB, and I hope there are others I don't know about. I agree that it's a balancing act -- letting readers know who you are and what you write without relentlessly pushing your books is the best way to go, and the hardest to pull off. I have a lot of personal friends on FB, people who share interests (such as birds and pandas!) that have nothing to do with books or publishing, and I tend to talk to them more than to mystery readers or writers. Probably not a good thing as far as selling books goes...

When I posted a notice about this blog entry on FB, someone there commented that she seeks out authors on FB precisely because she wants to find out more about their books -- she's not looking for a relationship. So she doesn't mind the selling. I've noticed that a lot of writers are critical of other authors for doing the hard sell on FB. There's never a shortage of people who will tell you what they think you should be doing. :-)

Lonnie Cruse said...

Wow! Excellent thoughts from EACH of you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Christa Faust said...

I'm a writer, but I'm a reader too. The best way to promote your book to me is simply to be interesting.

Pimping your books on Facebook/Twitter all day long is not interesting. It feels like being stuck next to the guy at a cocktail party who just goes on and on about himself. If you're a writer, the topic of what you do will come up naturally during the conversation, but that can't be all you have to say. After all, you wouldn't walk up to a stranger at a cocktail party and shove a copy of your book in their face before even saying hello. And chances are if you introduce yourself politely and chat in a friendly and engaging manner, that stranger will eventually get curious and ask you about your books.

I think the cocktail party metaphor is an excellent one to use when dealing with social media. All the same rules apply. Be polite and charming and friendly without getting too personal or monopolizing conversations with MEMEME! Try to avoid arguments and don't encourage them if they start. And most of all, be interesting.

Dru said...

I'm an avid reader and I love Facebook. Where else am I going to chat with authors of the books that I read? I love hearing about the latest information on their books, their triumph, their fears, the status of their revisions, and etc. It's makes the anticipation for their new book worth more, because I know what they put into it.

I've read many books my new-to-me authors who I would not have known if it wasn't for social networking (Facebook and blogs).

I count many of the authors as my friends and when I'm on Facebook, it is always good to connect with them.

Before Facebook and blogs, a reader would read a book, write an author and not think of that author until their next book. This way, they are constant in our mind and I like it.

Vicki Lane said...

Interesting discussion! I haven't been on FB long and my daily blog is still my focus. I do check FB once a day and generally respond to comments.

And I'll undoubtedly mention when my new book hits the shelves in a few weeks. But most of the time I'm not talking about mysteries or writing or my books.

Ellis Vidler said...

You said it, Lonnie! I enjoy Facebook for keeping in touch with friends, and I do promote my book and blog there--it's why I signed on--but it's much more than that. I have many more friends from the writing community, but the ones I keep up with offer much more than promotion. They're interesting and share enough of their life that I feel I get to know them on some level.