Following on from my earlier post about book promotion for Amazon-published books I thought I'd give some of my personal insights into the various social media platforms (as well as several other routes) that I've used to promote my book (Jack Strong and the Red Giant available @ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M22USRE) and how successful I feel they've been.
I think of all the media platforms that I've used, Facebook has been the most successful in helping me spread the word and generate a bit of buzz about my novel. I think the main reason for this is the fact that of the 850+ people that I am 'friends' with I actually know most, if not all of them, thus leading to more of them taking a greater interest in my novel that might otherwise have been the case. And then when you consider the 'share' option there is also the chance that my friends can share my work/news/updates with all of their friends and so on and so forth, thereby leading to a greater reach for a wannabe, 'indy' author like myself. Facebook is also an extremely flexible social media tool and can be utilised in any number of ways, such as by setting up 'like' pages, where my fans can read more about my current and future work, which can again help generate vital buzz and sales. Ultimately, all of my efforts on Facebook has led to somewhere in the region of 140+ downloads. Not great, but not bad either, and certainly a social media tool that I'll return to again and again in an effort to keep my novel growing and become more popular.
I joined Twitter mainly because I saw it as another social media tool which I could exploit to help promote and generate further buzz for my book. Through this I can post info (in 140 character bursts) about my novel or any related offer or promotion. When you consider that - with vigorous social networking - you can add literally thousands of people to your network the potential is there for your book to reach thousands of people. However in practice, I haven't found it to be quite so easy and straight forward as that. Take for example, a recent promotion I ran where my book was free for two days. I posted and posted on twitter saying that it was free, posting photos, and even giving links to sample chapters but I barely even got a re-tweet, never mind a download, leading to my promotion not being as successful as I'd first envisaged. At the same time however, I have found that when I've posted photos of my front cover that it has generated a bit of chatter, with people asking how it was done, where I got it from, and how good they thought it was etc, so it hasn't been a complete waste of time. Ultimately, as opposed to Facebook, I would say that the biggest problem with using Twitter as a means to generate further downloads is the fact that the vast majority of people on there don't know you or your work, and thus it is quite literally a 'hard sell' trying to convince them that your book is an undiscovered masterpiece as opposed to boring, badly written bonfire material. That said however, it is a social media platform that I will nonetheless persevere with, as it has at least generated some - if not a lot - of buzz, and there is always the chance that as my friends increase that more and more people will become aware of my work, thus leading to more downloads.
I'm not sure if many people are aware of this website - www.writehere.com - but I have found it to be quite a good way of connecting writers with readers. Basically, the premise is this - you post samples of your novel, or blog, or poems onto the site for readers to read, comment upon, and share with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+. What's good about it? Well, almost every one of my posts have been read by 100+ people together with at least 3 shares. Great eh? Not entirely, as this has not exactly translated into additional sales/downloads of my book. If everyone who read chapters 1-5 had bought my book then I'd be looking at perhaps 300+ downloads now as opposed to my current 140. That said however, rather like Twitter it still has a role to play in generating buzz, and the fact that people are READING my various chapters and blog posts is always a good thing, and should be considered a reward in itself. If you are a writer and want to bring your book to NEW readers then I very much recommend you check out this site.
It's taken me a while to 'get in' to Google+ but it's finally winning me over. A little bit like Writehere, it does a very good job at bringing writers and readers closer together, though again don't expect an avalanche of downloads. The best thing I'd say about Google+ is that it is a great way to disseminate your writing (including this blog) among fellow writers (particularly review swaps) but whether at the end of the day they click the download button on amazon is hard to say. That said though, it is nonetheless a very good place to foster and get involved with debates on writing and the publication process etc.
I'm not sure how any other writers (well prose/novel writers at least) have fared with this social media platform but so far I have found it to be very disappointing. Of the 150+ people (mostly fellow writers) that I've added only 6 have so far added me as a friend, meaning that whenever I post something the reading pool is actually quite small and barely worth the effort. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll continue posting here as most of the posts I see tend to be silly pictures posted and re-posted ten zillion times. If I was scoring these platforms out of ten, I'd give this a 0 or a 1. Disappointing.
I only joined linked in because a friend recommended it to me as a means to further disseminate my writing. My opinion? Meh ... I don't think one person has commented on one thing I've posted and it seems mostly for 'professional' people to buzz around on saying what great jobs they've got ... but I'll still continue posting on here as I can link to it via Writehere.com so it's just about worth the effort. Just.
One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to put down my ideas about writing, the writing craft, as well as documenting the many joys and frustrations of being an indy, Amazon-published author desperate to climb the publishing ladder. The other reason was that I hoped that if people read this blog then they may just (especially considering I give it a few mentions) go and buy my book. So far, I'm not sure if this has been a success or not, but to be honest the act of writing a blog alone is worth the effort and a further stimulant to further creative effort. Besides, I want to connect with other writers and hear what they think about writing, and publishing etc so in the end it has to be considered a an immensely worthwhile endeavour.
The best thing about Good reads, like Amazon, is that it is a great place for readers to comment upon your work. So far I have 3x 5 star reviews on my own author site (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22840831-jack-strong-and-the-red-giant) plus the site lets you know when somebody 'adds' your book to their reading list, which - trust me - can be a vital boon to your self-confidence when sales are otherwise flagging. The down side to good reads is that you are still a hostage to fortune. It reflects the success - or lack of it - of your book elsewhere and so if you are struggling to get people to download your book, then this lack of activity will also be reflected here. Perhaps the best thing about good reads is the 'recommend' function where you can let your friends know all about what books are must-reads; so if enough people are recommending your book to others and giving it stellar 5 star reviews then this will in turn generate further sales and downloads. The only problem is that much of the novels being discussed and recommended tend to be those that are already well-established, and unlike mine are not in really in need of further attention - that's what a movie will do for you!
As my book is a Young Adult novel it is vital that I connect with my target audience. To this end, I have donated four paperbacks to a couple of teachers I know in the U.K. Two of these books have gone straight into the school library whilst the other two are being used as teaching material at a variety of schools. The main thing here is the fact that my books are now under the noses of my target audience, a prospect which I find really exciting and potentially very rewarding. Indeed, I've already received feedback that one of the boys at one of the schools has not only read my book and been enthralled by it, but he has also picked up his pen and written his own novel.
Another route that I am putting a lot of energy into at the moment is reviews. There are many amateur (but no less informed) reviewers online who will review books for free, though it may take a little time. So far I've had three 5 star reviews, with hopefully many more to come, which is important as Amazon has done a lot of research which suggests that the number of positive reviews you have is closely tied-in with how many books you sell, hence my eagerness to get some good reviews as it will generate further buzz and more importantly sales. The downside to this however, is that you have to painstakingly send off for reviews over and over again, with sometimes no response from the reviewer. At the moment in order to fight review fatigue I am currently limiting myself to one one hour period a week where I try to send off for as many reviews as possible.
If you have any thoughts on the above or if you know of other ways to promote your e-book please let me know in the comments section below.