Is it worthwhile advertising your book(s) on Social Media?

Social Media Logotype Background

Given that nearly every Social Media site is based in, and controlled from the United States where 25% of the population freely admitted that they haven’t read a book in a year, the jury is still out!

My old mate Derek Haines and I had a brief discussion on this very topic using Facebook’s only saving grace – its Chat feature, a few days ago. We both came to the same conclusion that as most sites are predominantly the playground of people who don’t normally read anything longer than a Tweet or the headline of a Facebook post, the answer appears to lean towards the negative.

Even though there are many book related groups on Facebook, in many cases, only writers ever bother to peruse and intereact usually by just ‘liking’ a post’s picture, while a few actually bother to click on and read the original article. But the number of people concerned with the latter practice is low in the extreme.

Of all the Social Media sites, always providing you are prepared to endlessly repost a tweet, you will get a response of sorts on Twitter. Usually this consists of other writers retweeting your contribution to their followers. About once or maybe twice a year if I’m lucky, I get a response in the form of a like for anything I post on Google+. I walked away from contributing to LinkedIn Why? Because despite what is said about it, it is a business networking site and nothing else. While I post to Pinterest, I don’t expect to find anyone has read the post on that site, as it is primarily for pictures.

One other Social Media site I post to from time to time is Medium. But as it is exclusively set up for Americans by Americans, the chances of anyone reading any of my posts is extremely low. Why? Because Medium specialises in childish dross for the home market.

Does any of what I have just said mean that all Social Media sites are a complete waste of time regarding book promotion? Well let me put it this way – Derek and I agreed that Social Media sites are today’s equivalent of the old sensationalist gutter press daily newspapers, just like today’s Social Media – full of mindless drivel. But with one fundamental difference. Unlike newspapers, you cannot reuse Social Media sites to wrap fish and chips up in to take home for your evening meal.

Nor can they be used as emergency bog paper if you run out of the real thing. The only thing sites like Facebook are any good for is keeping up with your friends. Just take a close look at whats on offer on Facebook. Its News Feed mostly contains family photographs, politics, pet photographs or total trivia like the utterly childish ‘Only 1 American in 10 will be able to answer these questions’ competitions, which the average non-American can easily answer if they’ve got nothing better to do.

To get back to the headline of this post – Is it worthwhile advertising your book(s) on Social Media? In our opinion (Derek’s and mine) – not really. But we both continue to do it anyway…

😉

Internet Friendships

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Is there anything more unusual, or indeed as unlikely as an internet friendship? I prefer to think of the phenomena as being a classic Claytons situation. If you are wondering what I’m wittering on about, bear with me.

Years ago, in the nineteen-seventies, a southern hemisphere company whose name totally escapes me now, marketed a non-alcoholic beverage resembling bottled whisky in Australia and New Zealand, advertising it as the drink you have when you’re not having a drink, under the brand name Claytons.

The word soon entered the Australian and New Zealand vernacular. No matter whether you are an Aussie, or a kiwi like myself, we use it to describe all kinds of things that are obviously not what they seem. For example, a common-law couple might be described as having a Claytons marriage.

So, now you know. To me, an internet friendship is the kind you participate in when you are not participating in one. Or is it?

Strictly speaking, at best we can only ever say that we are acquainted with one another. To become true friends requires that we physically meet or have met at some time during our lifetimes, spending time together. Think about it.

All we have to go on when engaging via the internet, to help us decide if we like one another, are the totally sterile typed words on the screen in front of us, just like these ones. What we cannot do is pick up on each other’s tells, such as audible inflection, avoiding or making eye contact, etc, etc.

While we may enjoy reading what each other has to say, chances are that if we ever actually met we might find we have absolutely nothing in common, or worse, that we instantly dislike each other.

Yes, you can use applications like Skype or similar video call systems to contact one another, but all that does is let us see each other, warts and all, as well as putting an actual voice to someone we know through uploaded photographs and by what they type.

Even then there is no guarantee that we might actually want to meet. Take the use of our everyday speech patterns. Some people’s voices can, and do, get on your nerves. Especially if they are of the whining variety. Some people tend towards the endless use of expletives, seeing nothing wrong in peppering every sentence they utter with them.

