On websites and social media.

I believe we need to have a strong on-line presence in the form of, not a general blog, but a site dedicated to a product. But here are comments from some who disagree with me:

This question was posed on Scribophile:  

At what point does engaging in yet another platform actually sell any books?

Scribophile > “Depends what you use the platform for. DeviantArt has a lot of webcomic artists on there, and they gain a huge number of fans by posting serious artwork and drawings and funny mini-comics and the like for a few years first. They build up interest to the work before the work ever gets posted, so there’s already an audience waiting to suck up the actual story.”

(This is what I had in mind for my Wix site. But my conception got way too complicated, it got away from me. I am going to use a template-based WordPress site as my intro site, and continue to work on the Wix one.)

Scribophile > “I don’t think that your social media presence is really going to result in selling more books. I think it improves your chances for getting represented or published. I use Instagram to promote my art and writing. I participate in month-long writing and drawing challenges.

“Engaging on Facebook and Twitter drives some blog traffic for me. I have a books page on my blog, so people who have come to look at my article/interview or whatever link they clicked on can then see what I write. But it’s more a case of raising my profile out of obscurity than selling loads of books.

“Imagine selling your book is like having a storefront. You can wait for people to walk by, walk in and buy something. It happens. But what if you also participated in community events, fairs, and neighborhood parties? That’s what social media is. A means to get even a little bit more attention in an overcrowded marketplace.

“The key is to find the outlet where your readers/buyers are most likely to be hanging out and then give them a good reason to go to your store.”

Scribophile > Someone here somewhere agrees with me. He/she is strongly opposed to a marketing site being primarily a personal blog, but I can’t find that comment at the moment.

Yes, you can talk about a range of topics, but let them relate to your story. (Anyone who reads my footnotes in Sly will see that I am able to relate almost anything to my story.)


So, there are two schools of thought here.

One > Display your general style and sensibility, seduce readers into trying your book.

Two > Subtlety be damned, the focus should be on the book, not your rambling thoughts.

There’s a third approach. One guy wants you to be his writing coach: “Based on my experience as a long time reader, never. It’s like some myth. I go to author’s blogs for writing tips, not to buy their books.”

Here’s my opinion:

> Engage on a variety of social sites, if you have the energy, to (try to) get attention.

> Have a website that features your product(s). Chat also, but don’t have that be the focus of your message. Soft sell by the grace of prose pulled from your novel(s). Be spontaneous in introductions/ sidebars/wrap-up comments.

> Here’s the advantage to this: Updates are easy. Change a paragraph, add a graphic. No pressure to freshen your page top to bottom. Your book is your book is your book.

The bad thing about that is, if a reader looks at your presentation and dismisses it, he will not return to find a second book, or a third. So be entertaining as hell in your supplemental material. Be surprising, be insightful, be outrageous. Give a browser reason to think you might eventually have something for him.





22 thoughts on “On websites and social media.

  1. GD Deckard says:

    “The key is to find the outlet where your readers/buyers are most likely to be hanging out and then give them a good reason to go to your store.”
    I think so, too.

    I do have a website that displays & sells my book. It has a link to a Facebook page about the book where comments & chit-chat are encouraged. It’s new, not yet announced anywhere & it’s still being tweaked. If it proves to be useful, I’ll report on it.

    Good report, Mimi. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I found this to be the best commentary I’ve ever read anywhere on these issues. Great stuff! Pure truth-telling:

    PLEASE SHUT UP: http://www.whimsydark.com/blog/2015/4/13/please-shut-up-why-self-promotion-as-an-author-doesnt-work

    PS. My take-away: Interact with others on the web where and when you desire as honestly, ethically and, err . . . effortlessly as you can. Nothing forced; nothing phony or shamelessly self-promoting. Strictly control the time you spend on the web: that’s time lost writing fiction. Understand that all of your writerly [sic] web interaction will probably only amount to one thing: time spent inspiring yourself to improve your craft and sustain production.

    Anyway: To be clear, Mimi, please understand that I am not saying “please shut up” to you; that’s simply what the blogger named this most excellent post. I’ll think you’ll find it as wryly humorous and ruefully mordant as I did. . . .

    PPS. And then check out the embedded WAIT: KEEP TALKING!: AUTHOR SELF-PROMOTION THAT ACTUALLY WORKS link to finish reading “sunny-side up”. . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    “At what point does engaging in yet another platform actually sell any books?”

    This depends, I think, on your audience. Does your target audience even use social media? Do members of your audience shop online? Do they shop in bookstores, or pick up books at fairs and readings?

    I’ve known a few moderately successful writers who have developed blogs and websites dedicated to their books. They thought a web presence was necessary. Maybe it is necessary. But they never attributed any sales directly to their web presence.

    An acquaintance publishes his books with CreateSpace, with both ebooks and hard copies available. He sells very few books through any web connection. In July he sold about 50 paper copies of local historical novels from a card table at community festivals and events, one of his better months to date.

