Monday, June 25, 2012

Part II: Is Online Book Marketing a Waste of Time?

My initial online book marketing post generated a lot of comments from the real experts: authors who are marketing books as opposed to experts who are marketing themselves.

The comments were pretty evenly split on whether it's a waste of time. My favorite quote came from U.K. author Jim Murdock:

"Traditional marketing techniques don’t work very well online. Being a decent bloke who takes a genuine interest in other people and isn’t always selling at them does … but not quickly."

The upshot: If blogging and social media are going to sell books, it will take some time -- yours.

 Here's a quick summary of what other folks had to say and their recommendations:

1) Yes, online book marketing is a waste of time.

- Reaching a few influential people is more important than reaching thousands of nobodies. Similarly, it's better to focus on reaching potential reviewers at newspapers, mags, Amazon, etc.

- The more time you spend with online book marketing, the more books you'll sell. But it's a huge time suck. One author said he limits social media to an hour a day after work and blogs only once a week.

- Several people said they hated Twitter and found it useless. Others used an auto posting tool like Hootsuite to minimize their Twitter time. Another said you need about 2,000 followers to make an impact.

- Several people said they hated Facebook Fan Pages because Facebook only shows your posts to less than 15 percent of your fans. (You have to pay to reach them all.) Here's my take on Facebook and it's new policies.

- Another author asked: Realistically, how much time do you spend readings posts on Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter? Probably not much, and that probably goes for everyone else.

2) No, online book marketing is not a waste.

- A recent self-publishing success story relied on online book marketing. According to the author, the book, Evertaster, was an Amazon bestseller in one day. The author said he achieved that goal by enlisting friends who tweeted, blogged, Facebooked, and e-mailed. (His book is now ranked #4,774) Also, he says he "amassed upwards of 2,250 fans," which is not a huge number. (I have that many and I'm a nobody.) 

- Publishers will ask about your platform.

- One author ditched Twitter in favor of the new social media site Pinterest.

- Social media is great for staying in touch with your audience, but nearly useless for building an audience.

- For every person who says something doesn't work, there's someone else who disagrees. The big problem is that everything takes time: time to post and time before you see results. 

- One author got a traffic spike whenever he bought online ads, but traffic dropped soon after. Another author suggested this author post regularly to Facebook and Twitter to increase followers and deepen connection with them so they come back.

3)  My personal take:

I've only been pushing the online book marketing and platform building for two months. I need to give it more time, but use my time more wisely -- avoid the time suck. Two solutions for people like me with no self-control:
- For serious writing, go somewhere where there's no Internet.
- Try an inexpensive program, like Freedom, that prevents your computer from accessing the Internet for a period of time.

*Special thanks to folks in Linked In groups, such as Books and Writers, Fiction Writers Guild, Novelspot, and Goodreads' Author/Readers forum

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