In a way its a blessing that we are separated by the many miles between us. If we ever did actually meet, chances are that after we had sized one another up in the first thirty seconds, that one or both of us would turn on our heels and head back home. Humans are funny like that. Some would say that we can and do act irrationally when it comes to meeting one another for the first time. Remember, when we actually meet, we don’t just use our eyes and ears to size one another up. Our other senses along with our inbuilt intuition comes into play. A few thousand years ago it used to be known as our fear or flight response.

Our typed conversations hide a multitude of sins. For instance – it might be that one of us has a body odour problem. Or perhaps one of us is inclined to pick their nose. It might even be (god forbid) that one of us spits, or doesn’t use a hankerchief when clearing our nose! The point is, how would you or I know? We wouldn’t. No one would. And yet, despite all of that, we do become friends in the completely unfeeling world of the internet.

At best maybe what we are is the electronic twenty-first century equivalent of nineteenth and twentieth century pen pals, destined never to meet, but happy to communicate with one another, maybe not every day, but certainly several times each week.

PS – If memory serves, a glass of Claytons tasted positively foul – bleh! No make that double bleh!!

😉

Why I Believe In Interacting With My Followers, Even If Some Of Them Don’t Bother To Reciprocate

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The public perception of a writer

Following on from yesterday’s blog post https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-guardian-another-progress-report/ a few thoughts occurred.

First of all, while a mere thirty-nine of the eight hundred and ninety-six people who currently follow my blog ‘liked’ the post, even though according to my blog’s stats only twenty four actually read it, five responded, three by reblogging. Why people merely click ‘like’ without reading a post totally baffles me. But there you go – it happens not only here on my blog but on most Social Media sites, in most cases out of pure habit. Don’t think for one moment that I’m not grateful for the fact that you ‘liked’ my post – I am. But if you are going to ‘like’ any post on any Social Media site, whether its a blog like this one or Facebook etal, at least read it first, otherwise how will you know that you actually like it or not?

Now for the real reason for this blog post. What one person said when she commented got me thinking. She began by saying, “Nifty how you’re taking potential readers on your writing journey.” To which I replied, “I can’t think of a better way for all writers to destroy the illusion that we writers somehow aren’t like everyone else can you? Plus, by posting the Progress Reports, hopefully by the time the book comes out, at least it will ensure that a few people want to buy and read it.” This morning I found another comment from her. Here is what she said in reply to my reply, “Yes, I see that. An interesting adventure for all interested.”

I cannot believe for one minute that I am the only writer out there who considers it his duty to share his or her next story’s journey not only with his or her blog’s followers, but also with his or her readers, both old and new. In my case I like to do it by giving all of you a glimpse into the ‘mechanics’ of writing. My thought processes. How I solve a problem while writing. Even how I come up with my characters.

Unfortunately there is a popular misconception among the vast majority that by definition writers are somehow aloof, distant if you will. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, we do tend to be loners, locking ourselves away in our metaphoric garrets, devoting every waking hour to our latest work in progress. To be a successful writer, unfortunately it goes with the territory. But we’re still human beings just like you. We all do the same things you do, or at least we do when we have some spare time.

Just remember this, interaction works two ways. So the next time you click ‘like’, take the time to actually read the post you have just liked. Plus be brave, place a comment below it. I promise you we don’t bite.

😉 😉 😉

What It Takes To Be A Serious Writer

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In the good old bad old days, wrongly or rightly, writers were shielded by their agents and publishers from their reading public to maintain an air of mystery, and to shield them from the more repugnant elements of society, among other things. These days since the internet became reality, it has become a necessary tool for all writers to be able to let their readers get to know them.

Even so, as a writer you need to be cautious. There are a few drawbacks. The  spread of internet trolls, armchair critics and pedants springs to mind. But, always providing the writer doesn’t engage with them, they remain where they belong, lurking in the darkest recesses of the internet fora. With the way the review system operates on a lot of book sites these days, they do their darnedest to put people off buying books written by every writer they hate. Usually their stupidity, bile and invective has the complete reverse effect. Some foolishly think that they will be able to get at any writer who maintains a blog by offering a less than civil comment. If you are a member of one of the three groups mentioned above, know that your comment will never see the light of day…

The time has long since gone when serious writers simply wrote books. Contrary to popular belief, being a writer is not only a lonely existance, but also unless you are one of the fortunate few, the amount of money we receive in royalties is minute to say the least. Any serious writer who makes £12,000 per annum, or more, is doing well. Most mid-listers make far less; new writers, practically zero.

