Wearing my Writing Guru hat, I thought it might be fun to look at the use of various forms of Social Media in the life of an author.
Facebook, blog, web-site, Twitter, Instagram, author page, newsletters, give-aways, paid advertising – the list is endless, and no sooner have you conquered one than they change the rules. What do readers want to see? Endless photos of what you had for breakfast can become boring after a while, but the experts decree constant references to your books can be equally off-putting.
My blog started as a ‘buy my books, buy my books,’ advertising programme, so as a world- famous author that obviously worked well. 😭
‘If you’re an author you must be on social media,’ a young, know-it-all relative told me. At the time, Facebook was something only the kids used, but not wanting to be left behind, I took the plunge and opened an account. I used my pen name Voinks for a linked account for my writing, so all my millions of fans could follow me. Well okay, it took a year or so but I did end up with around 40 or 50 regulars. Then Facebook decided one-word names weren’t enough, and I would have to change it. Not a problem, I became Voinks, Voinks. (I hate letting inanimate objects get the better of me.)
A year went past and all was well until suddenly I couldn’t access my Facebook account. They’d decided to have a purge and wanted to know loads of personal details to prove I was who I said I was. That I could understand, but at the same time reports were coming in left, right and centre about poor security, which rather defeated the object of their clamp-down. You might as well have posted online with your name, address, date of birth, NI number, copy of your passport and a sign saying ‘Hackers queue here.’
Not only that, they wanted similar details for Voinks, including a copy of her birth certificate, even though the author page made it obvious it was a pen name. My first book was available on Amazon under my pseudonym, and I had a copy of the contract between the publishers and ‘me’ writing as Voinks, who would have been about a year old at the time. I was sorely tempted to give her date of birth as the previous year, but didn’t want to upset the bots too much.
As it happened I couldn’t even do that, as they blocked the account until they received the information. The problem was, they blocked my personal account through which I accessed my author account. How could I reply if I had no access? Two years or so of hard work lost in a flash. Even though I set up new personal and author pages, in a slightly different format, old contacts were suspicious, (as I would have been) about receiving a friend/follow request from presumably a stranger. Thankfully one friend recognised it was me, and helped to spread the word about what had happened. I’m sure there are many of my previous followers with whom I’ve lost contact, but that happens in real life too.
With a clean slate, I started posting free short stories for readers to enjoy. That worked well but took up a lot of time, and didn’t translate to increased book sales. At the last count, I’ve written somewhere around 700 stories, and at between 1500 and 2000 words in each, that would have equalled something like 15 new books.
It’s a common dilemma for authors; there’s little point publishing books for readers to buy if they don’t know you exist, but if you spend all your time marketing, you have no time to write books! Someone in an author’s group recently posted a similar problem. Her book sales were doing well, and her fans were emailing and messaging her to say how much they enjoyed them. That’s wonderful, and I truly believe it’s important for every author to acknowledge their followers, and thank them for their contact. However, in her case it’s got to the stage where she is spending the majority of her time answering them, which only leaves a few hours to actually write!
As a writer you need to keep up with social media in its many forms to see what’s happening in the fast-changing book world. It’s no longer appropriate to hide away in the proverbial attic, neglecting hygiene, sleep and food in order to emerge six months later clutching your wonderful hand-written manuscript.
The publishing world is a little like show business; Dietrich or Kardashian, you’re only remembered for your last film or newspaper headline. Actually, that’s not quite true. What was your secret Mr. Shakespeare?
After becoming an expert in all things Facebook, I decided the time was right to look at the rather scatter-gun approach to my marketing and develop a serious plan. After playing a few online games to aid procrastination, (yes, I know what I said. Voinks is only young even if I’m not, so pretend it’s her talking,) I’ve trying to decide the best way forward.
- Make the blog a simple showcase, and only post when I have a new book out, or Hollywood is banging on my door.
- Continue to post stories to my Facebook author page, and make the blog more writing tip related.
- Stop waffling and be inspired by your feedback
I know it’s not possible to please all the people, all of the time but I’m genuinely interested in what the regular followers prefer. Were you aware I had a Facebook page?
That’s interesting. I tested the link and it popped up inviting me to join Facebook if I didn’t already have an account. They seem to have this marketing thing sussed, which is more than I have.
Thanks so much to all my regulars followers. It does make me smile to see your names week after week, and I miss you when you don’t appear. Over to you to point me in the right direction. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
See you next week, (fingers crossed.)
© Voinks July 2020