Friday, February 3, 2012

Does Selling Yourself Sell Your Book?

I'm home. I'm jetlag. I'm missing my baby grandson.

But this post isn't about Blake or me. It's about my novels. If you haven't read Susan Kieman Lewis' January 28th blog, please do. (Thanks Pat Brown for passing it along) Then explain to me what Susan thinks the alternative is.

It's not that I don't agreed with much of what she says, but I found her solutions weak. As authors, what else can we do to sell our novels that doesn't require tons of hard work, exhausting hours, little pay? To be told that everything I'm doing is a waste of time, makes me feel even more exhausted.

Susan doesn't believe Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other networking services sell novels. She says it's not about making friends and letting your readers know who you are and what you believe, it's about the novels. I'd tell you what else she says, but you might as well read it for yourself. Then maybe help me understand what the alternative is. I can't see myself begging reviewers to post reviews.

If she's right and no matter how terrific you think I am, you're not going to buy my books if thrillers aren't your thing, I get that. But what about those readers who do? How can I convince them that buying a copy of Dead Witness or Broken but not Dead is worth their time and money?

While I'm figuring that out, let me know what you think of Susan's post.


  1. Ah Joylene,
    Speaking of "jetlag", I'm old enough to remember 'propeller lag'. Heck, I'm old enough to remember 'horse and buggy' lag.
    Anyway, enough of my silliness. First of all, welcome back to your home. I know how much you will treasure the memories of your visit and the times you spent with Blake.
    I shall endeavour to check out Susan's blog at a later time. What I do realise is that you need to get the word out there for folks who like the genre you write in. Further awareness via social networking links and people like me sharing your posts via twitter and 'Farcebook', has got to hopefully be of some help.
    Right, now I'm rambling. You know it's almost half past four on a Saturday morning and I'm commenting on your article. Are you impressed. Do I get bonus points for this?
    Take care and I shall, after some semblance of sleep, check out her blog.
    Goodnight, good morning and good evening :)

  2. The idea of reading Susan's blog is depressing. No need for me to hear I'm wasting my time. I'm helping to promote my Publisher through my book promotions. I want my Publisher to prosper. She loves my books, that's important.

    I just want to spend all my time here staring at little Blake. What an absolute darling. :)

  3. btw. I just bought your Dead Witness and 'liked' it on Amazon. Tweeted it on Twitter. Not because of your book promotion though. (gee, I don't want Susan to be right!) but because we were once critique partners and I remember what a fabulous writer you are.

  4. I should say something nice first, so "Welcome home, Joylene!" I AM glad you're back, and I think your wee Blake is a darling.

    Now... I seldom say negative things about what people write on their blogs, but IMHO, I think Susan has it all wrong. When she declares such things as, "But, dear God, trying to develop these relationships is more exhausting than writing the book in the first place, and unlike creating the book, they are soul-sucking because we’re doing it to push our book, not because we really want to get to know the person," and "the fact is, if it weren’t for your damn book you wouldn’t be trolling through tweets or posting comments on other people’s blogs. I mean, unless you were just some pathetically needy, lonely person, I have to think you wouldn’t be, and "How in hell can you make a friend worth having in this environment, I would like to know. Isn’t the true benefit of Twitter to get your book advertised to your 10,000 followers and hope it gets, somehow, re-tweeted to their 10,000 followers? How can it be about “relationships” when the whole reason you’re there—and everybody knows it—is To. Sell. Your. Book.? ... you have to know that she's gone into social media with the wrong attitude and for all the wrong reasons.

    Yes, marketing is all about the book, but unfortunately good books don't sell themselves. A lot of them get totally overlooked by agents, publishers and readers. I have a large pile of books, some are even of genres I normally would never read, that are all authored by people I met online. I got to know and like them, liked how they wrote their blog posts and FB and Twitter comments, and was pretty sure I'd like their books.

    I don't have any books of my own to market, but I have wonderful cyber friends from whom I've learned a lot, and I will continue to support their writing efforts because they are genuinely nice people trying hard to be successful in a difficult industry. If authors interact online for purely self-serving purposes I think they will always be disappointed.

