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Thursday, August 15, 2013
Two Years in Social Media: So How Do I Feel about It?
I'm not very social by nature, so about two years ago when I decided to self-publish, I had never done anything with social media. It was about this time of year in 2011 when I first joined Twitter. At first I was vague as to what Twitter all about, so I largely ignored it. A few months later, I started looking for followers and posting promos about my books and occasional personal remarks. Then I joined Facebook, started following other peoples' blogs, set up my own blog, and then set up a second one for my conlangs. The latter morphed later into a promo for my series, The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, and ultimately broadened into a vehicle to discuss myth in literature. I discovered the Language Creation Society through Twitter and after joining that organization, I took a third blog through them and devoted it to my conlangs. (Bet you didn't even know that one existed -- I haven't done anything with it for maybe a year, although it has some interesting material. Here's the link: http://remembrancer.conlang.org )
My goal was to make contacts and try to get myself recognized. I've accomplished that to a certain extent. Along the way, I sort of learned to understand the difference between selling and marketing. With selling, it's one-on-one -- make a contact and pitch your book to that person. With marketing, you have nobody specific in mind -- you simply aim to get the attention of as wide a range of people as possible. A billboard or a mail flyer or a TV ad is marketing; soliciting by phone would be selling. Pitching your book directly to somebody on FB would be selling, as would sending a promo to a new Twitter follower. Getting mentioned on somebody else's blog or through a Twitter retweet would be marketing.
I have met some wonderful people over this past two years. I can still remember my three initial Twitter encounters. One of them has become a quite good friend and I'm still in touch with the other two through FB. I've gotten quite well acquainted with several other people through my conlanging contacts and through Google+. All of that has been quite rewarding; it makes all that effort worthwhile even without the potential of selling books.
So which of those social media entities listed in the logo above have I joined? A few of them I never heard of, like Digg and MeetUp and Delicious. But I joined Reddit when somebody listed one of my posts on that site and I garnered a huge number of page views. I don't think I use Reddit as much as I should. I can't use YouTube, which I think is terrific, because I don't make videos (I'm technologically stone-age). (YouTube is also a wonderful research tool -- whether you want to know what an alpenhorn sounds like or view the chair dance at a Jewish wedding, you can find it on YouTube!)
I went with Blogger instead of WordPress (although my conlang blog is powered by WordPress) and I'm glad I did, because it's so much simpler. (My only complaint is I don't have drop-down menus.) I joined Pinterest and put up some of my drawings, but I really see no use for it except as a passtime, and I don't have that much time to pass. And I only recently joined LinkedIn. I'm still learning what that's all about. It's really geared to people looking for work or to hire others. I'm not looking for work -- mine's already cut out for me! It does, however, open an avenue to a wider range of people. One of my problems is that my contacts are mostly other self-published authors, who (for the most part) would rather sell their own books than read other peoples'.
One that's not listed on the logo is Goodreads. It's rather difficult to use, so in the beginning I floundered. I've gotten a little better with it lately. It's good for record-keeping and for reviews. It has a lot of avenues for giveaways and special promos, but I've never seen any results from using these. I've also joined several specialty sites, like Mythic Scribes (I heartily recommend this one to fantasy writers), WANAtribe, and the Indie Writers' Network. Some of these have forums. I'm not crazy about forums. They're difficult to use. I always get my posts in the wrong categories. I also follow a few FB groups, mostly for blog promotion.
Which of these do I enjoy the most? Lately it's been Google+. I honestly like it better than FB, which still gets me confused at times. I never get any traffic on my FB page; my own posts get lost there, so I pretty much ignore it. Google+ has a lot of communities slanted toward your personal interests, and these can be quite valuable. And I've set up a community of my own called Books by TermiteWriter (see top of sidebar for link). It's only been up about two weeks and I've already got 51 members. It took about a year to reach 30 on my FB page. I treat Books by TermiteWriter like a kind of mini-blog. I can put up brief posts most days that don't require a lot of time or thought, as a kind of diary of my writing and publishing efforts.
Has all this paid off in sales of my books? I laugh out loud as I say, not really! But if I hadn't done anything, I wouldn't have any sales at all! I just keep nibbling away, expecting a big breakthrough! So help me out by giving one of my books a try! You can find them at Amazon and at Smashwords.