I couldn’t leave Murderati without one last post, and Pari graciously gave me the first “Expect the Unexpected” Tuesday in the new configuration of this great blog.
I enjoy blogging, but as all of you know, and all the writers out there know, blogging takes time away from writing and family. I had to make a choice, and blogging weekly (twice a month here, twice a month at Murder She Writes) in addition to guest blogs here and there and all the other social media things on my author to-do list was kind of stressing me out. Everything was taking away from my writing time and my kids. Something had to give, and unfortunately, it was this blog.
But I’m sure I’ll pop up on occasion, if the gang will have me as a visitor. 🙂
I’ve thought a lot about social media over the past year or two, and what is expected from authors. To be accessible, to share our thoughts, to answer questions.
Blogging is only part of it. (And, to be honest, when I founded Murder She Writes with four other authors six years ago, we did it partly because we thought it would be good promotion, and partly because we liked each other and enjoyed chatting with others through the blog about family, writing, entertainment.) But there’s also Twitter, and Facebook, and LinkedIn, and Google+, and a dozen other social media avenues that “they” say you have to be part of in order to survive in this New World of publishing.
There are many, many authors who aren’t part of the on-line community. And many, many authors who are. The only way it truly works is if the author builds a rapport, which means talking about things OTHER than their books. And that means, they should enjoy the community they’re in. Otherwise, it’s a chore, a hated chore, like cleaning grout. And people pick up on that.
Social media works primarily if the author can create a following of readers who will sincerely talk up their books and spread the word of mouth that is essential to the success of any book. In fact, if you ask most publicists and marketing folks, they’ll tell you that word of mouth is the single most effective tool to create a bestseller–but there’s no one way and no guaranteed way to generate it.
Let’s pretend there are ten equally “good” books out on a given day. A lot of things factor into making a potential bestseller — cover, co-op, reviews, author (if it’s a known author), endorsements, cover copy, placement — and some work for some readers, some for others. But the way to make a title move higher is for people to recommend the book (or the author) to others. To talk about the book on blogs. And Twitter. And Facebook. But no one knows how to create that world of mouth–on the Internet or face-to-face–each and every time. They try everything, but what works for one book or author might not work for another equally good book or author.
But we sometimes forget because we spend so much time at our computers writing (and participating on blogs and twitter and facebook) that more than half the readers are still not reading electronic books (22% of my books are sold as e-books) and many readers still rely on the recommendation from their colleague or sister or best friend.
What this practically means for authors is that we have more to do with less time and resources. We can’t neglect the online communities, nor can we forget that there are “offline” communities who read just as much.
So my advice to writers: participate in the communities that you enjoy, don’t self-market all the time, and focus on the writing first. Because none of the social media matters if you don’t have a book to sell.
My advice to readers: share your books with others. Recommend authors you like, either face-to-face or on the Internet. Email the author of a book you enjoyed and tell her.
And a caveat to all: give both, writers and readers, then benefit of the doubt when you hear rumors in cyberspace. Misunderstandings spread instantly in the virtual world, and can damage careers and reputations. People seem to think that they can say anything they want because it’s “anonymous,” but I’d argue that character is judged by what you do when no one is looking–or when no one knows who you are.
FYI: The third Lucy Kincaid book, IF I SHOULD DIE, will be out two weeks from today, on November 22. So far, the reviews have been positive. Fresh Fiction said, ““Non-stop action, spine-tingling suspense … a wonderful addition to a great series.” And Joyfully Reviewed made DIE a Recommended Read for December. “If I Should Die is a spine-tingling chiller that will wrap you up in its mystery and take you on a heart-pounding race to the breathtaking finale!”
In addition, the novella LOVE IS MURDER is printed in the book as bonus material. You get a full-length book plus a full novella for a single book, mass market price. Cool, eh?
And a sneak peak at the fourth Lucy Kincaid book, SILENCED, and the first with my new publisher, St. Martin’s/Minotaur. They’re taking the series in an exciting new direction, don’t you think? And that’s what I’m doing now — revising this book. I have two weeks. Any wonder why I needed to free up some time?
I’ve very much enjoyed my three-plus years here at Murderati. We had a great little community amongst ourselves, and within our regulars who comment or lurk. Pari and J.T. have really created a fantastic, enduring blog, and I’m glad it’s continuing to exist. Thank you, Murderati gang, for having me back for the day, even if it was just to say good-bye.