    There now... I've undoubtedly said more than I should. I'll probably receive flak as the results of my foot-in-mouth disease. ;)

  5. Unfortunately, I think Susan is right. But you probably expected that from me, given how often I've complained that I don't see the value in blogging for book promotion. To me, all it does is market to other writers - most of whom are writing in a totally different genre and who aren't going to buy my book just because they know me.

    The majority of my friends on FB (love the guy who called it Face-Borg) tend to be there because of my interest in dog sports like agility or Mondioring. Some area readers, but I doubt many of them are into historical fiction.

    I don't have a good alternative, but I have always suspected that the 'you must have a social media presence' advice is shaky at best and depending on the kind of time you're investing - maybe not worth the trouble.

  6. Honestly, I think it all boils down to -- I wrote before I ever had a publisher. I wrote for years before I ever let anybody read a word of it. And I'll write regardless of my sales. Sales are gravy, won't turn 'em down for sure, but why are we writers in the first place? Because we are. Because we have to.

  7. What a depressing blog post from Susan! She starts out by presenting a pie chart that doesn't add up...that should be our first clue.

    Then she goes round and round, not making any sense at all.

    I don't know if blogging or social networking does anything for sales, as I can't see the correlations (for my books); but I know I've bought lots of books from other writers who blog about them.

    When someone knocks down something like social networking and then doesn't point to something else that works—something other than luck—I choose to move on and not give much credence to that person.

    Those are my "two cents" worth! lol

    And her blog post was exhausting! Social networking isn't. To me, it's fun.

  8. This is my take:

    once upon a time we needed to actually go out and do the legwork to bookstores (we still do), get interviews, ask for radio spots, etc. With the amazing invention of the world wide web, our pockets are slightly alleviated of the monetary expense dished out for gas. However, time is still needed to promote YOU and YOUR book. The two go hand in hand in my opinion.

    Readers need to connect to you as a person in order for them to check your books out. Look at all the stars...don't tell me they appear on the night shows, or daytime shows because they are only friends with the star host/hostess. They are out there promoting themselves and their upcoming feature.

    I do agree with Susan that there are many writers who spend far too much time on social networks chatting without allocating their time on promo and doing it the right way. You need to connect your book's contents with issues of today. If it's murder/mystery, then find out the stats of killings in your backyard and offer some informational insight to your readers then smoothly connect it to your book's content. Or perhaps the trauma of the victim in your book and emotions she/he goes through.

    Playing the social networks is vital but it's HOW you play the game that matters.

    But I do stand by my words that the social networks is a vital part of a writer's life to get their name and books out there.

  9. I think Gail is on the right track here. I write because I can't NOT write. We lost something more than the money when traditional methods became passe. When a publisher had real money on the line, they felt some obligation to get their books into readers' hands. Now, it seems, it is up to the author to write the book, edit the book, sell the book, and then we also take on responsibility for promoting our publisher? Give me a break.
    Susan may not have it right, and she may not have an alternative answer, but neither does anybody else as far as I can see.
    Fiction writing is an art form. Publishing is a business. A business that, to be successful, requires the selling of books! And the promoting of them! Pardon me for shouting here, but for the life of me, I cannot understand our need to promote and 'sell' our publisher. I have four and I love them all. They are all wonderful people who have given my work a chance to be read by others. I appreciate that, and I'll do all I can to promote my work to make both of us successful. But, and this is a big one, I expect the publisher to make their business successful by promoting my art.
    Bottom line on 'social media', I think we're all like a bunch of frogs in a pond, jumping from one lily pad to another, looking for a better place to croak.

  10. Pat, authors should not be promoting their publishers because publishers come and go. It's not WHO published the book that's important as much as who THE AUTHOR is and what is THE BOOK about.

    These social networks for the most part can be very time consuming and that's why my previous post mentioned it's how a writer plays the social game that will benefit them at the end.

    I've been online where most posts are family oriented, which is fine, and don't misunderstand me...but there should be an area where writers can go in and post their reviews, talk about their books to readers, discuss elements found within the book, the hardships of writing and concentrating amongst the ill health we sometimes face, the outside commitments we need to face and how we delegate our writing time amongst all these things. THIS is what we writers go through and perhaps readers don't need to know this but I do believe once they see and 'feel' our passion we are one step closer having them understand that we write because we love to entertain readers with our words.

