A New Crop of Writers

I’ve been helping a new crop of writers get a toehold in the social networking world, and many are already discouraged because they are not getting immediate results. Social networking is not like advertising. It’s like . . . hmmm, let me think . . . It’s like going to a movie theater and trying to sell your books to the people around you when all they want to do is watch the movie. Even worse, there are other writers in the theater trying to do the same thing you are, so the viewers are not just focused on the movie, they are purposely shutting out everything else. The challenge is to get their attention and make them more interested in you and your book than in the movie.

That’s what I never figured out — how to grab people’s attention online long enough for them to buy a book. Some people have bought my books, of course, and many of these people have become good friends, which has its own rewards. In fact, a couple of years ago when I realized that the vast majority of my almost 5000 Facebook connections had zero interest in me and only wanted to peddle their own books, I culled my list to a more manageable number. I still don’t know most of the people I’m “friends” with, but there is a growing number of people I do know, which makes Facebook seem so much friendlier. But my books are still slowly fading into obscurity.

The problem with using social media for book marketing is that the majority of the people I’m connected to are other authors. Authors do buy books, but mostly, they are trying to sell their own books. Readers buy books, of course, but generally they read the same authors they have always read (don’t get me started on James Patterson!) with a couple of new authors thrown in to season the pot.

Whenever a book goes major big time like 50 Shades of Gray, it goes big because non-readers buy it. Which means we can’t promote to other authors and we can’t promote readers, so we need to promote to non-readers, who, of course, will not pay attention because . . . they don’t read unless a book goes big.

That is the conundrum I have struggled with for seven years. The best thing, of course, would be if I were the first (or even second) to try something new. The first guy who promoted his books on FB sold a lot of books, but he made his fortune with his subsequent book on how to make a fortune selling books via Facebook.

It’s hard to explain all this to newly published authors. And I don’t really want to, anyway. One of the new crop might be able to figure out a fabulous new idea for promoting that I can steal!

Meantime, I’m doing interviews with these authors on my Pat Bertram Introduces . . . blog. Feel free to join the fun!


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

8 Responses to “A New Crop of Writers”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I like that metaphor you use with the movie theater. Very appropriate.

  2. Kathy Says:

    So true! It’s like the gold rush – the people who made money were the ones selling supplies.

    What I’m seeing now are well-crafted emails to hook you into downloading their free stuff that promise to help you do whatever it is you’re trying to do and then they email you every day for the rest of your life promoting their “special” deal that is happening only once and is about to expire – only they come up with a similar promotion a week or two later.

    It’s all so laughable so maybe that’s why I keep the most entertaining ones around. I’ve even gotten a few vocal tips. But you wonder if they have any clients or they’re just pretending, especially when they say, “hurry up and get in fast before this program is full.” How do they have time to make new videos so often if they’re that busy coaching people? lol!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The only way to make sense of it all is to do what makes you feel good about yourself. No one is going to do that for you! It would make me feel good to sell a lot of books, but so far, that’s not happening. So I just play around with blogging and a bit of other networking, and find my enjoyment in connecting to people this way.

  3. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    We all struggle with this conundrum. I’m also friends on FB with a lot of authors. Most of us probably came to FB to sell books, if not directly, then as part of building a platform. None of us are rich enough to buy a book from each author on our friends list. Plus, many of them write in genres we seldom read. On the plus side, when one of them notices a post about a book, they frequently offer support, or at least click on LIKE. When they really like a book, they share status updates about books and RT stuff about the books on Twitter. Most of the writers on my friends list aren’t buying my books, but they are often talking about sites where on can get inexpensive advertising or reviews or how-to tips about everything from writing to promotion. A tip from a friend is often better than a sale to a friend.

  4. mickeyhoffman Says:

    I had very few “friends” who are authors even click the like button on my author page when I invited them to do so. Even after many activities by Pat and others, I don’t think my on line presence has sold one book.

  5. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, I can relate, also. However, I’m a mystery writer and before that, basically a mystery reader. As such, even before I started writing, I joined a writer’s group who encouraged me to keep at it. Then, I started going to writers’ conventions and conferences. By doing this, I made a lot of contacts, because many readers attend these events, too. And at one, another author introduced me to her agent. Eventually, I also met my agent at a convention, who in turn, found my publisher. All along this road, I collected readers whom I had befriended at these events and when I finally became a published author, I contacted these readers to let them know.

    An online presence is more important than ever in this day and age, but perhaps if authors research various conventions and conferences and find the right fit for them, more avenues can open up in networking at these venues. Also, by attending, one has the opportunity to learn about writing, marketing, the business sources, all sorts of things. And one is surrounded by like people who love to read.

  6. Social Media and Book Sales (or Lack Thereof) | Rami Ungar The Writer Says:

    […] lead to decent book sales. There are numerous reasons for this, but I’d like to quote a friend of mine who recently posted about this on her own […]

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