Is social media marketing simply a distraction from other, more productive activities, or does it work to move books? Does Social Media Sell Books? Both of these questions have come from recent on-line articles. The first comes from “Social Media and the Author,” by Stephen Hise; the second from an interview with Gillian Flynn’s literary agent, Stephanie Rostan. Both articles end up saying, “It depends.”
So what does it depend upon? Well, according to these experts, it depends on the author’s inclination. Is she good at social media? Does he like it? Would she be better off writing the next great book?
So what’s the answer? Brandon Mendelson says in an interview about his book, Social Media is Bullshit, that he “applied everything Gary Vaynerchuck, Chris Brogan, Scott Monty, Guy Kawasaki and other were saying and found nothing worked.” On the other hand, I personally know some authors who have done very well with social media.
Rostan suggests that there is a big difference between fiction and non-fiction authors. In the case of non-fiction, she said, the author has a specific area of expertise and being “out there in the community that has an interest in that expertise will most likely be effective.” She said that the fiction author, on the other hand, is basically selling her or his personality. But, she said, “this isn’t a personality contest, it’s about the reading experience.”
In an interview, Mendelson said that social media are “just tools. They’re not good or bad tools. So the onus is on you to figure out who your audience is, what tools they use, and then look at what you have to work with. From there, you need to do some research and come up with a plan. That plan MAY include these tools, but I think most of us will find that these tools ultimately are more complimentary than neccesary, and in that case, totally optional to use.”
Stephen Hise concludes his discussion by saying that marketing a book is like fishing. “If the customers arent biting, change lures, change fishing holes, change the time of day you fish . . . it helps if you’re out there trying.”
What do you think? Are you achieving success selling with social media? Have you achieved a balance between writing the next book and marketing the current one and are social media part of that balance? Those of you who are readers and not authors, Do you learn about the books you buy on social media?