    That's when readers connect and possibly turn around and say, "Let me check out his/her books and see if I like anything."

    Gail mentioned that the money is like an extra treat, and I agree. We all strive to make money with our books but the bottom line is for those who want to make serious money with their books they need to promote otherwise no one is the wiser that these books exist.

    Publishers and writers need to be a team. No question about it.

  11. Balance. As in all things. Yes, we need to promote and what we need to promote is our voice. We are storytellers. None of us (or damn few) tell stories in a voice that appeals to everyone universally every time. I can't think of a single writer that I like everything they ever wrote. (Except Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee because guess what? They only wrote one book. And what a book they wrote!) I don't think we can allow promoting and social networking to take the joy out of what we do or eat the time we have to do it in. Except for those of us already retired, face it, we have day jobs. But yes, we do need to promote. Ourselves. Our voices. This is who we are. We're not going to appeal to everybody. But in the end, again, we do what we do because we have something special that others don't. Not that others don't have something special. But everyone can't write a book. They don't have the ideas, the talent, the sheer stamina and stubborness to write thousands of words right down to "The End." And in the final end, regardless of money made or not made, we are sucesses whether we make a dime because we CAN and DO do that. Because we've fulfilled our dreams. My dream's not to be a millionaire best seller. (That's a fantasy as opposed to a dream, maybe.) My dream's to put on paper the plots and characters and worlds that live in my head. And in being able to do that, I'm a success. Anyone who can say that is blessed. Which includes all of us.

  12. Basically, I think, what choice do we have? Social media presents us with an option. We can use it or ignore it. Now, I don't have any books up on Amazon or Smashwords, but if I did, I would likely use Twitter to promote it. But I can also tell you that I am annoyed by a few Tweeters who constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY post blurbs and links to their books. I don't even read them any more. I barely even notice their Tweets anymore. I simply scroll past them because it's the same thing over and over and over again. So if an author is going to use social media to promote their book, they should at least be creative and change their approach from time to time. And NOT Tweeting every other minute would probably help too. *snickers*

  13. I'm back. If you or your readers are up for another rather lengthy read, I point you to this post by Ashley Barron: . It reinforces my point that (in addition to a quality product) attitude plays a big part in success. She has a very positive outlook.

  14. New follower here :D And what an interesting debate. I think like all things, balance is the key. I do think having an online platform is important, that an author does need to do their part, but the truth is that it does come down to the writing. It does. And that's all that really sells. (and in response to Nancy above: those constant twitter book promoting people are obnoxious! LOL)

  15. @Gary, I think part of my problem is I'm tired and still jetlag. It was a rushed trip that actually had me running for my 3rd plane in the Vancouver Airport. A long long trip that makes me think flying to the UK would be best done asleep. LOL. Thanks for your continuing support. You get big bonus points!

    @Wendy, I suspect that part of what Susan wrote is true. That's why I'm depressed. We work so hard. I think I work hard, then I check out other's and realize I haven't even touched the surface. Yikes. Thanks, Wendy for the review. It is so very much appreciated.

    @Carol, you just reminded me why I do this. Because I do have wonderful friends online, and I am honoured to call them friends. I'm here because being a writer is a lonely profession and meeting people like you has made all the difference. Thanks!

    @Vicki, I agree to a point. But having read her comments again, I do see a strong sense of negative respond. Sometime has prompted Susan to be so negative. Yet, it sounds as if her one book is doing very well. And yes, I don't see the huge benefit of Twitter. I read twits from people I know, but i don't read the others. I actually don't understand most of them with all those tags. If someone leaves a link and nothing else, what incentive do I have to click? Not much. See, that's another reason why I'm depressed. You're one of the best writers I know and you're not published yet.


    @Gail, I agree. I didn't start writing because I thought I'd make a killing at the bookstore. I wrote because. Same reason we all did.

    @Laurel, you nailed it. I was exhausted before I read her post, so I just need to learn to regroup and carry on. Your 2 cents is well taken. Thanks!

  16. @MIU, thanks SB, (I'm guessing) that's helpful. I know if I take a moment to think I can come up with some ideas. Part of my problem is baby-withdrawals.

