“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
I’m not sure if that quote is from the book or the movie. I remember Brad Pitt giving a sermon something like that in the movie and it couldn’t be more relative today in the world of Social Media. We are all living under the belief that if we build a platform of massive followers, that one day our ship will come in and we’ll be RICH!
But the truth is that some of us are going to reap the benefits of social media while others are going to be left wringing their hands and wondering what went wrong. Why didn’t their dreams come true? Why didn’t they sell the millions of self sealing stem bolts or hair loss cream or Indie Self Published books that they were sure were going to lead to their economic independence?
So here is what I’m seeing as the downfall of many Indie Writers and their reliance on Social Media.
1. They are under the impression that having a huge library of titles is going to lead to their success. Ok, there is a certain truth there – you need a product to sell. But I am seeing a bunch of writers that are churning out two or three novels a year. Good for you. Your family and friends may be buying them and there may be a short-term economic payoff BUT (and this is a huge BUT) if your books aren’t getting better with each progressive release, that just isn’t going to do it. Eventually even your family and friends are going to get sick of donating to your dream, especially if they can barely get through to the last page.
2. You have left the building of your platform to chance. Most of the Indie Writers I know aren’t actively looking to increase their following. And if and when they do try to build their social media presence, they are doing it all wrong. If you aren’t finding followers from within your niche, you are just wasting your time. If you are adding inactive followers to your presence, also a waste of time.
3. You are not ENGAGING. The new buzz word related to social media is Unified Engagement Optimization. Also known as Customer Engagement Optimization etc. This means using social media to build real relationships with people you meet through twitter and other social media.
4. Having a less than professional platform. I actually am guilty of this one since I don’t have the economic ability to hire out graphic artists to do sexy banners and such for my Facebook and Twitter accounts. But at least I have a pic and a banner. It is the same for all my accounts. What kind of response can an author expect from their social media if they don’t even put a photo and a banner and a decent bio on their sites? Well none of course.
5. Using your twitter and facebook to exclusively push your product. This just gets boring. I have taken a break from pushing my books on Twitter which is my principal source of followers. I’m not convinced that book promos have any influence on the bottom line so why bother? Why not build a following and try to connect with people? Real people who have similar interests. It may be that people are more inclined to buy your product when they have a relationship or have gotten real quality help or advice from reading your blog or tweets or posts etc.
So how to engage. This is a big problem. I do not have the answer. I just know that if you are going to try to build a following – and by this I mean a real following of people that read your books, not 100,000 inactive twitter followers that have no interest in your novels, you are going to need to think outside the box.
Within the next 6 months I hope to totally revamp my internet presence. I’m not about to give away my secrets here. Especially before I get a leg up but I will say that it might be an idea to consult with someone with knowledge of marketing who can show you how it is being done. Because of the millions and millions of authors who are trying and failing at selling their books via social media, only a handful are looking beyond today’s model. And let’s be frank. How many book sales can you trace back to social media? My success has been extremely limited to date. I count on that changing as my following grows but when you factor in effort vs. sales, it is a very slow process with a limited payback. Sure, better to have the media presence and not need it rather than need it and not have it BUT there has to be a better way.
The moral of the story – build a following of REAL people within your NICHE and then find a way to ENGAGE. Otherwise you are wasting you time.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.