Monday, January 26, 2015

Social Media and Marketing: Does it Work?

We all hear how we HAVE to be on Twitter constantly, update our Facebook status often, post to Pinterest, etc., etc., etc. But do these social media sites sell books for us?

Marketing Maven Kristin Lamb has written several good posts about this subject. She writes the following in her blog:

Marketing, Social Media & Book Signings--Why NONE of These Directly Impact Book Sales

"In The Digital Age, we seem to find a lot of extremes. Either articles or blogs ranting how social media doesn’t sell books, it’s too hard, there are too many rules, whiiiiiiinnnnne. These folks might write books, maybe even great books, but I suppose they think readers will find them using telepathy. 

Or, there are those who worship the Oracle of Automation and the Lord of Algorithms. Instead of writing
MORE BOOKS, they tweet, FB, Instagram, buy flare, do blog tours, futz with the website, the cover, the algorithms…and then can later be witnessed crying in a corner with a pan of brownies and a half-finished bottle of rum.

Thus, I am here to bring some balance to The Force.

Social Media Was NEVER About Selling Books Directly—Who KNEW?

I’ve been saying this for about ten years, because the idea of using social circles for sales is NOT new. About ten years ago, I recognized that social media would soon be a vital tool for writers to be able to create a brand and a platform before the book was even finished. This would shift the power away from sole control of Big Publishing and give writers more freedom. But, I knew social media could not be used for direct sales successfully."

How? To read the rest of her blog, go to Kristen Lamb's Blog.

Shared by Heidi M. Thomas. A native Montanan, Heidi now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, and a non-fiction book Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women, have just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.


  1. I do get so tired of writers who constantly push their books on Twitter or Facebook.

  2. I can attribute 99% of my book sales to social media and the blog posts I share on social media. I have discovered authors I would not have otherwise on FB, in fact two of my all-time favorite authors. I have discovered new books by authors I loved. I get tons of good book suggestions on FB groups such as Mystery Writers of America, Historical Fiction, and Paranormal YA. Sites that offer blatant self-promotion are spitting in the wind, because most people post but never peruse them. But solid interaction on social media can drive awareness of your product. They say getting well-known bloggers to promote your book is the best promo, but where do you find those reviews? Social media. Building relationships, making connections, and being a good social media citizen are the keys to using the medium well. It is just as important to promote the books and writers you love.

  3. From Lamb's blog post: "Even if a writer has a line out the door, the most even a mega-author might sell is a thousand books. Let’s be generous. FIVE thousand books. A drop in the bucket if you’re Dan Brown. Is selling 5,000 books relevant when an author sells millions? When an author has to board a plane, stay in a hotel, sit in one spot signing for hours or even come up with a speech? And travel city to city to city for a month or more instead of writing?"

    This is the disconnect between very successful writers and the rest of us. I'd love to sell 1,000 books at a signing. But I can't, because being self published, getting a bookstore to allow you to sign is almost impossible.

    I know these blog posts by successful writers are aimed to help us, but Ms. Lamb's books will sell as soon as they hit the marketplace. Using social media conservatively is one way to make yourself known. I've developed many friends on Facebook and even Twitter. I consider the latter to be a preaching-to-the-choir medium, but I do a little anyway. The trick is to make friends, interact, post things of interest, and occasionally, plug yourself in the most subtle way: a five-star review, notice of a blog, or a price cut on a book. In-your-face marketing is a turnoff. That doesn't mean we shouldn't use it cleverly and judiciously.

    1. If they are famous, or promoted with ads by their houses, they probably don't need social media. But I follow many a famous writer on FB because it keeps me tuned in to their next release.

    2. Many of them have someone else doing Facebook and maybe Twitter. I know Elmore Leonard had someone doing the FB posts for him. I follow some but not many. Bottom line: We'd all do better to keep writing rather than spend time on FB. Now if I could only take my own advice.

  4. I can name at least 3 Big Name Authors I follow on Twitter who don't go near the app--they have assistants. John Sandford's son does all his social media. Laurie R. King's daughter does hers. But it's a presence that's important. Social media is about engagement, a way to get them to your website where you make that final conversion from reader of social media posts to buyer of books. And, the best marketing tool of all is "Write the Next Book."

  5. Thanks so much for linking to this post. I needed this encouragement and reality check desperately, since I've just resolved to turn Mondays into Social Media Mondays. I'm trying not to dread it. I might even decide I enjoy it. Here's to new steps!

  6. Kristen Lamb has good advice for writers, and I'm so glad that she gives permission for her blog content to be reblogged. I've often cited her in a post on my own blog. And her posts are fun to read.

  7. Social media is an important tool for an author to get noticed, but it needs to be done wisely. Otherwise, you won't be able to get any other books done.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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