    @Thanks, Pat. I forgot why I started this writing business in the first place. It was never for money. I think the problem stems when we compare ourselves to each other. I'm never going to copy what you're doing or what Lea can do. I have find my middle ground.

    @MUSE, your comment made me think of something. It wasn't actually until I started posting articles on Cluculz Lake, my animals, and my grandchildren that my followers grew. I think I got lazy and assumed that's all I'd have to do. Talk about how cute Blake is, or how beautiful the lake is, or... well, you get the picture.

  17. Gee, I guess those years I spent studying marketing in college were a sham. I was under the impression that being authentic and creating lasting relationships was important. Sometimes more important than immediate (and often temporary) gain. Silly me. ;)

    Great post, Joylene!

  18. @Hi Morgan, you slipped in when I was watching. It's great to meet you, Morgan. You have a fascinating blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Balance is always the better way, for sure.

    @Hi Silly Carrie. LOL. Yes, it is rather ridiculous when I let one article get me all bent out of shape. Susan made some good points, but really it's about understanding the business. Because writing is a business. And promoting oneself has to take time, patience and determination. It's not for the faint at heart. Thanks, Carrie!

  19. Don't worry about it. You anything but faint of heart. :)

  20. Joylene, Great post and wonderful comments.

    I believe the main point is if you are doing more work on your social media and blogs than you are on writing that next book - you have an issue.

    I found the pie chart a little interesting. It separates social media, blogging, and advertising. In my world, I'd throw these all into the same bushel which pushes that percentage up.

    I do agree it's about the book, not about the author. But, to get into the personal recommendations section of the pie, we have to make ourselves heard.

    To make a long story short, :), one connects to the other. So, no you aren't wasting your time. There are many readers who try your book because they know you and that leads to recommendations and book reviews and so on. Okay, that wasn't that short, but you get the idea.

    Best wishes,

  21. Susan's post seemed a bit bleak, but I guess everyone's entitled to their opinions and to express them they way they wish.

    I was on facebook long before I ever had a book to promote. I began my blog because, as a soon-to-be published author, I figured/hoped that people might come looking for me once the book came out. A blog seemed like a good place to start. These days everyone searches the internet to learn more. I never once thought that having a blog would generate book sales. I was just looking for a web presence. So what I wasn't expecting to find were people, bloggers, out there whom I would get to know and like and genuinely care about. I now consider them friends. I'm not looking at them as prospective book buyers, nor do I want to.

    Of course authors want their books to sell. If we didn't we wouldn't bother with publishing at all. And of course we're going to do what we can to promote our books. But forge fake friendships? Wow! I sure hope not.As a person I also value friendship. I am, always will be, a person first and an author second.

    Than said, I'm certainly glad we *met* Joylene. :)

  22. @Carrie, I left a "thank you" comment, but it didn't show up. Shish, and this is supposed to be my blog. Anyway, thanks!

    @Cher, you covered the subject nicely. I like your attitude and commonsense. I could hear my mother saying, "Listen to the girl." Everything you said reinforces why I love blogging. If I hadn't started, I would have never met you. Pros -- enough.

    @Kudos to everything you said, Laura. I feel exactly the same way. And I believe every other blogger you and I know feels the same way. We do this because we're part of a community. I think part of my problem was jetlag and sadness over saying goodbye to my beautiful grandson, whom I miss dearly. But it's back to business as usual. I'm just fortunately that it's not just business, it's forging friendships and supporting my friends too.

  23. Very timely post!

    I don't pimp my book a lot on my blog, nor anywhere else except an occasional post on FB and a promo person posts it on loops for me.

    But I believe highly in social networking, especially my blog. If books are in the works, a blog can clear a pathway to the release and I consider it important.

    I know some who pay prizes to lure people to follow their blogs, and I won't go that far. I'm not above pimping myself, but I AM above buying readers. How will I EVER know, that way, if it is indeed me or the gift the drew them?

    Thank you SO much for sharing these thoughts.

  24. Thanks for sharing, Carol. I think prizes are great if the timing's right. I don't think of it as pimping. Especially because it's one of the ways I can show my appreciation to my followers by having a contest. I don't know how else to show how much I appreciate all of you who have supported me these past years.

    But I do know what you mean.


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