    Mimi, I like your closing opinions. When my novel is published, I will have a web presence in support of other marketing strategies

    Long before I decided to publish my first collection, I found a website that hosted some of my short stories. It wasn’t selling the stories there, I was sharing them and receiving encouraging comments. That web community was on the wane before my first book came out, but it was responsible for dozens of sales of my trade paperbacks the old fashioned way: the members sent me money and I mailed them the books.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    Carl is right. I am getting real tired of talking about this. I haven’t invaded the social sites but for Facebook, I just don’t want to. But I’ll do it, to some extent, when I’m up and running. Just in case.

    I do believe in having a place where you explain to potential readers why they might want to read your book, once you’ve enticed them there by other means. This would not be a run down of the plot. It would be more a taste of your style and your intention. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. That old ‘this is a story about the resilience of family’ etc.

    That and a well-chosen excerpt would be enough to tempt me, or not.

    And isn’t that exactly what a well-written blurb on a back cover does? So removed from the quick blurbs on Amazon, irritatingly specific because, I’ve been told again and again, the shoppers won’t read a longer, more atmospheric tout.

    Think in those terms for your website.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    GD, is your site a WordPress site? What theme are you using? Let’s compare notes. I need help with the themes. Maybe you’ve figured them out.

    I just got home from work. I’ve been thinking about this all night. I think on our websites we have to charm readers, like Perry charms them in his face-to face-interactions. Charm them with a vibrant personality, yours, and that of your story.

    This is all theory, of course. I’ll let you know if any of it works.

    Tonight at work I handled an award winning mystery. I read a good bit, curious about what was special about it. I didn’t find out. The style bored me so that I couldn’t take more than a few pages.

    We have to have substance and style. Remember that old song? Love and marriage, love and marriage, can’t have one without the other. A high bar. But that’s what it takes. Award winning mystery writer lady, you’re no Dorothy Sayers, sorry.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Sorry, Mimi, it’s not WordPress. I’ve used Microsoft web software since 1998 because it’s always been around & I didn’t want to learn another.

      Your theories on writing and marketing are sound: charm the website viewer, give the reader substance and style. The devil’s in the details.

      My own theory, inspired by Jim Jones, is to write whatever I want & find people who want to read it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Re: ” . . . The style bored me so that I couldn’t take more than a few pages.” Heh! I forget which writer once remarked, “The thing is, whenever I finish reading a mystery I can’t help thinking to myself: ‘So what?’ “

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Perry Palin says:

    I have been asked to make a presentation about my hand-carved wood fishing rods at a community event later this month . I’ll have copies of my books there, and I’ll mention them almost offhandedly, then I’ll “charm (the listeners with) face-to face-interactions” about the fishing rods. If things go well, people will ask to buy the books when the presentation is done. I’ve sold 20 copies at events like this in the past. Is this how we offer some style and substance, getting people interested in the writings?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. atthysgage says:

    There are so many people out there who are saying “Yes, it is possible! Social media works. With a little effort, your book could be reaching a vast audience and generating big sales.” You know the one things they all have in common?

    They want you to pay them to tell you how it’s done.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Perry Palin says:

      That’s exactly right, Atthys.

      One publisher told me that he wanted to see my stories in print but he didn’t know how we could break even on them.

      Another publisher, the one that did produce my books, said I might not make much money on the stories, but I would make some friends, and he was right.

      And I’ve been pushed by a lot of companies who said they would make me a rich and famous writer if I would pay them thousands in up-front money. I haven’t paid them; I’m still poor and obscure, but with friends.

      Liked by 5 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    I see the Writers Digest has a ‘best self-published e-book’ competition. $5000 Grand Prize, paid trip to their national convention, publication, other stuff. Who are they, what following do they have? Something of this nature is something to consider.

    The entry fee is $99. I read that similar competitions have a much lower fee. And so, I say, something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • atthysgage says:

      Writers Digest is a major publication, so probably not a bad place to get noticed. Nice prize, too. Unfortunately, $99 is a lot to gamble on some judge happening to take a shine to my book.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My computer went mad a week ago and won’t be back till Wednesday, fortunately all files intact. So I’m taking an enforced break from the internet, which is liberating but at the same time leaves me in a state of vague anxiety, like a smoker without cigarettes. I don’t think my presence or absence on any social media makes a jot of difference to sales of my book, yet some sort of presence does feel necessary.My next step will be to alter my blog to make it more focused on the wares I’m trying to peddle, but without being too boringly obvious or repetitive. It’s a difficult balance to strike and there are as many different styles of blog as there are writers blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Thank you, Curtis!
      To blog your book “without being too boringly obvious or repetitive” is exactly what the next WritersCo-op blog should be about. Um, it’s 5:AM here and nothing’s in the hopper for today’s post so I’ll get it started. Y’all can weigh in with comments on how best to do this.

      Liked by 1 person

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