*Tap Tap*

Is this thing on?

An author group I belong to recently had a discussion about marketing and social media, blog tours and giveaways and all the rest of it. Basically, there’s so much going on out there as far as promotion goes, and much of it gets laid at the feet of authors these days…and no one really seems to know if it makes a difference.

Do people buy books because they get swag in the form of pens and postcards? Do mass blog tours and book giveaways increase sales or do they just encourage people to wait around to see if they’ll win something? Is blogging/tweeting/facebooking really that important? Or is it a just a time suck that keeps writers from writing books?

Some days it just feels as though we’re in an empty room with a microphone. When all you hear is your own words echoing in your ears, there doesn’t seem to be much point, does there?

As many people have noted – many authors aren’t marketing gurus. For myself, I’m pretty web-savvy, so it’s no skin off my teeth to run multiple social networking outlets – but a lot of authors aren’t. Being told by a publisher that they need to look at doing all these extra promotional things that may or may not actually accomplish anything can be somewhat terrifying.

Even if the writer is savvy enough to get it all rolled up and managed on a regular basis, it can be very disheartening to spend hours crafting a blog post for a particular website…only to have it disappear into the blog-o-sphere with nary a whimper.  Is that because people aren’t reading blogs as much these days? Was the post bad? Does the site it get posted on not have enough traffic?

There are just so many variables and it’s hard to pinpoint a particular reason for why one writer may continue to struggle with getting an audience and others seem surrounded by masses of followers. (Notice I said “seem” – there’s often a great deal of work going on behind the scenes when it comes to pruning the social media bonsai.)

But still – when does an author draw the line? Some of the writers I’ve talked to have mentioned giving up blogging all together. Or giveaways, for that matter. They’re tired of doing things that are “expected” and not seeing any real sort of return.  (Is my uptick in sales because I gave away an iTouch? Or because the stars aligned right for those 10 seconds?)

The rules of the game keeps changing, though. What may have been a tried-and-true method before may no longer work.  With so many voices clamoring for attention under the hopes that they might be the “next big accidental thing” how does a reader decipher it?

So some writers are choosing to withdraw and focus on the writing more. I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do. It’s hard for me to embrace that, simply because for the last several years, every message pounded into my head is how I’m supposed to throw myself out there in every fashion that I can. Build my brand. Whatever.

But it might be really nice to get back to the important thing.

The words.

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8 Responses to *Tap Tap*

  1. Autumn M says:

    I’m not sure how much the blogging/social sites/give aways boost a writer’s sales. With that being said… I personally enjoy feeling in touch with my favorite authors and getting insights into their every day lives. Most of you guys are extremely entertaining. I also use an author I enjoy’s website or blog to find new reading material. Most have links to others’ sites. Giveaways are great and very generous, but it doesn’t change if I’m going to buy the book or not. If a new book is being released, usually I’m in line for it (or have it pre-ordered for Kindle download). I will enter the give aways for signed copies, even though I know I will already have a copy, because it’s exciting. I actually got introduced to one of my favorite series through a give away. It was the first book in the series and once I sat down to read it, I had purchased the other 3 books before the end of the weekend.

    • allison says:

      Sure and that’s fabulous to hear. 🙂

      I think though that sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s really listening out there. And personally I really enjoy blogging and spouting off about stuff. It’s therapeutic for me, and sometimes it’s a nice warm up before I get into book writing.

      But for someone who feels like they *have* to blog because they’re supposed to be branding themselves? It can be a bit intrusive – and then you’ve got that whole balance of just how much personal stuff do you talk about? I talk about health stuff a lot, even though I probably shouldn’t – but as a chronic pain/illness sufferer, I do think it’s helpful to share, since so many things often go diagnosed or can be hard to deal with. It’s comforting to know there are other people out there who are dealing with the same thing.

  2. Christy M says:

    I can’t imagine how hard it can be for an author to attract the masses. I mean, you have to write…..when are you going to have all the time to do the promo, right? AndI know I have already talked to you about street teams, getting the readers to help you, but who do you blog with? blog by yourself?? do giveaways?? it must be very “hair pulling”. Maybe an option is to get a virtual assistant to help with the virtual and promo world? I don’t know, and I totally wish i had the answer (cuz, I mean, have you read Sliver????? it ROCKS!!!). I will tell you that I normally only have time for facebook. If I went to all the blogs of every other author I love..I would never be able to read 😀 (so we are alike, but opposite in the time aspect ^_^).

    • allison says:

      That’s another good point – reader overload. Time is at a premium for everyone, and when you have to balance it out, it makes sense that you can’t make it to every blog you’re interested in…or even if you do read it, you don’t always have time to comment on everything.

  3. Rene says:

    Your post made me think about marketing people, they are like leeches, they have no actual skill in terms of the production of anything but provide a service to sell things that in an ideal world should sell themseves!

    Its anoying I would put them 1 down on the ladder from solicitors/lawyers!
    Rene recently posted..click here

    • allison says:

      I think that a good publicist can do great things – but so much of it is timing and placement…and luck, sometimes.

      Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of people willing to take advantage of less tech-savvy writers, and usually the price isn’t worth the results.

  4. Brenda Hyde says:

    Maybe it’s just good to have a happy medium. I like the blog posts and always sign up to get them in email, even if I don’t always have time to comment. I also like facebook for keeping in touch, and twitter when I have time. I think if an author has time for nothing else, at least have a newsletter. I know it’s all a time sucker and I certainly haven’t figured out what’s necessary and what’s not.

    As far as swag– I love it, but it certainly doesn’t determine if I read an author or continue to read their stuff. It’s just cool. LOL

    • allison says:

      Overall, I don’t mind – I have a system and I use it – it’s as streamlined as I know how to make it without being obnoxious about it. That’s the other side of the promo machine I guess – when all you’re doing is SELLING, it’s hard for readers to get to know you.

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