Nowadays, we spend a lot of time either with our own webpages where we advertise our wares, or as in my case (and that of many other writers) we operate a blog like this one, contributing to it on a daily basis. Let’s face it, people are curious about us. They want to know everything about their favourite author(s). Once again there is danger involved in maintaining any form of public forum. How much do you reveal about yourselves? Short answer – think before you type. There are people out there who will think nothing of revealing your innermost secrets to the world in an attempt to turn potential readers away from your work. After all, like everyone else, we are human beings with the same character flaws, hates, foibles, desires, regrets, financial and health problems as anyone else.

Besides writing that novel, the odd short story, and maintaining a blog, we also interact on popular social media sites as well as placing links for our latest novel, novella, anthology and blog posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc, etc. Participating in all of these activities has become an absolute necessity since the concept of publishing, and what publishers were prepared to do for their writers changed for the worse from the point of view of the writer a few years ago.

To keep our names in forefront of the reader’s mind we need to ‘self-promote’. The myth that any writer worth their salt does nothing but slave over their latest manuscript is just that – a myth. Some of us attend various book fares, book signings and conventions. Some of us don’t. I am one of the latter, owing to poor health. Besides which, until someone comes up with a way for writers like myself who write purely for the eBook market to digitally sign your copy, I won’t be doing it.

For all writers, being able to meet you when you visit our blogs, like what you’re reading, and become a follower, means everything to us all. As readers, while you might never consider reviewing something of ours on an internet book site, being able to read your comments on our blogs as well as chatting to you on Facebook also means everything to us. Plus, never forget that always providing we post on our blogs and talk to you on Facebook etc, at least you know we’re still breathing.

So, if you are thinking of becoming a serious writer, all it takes is dedication, mental strength, doggedness, and above all, you must become resigned to the fact that you will be living on an income well below what is commonly held up as the ‘poverty’ line. If you are serious about writing, be prepared for the long haul.

One other thing, if you want to know more about me, why not wade your way through the over three thousand posts I have produced to date on this blog?

Post Script

Today’s reader only thinks about one thing – getting a free copy of your book. Even when so many offer their work for a paltry $0.99 in an effort to be read, the vast majority still refuse to buy.

Now is the time to put them to shame. If we were to charge the reading public the true price of a book based on the number of hours we spend writing, editing and perfecting the manuscript, the cost would be astronomical. Most books take several months to complete.

If I charged a penny per hour for a book that took me say six months to complete for publication, the purchase price would be £43.80 per copy.

So stop whining about a book being priced at £/$0.99 or £/$2.99, when you think it should be free, and support its author! Of course you could join those who constantly tell authors they like the sound of their book(s) and will add them to their TBR list (to be read). Which of course they seldom if ever do. Personally I prefer my own approach – ignore the one, two and three star hate reviews. Or worse, the spoiler variety. First I read the book’s hook. Then I browse a few pages. If I like it I actually buy a copy. Now there’s a novelty…

😉

Please Do Not Spam!!!

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Sorry about this folks, but it appears that I need to repeat myself once again…

To all of those who are new to any form of ‘Social Media’, in particular blogs, there are certain rules of etiquette that must be strictly observed, particularly when offering a comment for consideration. New writers please take note – if you wish your comment to appear on my blog, or any other, never ever include a link to your book. There are lines that must never be crossed when it comes to good manners on the Internet. Doing the aforementioned breaks just about every unspoken rule of commonsense and etiquette.

I don’t do it, and neither should you!

While you may see nothing wrong in engaging in a bit of spam promotion on sites like Facebook when commenting, believe me when I tell you that what you are doing is guaranteed to turn people off. Should the owners of the posts consider that your comment is nothing more than spam, all they have to do is report it to Facebook to ensure that you lose your account!

Take a moment here folks. What do we do with all that unsolicited junk mail that comes through our letter boxes at home, or in our email Inboxes? We consign it to the bin – right?

So don’t inflict your internet equivalent on others…

As for adding a ‘buy my book’ link to any comment on any blog, not just mine, it ensures only one outcome – the offending comment will end up where it belongs in the Spam Bin. Even though this is only the third day of a new month, already I have consigned five offending comments there.

There are appropriate blogs for any form of advertising, or in some cases, what appears to be nothing more than sheer desperation, or ignorance, by certain individuals new to the writing game. I mentioned two in yesterday’s post, specifically set up for the purpose.

