Authors, especially independent authors, need to promote themselves.
However, there are ways to promote and ways not to promote. Social media is a way to promote yourself as a writer, but it can also be a double-edged sword. Of course, Delilah S. Dawson wrote a fantastic article about the misuse of social media to promote books, and I recommend that all indie writers read it.
One of the most useless social media for writers currently is Facebook. Here are the reasons, to be blunt:
- Only 30% of Followers See Posts – This percentage is diminishing yearly as Facebook has started charging users for more exposure. It’s pretty expensive, too. I currently have over 600 Facebook followers and I am only guaranteed to reach 180 or so with an announcement about my new book. This is kind of dismal really, and as a high school teacher in Oklahoma (49th in teacher pay nationwide) I cannot afford to pay Facebook to reach everyone.
- Facebook is Death by Scroll – Most people only scroll through their feed on Facebook looking for the funny video or the sycophantic rant. They will usually scroll by anything that is an ad or even looks like an ad. Trying to sell your book on Facebook is a pointless exercise as most people do not buy things they find on Facebook unless it’s a cool t-shirt.
- Facebook Wastes Writing Time – I gave my iPad mini to my wife because I was constantly scrolling Facebook whenever I had a spare ten minutes. It cut into my productivity as a writer. Facebook has become more and more mindless, filled with fake articles, useless videos and even some people who use it to sell drugs. If you are a writer who uses social media (and you should) you shouldn’t spend any time on Facebook because it is not helping your writing career. At least Twitter has hashtags like #amwriting and #writetip to follow where you can interact with other writers. I would rather be writing.
- Facebook is the Trailer Park of Social Media – Many critics have said since last year that Facebook is headed the way of MySpace. On those rare occasions that I scroll Facebook (usually when sitting in the doctor’s office with one of my kids) I find it to be nothing but shares, click-bait and satire articles taken as reality by the poor sap who posted it. I personally think that Facebook could be responsible for the anti-vaccer debacle. This pile of internet detritus is mounting by the click, and I feel that the sooner I can remove myself from the ash heap the better.
Authors are better off building a Twitter following, really communicating and interacting with that Twitter following, and above all building an e-mail list to get the word out about book signings and appearances. Podcasting is another way to promote, and I have had great success with it. It has allowed me to be a guest panelist at a local science fiction/fantasy convention, the biggest one in the state (I count the small victories).
If you have other ideas about promoting yourself as a writer, post them below.