What to Charge for Social Networking

Someone just contacted me and asked how much I would charge to promote his books. Funny, that. Because I am so prevalent on the internet (or at least I was; recently, I’ve been curtailing my online activities), people think I know how to market, but I haven’t a clue. If I did, my books wouldn’t still be languishing in unbestsellerdom.

Spending time on the internet — researching, blogging, networking — takes so much time and expertise that there doesn’t seem money enough to charge for all the work and aggravation, and yet, considering my dismal results, any amount I’d charge would be too much.

According to my research, “the biggest factor in how much you can charge is your work experience. If you’re new to the working world, you might want to stick with $15-$40/hour. If you have five years of professional experience under your belt, transition into the $45-$75 range, and if you have more than five years experience, you can usually get away with charging $80-$100 or more.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But getting results is something else entirely. For a business, perhaps a local car repair place, any social networking is good. You find Facebook groups in the town and post occasional updates. You start your own Facebook page, and maybe promote it to people in your area. (FB can target such a localized audience.) You start a blog about car repairs, telling people the sort of thing to look for in a repair shop or giving them hints about troubleshooting and how much certain repairs should cost. You can twitter bits of car information, get people to post reviews on car sites, comment on other car sites, sign up for LinkedIn, perhaps, and try to network with people in your area. Whatever you do online helps because it keeps your name in front of people so they think of you when they need someone to work on their car.

As you can see, if you have a booksspecific business with a specific type of person you need to target, it’s a lot easier to social network than if you are trying to sell one book in a stack of millions of books similar to yours. Writers are always told to find their target audience, but the truth is, novels that go viral sell to people who have seldom bought a book before, so it’s impossible to target them. Targeting readers in your genre (especially if you don’t have a clearly defined genre as I do) is even more difficult. Readers already have piles of books they bought and want to read. They are not necessarily looking for another book to add to their backlog, so targeting such an audience, even if you know where to find it, is hard. (Except perhaps for romance readers. They seem to be voracious consumers of novels, especially titillating stories. Too bad I have no interest in romance.)

Even though I have a lot of experience in blogging and social networking, I wouldn’t hire me, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I know authors who hired an expensive publicist, and they ended up not selling enough books to pay the publicist’s bill, so the high-profile publicist didn’t get any better results than I do.

And if I did know how to get results? I still wouldn’t accept his offer. I’d be so busy banking money from my royalties, I wouldn’t have time to do his work.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and 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.