Once again just for you, here are their links:

Whizzbuzz

Owned and operated by Derek Haines, where for a fee he will do a sterling job in promoting your book or books. The other is Chris Graham’s

The StoryReadingApe

Start by clicking on both of those highlighted links. They are not the only ones. There are many more out there. All you have to do is engage your brain for once in your lives and do a Google search to find them.

PS – If I consider your book worthy of my advertising it by adding its link on any post of mine here on my blog, I will.

Rant over…

How Complicated Should Your Blog Be?

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Having been at it for a good few years now, I am always struck by just how fussy many blogs are. What do I mean by fussy – overly complicated!

Many bloggers, particularly new writers, believe that they must add endless details to their blogs, such as apps to show all of their followers as well as their book covers. Not forgetting things like photo archives. The list is endless. Take it from me, you don’t need to add countless numbers of apps. If you do, to anyone encountering your blog for the first time, all you will do is confuse them. The first thing any reader should see is the post! Anything that distracts the reader’s eye from your post is counterproductive. It’s bad enough that blog systems like WordPress and Google’s Blogger, insert adverts. Thankfully in WordPress’ case, they restrict the add to below each post.

Unless your blog is an alternative advertising source like The Storyreading Apes’ excellent blog where he introduces writers to one another as well as potential readers, or Derek Haines’ WhizzBuzz where writers pay him to advertise their work, its far better to follow the ‘KISS’ principal (Keep It Simple Stupid).

All you will find on mine is the blog title, header picture, archives and posts, plus a short list of the best places I have found to ‘share’ a post as well as the ‘Like’ button, and hopefully the gravatars of followers who like a specific post. Not forgetting highlighted links.

I prefer using this tried and true method. You will note that I do not use a coloured background either. Why? Because reading black print on a white background makes it far easier to read the text of each post. Populating your blog background with dark colours is never a good idea. Yes, you may like it. But once you have created it, your blog is no longer your own. It becomes public property. Sooner or later, if you are lucky, people will like what you have to say and follow it. Always providing that they find it easy to read, and navigate their way around.

So, think about it. There is a lot to be said for a clean looking easy to read blog…

To Blog or Not to Blog

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In this day and age, if you are a writer, one particular tool you definitely should make use of is a blog. In my case I have been regularly contributing to this blog since February 2010. A few days ago the number of my posts finally exceeded three thousand. In fact 3335. This is something I never envisioned happening way back then.

Your readers want to know what makes you tick; maintaining a blog helps to ensure that. Despite what some may think we don’t spend every waking hour at our keyboards writing several thousand words each day. We’re not automatons. Like you we also lead normal lives.

A lot of writers still don’t make use of the humble blog claiming it is a waste of their valuable writing time. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a far better medium to advertise your work as well as engaging with your potential readers than social media sites in general. Some writers merely make use of sites like Facebook, Twitter and the many others out there, believing that that is all they need to do. Wrong! While they are good as they go, they leave a lot to be desired.

Twitter is OK up to a point for links to your books, providing the length of the link doesn’t exceed the rigid limit of characters allowed. But you cannot fully engage with your readers, owing to that same character limit.

Facebook is useful merely because of its ‘Chat’ facility, allowing you to have a conversation with others. But as for advertising your books, the way it is set up means that whatever you post there doesn’t remain in view for more than a day, sometimes far less than that.

Yes you can go to the trouble of setting up an author page where you can place covers, reviews and links for your books. But unless someone is actually looking for you, because the page is not right in front of the potential reader, in other words like the regular ‘home’ page where Facebook users you have made your FB friends see all posts, which is like publishing something in a tabloid newspaper (here today, gone tomorrow), they will hardly, if ever, visit it.

Plus, don’t forget that if someone inhabiting Facebook decides that your advertising posts are spam, they can, and do, have them removed! Endlessly advertising your books on Facebook will soon gain you a reputation for spamming. Not a good idea!

I was forced to have one specific post removed this morning after one fledgling young writer decided to add my name to thousands of others in the vain hope of raising money to have her book published. I believe the practice is called cloud advertising. Had she had the decency to ask me personally, I may have obliged her. Equally I may not have. Either way, like most people in our game, I steer clear of that kind of blatant act! Most midlist writers like myself simply don’t use those kinds of tactics. We don’t need to. Either your talent as a writer ensures that your book sells or it doesn’t!

Some writers make use of the blog feature on book sites like AuthorsDen, but because the sites aren’t as popular as Facebook etc, most people simply don’t bother to go there. I  also had a page there. But all I did was use it as another specific advertising outlet for links to my books on Amazon.

New writers please take note – when setting up an account on Facebook or Twitter, using the word author as part of your name on any social media site is highly undesireable, unless your parents decided to be cruel and christen you ‘Author’ that is, in which case you have my heartfelt condolences. Employing the word in this particular instance is offputting to a lot of people. Serious writers like myself refrain from doing it. You’re impressing no one; merely showing yourselves up as wannabe posers!

Merely advertising your books is not enough! In my case I have placed all of the Amazon links worldwide for my books here on my blog in the ‘About’ page. Yes its true, I do sometimes advertise my books on my blog, or even reproduce reviews pertinent to a specific title. But that’s it! If that was all I used this blog for, potential readers and others would soon stop visiting it. From time to time I have been known to add extracts from some of my books here as well as the odd short story.

Finally, don’t forget that as you become known, your blog will become widely read, plus you will gather followers eager to read what you have to say next. Who knows, they may even feel inclined to read your books…

When is a friend not a friend?

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Answer – when interacting with people on any given social media site.

The Oxford English Dictionary clearly defines a friend thus – a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Or, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.To achieve that requires two people physically meeting one another.

None of the above can be applied to the people we meet on social media sites like Facebook, or on our blogs come to that. At best the interaction we have with one another can only be described as clinically disembodied. Whatever possessed Mark Zuckerburgh to use the word ‘friend’ when he and his team decided early on what to call the online connections the vast majority of us engage in, when clearly they can never become anything more than acquaintanceship’s at best?

True friends are hard to come by. They are people you have known and spent time with for the greater majority of your life. They are the people who will drop everything to physically be there for you when you most need help. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot react in the same way. Unless you go online stating what is wrong in a given set of circumstances, they would never know. Plus at best all they can do is sympathize, and wish you well!

True friends drop in for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee once in a while. Do your social media ‘friends’ do that? Are they physically and financially capable of traveling to where you live, wherever it may be across the world? When you are ill true friends come round to where you live to do what they can to alleviate your pain and discomfort. It is a fact that true friends can never do enough for each other. Whereas social media ‘friends’ cannot. How can they? As far as I am aware, teleportation via our computers has not yet become available. The closest we can get is by using a facility such as Skype!

Thanks to people like Zuckerburgh and others, the whole concept of friendship has become devalued to the point where, God forbid, it may become the norm in the not to distant future! Then there is another point to make here, while we may enjoy ‘chatting’ online with someone, should we actually meet would we actually like one another? Remember this, at no time during a ‘chat’ with someone online can you physically read them.

Face it folks, there is no substitute under the sun for actually meeting someone in the flesh and getting to know them. While you may like what you see on your screen, no amount of typed words in an email, or in Facebook’s case, its ‘chat’ facility, can ever replace that. On any given social media site, all we can ever do is read the words before us on our computer or smart phone screens.

So, to sum up, the only people we can truly call friend on any given social media site are those we have actually met during our lifetimes…

I Feel Utterly Betrayed!

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In the last few days I was publically subjected to an accusation of plagiarism online because of the publishing of a short story I had written. The owner of the site in question where it occurred has turned out to be nothing more than a ‘fair weather friend’.

Far from stopping the whole sorry affair before it had even begun, the accusation was allowed to stand. Instead of jumping in to protect their site’s No:1 contributor – myself, the site owner chose to do nothing! Had they at least ensured their site had comment approval, allowing either them or the contributor to decide whether or not a new comment was, at the very least inflammatory, or in this case downright slanderous, the accusation would not have appeared.

To say that I feel hurt, betrayed, let down and angered would be a major understatement. For several years I have enjoyed a working relationship with the site in question. It would be true to say that up until a few days ago I thought the site owner was an honorable human being. It appears I was grossly mistaken.

Despite my asking them to do the decent thing, the site owner has done and said nothing of consequence. Instead they chose to bury their head in the sand. Should they read this, I hope that their conscience is bothering them right now. I know that if I was the owner of the site, mine certainly would be. But then again if I was responsible for the site, I would not have allowed the incident to even get off the ground in the first place.

While its true that most online relationships are usually good ones, sadly some are not. Do I feel utterly betrayed?

Sadly yes…